Wednesday 28 November 2012

Player Profile - Zac - 3yrs

Player Profile - Zac- 3yrs 

For our final player profile of the year, we have Zach from our North Shore franchise, an aspiring fireman and doting big brother =)

Name:  Zachary Hyde

Age: 3

Venues of Little Kickers attended: Mairangi Bay & Takapuna

How long have you been coming to Little Kickers? 1 1/2 years 

What is your favourite little Kickers game? Running races

What do you like best about little kickers? Playing games and my super fast team

What do you want to be when you grow up? Fireman

What’s your favourite healthy food? Bananas. I eat one before every soccer time

Who's your favourite coach? Coach George

What do you love? My baby sister coz then Santa will bring me presents

Parent says: Love it, keeps him active and is developing a love for all sports.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Player Profile - Dejaun 5yrs 

Introducing our player profile this month!

A future sprinter in the making, please welcome Dejaun from one of our Auckland Central East franchise!

Name:  Dejaun Naidoo

Age: 5 

Venues of Little Kickers attended: Meadowbank, Glendowie

How long have you been coming to Little Kickers? 14 months 

What is your favourite little Kickers game? The jet plane game and learning new tricks

What do you like best about little kickers? Playing a game of soccer at the end in a team

What do you want to be when you grow up? A sprinter like Usain Bolt!

What’s your favourite healthy food? Apples, strawberries and cucumbers

Who is your favourite coach? Coach Raphael

What do you love? Listening to music, dancing and soccer.

Parent says: 

Little Kickers is a great way to develop ball skills in children in an enjoyable way. Children go through drills and learn how to control the ball without even knowing it as they having so much fun. Our son has grown from skill to skill and it is great to now see him developing a team player spirit as well! Dejaun looks forward to his soccer game every week and so do we!

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Lenny's Top Secret Garden Game

Hello Little Kickers! 

Lenny dropped by again and look what he left behind! Another top secret Garden Game for you to try at home. 

Get your kicking boots on and give it a go!

Thursday 25 October 2012

Garden Games

Looking for ideas for your children to practice their football skills at home? Have a look at the games below and have fun teaching them to your kids.

A great way to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon and to keep fit =)

Car garage

Corner of a corner of the garden. This is the car garage. Get your child/children dribbling around the garden. When you blow the whistle, the children have to quickly dribble their football into the car garage. To make it more interesting, you can time how quickly they get their ball into the car garage or you can try to get their balls from your child.

Race mummy/daddy

This is a very simple race game, all you have to do is race your child/children. 

Make sure your child/children dribbles the ball in and out of the cones and keeps the ball nice and close. 

Hope you have a ball trying out these games!

Thursday 11 October 2012

Player Profile - Aston & Sienna - 6yrs

We have 2 player profiles in one post again this month but this time we have TWINS! Introducing Aston & Sienna...

Name:  Aston and Sienna Pickmere

Age: 6

Venues of Little Kickers attended: Mega Kickers Mt Albert/ Previously Takapuna

How long have you been coming to Little Kickers? 
2 Terms

What is your favourite little Kickers game? 
Aston: Leap Frog    
Sienna: Crab Game

What do you like best about little kickers? 
Playing games

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Aston: Scientist  
Sienna: Vet

What’s your favourite healthy food? 

Aston: Pears, Feijoas  
Sienna: Nectarine

Who is your favourite coach? 
Aston: Coach Andrew and Coach Raphael  
Sienna: Coach Raphael 

What do you love? 
Aston: Trashies  
Sienna: Chasing the coaches to put the balls away.

Parent says: 
Really good for honing their skills playing on the quick surface.  The kids confidence has improved and this is reflected when playing games on Saturdays.  They love Mega Kickers and will be back for preseason training early next year.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Player Profile - Stella & Julia - 4 & 2yrs

Player Profile - Stella & Julia - 4 & 2yrs

We have 2 player profiles in one post this month, sisters, Stella & Julia, who attend our sessions at Takapuna.

Name:  Stella & Julia Burns

Age: 4 & 2

Venues of Little Kickers attended: Takapuna

How long have you been coming to Little Kickers? 
Stella since she was 2 
Julia since she was 18months (Total 2 yrs for Stella and 1 yr for Julia)

 What is your favourite little Kickers game? 
Stella: Big kicks and being the goalie 
Julia: Big kicks and jumping

What do you like best about little kickers? 
Stella: Seeing my friends and the coaches 
Julia: Wearing my goal shoes!

