Discovery Phase – FFA National Curriculum

COACHING IN THE DISCOVERY PHASE IS ALL ABOUT:

  • There should be little to no ‘coaching’ however there is a need to organise fun football exercises
  • Allowing players to discover one’s (im)possibilities through trial and error
  • Natural development: players ‘learn FOOTBALL by playing football’
  • Replicating the ‘street/park football’ environment of the past
  • Emphasis on building a love of the game.

A training session for children in this age consists of 3 components: The Beginning, The Middle and The End. Its important to note that coaches should respond to the players needs and manage how many and what type of practice to use in their situation. Sometimes you might go straight into a game after a brief warm up.

For more information about the Discovery Phase: https://www.playfootball.com.au/coach/discovery-phase-sessions

WHAT SHOULD YOU BE COACHING?

Communication: as hidden learning

  • Asking for the ball
  • Keeping your head up
  • Finding space

Decision Making and Execution of Decisions:

  • Running with the Ball / First Touch – trap the ball (not boot it away), and control the ball with small touches (not kick and chase)
  • Striking the Ball (Passing/Shooting) – look to pass/shoot (not just dribble/boot it), and pass/shoot with the inside of your foot (not your toe)
  • 1 v 1 (Attacking/Defending) – keep the ball away from the defender (not turn into them), and try to steal the ball (not kick it away or avoid the attacker)

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3 Session 4 Session 5 Session 6 Session 7 Session 8 Session 9 Session10 Session 11 Session 12


SESSION 1

Beginning: Traffic controller (instead of relays)

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Call out different skills for the players to practice, for example:

  • Green light, orange light, red light (fast, slow, stop)
  • Reverse (toe taps backwards)
  • Corners, dead end (turns), speed bump (scoop)
  • Lane change (toe taps side to side)
  • One handed forwards/back (ball hops with one foot)
  • Bicycle forwards/back (ball hops with two feet)
  • Swap cars (swap balls)
  • Pay the toll (high five coaches)
  • Escape from the cops (coaches try to tag the players)

Progressions: Challenge the players to practice everything with their weaker foot. You can also encourage different players to take the lead at different times and call out the challenges.

Middle: Feather the nest

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Keep the teams small, ideally 3 players maximum, to avoid players needing to wait too long for their turn (it is better to have more teams than larger teams). Mix up the teams regularly too.

Progressions: Challenge the players to practice everything with their weaker foot. Adjust the size of the area and maybe also the number of balls, including using special balls worth extra points.

End: 4v4 just play

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adding bonus points if teams can complete 3 passes in a row, in addition to points for scoring goals.


SESSION 2

Beginning: Stuck in the mud

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: All players should run with a ball (except maybe the tagger), not just run. Get players to nutmeg teammates to save them rather than crawl through their legs.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area and/or the number of taggers.

Middle: Piggy in the middle (instead of Robin Hood)

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Players shouldn’t stay in the corners but adjust their position after every pass to get into good angles to provide their teammates with passing options. Consider how the defender switches (do they need to win the ball or just touch it, or just rotate them every 30 seconds?).

Progressions: To make it easier, the attackers can actually be on the outside of the area. Challenge the players to pass with their weaker foot (maybe award 2 points if they do so successfully).

End: 4v4 pass to score

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adjusting the number and/or position of gates as well as making them smaller or larger. You can also allow players to score in an actual goal after getting through 1 (or more) gates.


SESSION 3

Beginning: Space invaders (instead of relays)

Explanation: Players in pairs on opposite sides of the area try to pass across to each other, scoring 1 point for every successful pass. Two defenders in the middle zone try to intercept and get to switch with another pair after 10 interceptions in total.

Coaching Tips: Encourage the players to consider playing 1-touch passes when they think its possible.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area and/or the number of defenders. Challenge the players to pass with their weaker foot (maybe award 2 points if they do so successfully).

Middle: Empty it! Fill it!

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Regularly and randomly swap which line belongs to which team so players don’t just hover near their lines. Mix up the calls occasionally e.g. voice or hand signals, or the players need to do the opposite of whatever the coach calls.

Progressions: Challenge the players to practice everything with their weaker foot. Adjust the size of the area.

