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GROI Hall of Fame

GROI don't just highlight the problems in British grass roots football. We know how to make things better. See our 'Hall of Fame' top three (which are the basis of the GROI philosophy), plus more...

1. Love

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GROI believe in 'loving the ball' and some clubs are at last starting to embrace this! It's a minority at the moment but there is hope...

By 'loving the ball' we mean staying on the ball longer in order that young players can do more with it, 'unlocking' better opportunities and making better decisions. By staying on the ball longer and 'looking after it' you are developing more ball skills in a game situation, more confidence, abilility and strength on the ball and a better long term platform for their development. Your players will undoubtedly have much more opportunity to practice genuine skills in a game situation (fients, fakes, turns, drag backs, stop and go, shielding and more). Remember, 95% of a child's neural development (hard wiring in the brain) is complete by the age of ten so they desperately need to practice these skills at a young age in order to give the best platform for when they are older. Ignore this opportunity at your peril! You may be responsible for restricting the brain development of your players!

Let's make it clear; we are not saying 'don't pass' but we are leaning them in the love direction whilst encouraging them to make their own decisions on when to 'share the love' (pass, cross, shoot). They must decide when to stay on the ball in order to create better options but they still have the freedom to make a first time pass / shot / cross when appropriate. Each phase of play will differ in the amount of 'love' shown to the ball by each player but every bit of love counts whether it is a second or 20 seconds! As all players in your team improve their 'on the ball' skills you will in time actually see an improvement in passing as they will TRUST eachother to retain possession in tighter situations. GROI would also encourage you to challenge players to keep the ball in play 'wherever possible'; after all you concede possession to the other team when you kick it out!

Try measuring pass completion (see outside the box) on the back of a 'love' philosophy and you will see the rewards.

Warning!

Unfortunately the 'get rid' / 'pass it' culture is so deeply ingrained in this country that as soon your players get caught in possession too often or god forbid you concede a goal or  'lose a game' the 'we need to release it earlier' / 'pass it more' brigade will make their presence known.

The problem here is similar to that covered under coaching cliches in the Hall of Shame. 'We need to release it earlier' or 'we need to pass it more' is not a specific instruction and will often translate into panic ridden 'hot potato' football where players feel under pressure to 'get rid' or 'pass' irrespective of what is in front of them in the game at any given time. GROI ask what is worse; a pass to the opposition, a clearance off the pitch or being caught in possession. At least with the latter the player is getting chance to practice the very skills that are sadly missing in the British game.

So be prepared to stand by your philosophy when things don't always go to plan. A young player will typically play around 300+ matches in their youth career so keep in mind the bigger picture and don't sacrifice your beliefs based on 1 incident, 1 game or run of bad results. Furthermore, within these 300 matches the player who is encouraged to be creative will be practising skills to beat an opponent 1,000's of times whereas the player who is encouraged to 'release' 'get rid' or 'clear' whenever an opponent is near or their is apparent danger will at best acheive a small fraction of this practice. Who will end up as the better player?

GROI tip > Challenge your players to move the ball around without looking at it! The sole of the foot is particulalry good for this exercise. This practice will enable your players to have their head up and be aware of their surroundings WHILST keeping control of the ball. Christiano Ronaldo does this this brilliantly and you will often see him doing it in pre-match warm ups. Dare we say you could even give your child a ball to keep in their bedroom so they practice this on a daily basis!

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2. Trust

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Coaches, parents and supporters should TRUST your children / players to MAKE DECISIONS. GROI believe that the complete player excels in terms of TECHNIQUE, SKILL and DECISION MAKING. Too often a player may show good technique and skill (being able to execute techniques in opposed / match situations) but then fall down in the decision making area, often choosing a poor option based on the picture around them. On the evidence we have seen this may well be down to the adult influences and stressful environment surrounding them; 'Get Rid', 'Clear It', 'Kick it', 'Pick it up', 'Pass It', 'Easy ball', 'Down the line', 'Square ball', 'Keep going', 'Cross it', 'Shoot'; you get the idea! If players become used to taking instructions you are training them not to think!