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Stella: A mummy 
Julia: A fireman

What’s your favourite healthy food? 
Stella: Spinach lasagne & spaghetti bolognese 
Julia: Porridge

Who is your favourite coach? Stella & Julia: Daddy, Nicky & Lisa

What do you love? 
Stella: Reading books 
Julia: Staying up late

Parent says: 
We love taking the girls to "goal" each Saturday morning. They always enjoy themselves and we have watched them learn not just skills like big kicks and little kicks but also colours, counting, and more importantly, how to follow instructions, listen to teachers, and play well with others.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Football Success Through Inclusion Not Perfection

This week's post is courtesy of one of our Little Kickers coaches from the UK but we've found the content very relevant for us folks here in New Zealand too.

Introducing Coach Dave...

Football Success Through Inclusion Not Perfection

15 years or so ago I became quite keen on the game of golf. My ability was limited to say the least, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing. The scenery, the company, the gentle exercise, the sense of achievement, were all highly appealing. Then again, all these attributes still appeal to me but I haven't picked up a club since the turn of the millennium. Whilst I found that I could hack my way around any course in my unorthodox style, and my putting was as good as any of my peers, I felt a massive pressure to improve.

This pressure came from friends who were better than me. It would appear their beef with my game was my swing, or lack of it. Rather than starting directly above my head, it started from about a 35% angle behind my back leg. I was perfectly happy playing like this – being in my early 20's, any chance of winning the Open had long gone. But they wouldn't let it go. "You've got so much power, you could be awesome if you had a correct swing" was the kind of comment I'd hear on loop. Finally, I gave in and booked a course of lessons with a 'pro'. He was not amused by my style of golf at all. "You can't do that, you must do this, that and the other". I tried, but the higher my swing starting point, the more air shots I made. And that was when I wasn't hacking lumps out the turf. I was hitting everything but the ball.

I persisted for months with what I'd been 'taught'. But gradually lost patience and fell out of love with the game. It wasn't fun any more. It was hard work, frustrating, even embarrassing. When I heard Bubba Watson had surprisingly won the US Masters, one commentator described his style as "Like watching an octopus cut down a tree with a chainsaw". He then went on to remark on how ridiculous Bubba's long arms would look poking out the end of the Green Jacket's sleeves. This seasoned pundit was pretty much saying 'how could such an unorthodox freak win one of golf's biggest prizes?' A man who by his own admission has never taken a single golf lesson! Well he won it pal, and he won it his way.

Who actually wrote the manual for sports which says 'you can't do that and you must do this'? Surely if a technique works and gets results, then it's right. Yes practice is vital to success, as is dedication. but as I heard Howard Wilkinson say recently, "We need to convince players, not tell them". Surely it's basic psychology, 'Don't expect but suggest instead'. Anyone who's ever been nagged at about anything understands this. It's exactly the same with coaching. Present the information in a fun and engaging manner. Don't ram it down their throats.

When Dick Fosbury decided not to do a scissors style high jump in the 1968 Olympics and invented his own 'Fosbury flop' ensuring he won the gold medal and broke the world record in the process, did anyone say 'you can't do that'? Well I'm sure they probably did, but I doubt he cared very much. It's now a technique which has been used ever since and we saw it at London 2012 and I am sure it will continue well into the future. Until someone dares try something different, that is.

So what's this got to do with football and coaching? Everything, I believe. In England we are so obsessed with protocol. What's right, what's wrong, what's 'the done thing'. Until recently, many pro clubs looked at children's parents to see what the child was likely to develop into genetically. Wouldn't be surprised if some still do. Tall Mom and Dad meant little Billy would be big and strong. Little Mom and Dad meant little Billy would stay little and that was no use to them. The logic remains you can turn an athlete into a footballer but you can't turn a footballer into an athlete. Theo Walcott is a good example. At 16 he had a 100 metres time which was borderline Olympic qualification. Wasn't great at football, but hey that's the easy bit to teach isn't it?

Time and again we see comparatively small foreign players who are nothing less than geniuses. Messi, Zola, Juninho, Tevez, Maradona, to name a few. Would these guys have made it in English football? Would the scouts have wanted them? We'll never know. But my guess is we've discarded a wealth of talent at the expense of brawn and power over the years.