End: 4v4 with 4 goals

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adding bonus points if teams can complete 3 passes in a row, in addition to points for scoring goals.


SESSION 4

Beginning: Me and my shadow

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: All players should run with a ball, not just run. Swap the leader regularly and change partners regularly. Highlight good examples of 1 v 1 moves.

Progressions: Challenge the players to practice everything with their weaker foot. Maybe make the second player a mirror instead of a shadow so they need to copy everything facing their partner.

Middle: 1v1 mini games (lines)

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Set up multiple grids so all the players can play at the same time, rather than needing to wait, and rotate opponents regularly.

Progressions: If you try the 2v1 and 2v2 variations, limit the time they have to score or number of passes they are permitted to do between each other, to encourage more focus on 1v1 and scoring. You could also adjust the size of the areas and change the scoring line to a ball on top of a cone if it is too easy to score.

End: 4v4 line football

See exercise diagram

Progressions: To make it easier, give teams 2 directions/lines they can score in. You can also allow players to score in an actual goal after getting over a scoring line (or let them do either and make it a choice).


SESSION 5

Beginning: Clean your room (instead of relays)

Explanation: Players have a ball each and are in 2 teams on either side of the area. They need to pass their ball (not boot it) to space in the other team’s area, and it must stay in to count. The winning team has the cleanest ‘room’ at the end of 2 minutes.

Coaching Tips: Encourage the players to consider playing 1-touch passes when they think its possible.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area. Challenge the players to pass with their weaker foot.

Middle: Round ’em up

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Defenders should steal balls from attackers (not boot them away) and then shoot them into a goal, with attackers being allowed to rejoin the game after collecting their ball again. Make it a competition of how many balls the defenders can steal in 2 minutes.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area.

End: 4v4 score in front or behind

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adjusting the number and/or position of gates as well as making them smaller or larger.


Video starts at 2:01


SESSION 6

Beginning: Double trouble

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Defenders should steal balls from attackers (not boot them away) and then shoot them into a goal, with attackers being allowed to rejoin the game after collecting their ball again. Make it a competition of how many balls the defenders can steal in 2 minutes.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area.

Middle: Pass through gates

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Encourage players to communicate with each other. Only one pair can pass through each gate at one time, so to avoid two pairs going towards the same gate, encourage them to always be aware of all the different options available.

Progressions: Challenge the players to practice everything with their weaker foot. Adjust the number and/or position of gates as well as making them smaller or larger.

End: 4v4 short and wide

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adding bonus points if teams can complete 3 passes in a row, in addition to points for scoring goals.

SESSION 7

Beginning: Bugs bunny (instead of relays)

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Have tagged players swap with the taggers rather than sit out, or even accumulate taggers until everyone has been caught.

Progressions: Consider adjusting the number of players allowed in each corner grid at any one time (more is easier for the attackers). You can also make it a competition for the attackers of who can cross the grid diagonally the most times within a certain time period.

Middle: Colour code

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Only one player can dribble around one cone at a time, so to avoid two players going towards the same cone, encourage them to always be aware of all the different options available.

Progressions: Challenge the players to practice everything with their weaker foot. Add variations in terms of the number of cones they must dribble around at a time, or even a sequence of colours.

End: 4v4 dribble to score

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adjusting the number and/or position of gates as well as making them smaller or larger. You can also allow players to score in an actual goal after getting through 1 (or more) gates.

SESSION 8

Beginning: Dribblers and collectors

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Defenders should steal balls from attackers (not boot them away) and then shoot them into a goal, with attackers being allowed to rejoin the game after collecting their ball again. Make it a competition of how many balls the defenders can steal in 2 minutes.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area. To make it harder, defenders can split into teams of 2 again once their group size reaches 4 players, until all attackers have been caught.

Middle: 1v1 mini games (goals)

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Set up multiple grids so all the players can play at the same time, rather than needing to wait, and rotate opponents regularly.

Progressions: If you try the 2v1 and 2v2 variations, limit the time they have to score or number of passes they are permitted to do between each other, to encourage more focus on 1v1 and scoring. You could also adjust the size of the areas and change the size of the goals.

End: 4v4 line football (corners)

See exercise diagram

Progressions: To make it easier, give teams 2 directions/lines they can score in. You can also allow players to score in an actual goal after getting over a scoring line (or let them do either and make it a choice).

