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How Many Touches Do You Get?

Over the past couple of weeks we have monitored a child to see how many touches they actually receive on the ball during training sessions & matches.  In my last blog post we talked about the 10,000 hour theory, in that to become an expert or professional in any field it takes 20 hours practice time per week.  What we experience as coaches is parents believing that their child has made it by playing football for a club that in some cases only have one session per week & one match per week…but how many times do they touch the ball?

To improve & develop you need to practice.  In football to be more comfortable on the ball & possess a good technical ability you need to practice with the ball.  Simple theory but crazy how many people miss this at such a young age!  I watch youth sessions & I see kids running round a pitch in 2′s with the coach shouting, ‘left hand down, right hand down’.  They get away with it as all parents see is their kids in their footy kit, with ‘coaches’ dressed in their gear & training on the best 3G pitch.  Well before I talk about improving the technical ability of kids I want to make a simple statement.  When paying upwards of £50 to hire a 3G pitch I don’t want to run round the edge of it – I want to use the bloody pitch!

Then we have the IFA run mini leagues that encourage small sided games which in theory is great but again, unfortunately, they get it completely wrong in my opinion.  I operate Toddler Soccer in an indoor 3G arena on a Saturday morning.  Next to us we have kids only a year older than some of my toddler group playing in these mini leagues.  They play 5 a-side, but on the same size of pitches as fully grown men play with the long wide nets!  To me this is still like playing 11 v 11 on a full size pitch with the big goals!  What happens?  The ball is at one end of the pitch with 9 kids around it while the poor little kid is at the other end stuck in nets waving to his dad…then the inspired words from the coach, ‘GET RID OF IT!’, as little Billy lumps the ball down the other end for the 8 kids to run after with the other coach shouting, ‘KEEPER – SWITCH ON!’  It is a waste of time.  Some will argue that the kids enjoy it, I don’t know.  I would split the pitches in half & play left to right into mini goals with NO KEEPER, & encourage 4 v 4.  Still loads of space but more touches of the ball, more 1 v 1′s, more tricks, more goals, more fun = improved technical ability.

Concentrate on the amount of touches each individual receives during each session

Through poor training methods & mis-guided development games the technical ability of our game suffers.  This starts from the grassroots game & no surprise continues through to the professional game.

Reading a recent report the Premier League has announced plans to at least triple the amount of coaching for promising young players in England which it hopes will eventually help improve the quality of the national team.

Under the plans, Premier League academies will provide 15-20 hours of coaching a week for 9 to 16 year olds instead of the current 5 hours, meaning youngsters would get even more coaching time than those in Germany or Holland.

The plan, which might also include football schools, was agreed by the 20 Premier League clubs before the World Cup in which England produced their worst ever performance.  There were 222 English-qualified players who played first-team football in the Premier League last season.  League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, believed that was enough to find 11 to perform in international competition.

Ged Roddy, the Premier League’s director of youth development, stated that the average 18 year old at Ajax gets 6,000 hours of ‘contact time’ with coaches compared to 2,500 for the equivalent player in England.  He also added that the English system has lagged behind & it needs reconstructed.  One of the aims is to have about 10,000 hours of contact time in the future.

One English Club leading the way is Watford with the Harewood Academy.  They studied the set up at Dutch Club, Willem II Tilburg, & have tried to replicate the set up in England.  The focus is that the boys are transported to the Harewood Academy, which is a normal school with other pupils attending, so that boys continue their education but have more coaching time with the coaches.  Already the contact time with coaches has increased from 6 hours per week to 15 hours per week with studies, home work & meals all completed on site.  The project is currently based on 11-15 year olds.  They train in the morning then have classes before lunch.  More classes in the afternoon along with time for homework & another training session before returning home.  You can watch some videos about the Harewood Academy by simply clicking the following links…it also includes ballet dancing in one!  Harewood Academy 1, Harewood Academy 2 & Harewood Academy 3.

