Grassroots coach, Diego Pagliuso, shares some ideas on how to introduce futsal to new players and new groups.
When providing a futsal session to new players or new groups we must remember it is a new sport and a new environment, and our main goal is to facilitate the kids’ enjoyment so they want to come back. We want them to be engaged in this new activity so I try to consider the following:
- Let them explore the ball, the surface and the speed of the game. This includes introducing basic tools that will help players achieve more success in the sessions (for example, using the sole of the foot to control the ball)
- Increase repetition. This means no lines and no pattern training. In contrast, it means lots of games and smaller versions (1v1,2v1s and 2v2s). I want to provide the kids with lots of opportunities to try attacking and defending in dynamic games.
- Play a futsal match 5v5 and expose them to some of the futsal rules.
Get familiar with the ball and specific techniques
I always start my new groups with a ball mastery warm up. This is either a ball each or one ball between two players. The aim is to let players get familiar with the new surface and the ball as well as introduce some of the most basic techniques that will help the players have more success, like the use of the sole of the foot to manipulate the ball. During the warmup players will normally work out that the ball travels faster and that new ways of controlling the ball might be required. I also like to use fun dynamic games to challenge and engage the players. I like to stretch them with games that push them slightly out of their comfort zone. For example, tag with a ball, or another constraint that will make players run and dribble with the ball in an environment with interference.
Providing players with lots of chances to have a go is one of my main objectives when welcoming new players. Normally I do games like 1v1s in the chaos where I split players into pairs and they play 1v1 games with different objectives (it could be towards goals but can only score inside the “D , or towards an end zone, etc.) By making it chaotic with lots of 1v1s happening everywhere, players will have lots of repetition without waiting time and develop cognitive aspects of their game as more decisions have to be made. I normally change partners every two minutes, so players get to have different challenges. I might progress this kind of game into 2v2s or even 3v3s. Another type of practice I normally use in the first session is a transition wave game with the ball starting from me. That environment will be a bit more controlled with one game happening at a time, but it will still provide lots of quality repetition.
Matches are vital
Every kid wants to play a match, and I believe we need to provide that. This is a good opportunity to show them some of the basic futsal rules, gradually increasing the difficulty depending on the age group. I usually start by explaining goal clearances and kick ins have to be controlled and played within 4 seconds, then I get onto the pass back rule to the GK. If working with younger age groups, I might be a bit more lenient with the rules if that enables the sessions to flow more and the kids to have a more positive and engaging experience, but it is important we understand the benefits of playing to the rules properly as early as possible.
What is important to you when introducing players to futsal?
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