SESSION 9

Beginning: Red rover cross over (instead of relays)

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Defenders should steal balls from attackers (not boot them away) and then shoot them into a goal. Rather than having players sit out if tackled, make it a team-based elimination game (they can join the defending team instead until everyone has been caught). The last 2 or 3 survivors get to start the next time as the initial defenders.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area.

Middle: Beehive

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Rather than booting other players’ balls away, change the game to ‘Cops and Robbers’ where some players without a ball try to steal from the players that have a ball (switch roles if they are successful, but the new defender must go for a different attacker instead of the same player). Make it a competition of who can finish the game as a ‘Robber’ (with a ball) at the end of 2 minutes.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area and the number of ‘Cops’ (players who steal balls).

End: 4v4 with 6 goals

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adding bonus points if teams can complete 3 passes in a row, in addition to points for scoring goals. Maybe also try letting all teams shoot into all 6 goals.

SESSION 10

Beginning: Catch the tails

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: All players should run with a ball (except maybe the tagger), not just run. All players can actually be a ‘hunter’ if they keep their bib (allow them to steal a maximum of 2 at a time). Make it a competition of who can finish the game with 2 bibs at the end of 2 minutes.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area and/or the number of bibs players can steal (maybe make it unlimited).

Middle: Simon says

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Encourage the players to come up with their own ideas too and give them creative names, for example:

  • Small/big bunny hops (which player can hop with the ball between their feet the most number of times without dropping it)
  • Clumps (race to form groups of random sizes without losing control of your ball)
  • Domes and dishes (while dribbling, half of the team need to flip all the cones upside down, while the other half need to flip them the right way up)
  • Crabs (defenders try to steal balls from attackers while moving on their hands and feet underneath their body)
  • Monsters (all players get chased by the coaches and try to avoid being tagged)
  • Zombies (all players chase the coaches and try to tag them as many times as they can)

Progressions: Challenge the players to practice everything with their weaker foot. You can also encourage different players to take the lead at different times and call out the challenges.

End: 4v4 pass to target

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Make the end zones wider so the target players can move around more, or just replace them with a ball sitting on top of a cone that needs to be knocked off.

SESSION 11

Beginning: Bombard (instead of relays)

Explanation: Players have a ball each and are in 2 teams on either side of the area. There is a target ball in the centre they need to try and hit with their own ball and move to the other teams side to win (soccer marbles).

Coaching tips: Encourage the players to consider playing 1-touch passes when they think its possible.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area and maybe also have more than one target ball. Challenge the players to pass with their weaker foot (maybe award 2 points if they do so successfully).

Middle: Pass and move

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Players need to make sure they communicate and only pass to teammates who are ready. Make it a competition of who can complete the most passes within 2 minutes. If any pass misses its target or two balls are passed to the same player at the same time, then it doesn’t earn a point.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area. Encourage the players to consider playing 1-touch passes when they think its possible. Challenge the players to pass with their weaker foot (maybe award 2 points if they do so successfully).

End: 4v4 four-sided football

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adjusting the width of the goals/gates. You could also have one team attacking up and down and the other team attacking left and right (and then switching them regularly).

SESSION 12

Beginning: Dribble tag

See exercise diagram

Coaching Tips: Make it a competition of who can finish the game without being a tagger at the end of 2 minutes.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area and the number of taggers. Taggers can also chase the other players without needing to control a ball (if they tag someone, they just swap their bib for the other player’s

Middle: Pass world record(instead of Hit the Target)

Explanation: Players pass and move in pairs while one defending pair tries to intercept a pass. If they do so successfully, they switch roles, so the pair that lost the ball becomes the new defending pair.

Coaching Tips: Encourage players to communicate with each other. Make it a competition of who can complete the most passes within 2 minutes. If any pass misses its target or two balls are passed to the same player at the same time, then it doesnt earn a point.

Progressions: Adjust the size of the area and/or the number of defending pairs. Encourage the players to consider playing 1-touch passes when they think its possible.

End: 4v4 with triangle goals

See exercise diagram

Progressions: Consider adjusting the number and/or position of triangles as well as making them smaller or larger. You could also let both teams attack both triangles at the same time.