‘The young boys, they practice 5 times a week, at the end of the year they will not be the same players.  It’s no superiority from any other country, it’s just that here in England is less practice with the children than anywhere else.’

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal Manager.

This leads us on nicely to our study.  We took one player & counted the amount of times he touched the ball in different environments.  This was from training sessions to matches.  If you want your child to improve technically you should monitor how many practice sessions they are doing on a week to week basis & what they actually do in these sessions.

IFA National County Programme (2 hour training session)

20 minute warm up, working 1 ball in pairs passing.  171 touches.

Remainder of session working on patterns of play & a match.  53 touches.

Overall touches – 224.

Dungoyne FC Club Training (1 hour session)

Warm up, individual with a ball each.  170 touches.

Remainder of session based on possession game then a match.  137 touches.

Overall touches – 307.

Dungoyne vs. Carniny, League Game (30 minutes each way)

Played in midfield for duration of game on wing.  Scored a goal & set up 3.  Dungoyne won the game 8-1.

Warm up, 20 minutes.  162 touches.

During game, 60 minutes.  80 touches.

Overall touches – 242.

1-on-1 Coaching (1 hour session)

Session started off with keepie ups for a warm up.  Then operated the skill square concentrating on dribbling, turns & skills.  A fun passing exercise was followed by S.A.Q. (still using the ball).  A selection of shooting activities completed the session which included volleys, lobs, over heads, free kicks & then a cool down.

Overall touches – 699.

No surprises that the 1-on-1 session involved the most touches but shows the importance of them.  The overall total touches is heavily affected on what you are working on in training.  It is also interesting in the results that the shorter sessions still resulted in more touches of the ball!  This can also be a reflection on the coaching style.  How many times the session is stopped, how long the coach talks for, etc.  But one thing to remember is the importance of using a ball during the warm up.  The difference from a short warm up with the ball (average 165 touches) compared to zero touches if running around a pitch!

In signing off, how many touches does your player / child receive during a typical session or a match?  If it is not in the hundreds & they are not completing enough sessions / practice time you can bet their technical ability will suffer for it.  Why not take a count at the next session or game & add in the comments box?

2010 Review

Happy New Year!  Now 2011 has arrived I thought I would review 2010 at the TWSports.Org Group.  From attracting Benfica to Belfast to travelling to Holland and Portugal it has been another action packed year.  I published my first book in March, celebrated 5 years of operating TWSports.Org in July and got married!

Of course I couldn’t do this without your fantastic level of support and friendship.  I continue to re-invest to help continue to make our product the most innovative around along with offering the latest in technology with our websites, social media my new blog to help communicate and make ourselves available to you.

January – TWAcademy.Org announced a tour to Holland for August 2010.  Tour highlights included a game against PSV Eindhoven, a tour of PSV training complex, stadium tour and to watch a PSV first team game at the Philips Stadium.  Players involved in the Academy come together from Irish League sides and boys clubs.  Currently we have players from Glentoran, Cliftonville, Dungoyne, Larne Youth, Lisburn Youth, Ridgeway, Abbey Villa, Carryduff Colts and Lower Maze.

The Academy is open to all elite players that want access to additional elite training that focuses on technical training and game understanding.  To get your child involved contact myself by email or by phone, 07740120788.

February – The TWSports.Org Group increase their presence on the social media sites of Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.  Simply search for ‘twsportsgroup’ or click on the logos at the top of our web page and follow us for the latest news.  We have also made it easy to share pages from our websites by clicking the link button at the bottom of each page!

March – I published my first book, ‘Toddler Soccer the Essential Guide’.  You can get a FREE download and your copy by clicking here.

You can listen to the BBC Radio Ulster interview on Tim’s new book by following this link.

April – SL Benfica accepted TWSports.Org invitation to fly to Belfast to offer Coaching Clinics and Player Development Clinics.  Hugo Vicente & Edgar Cardosa led the clinics that attracted a number of local coaches, parents and children.  A family also flew in from New York to attend!  They spent the week in Northern Ireland and attended the TWSports.Org Easter Camp in Dundonald.

