Football at home during a lockdown

Football at home during a lockdown

Football at home blog

The lockdown has hit everybody hard both financially and not being able to do the things we would usually do on a daily basis. Without doubt the is the correct course of action and certainly for the greater good, and if everyone buys in then hopefully this will not last for to much longer. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the NHS for the amazing work they are doing in this difficult time.

Although in the grand scheme of things this is far down the list of people struggling the football fraternity going from playing/training 3 or 4 times a week to nothing can be very difficult to come to terms with both mentally and physically.

Like everyone we have to adapt and use our isolation time wisely and be as productive as possible.
From a football perspective the one area of gain is that this time provides a big opportunity to practice technical work and engage in informal/unstructured play. I’ve had several questions from players and parents around football at home so below I will hopefully answer some of your questions.

How/when should I train. This would vary on the individual. Through our app we send out a session plan per day as part of our IPDP (individual player development program) we a have around 400 players from 6 countries completing challenges on a weekly basis. Approx 50% like to complete tasks daily. This would take around 30mins depending on the task. We also see around 30% of players going through the challenges twice per week. This would take longer maybe 2 hours. We also get a smaller amount players that appear maybe once per week and complete certain challenges. There’s no right or wrong way the enthusiasm of the player to train will dictate this. Below are a few tips when thinking about a home training program

Ratio – this is really important hence why I’ve put it top of the list. I would encourage a 75:25 ratio in favour of ‘free play’ over structure. I.e if a player is completing our daily task we try and ensure the challenges/session lasts around 20/30mins, from there I would actively encourage the player to do what he/she wanted for the rest of the time. Free play is Imperative for the player to want to keep coming outside and playing. If you edge over that ratio I feel we risk disengaging the player and worse still them not wanting to go and play.

Content of structure – this again is really important to get right to make the most of the opportunity. I see lots of keep up style sessions posted out. Whilst I would agree they have a place I feel it should only form part of the players football diet. Our IPDP keep ups form around 20% of the weekly program. Ensure you practice all of the core technical components during the window of structure. We try and focus on a different component everyday. Receiving on Mondays, passing Tuesdays, keep ups Wednesdays, dribbling Thursdays and shooting Fridays. We have left the shooting to the end of the week as this is something all players of all ages love to do and gives them something to look forward to! I also assume during free play that shooting would be prevalent.

Equipment and space – again as long as you have a ball of some sort (a football is obviously ideal but I’ve seen tennis and squash balls used) and even a small space you can still be productive.
The key with this is to be as creative as possible with the equipment and space you have (I’ve seen rolled up socks used as a ball!). Our app program only requires a ball and then the use of household objects as obstacles markers etc. A wall is always very productive for ball striking and receiving exercises. Again I’ve seen lots of very imaginative ideas ranging from a turned down bench to a disused fence post as a rebounder to use. This is great and enforces the player to use initiative and to be creative when training. There are lots of training aids on the market currently but I would suggest you work with what you have rather then forming out on expensive gadgets.

Other tips include

– encourage a player to use both feet. Again it maybe a ratio of 3:1 to start with so the player still feels success. The lockdown time is really useful to practice things you may not ordinarily do due to a busy life schedule. Using your other foot is something nearly every player could improve on so use the time wisely and disguise it if you have to!

– encourage where possible for the player to strike moving balls, I see lots of dead ball striking pummelling a dead ball into an open goal. Whilst this maybe therapeutic it has little benefit unless you are looking to build technique. Our back spin low drive pass which is passing level 2 allows for a dead ball strike to help the player establish the technique, other than this everything we do is on the move to replicate a game. So please encourage players to strike a moving ball with both feet.

– difficulty levels, again this must be carefully approached. If a player is practicing a new technique and cannot complete this can be disheartening and could lead to disengagement. I advise starting to learn the technique in a ‘block building’ process. Our program has increasing difficulty levels, which start with the basic and gradually work up. We’ve seen a significant improvement in players who have started a technique on level 1 and progressed through to level 8. If they started on level 8 I think it would be highly unlikely players would have been able to complete the technique without the previous staging process. Another piece of advise I would offer is that if the player is becoming frustrated maybe go back to something they like and are good at and practice that before going back to it. I love the perseverance aspect of learning these new skills but it’s a fine line and keeping engagement and enjoyment are paramount!

– Establish a routine – if possible try and establish a routine where you go out at a similar time everyday. I’ve noticed of the players who complete daily they all seem to post at a similar time every day. This suggests a routine to get into where the player looks forward to getting out and playing. The routine should in part be dictated by the player and when the players wants to play. If you can build that daily/every other day routine this seems consistent among players who complete the challenges everyday.

– make it competitive – in my experience interest and enthusiasm levels spike where there is competition involved. We have a weekly leaderboard and a World Series where we post success. You can keep it very simple I.e 10 shots how many go in? And of them how many in a set target? Recording this can be a great way of keeping players interested.

– reminisce/make plans – this is a great time to recall past glories (players and parents) look over old pictures, watch videos and highlight all the good things the player has achieved.
Also discuss and make future plans. This is a great way if giving and end in sight and something to look forward to will hopefully ease the current situation.

I also get questions around our app program and who it is available for. The app is open for all players in all areas. We currently have players in Dorset, London, Exeter, Devon, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Southampton, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Spain, Germany, Bulgaria, USA, Australia and the British Virgin Islands on our app completing challenges everyday. The app is free to download and you can watch our videos or follow our daily IPDP plan. The sessions cater for all abilities from our minis program, to our ProSeries and FS Freestyle for more advanced players. The app can be downloaded on AppStore or Android by searching for Champion PlayerPathway. Users from abroad use postcode BH15 3BT to complete registration

60/90mins per day or every other day will make a significant positive impact on your technical and physical ability. Remember 75:25 ratio in favour of free play!

Stay safe and let’s hope we are back playing in the near future!

Daniel Neville


Champion PlayerPathway App

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