About thomascatbiscuit

I've been coaching for the biggest junior football club for 5 years , from u7's and now at u11's. I got into it because I took my step son to training and was asked by a coach if I wanted to get involved as its all voulanteer based at the club. Over the 5 years I've taken my FA Level 1,2 and FA youth module 1. Recently I lost my job and decided to give my passion a go and I've tried to go 'Pro' coach. It wasn't easy to get in somewhere, but I now coach for a private firm in cheshire and I now coach 6 teams for 2 clubs, after school sessions and I still coach my lads team!!! The aim of this blog is to help/guide fellow coaches, air my views and connect coaches with other like minded coaches.

Ps3 / xbox coaching

‘SHOOT’ ‘PASS’ are the shouts I hear a lot in grassroots football, even more so now as I’m currently coaching a group of U7’s on a Saturday and Monday evening. Currently every other Saturday we visit our local powerleague as the local league sets up a group of bi-weekly friendlies for 3 months, to help children & managers get use to match day. The teams are grouped by ability then they play a set of 3 x 5v5 fixtures 12 min fixtures against various teams. I have no real issue with that, apart from all the scouts there, everton sent 8 (yes 8) scouts to watch the games, but thats an issue for another day

My concern is the constant instructions shouted by the majority of coaches, they don’t understand the damage their doing to there players. They might as well be at home playing FIFA on the xbox or ps3 as their not letting their players think for themselves. It is hard not to shout, its taken me a while to do this when managing my sons u13 team on a Sunday during matches. You may think your not doing anything but you are and your players will be better thinking and faster decision makers long term for it. As a coach your turn to talk to a player is during the interval, if its really needed make a sub (as we have rolling subs) and talk to the player then.

At Grassroots clubs we insist on putting the most inexperienced players with the most inexperienced Manager/coaches. More must be done to help these coaches (if they want it) as bad habits die hard.


Hey Coach, leave those laps alone!!

Its that time of the year most players hate pre-season. Why do they hate it? Most pre-season session involve laps, press ups and beastings, without a football in sight.

I see this myself every season, as the field we train on is used by a number of teams ranging from u8’s to men’s teams. Unfortunately most of session aren’t dissimilar in content. I saw a team of u10’s do a lap round a field the size of 6 football pitches and then some work in-between some poles, so that’s half the team’s session gone before they’ve touched a ball and they’ll be knackered. That’s happened because the coach is a u17 player and doesn’t know any better, as he does it as a player there for it must be right?

I’m all for fitness work but it must be enjoyable and with a ball as much as possible and engage then mentally as well. When in a game do players run for long periods of time? Most players work in sprints.

You can run high intensity session’s that will get you players physically and mentally fit, with out beasting them before touching a ball. If you want to work on your teams fitness/stamina get the team to go on a regular bike ride or swimming session, that then leaves your normal training session for football.

So let’s see the end to laps at training sessions and more ball work…

Living the dream

So its been 12 months since I lost my job I’d had for 13 years!! Since then I’ve been trying to make it as a football coach & I’ve not done too bad to be honest. I’m head coach for a grassroots club, that means coaching 5 teams for mid-week training (u9/11/12/13/15’s) and help coach u9’s on a Saturday and my lads team (voluntary) on a Sunday. Also after school clubs and ppa work and I run the holiday camps for my local club. Wow actually typing that makes me realise how many children I actually deal with on a weekly basis…

That now means I’m bagging 16+ hours a week coaching experience and really toning my coaching expertise and philosophy. It’s not come easy as it was a few hours here and there at 1st but its come eventually just had show how flexible I was and be a ‘yes i a can’ man.

So anybody out there looking to start coaching for a living; any job in coaching is hard to find, full-time jobs are like rocking horse poop, it’s not a 9 to 5 job (the hours are all over the place) but persistence pays off, so keep going it’ll come eventually.

On a personal note I want to thank my family for all their support, the missus for her loving patient support and pushing me. Lastly little man because if he’d not wanted to play footy for a team 5 years ago I wouldn’t be a coach.

Parents Expectations

I had an interesting phone call from the office @ work this week. I coach a team of U9’s of mixed ability (c team) on a saturday morning with their manager (a newbie parent) and a fellow coach (from my firm) takes them on a monday night, I’m unable to do it due to me coaching my lads team. Some of the parents are unhappy with the teams results, the fact players don’t play in set/strongest position’s and I don’t take them for training on Monday as well as Match days. I was a bit unhappy to say the least, so was the volunteer manager/parent & the mid week coach as well.