Over 60 children enjoyed the Easter Camp along with a SoccerSixes.Org tournament being played by a host of local clubs.  We catered for all boys and girls aged 2-13 along with an open age for children, young adults and coaches at the Benfica events!

May – ‘Toddler Soccer the Essential Guide’ book by Tim Wareing has now sold in 18 different countries!  This stretches from the UK and Ireland, across Europe to USA and Canada, the Far East and Australia!

You can order the paperback version or the e-book by clicking here!

June – Amazon and SoccerTutor.com are now selling Tim Wareing’s new book!  Tim has done a telephone interview by his publisher to be used as a case study and offered another publishing deal to write a second book!

SoccerTutor.com have also requested that Tim writes a book based on elite coaching using his sessions as Academy Director at Distillery and his visits to FC Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax.

July – What a special month!  TWSports.Org celebrated its 5th birthday!  Our Summer Camps offered over 14 venues across Northern Ireland and open to all boys and girls aged 2-13.

Director & Head Coach, Tim Wareing, married to his partner, Leanne.

August – 25 parents, children and coaches travelled to Holland for an unbelievable tour.  From start to finish everything was a huge success from our direct flights from Belfast to the 4* Hotel & luxury coach.

TWAcademy drew 4-4 with PSV Eindhoven’s feeder team and then recorded a fine 9-1 victory over Helmond Sport.  Everyone enjoyed the tour of the PSV Eindhoven training complex along with the penalty shoot out with Hans Segars!  A game at the Philips Stadium topped the weekend off!

You can read a full report from our tour by clicking here & view our video by following this link.

September – We kicked off another new season – our biggest yet!  From offering 8 great products that cater for children aged 2 years +; to our web based products that have coaches registered from all over the world!

Along with the likes of Toddler Soccer, Mini Soccer & elite training through TW Academy we also offer other great packages to!  From 1-on-1 coaching and organising birthday parties to coaching in schools and at local clubs we offer the most inclusive and innovative product around!

October – A successful Halloween Camp is held which offers affordable day care solution for parents while children are off school.  Helping children get active, have fun and learn new skills from only £2 per hour!  A party is held for all children and parents at the end of the week.

We base all our Fun Camps on a normal school day from 10am-3pm with an early drop off service available from 9am.  For more information contact me by email or phone, 07740120788.

November – Tim Wareing organised a European Club visit to Braga, Portugal for his staff.  They studied the training methods of SC Braga along with taking in the Champions League game against Arsenal.

You can read a full report from our tour by clicking here & view our video by following this link.

December – We made developments to the layout of our websites.  We have free downloads of books, training sessions and videos!  Simply visit our sites and subscribe to our newsletters.  Along with our FREE chat facility (top left hand corner of each website) we launched a new blog, CoachTim.Org.

We continue to grow & have a huge following around the world that have registered to our web based sites & coach resource information.  The TWSports.Org Group has a number of exciting new features & opportunities as we enter 2011.  We will bring these to you & your child!

Thanks for the support in 2010.  Good just got better for 2011 & we look forward to sharing it with you all!

Tour to Holland

As Director of TWAcademy.Org I organised a tour for 25 boys & parents to travel to Holland.  The tour arrangements were organised by my close friend & top Dutch Coach, Bert-Jan (BJ) Heijmans.  The tour brought together a selection of boys from over 6 different boys & Irish League clubs.  The tour offered an opportunity to live the life of a professional during the 4 day training camp.

After a great flight from Belfast International to Schiphol Amsterdam we were met by a luxurious coach & good friend BJ.  We transferred to Den Bosch to our base at the 4* Hotel Vaught.  After checking into our rooms & unpacking we met up for a team meeting.  BJ took the opportunity to welcome everyone & explain in full the weekend ahead.  The squad then enjoyed a meal together before having a stroll to the old town.  The boys then headed to their rooms for a well deserved rest.

