As you’re probably aware, the 2018/19 season will see AC Hoylake fielding more teams than ever before, and because each team now needs to have at least one FA Level 1 accredited coach in charge, we’ll need more qualified coaches on our books than ever before.
So if you manage a team in any age group, and you’ve not already done your FA Level 1 course, I’d honestly recommend you get out and do it as soon as you possibly can.
What happens on the Level 1 course?
The itinerary can look a little daunting at first – 9am to 5pm on four successive Saturdays, with a couple of midweek classes thrown in – but while the classroom work and the online element of the course can be a little dry, it’s mainly about getting out on the pitch and playing football.
This focus on getting out and playing – or ball rolling, as the coaches call it - really gets the message across that kids learn best when there’s a ball at their feet, and every drill you do should be based on real-game situations.
You'll have to complete an online module before your first practical session, and there will be two classroom-based sessions on safeguarding and first aid, but the rest of the course then takes place on the training ground, and you'll only be back in the classroom to briefly review how the sessions went.
Who is the FA Level 1 good for?
If, like me, you got into coaching purely by accident – I was the one who didn’t think to check my phone or examine my finger nails when the question “who fancies coaching these lads then?” was asked – then you’ll get loads out of the course.
The support network at AC Hoylake is brilliant - I’m eternally indebted to Chris Hughes for getting me through those first few tough months when my group of unruly nine-year-olds would either be leathering footballs everywhere or leathering each other – but the Level 1 course has helped me improve 100%.
Even if you’ve been coaching for a few years and feeling pretty proficient, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn from doing your Level 1. And no matter what you think of the FA at the top level, they really have got this part of the game sussed.
The course covers everything from drills that will keep them engaged and help them learn, to safeguarding and how your role as a coach is more than teaching them how to play football, to first aid instruction that is essential but hopefully none of us will ever have to put into practice.
That said, I almost had to put my first aid training into practice five minutes into the lesson as they guy next to me took a funny turn and collapsed – it was one of those weird moments where you’re not sure if it’s a wind-up, but no, he actually collapsed and was out for about 30 seconds, before he came around and had no clue what had just happened.
I also managed to do another fella’s knee in during one of the drills – well he did his own knee in slide tackling me – told him to run it off, which didn’t really help. So, yeah, the first aid part of the course is actually really useful.
Six coaches from AC Hoylake have recently done their Level 1 – myself, Jamie Johnson, Jay Ebbrell, Andy Cook, Andy Pennington, and Aaron Hewitt – and I can't speak for everyone, but I certainly feel a lot more confident and comfortable about my coaching having completed the course.
When should you do your Level 1?
Do your Level 1 as soon as possible.
It’s not easy for everyone to give up their free time at the weekends, particularly when it’s a full eight-hour day, but it really is worth it – I’m entering my fifth season as coach, and I really wish I’d done it when mine we under 10s instead of under 13s, it’s not only helped me to give the kids more useful and engaging training sessions, it’s helped me get a better understanding of how they learn, all of which has improved our training sessions 100%.
There are two courses coming up in Ellesmere Port in August and September this year, it’s a great facility and dead easy to get to, so if you can sign up for one of these courses, you should do as soon as possible. The club will pay your fees, so all you need to take is your boots, a packed lunch, and a willingness to learn.
For more information, go to The Cheshire FA.
Updated 16:56 - 16 Aug 2018 by Paul Williams