I’ve been taking the team for 4 weeks now and they’ve played 3 games in that time & 5 games in total W1 D0 L4. Last week the manager played his strongest team to start and went 1-0 up in the 1st 3rd, held on in the 2nd after rotating players and position’s. Then got tired in the 3rd 3rd and conceded 2 late goals. The team played well but couldn’t get to grips with the game after going behind in the end.

The problems with this team is that they struggle with the basics (as most do at this age), they’ve not been shown what to do on a match day (where to play etc) and the manager is inexperienced, which in time all will be taken care of. The biggest problem is the parents and the expectations of there children and their team. The club aren’t helping with managing the parents expectations either.

At ALL grassroots clubs parents should be told that results are not important, player development is and its a long term thing, not something that happens overnight. No player has a strongest position and in my opinion players should have around the same playing time on match days. This can and should be done at an early stage, it can set the stage for the parents and help the parents understand the pressure they put on their children on match days etc

Parents are always going to want the best for their child (as a parent of 2 I know that myself), but it has to be a realistic one. The FA have to get to grips with this as well in turn this will help the respect campaign as the players get older.


ruffle feathers update

Just a quick update with the outcome of Thursdays meeting.

With the help of another coach at the club called Pavl Williams (@betterfootball on twitter), we had a chat before the meeting started (with Paul seeing my rant). We decided rather than be confrontational and come across as talking down to the coaches, we decided to put ourselves forward as coach mentors/educators for the club. This would be cpd’s, demo’s & ideas sharing and paul has a website http://betterfootball.net where we can give coaches resource through that.

Its early days for the idea/role but its unique in its format as far a grassroots football club, as we don’t think any other club does this. And with the club having 50+ teams and 2 coaches/manager per team and less than a 1/4 of them having level 2 then its a step in the right direction.

Ruffling feathers

So its the managers meeting tonight and I’m going to be bringing up the subject of the coaching at the club. I’ve been pondering doing this for time, as I’ve seen some poor coaching sessions lately. For example laps so the coach can set up an area or change what he’s doing. I was coaching at a rival club for my job on a sat morning and one of the teams @ the clubs I volunteer coach at was there playing a game, one of the u10’s teams and the coach had the players running and stretching up and down the width of the pitch!!!

I’m a bit apprehensive to say some thing as I don’t want a slanging match if someone takes it the wrong way. But whether its a match or a session give them a ball and get them mentally prepared for the game ahead or the session. I want my club to be the best not just the biggest!

If there’s any grassroots coaches reading this with a level 1 qualification its not enough! Your doing your players a disservice by not getting more qualified or looking for new ways of coaching, you’ll see the difference in your coaching and your players. I’ve taken a badge every year for the past 3 years (and I intend on taking my youth mod 2 next year), my coaching methods and beliefs have changed when I 1st started.

Coaching methods are constantly changing and you HAVE to keep yourself updated or your players won’t fulfil there potential.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Coach catbiscuit

Breaking the mold

So here we are, I hopping this blog can be used by other coaches and an example of some one who has NEVER played football at a competitive level, but has gone on to coach at a high level.

So back in May I lost my job I’d been doing for the 13 years as a Senior CAD operative, for the last 5 of them I’d also been volunteering for one of the biggest junior football clubs in Manchester, during my free time.  In that time I’ve taken 3 qualifications (FA level 1 & 2, FA Youth Mod 1) and had a real passion for it and always wanted to try to coach as a job. With the support of my partner, I decided to give it a go. The 1st 3 months were really hard, but I was given a phone number of an owner of a footballing firm that wanted new coaches, by a friend who was a local Football Development Officer.

After the initial phone interview and test session, I was offered a position of coach on casual hours, not great but its a foot in the door. The hours started low (2 hours) and now I’m doing 12 hours +, I’m always on the look out for more!

I’ve gone from coaching 1 team to now coaching U9/11/12/13 x 2 teams/15 and after school sessions!! So my coaching hours and experience has become massive & I’m working with players of all abilities.

I’ll be blogging about my experiences, opinions, coaches and resources.