Saturday morning the team met for breakfast before transferring to VV Eindhoven, this is a feeder team of PSV Eindhoven.  After a team talk & warm up the boys took to the field for what would turn out to be an excellent performance & very entertaining game.

Eindhoven v TWAcademy.Org, Saturday

The match was played in 3 periods of 25 minutes.  During the first period we had a number of great chances created by some fast flowing football.  Unfortunately Mackie, Stewart & McCrory couldn’t break the deadlock.  Against the run of play, & right before the first break, Eindhoven scored to go 1-0 up.  A very cool finish by the Eindhoven forward.

The second period was very exciting.  Mackie scored probably one of the hardest of his opportunities by finishing well with a volley to make the score 1-1.  More excitement was to follow after a free kick was awarded on the edge of the Eindhoven box.  Ryan McCrory stepped up to score a marvellous free kick into the right hand corner of the goal, 2-1 to TWAcademy!

All the goals seemed to be saved for the final period.  Eindhoven equalised, making the score 2-2.  Soon after Luke Fisher received the ball on the half way line & beat 2 players as if they weren’t there.  He then outsprinted the covering defender before cutting inside & finishing with a lethal right foot finish, 3-2.  TWAcademy then took control with Mikey Crawford taking a well worked goal, 4-2.  The temperature continued to rise & some tired legs started to show.  Although it was the heads to go first, switching off from a corner Eindhoven pulled a goal back.  A number of the Academy players were frustrated & ran to the referee claiming that the corner was taken half way between near post & corner flag.  To their frustration this is allowed in Holland.  Again this shows how they tailor the game to the children in Holland.

With minutes remaining the talented PSV Eindhoven forward finished brilliantly to make the final score 4-4.  What a great performance by the young boys.  The scouts watching were very impressed & will monitor a number of the TWAcademy players.

Philips Stadium

After the game we enjoyed lunch on the executive bus that the Premiership teams use for games.  We transferred to PSV Eindhoven’s ground, The Philips Stadium.  Our tour guide was very friendly, informative & interested in our party.  We got pitch side, taken through the changing rooms, media room & executive seating area.  We walked the corridors that many famous players & managers of the past have done.  This includes the great Sir Bobby Robson & players such as Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Before returning to the hotel we had opportunity to purchase some PSV gear in their shop.

Evening Session

BJ then took the boys for a training session at a fantastic indoor arena owned by our friend Martien Pennings.  Martien is a head scout at PSV & travelled over to Belfast to operate a clinic for coaches for TWSports.Org.

BJ’s session involved all the players & each of them always had a ball.  You can view these sessions on a DVD that will be produced from our trip.  For more information contact me on, 077 4012 0788.

Helmond Sport v TWAcademy.Org, Sunday

After breakfast we transferred to Dutch First Division side, Helmond Sport.  With the first team being away we had the opportunity to play in the first team stadium, a 5000 all seater stadium!  What a great experience for the boys.  The pitch was shortened & smaller goals placed on either 18 yard line.  Again proving why the Dutch are more technically gifted & offer a more child friendly approach.

The game was quite one sided with TWAcademy.Org recording a great 10-1 win.  Although the Dutch counter parts were younger, played some nice football & never gave in.  Again a number of the TWAcademy players attracted interest.

The game finished with everyone hitting a penalty.  In both games our Dutch counterparts offered us all the balls, bibs, cones & water we required for our warm up.  We had showers & changing rooms & a club room for tea & coffee.

Dutch Taste

After the game we went to the local chippy to discover the Dutch equivalent to fish & chips!  Although some of the kids were not fussed on some of the items the parents & coaching team enjoyed it!

We then went for a game of bowls before transferring back to the Philips Stadium to watch PSV Eindhoven v AZ.  After a non eventful first half the second half improved & we cheered PSV on to a 2-1 victory.