In some cases, where a player feels like they are recieving conflicting instructions, for example from the coach and parents / supporters their brain can become emotionally 'hijacked' forcing them to freeze and avoid any action for fear of failure.

In contrast, if you TRUST your players to make decisions and accept that things will not always work you will develop  confident and creative players that welcome challenges, take risks, understand how to learn from mistakes and play without fear. A good coach will be able to offer tips, guidance and intuitive Q&A along the way but will not underestimate the ability of children to think for themselves.

Real life example

GROI witnessed a recent U9 match where within seconds the away team were bombarded with instructions from the supporters touch line, pumped up into a panic style of play that actually saw them take the lead against the run of play. The home coach however remained calm and trusted his players to play the football they knew and make their own decisions with just the occassional reminder re 'shape' which they had been working on in training. 

By half time the equaliser was scored and the home team talk was easy; Coach: 'Did you notice how the away team supporters were shouting instructions at their players all the time?' Team: 'YES!' Coach: 'Well we don't need to do that with you, because you are good players and we TRUST you to make decisions - keep playing as you are and you will create more chances'. The home team, with confidence high, were first back out onto the pitch and sure enough, as the second third and fourth goals went in without reply the away players looked towards their supporters for advice! To be fair to the away team coach, he was trying to coach in the right way, it's just that the supporters were spoiling things for the team.

GROI tips > 1. Being a volunteer coach isn't easy. As well as coaching the players you will need on-going communication with parents and supporters regarding what to expect and what is best for your players development. Hopefully, your club will provide support from the Chairman down but rather than wait for it you may need to be pro-active yourself in order to protect your players.

2. By TRUSTING your players to make decisions you are setting a good example for them to TRUST eachother with the ball; 'loving' it as required and 'sharing the love' at the right moment.

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3. License to Skill

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This is another big one that links well with 'Love' and 'Trust'. Your children / players should have a 'license to skill'. Once again, remember that 95% of neural development (brains hard wiring) is complete by the age of 10 therefore it's crucial that young players are encouraged to practice and execute ball skills in order to provide the best platform for their older years and maximise their footballing potential.

The problem with the British culture is that skills are often the first thing to be frowned upon when things go wrong; 'Should have released it earlier', 'Not there / in your own penalty area / half', 'pass it', 'ball hogger', 'greedy', 'easy ball', 'play the way you're facing' etc etc. The outcome of this attitude is that skills are still being suffocated out of our game in favour of the traditional fast, physical and panic ridden British style.

For some reason, in Britain it is much more acceptable to miss place a pass, miss control the ball, kick the ball off the pitch or hoof the ball up the field than to be caught in possession. GROI are passionate that this has to change into an environment where genuine ball skills are celebrated (anywhere on the pitch) whilst accepting that things will sometimes not work. The amount of PRACTICE that this will foster will ensure that in ten years time you will see the difference in our national team and players at all levels will be able to express themselves in ways that otherwise would have been restricted.

Give your players a 'License to Skill'!

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Futsal

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FUTSAL - the next big thing in the UK!

Find out why here > Could FUTSAL produce an English Lionel Messi?

Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo: "In Portugal, all we played growing up was Futsal. The smaller court helped my footwork skills, the nature of the game made me feel so free when I played. If it wasn't for Futsal, I would definitely not be the player I am today."

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Analogies and Pictures

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Talk to your players in a language that they understand, that is appropriate for their age using analogies and pictures wherever possible.

More coming soon.

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Get Them Thinking!

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More coming soon.

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Peer Assessment

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More coming soon.

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Team Focus and Individual Challenges

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No Pressure

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GROI believe that young players perform better when they are relaxed and able to THINK. Most have a natural desire to win so embrace this and let them play. Don't hi-jack their brain by adding uneccessary pressure before or during the game. Furthermore if results don't go their way don't dwell on it afterwards with a full scale investigation. Children will be dissappointed (sometimes upset) with a loss but they will bounce back very quickly in contrast to some adults that can mull it over all week!

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