11 year ago I was watching West Brom play QPR in a scrappy Championship game. WBA were winning 1-0 and in the 2nd half QPR brought on a young 6"7 bean pole striker called Peter Crouch. The whole stadium rocked with laughter. Myself included, I'm now ashamed to admit. "One Rodney Trotter, there's only one Rodney Trotter" and then "Rodney, Rodney give us a wave” echoed round the Hawthorns.
I, and everyone else in the stadium, had been brought up, conditioned to think people that big were good for one thing only. Basketball. I bumped into the then chief scout at WBA the following week. His name was Richie Barker. Some of the older ones amongst you will recall him as a manager in his own right – I think he was at Wolves and Stoke. Richie was in the winter of his career at this stage. But I'll never forget bringing up the subject of 'That Rodney' and Richie cutting me dead to say "He'll make some player one day, son, you mark my words. He's got it all". I was confused. I liked Richie as a person, and respected his opinion, but surely he was talking rubbish? Well 11 years later Peter Crouch has fetched a combined transfer fee of £47 million, played for England 42 times scoring 22 goals, played 395 pro games scoring 156 goals, oh and he recently scored easily the goal of the season with his sublime technique.

Football fans have selective memories. Doubt many of the 20,000 or so at The Hawthorns that day remember shouting 'Freak' every time he touched the ball now? So Richie was right. But how many Richie Barker's are there in our game at the top level, in junior football and on the terraces? Sadly, very few. Judging a book by it's cover is still the order of the day.

Crouch is probably one of the most gifted footballers English football has produced in recent times. He just doesn't look like he should be.

I believe the way to increase the amount of gifted footballers in our game is to increase the amount of quality football played and coaching received. Skills development centres are becoming far more widespread but are still the poor relation to the league systems. As I've said before, I believe leagues do serve a purpose for some children but there is absolutely no reason why kids can't play in leagues (if they want to and aren't forced by parents) and also attend skills development centres too.

I myself am starting a development centre for year one and two children as my own children have now reached this age and are too old for Little Kickers. My intention is to hold one hour sessions. The first 20 mins or so will concentrate on ball mastery in various situations. Coaching will consist of limited command style, with majority of games having a guided discovery ethos. The rest of the sessions will consist of various small sided games with themes. Smaller numbers the better to encourage higher amount of time on the ball for each player. We'll have a debrief at the end when there'll be a little, relaxed Question and Answer coaching.

We'll have a pool of players of mixed abilities. Sides will be picked and changed, handicapped and swapped. Positions will be changed too. How can an 8 year old truly know they're going to be a goalkeeper for the rest of their lives? They can't. So they'll rotate positions. Learn how to emphasise with team mates, develop a rounded appreciation of all positions. At the end, the children will go home not having won or lost 12-0, but having played football, and, most importantly, lots of it. Hopefully, having thoroughly enjoyed themselves without having (if I'm being kind) nonsense shouted at them. If I'm being honest, sometimes borderline abuse shouted at them.

My philosophy is football coaching should be about inclusion not elitism. I think the English game should work on the basis of 1000 average young children playing in a positive, fun environment is likely to reap greater dividends in the long term than a so called elite group of 20 of whom the majority will fall out of love with the game because of pushy adults and elitist coaching before they become teenagers.

If anyone agrees or disagrees with my philosophy I'd love to hear from you. I'm particularly interested in coaches and parents thoughts regarding the pros and cons of children's leagues in comparison to skills development centres. Why can't they exist happily together? Being diplomatic, perhaps there are lessons they could learn from each other for the greater good?

You can follow Coach Dave @CoachDaveLKFC on twitter. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Player Profile - Siddraj - 3 1/2yrs

Player Profile - Siddraj - 3 1/2yrs

Introducing our July player profile! 

Please welcome our Rock Star Mighty Kicker from the One Tree Hill sessions!

Name:  Siddhraj Sinh Solanki

Age: 3 1/2

Venues attended around the world: One Tree Hill, Auckland

How long have you been coming to Little Kickers? Since last 1.5 years

 What is your favourite little Kickers game? Running like Airplane and doing big kicks randomly

What do you like best about little kickers? Getting the stamp, mummy clapping when I do a Goal

What do you want to be when you grow up? A Rock star

What’s your favourite healthy food? Steak and Carrot

Who is your favourite coach? Coach Raphael

What do you love? Loves playing different instruments - Loves music

Parent says: 
I started Little kickers for Siddhraj when he was quite young and timid was not sure how this would work out for him, thank God the coach from day one (Yvette) was so child friendly and today Siddhraj does not like to miss a single class. I feel proud when he does those balance on the Ball to show his friends in preschool and never misses a catch while playing with them, I like how he makes an effort to score a goal and feels happy about it. When he shows his little kickers pictures and some different tricks with the saoccer ball to our friends they call him Ronaldo in the making.