After a very busy, but very enjoyable couple of days, we enjoyed a free night in the hotel.  Along with BJ & Danny we carried out player analysis after dinner.  This offered a 1-to-1 informative chat with each player to add to their game & how they can improve on any weaknesses.

PSV Eindhoven First Team Training, Monday

After breakfast we boarded the bus with our luggage sad knowing that it was our last day in Holland.  But to cheer us up BJ had organised another fantastic day!  We arrived at the first team training ground of PSV.  We saw a couple of first team & reserve team players train.  They also took the time to speak with us, sign autographs & pose for photos.

They also had their academy players in for a week of professional training.  2 sessions daily, basically training as a first team player.  It was fascinating to watch.  Kids had the freedom to train & coaches got down to their level & made it fun but always high tempo & use of the ball.

Hans Segers

I think the highlight was meeting ex Wimbledon keeper (aka crazy gang!) Hans Segers.  He is now a goalkeeper coach at PSV & organised a penalty shoot out for the boys against the PSV keeper!

It hit home to everyone – players & parents – to what I have been saying over the past number of years.  In Holland everyone is so approachable & down to earth.  There are no big egos or super stars.  This was our final meeting at PSV at what a way to finish on!

Ajax, Amsterdam ArenA

Before making our way back to the airport we stopped off to enjoy a stadium tour of Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA.  We also had time to view the historic museum of this great European club.

On our way back to the airport our captains, Luke Fisher & Keegan Rice, presented BJ & our coach driver with gifts & made a speech through the microphone on the coach.  They spoke very well & it was very moving for BJ to have 2 young boys speak so well.

Observations

This was my fourth time in Holland.  So was great to meet up with friends & for so many parents & boys to see my love for the country & philosophy so much.  The boys & parents mixed so well.  It shows the training each week at the Academy really does add to their games along with what they receive outside of that.  In Holland boys of 11 & 12 will train up to 4 times per week.  In Northern Ireland the reality is once weekly, maybe twice.  This is why children attending the TWAcademy don’t only benefit from another session but the quality coaching & opportunities they receive really does add to their game.

Another massive difference is that the Dutch continue to work with players & always keeping them at a level that suits.  While Premiership clubs (& youth teams in NI) replace up to 50% of their players it is no surprise long term development is not available & more & more players are leaving the game.

The DVD features BJ’s analysis on this & what he thinks about TWAcademy.  If you want to hear more & watch more sign up to our Facebook page & You Tube channel.

This experience will live with us all.  We have made a video show casing what we do along with footage from our tour.  Watch our video review by clicking this link!

Future

The boys will continue to train with myself on a weekly basis.  Some also have booked & continue to avail of my 1-on-1 coaching.  We will return to Holland.  We also have an invite from Portugal.  Short term we will look at taking the boys over to visit BJ in Durham & play his side as well as Sunderland or Newcastle.

We also hope to organise player & coach exchange between TWAcademy & in Holland.  Many of our players attracted interest.  So if you would like to find out more about getting your child involved simply contact me now, 077 4012 0788 or by email.

Thanks

TWAcademy.Org would like to thank our sponsors; Absolute Marketing, Grounded Espresso Bars & Kaizen Print.  We extend our thanks to all the children & parents for their support.  Finally we thank all the clubs & people in Holland that welcomed us along with BJ who put together one magical experience!

Prevention better than cure

I watched Sky Sports with interest today on their report about sport in school.  The Government have said they will cut £162 million from school sports…although surely prevention is better than cure?  The money that will be cut from sport will end up being spent on treatment and health clinics to try and cure preventable illnesses in children later in life.  In a day and age that the Government recommend children receive at least an hour activity per day they cut funding in sport!

