When it comes to coaching the skills of Gaelic football knowing the key points of each skill allows us the opportunity coach our players when we see the skills breaking down. We learn from repetition and having the skills broken down into a serious of questions which draws the answers from our players so over time as we prompt answers from these questions will make it easier for our players to understand how to perform each skill.
Note With U8s U10s and U12s the attention span is low and so spending time going through the technique maybe hard but will prove worth while as they get older when it comes to correcting errors and will save time for you as a coach down the road.
Introduce the technique of the skill spending (3-5 min’s)
· Breakdown the key points of each skill – repeat x 3
· Ask Q’s from the players to check that understand each of the key points of the skill. By asking Q’s we look for the answer’s back from the players, if they know the answer’s you can do not more and it’s up to the player to put it into practise. This may not seem important but it makes it easier on us as coaches to correct technical errors when we see them in games.
· Demonstrate each skill at normal speed x 3 and from different angles so that each player has a chance to see the technique
· Demonstrate the pt’s of the skill and again ask Q’s for understanding from the players
Key Points – Questions to Prompt Answers from Players· Ask them what direction is your toe pointing when you do a solo – Answer “Up to your nose”
· Demonstrate – We wrap our toe’s around the front of the ball to bring the ball unto towards your hands to catch
· Ask players what hand they drop the ball from for right leg solo and visa versa – Answer right hand right leg .This is very important as some players will drop from incorrect hand and this is especially true when we encourage/force them to solo with the weaker leg. It will take many attempts over time as well as repeated Q’s to get this technique to sink into a players mind.
· For U10 or strong players encourage them to drop the ball from one hand, solo and catch with two –this prevents player spinning ball
· When soloing at speed or when using the weaker foot a common error is the ball not coming back up the hand to be caught. This is because the player is not kicking the ball hard enough. So to fix this demonstrate a solo but only tipping the ball so that it does not come back to you, this will highlight to them that unless they kick it hard enough the ball will not come back up to them. Re-message this by Asking “ We don’t tip it Answer –We kick it
· Some players solo by bringing the foot up towards the ball before releasing the ball and this will prevent a player from ever soloing at speed. Fix this by demonstrating the leg must be straight when making contact with the ball for players to solo at full speed. The leg can only be straight when it makes contact with the ball by waiting the till the ball almost hits the ground before the foot makes contact. It will take a player with this problem repeated attempts and time to correct this bad technique. For U8s with this problem we can fix this problem by getting the player to have elbows straight (stress elbows straight) and hold the ball with both hands down at pocket level but away from the body. Ask player to release ball by taking hands away to the side and wait until for the ball to almost hit the ground before foot makes contact.
· Players holding the ball in the incorrect hand , right hand for left leg solo and left hand for right leg solo
· What direction is the toe pointing when doing a solo.
· Toe wrapped around which part of the ball A)Back B)Middle C)Front – Answer Front
· Which hand is ball dropped from for right leg – Answer right hand
· We don’t tip it –Answer We kick it
· To solo at speed the leg must be – Answer Straight
· A Ball each B)Between two C) Between 3 players
· Each player does two solo’s on right and two on left leg before giving to partner to do same
Drills – Introduce Speed to the Skill
Shuttle race – You need a ball for each player
· Divide players into groups with each having a different coloured cone
· Using flexible cones place a cone for each player (same colour as group cone) 30 meters (or enough to do 3 solo’s) from group cone
· Players solo race to team cones and balance the ball on a flexible cone before sprinting back and touching the next player
This will expose the following errors
· Ball going out in front of player instead of back up to hands – Answer toe pointing up towards nose
· Ball not coming back up to player – Answer Don’t tip kick it
Zig Zag Solo – To get players using left and right leg
· Set cones (Each Group has their own colour to make it easy for them to follow directions) in a Zig Zag formation. The distance between cones is enough to allow each player to perform a bounce in between each cone.
· To make each player practise on both feet the player solos with the outside leg when going turning at each cone.
· Once last cone is reached the players do not solo back in reverse direction but straight back and this prevents other players waiting to go.
The Four Steps - How many can we take in Gaelic Football –Answer 4 steps
· Majority of players (including seniors) solo after only 1 step which gives bad habits such as not lifting their to look down the field
· Start by asking the players how many steps can a player take before taking your first solo - Answer 8 steps
· Get players do soloing over a nice distance (U10 30/40 Meters) and practise taking 4 steps before bouncing and 4 more before soloing
· This will take time achieve so have players do this half pace to allow them to judge the 4 steps
· Finish by asking players if they would bounce on a wet pitch
Grid Solo – Players performing Soloing while crossing each others path and line of vision
· Ask players what happens when they lose control o a solo during a match
· Divide players into even groups each with their own coloured cone and give each group 1 ball
· Mark out a large rectangle with cones
· On whistle the first ball player from each group solo’s at speed in whatever direction they choose but must stay inside the rectangle
· This will lead to players crossing each others line of vision and path forcing them keep control while avoiding the other players
· To make it competitive award points according to what order the players lose control of the solo and drop the ball onto the ground. Eg 4 groups award 1 to 4 pts with 1 being bad (1st player to lose control , 2 pts for second player etc) and 4 for the winner (last player soloing)
· If players have very good technique and not losing control there are two options
· A - Get players to solo with lazy (weaker) foot
· B - Allow players to try and knock the ball away from each other
Send in the Clowns – Introduces Opposition
· All players line up at one cone
· Mark out a large rectangle with cones
· Depending on total number of players give a certain number players a ball each
· Ask players what happens in a game when they lose control of their solo
· Nominate1 player to chase and dispossess a player in possession without fouling, by flicking ball away or force player to lose control
· When player dispossessed they return to back of the line and the next clown is sent in to dispossess the new player in possession
· Works on fitness also
Through The Gate
· You need slalom poles
· Sort players into pairs alternating between back and forward
· Give a ball between each pair
· Mark out a large rectangle with cones
· Create gates by placing slalom poles inside the large rectangle one more set of gates then the numbers pairs going any one time
· Give the forward 20/3- sec’s to solo through as many gates as possible while the back tries to prevent from doing same
· Next time change back and forward
· Works on defending and fitness also
Fun Game – Especially for U8’s
· Solo Tag – Same as tag except players have a ball and have to solo after the other players and try to tag with the ball
· Make it competitive giving 4 players a ball each
· Mark out a large rectangle with four different coloured cones
· Place each of the 4 players at a cone
· Every time a player tags another player that player must go and stand at that players coloured cone
· Winner is the player who has tagged the most players
The majority of players are predominately one sided when it comes to soloing and trying to get them to practise with the weaker foot can be a challenge. If we can get players to understand that reason they cannot solo with the weaker foot is not because they have a wake , bad or rubbish leg but because they are to lazy the practise. If we keep sending this message to players then over time they will realise the key to using both feet is themselves practising