I’ve embarked on the Level Two Certificate in Coaching Football with FA Learning and Suffolk FA this week, and throughout his time on the course...

I’ve embarked on the Level Two Certificate in Coaching Football with FA Learning and Suffolk FA this week, and throughout his time on the course will be sharing his experiences and hopefully encourage others to take their next steps into coaching…

Day One – 2 April 2012

For a while now I’ve been planning to take the Level Two Certificate in Coaching Football, but when I think back to when I took the Level One, I can’t really believe nearly ten years has passed. For two days in July 2002 I spent the weekend in Regents Park, London, with a group of FA Colleagues to take my first steps in coaching. But work, family, and my own attempts to play the game has meant that finding the opportunity to progress has been tricky.

But having taken over as player-manager at my local team, Boxted Lodgers in the Essex & Suffolk Border League, just before Christmas and my ‘career’ after playing coming more and more into focus, I cleared my diary and enrolled through the Suffolk FA.

And as it is not compulsory to have earned the Level One certificate to start the Level Two, my lengthy learning hiatus didn’t matter. Originally, the first six days of the ten day course were due to take place in the February half-term holiday, but the heavy snow put paid to that. Now, this week, with the college students of our course venue Suffolk One starting their Easter break, I finally arrived in Ipswich for the opening day of the course.

Sitting down in the classroom, I was surprised by the age spread across of the 18 candidates. The youngest is around 18 years old, the oldest is perhaps 60. Our course tutor is Keith Webb, previously a player and coach at Norwich City and manager of King’s Lynn, who has been involved in player development for the best part of 30 years.

After his introduction to the Level Two course, which included the principles of play for attacking and defending, styles of coaching, and the distribution of the hefty candidate pack, we headed out onto the college’s artificial pitch to start our first of many practical sessions this week aimed at preparing us for a 35-minute assessment in September.

I’m approaching my 34th birthday and have played competitive football at various levels since I joined my youth team, Reed Hall Sentinals, when I was nine. From Sunday League to the Isthmian and Essex Senior Leagues, there aren’t too many weekends in the last 25 years that I’ve not been at football, so have quite a lot of experience of playing the game. But despite this, Monday’s first few sessions showed me a lot.

Not about the techniques involved necessarily, but how to incorporate them into coaching drills to teach to others. We learned about passing short and long, creating space, the different ways to encourage players to receive the ball – and when – and drills on turning with the ball. Each was shown first as the technique – how to do it – with the players working unopposed during the drill.

We then looked at the skill side of things, when opposition was introduced forcing players to decide when the right time was to employ the technique. Finally, the sessions would progress into a game-related scenario.

Keith, as coach, would follow the coaching cycle – observe, see fault, coach and correct, recreate, play – stepping in to work on improving the players in each session.

So, though we spent around five hours training in the sun, it’s not about improving us as players, but teaching us how to coach and improve players ourselves. On Wednesday we have our first chance of running a short session, but tomorrow I expect more of the same, maybe minus the sun. So for now, with tired eyes and weary legs after Day One, it’s time for some rest.

If you are keen to get into coaching, whether that’s at Level Two, or any other of the courses on offer, click here to find out about local courses or here for the national course information. There is also a host of online courses available via The FA Learing website.