My own award winning community programme has received plenty of interest but unfortunately not all Council’s welcome it. More pressure will be on independent, skilled coaches but what support & recognition do they receive?  I travelled to Holland last year and listened to a very interesting presentation by the Mayor of Oss.  I compare how the Dutch Council’s compare to our Council’s in Northern Ireland…

Oss is a city with 9 villages and small towns.  With 77,000 inhabitants & 125 nationalities, the Council insures plenty of activity for all.  The facilities on offer and sporting opportunities on offer is too much to mention in this report.  Although one fact which I will mention is that they spend €256 million (£233m) on sports funding each year.  On average they will spend €69 (£63) per person per year on sport!

How refreshing to see a Council wanting to provide for the community and work with sporting business’, sports clubs and organisations.

The Dutch Council was shocked that my local Council, the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast, does not promote my sports development programme.  I have touched on the subject before but Belfast City Council and a number of ‘our’ Councils will not support private run organisations – even my own award winning business.

Even if I do manage to get past the bookings officer and they accept a booking from me, in one of Belfast’s 11 Leisure Centres, they will charge £100 per 45 minute slot per week.  Yes you did read that right…..£100 per week!  If that is not enough to hinder me thinking about starting a programme for children that will develop their football skills along with their social skills and improve their health they charge a further £2 per child attending!

So for me to take a group of 20 children I would have to pay Belfast City Council £140 per week.  Or, if you like, £840 per 6 week term.  That would result in charging each child £7 per 45 minute class!  But how do I pay my coaches, insurance, equipment, petrol & support my family?  Well I would have to charge more!

Honestly, drug dealers get more freedom to operate in Belfast than my youth development programme that is open to all.  This country will never change; it will always remain a culture of, ‘who you know’ and ‘who you are’.  Although the lack of support and hatred I receive from Councils and Sports ‘Development’ officers is a compliment.  They are jealous of a successful programme that is run by a talented group of coaches – its competition!

I can’t find any information on what Belfast City Council spends on sport and leisure.  Although some interesting and confirmed facts that I found on their website (Belfast City Council) and from the Belfast Telegraph include the following;

  • 11 Leisure Centres operated by Belfast City Council.
  • £41 million loss in last 5 years, despite more than £50 million of rate payer’s money invested.
  • Not one Leisure Centre made profit or came close to breaking even.
  • Between 2002-2007 £53 million of public money was put into keeping the 11 facilities open.

Belfast City Council also claims the following;

  • Giving young people a sound start in sport.
  • Encouraging and supporting good relations.
  • Promoting physical activity and leisure.

Personally I can’t agree with any of the statements above.  They will argue back that I’m a business & I’m out to make money?  Well of course I need to make money; I have a family including 3 children to support!  Maybe Belfast City Council want higher poverty rates throughout the province.  Maybe they just want private ventures like my own to help recoup the millions that they are throwing away through poor management.

I could offer a long list of benefits what TWSports.Org offers through their inclusive and innovative products that are open to all.  That introduces toddlers from the age of 2 to sport.  Educating the importance of a healthy lifestyle; children and parents mixing socially; giving children more responsibility & freedom to be creative and develop their technical skills – oh, and developing young coaches and offering employment in the middle of a recession.  But that sounds too good to be true.

I am realistic that my programme is successful due to the hard work that my staff and I put in but more importantly the continued support we receive from parents, children, schools and other Councils and organisations in Northern Ireland.

As you can see from my headline; Northern Ireland are getting stuffed by a well managed country like Holland but there is a late surge of activity from Northern Ireland.  The fight back is on with the following starring…

  • Standard of health in general is lower than the UK average.
  • Numbers dying from heart disease in Northern Ireland are amongst the highest in Europe.

So two great facts to finish on over Holland…where did I gain this information?  Well, that again would be from the Belfast City Council website!  So those that are reading this report in Northern Ireland, maybe you should think twice about what our Politian’s are really doing.  Is this the way you want our children brought up?

I would love to hear what you think, please add your comments by clicking on the comment feed at the top of my story!

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