Thank you Little Kickers. God bless.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Player Profile - Finlay - 3yrs

Player Profile - Finlay - 3yrs

Our player profile is a Junior Kicker from the Glendowie sessions. A matured little man who loves his "big kicks". Check out his awesome interview:

Name: Finlay Leary
Age: 3
Venues attended around the world: 
Would love to say Stamford Bridge or Wembley but so far only Stadium backyard and Glendowie. 
How long have you been coming to Little Kickers: 
My dad has been taking me to little kickers for about 10 weeks now.
What is your favourite Little Kickers game:
I love to run and kick the ball as hard as I can so the last game of running and shooting in the goal is my favourite. I like how each week the games change so we have new things to do.
What do you want to be when you grow up: 
I want to be an astronaut and drive a rocket ship to Mars to visit the Martians. My Dad says I am going to play for Chelsea.
What's your favourite healthy food: 
My favourite healthy food at the moment is eating Feijoas off our tree.
Who is your favourite coach: My favourite coaches are Raphael and Siobhan.
What do you love: 
I love hunting for crickets under the stones in my garden, finding massive crabs at the beach, doing `big kicks, and big whacks’ with my ball and bat, and riding my bike.

Parent/s perspective on Little Kickers:
As a parent I appreciate all the effort and thought that has gone in to designing different activities for the kids that don’t just concentrate on kicking a ball but also incorporate listening and learning skills. I also think Rafael and Siobhan are brilliant with the kids during the activities, and all three of the little kickers team at Sacred Heart on Sundays including Ruth are welcoming and incredibly friendly.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

The Hidden Skill in a Simple Game

Cast your mind back to when you were younger – I will pause here as this may take some of you longer than others – ready? OK!  Think about when you were at school, and I imagine that you would have taken a greater interest in the subjects that were taught in a fun and exciting way. The principles and fundamentals of learning were still in place, just cleverly disguised in a fun and active environment that allowed you to simply enjoy the experience, rather than to over-analyse what you were learning, and the learning process.

The child’s perspective
When you bring your child along to Little Kickers classes you will notice that, first and foremost, your child is having a great time and thoroughly enjoying playing active games with other children which stretch his / her imagination.  This is the child’s perspective of Little Kickers. 

The parent / teacher’s perspective
As a parent, you will most likely have noticed that, in addition to having a great time, your child is also developing invaluable social skills like listening, sharing, taking turns and teamwork.  These skills are consciously woven into our programmes, together with other early learning concepts such as colour and number recognition and the development of physical skills such as balance, agility and co-ordination. 

The coaches’ perspective
So far so good, but one of the other key skills your coach is encouraging your child to develop (often unbeknownst to your child, who just thinks he / she is having a great time rescuing treasure from pirates / trying not to wake the sleeping bear etc!), is a basic grasp of the fundamentals of football. When you hear the coach tell the Little Kickers that they are going to do ‘big lion kicks”; – what the children are actually learning is timing, weight of pass and a variable kicking action. Similarly, they may be asked to do small, quiet kicks so that they do not wake the sleeping coach - in reality they are learning close control, dribbling, awareness, space evasion and invasion. Our coaches disguise these skills deliberately, so that the children can just concentrate on enjoying the activity.

The skills hidden in a simple game

To the untrained eye a simple game, such as ‘Football Tennis’ above, may look like organised chaos. Travel deeper into the underlying reasons as to why that game was created, and you will find that this simple game promotes the development of an array of different skills. If you are not familiar with this simple game, the children are told that they are Pirates, and with their cannon balls (the footballs) they have to try to sink the opposition’s ship. Now, due to the powerfully imaginative nature of children’s minds, the theme of the game will be accepted and unquestioned, and what is more, the game gives the children the opportunity to use their own imaginations to seek and fill missing elements of the “story”. Meanwhile, the coaches can see the developmental process in full flow. While the children fire numerous cannonballs, the children are improving their first touch, weight of pass, multidirectional play, awareness of space, dribbling, improving their perception of boundaries, accuracy and teamwork skills.  That’s a lot of hidden learning in a simple game!

The Little Kickers programme has been developed over the past 10 years with input from FA qualified coaches, early childhood and school teachers, child health specialists and pro-active parents.  We understand that kids learn better when they are having fun, and our programmes reflect this.   

So next time you are sitting watching one of our sessions, why not see if you can pick out the skills that your child is learning?  If you can’t spot them, and you would like to find out more, do not hesitate to ask the coach.
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