At the time of writing, top level football has returned to the UK and much of Europe after the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit in a much changed format. Of course, the return of competitive football has only been possible because of the huge healthy and safety effort going on behind the scenes including regular testing of all players and staff.
At the grassroots level, these sorts of activities are not really viable, and yet as a coach, I imagine your players, locked down for a few months, are regularly asking the question as to when your club will be able to recommence football activity of some description! The Football Association here in the UK has provided guidance for recommencing football activities here which follows government guidance issued at the beginning of June, and covers youth and adult football as well as separate guidance for coaches. Of course, such guidance is constantly being updated as new information emerges.
As an overview, with the current restrictions in place, the guidance suggests the following:
- Training should be split into groups of no more than 6 per group (including the coach).
- Groups should remain in place for the entire session.
- Social distancing (2m currently) at all times.
- No contact training or matches.
- Each individual responsible for their own equipment including strappings, drinks, towels etc…
- Balls sanitised before and after training. Handling of balls to be minimised.
- Players/coaches to wash hands/use sanitiser before and after training.
- Use of tissues if coughing or sneezing and no spitting.
- If individual or someone in individual’s household is displaying COVID-19 symptoms they should not train.
Effectively teams are now entering a pre-season training phase, albeit without the knowledge of when competitive football will start again. So when looking to put together sessions, coaches should be looking to try to maintain and improve fitness while allowing players to get as many touches of the ball as possible. So we’d be looking at high intensity exercises with a ball, but without player to player contact.
In addition to smaller exercises, it is possible to work on some tactical play without opponents, perhaps patterns of play, that allow players to remain socially distanced but working on passing and movement patterns. We’ve included both in the downloadable exercises here, and of course these are all adaptable to your own requirements.
Hopefully these exercises will keep your players engaged and fit during this tricky period, and we can get back to playing competitively again, once safe, in the near future.