FC Barcelona Football Camp in Birmingham!

Posted: August 29, 2012 in Coaching Concepts, Stories, Teaching & Learning
Tags: , , ,

First of all you read the title right! FC Barcelona in the UK offering coaching?  A friend of mine was taking his child along so I couldn’t pass the opportunity to observe the worlds greatest team’s coaching methodology!

The first thing I noticed was the coaches manner, personality, delivery, teaching ability, whatever you want to call it there was serious command for their space and the children are in line.  Even the “liveliest”  of kids were snapped into line and ready to work.   The question is though is this because it is Barcelona or is the respect and authority achievable by all coaches?  Either way it was there!  At one point a coach explained the drill and then added on the end that he did not want to see certain behaviour as it was disrespectful to each other as team mates and developing players.  A philosophy built on moral values!

Each session started with a warm up but not as one may think.  The Barcelona way demands the ball as the main “actor” and must be present in everything that is done.  Warm up with the ball, rest with the ball, work on acceleration…with the ball.  Interestingly the warm up consisted of all the ABC’s etc but was specific to the theme of the day.  Also it lasted about 20-25 minutes with short drinks breaks between progressive exercises.

The main content was delivered in an hour session with only 2 distinct drills being set up.  This suits me as the children never left the theme of the day whilst also there was enough “openness” in the drills to close down various teaching points. Interestingly this allows the drill to be personalised where there was difference in ability at certain points of the drill.

The second half of the morning consisted of a similar warm up followed by very open games with a barrel of rules to abide by that were there to promote the theme of the day.  There was some form of scoring system (not always about the ball going in the goal) and the children were engaged with achieving the game.

During games, drills, warm ups coaches observed like hawks constantly intervening and stopping the activities to explain, reinforce, correct and improve the players.

Overall I think the most outstanding part was the communication of the coaches.  The Spanish coaches were firm but fair and demanded discipline but did it in such a way that the children responded and worked at every task set.  I spoke with one of the coaches who told me that when he keeps on top of the discipline the children think freely about football and the task.  If the coaches don’t get on top of the discipline the children think freely….NOT about football.

Generally the expectations are high but, and this is hard to explain, it wasn’t about how good the drill looked.  Sometimes the drills were difficult and the children weren’t able to do it all perfectly.  I know some coaches who would not like this and regress thinking that the children need total success.  Here the children were praised for aspects of the drill that they did well in context.  Interestingly a seemingly good pass was not praised as it did not fit into the context of the drill and therefore deemed incorrect.  In another example a player dribbled around 5 players and scored.  This was met with a sharp scolding as the drill was to pass and move and the team need 5 passes in order to score.

Due to the fact that there were only 2 drills in the session the players had time to access the drill and improve their performance and understanding along with the constant intervening by the coaches.

Another example of intervening was in a drill where the theme was “dribbling”.  Now, there was a passing and shooting in this drill also but after a while the coach intervened.  He wasn’t happy with the way the players were accelerating once they had dropped the shoulder to take on the player.  All a bit slow.  So he demoed and gave example and clarity to the children.  He could of picked anything in this drill really but the theme is the theme and this is what he observed as important.  Players re focussed and progressed in the drill.

The methodology seems complete in that it covers the 4 performance factors and in every drill there is purpose relating to a theme.  there are a handful of teaching points available within the drills that coaches can emphasise to the complete group or personalise to individuals.

For obvious reasons I think that this is not the complete picture as there was talk about “functional movement” something that if tailored correctly could really enhance the capability of the players in performing some of the drills.  I am sure that there are elements to the development in Barcelona that is not exported but frankly I am not sure the UK can handle all of it at once.

As I write these random thoughts and observations I keep remembering one single word that shapes the reason why Barcelona are Barcelona.  This word is PHILOSOPHY.  Barcelona create players to play the Barcelona way.  There is no movement away from the Barcelona way and it suits the players that play for Barcelona.  They are humble about their way and method but do not see any other way…and why should they.  They are open to sense and logic which probably is already in their method.  In my tennis experience there is lacking of individual philosophy and even worse when it is dictated to coaches from the top (LTA).  A philosophy should be based on your own thinking, logic and it also needs time to grow and develop.  Be under no illusion that Barcelona are not constantly striving to improve their philosophy and method but it has to suit them and it has to make sense.  From U10 to pro Barcelona teach their way and as they put it, it reduces the confusion for the young players.

The other word that appears twice in the above paragraph is SENSE.  This is a word I heard a few times and again in conversations.  Everything that is done has purpose and the players try to execute with sense.  There is some reason to everything no matter how fine.  As I mentioned before, things that make no sense in the context of the drills are not praised no matter how good the outcome might be.  This is because in the context it makes no sense at all.  Dribble around 5 players when you are supposed to pass two yards.  Makes no sense and in the end this cannot help develop the player.  Sense and understanding seemed to be key and then practice this sense and understanding and become better.

The drills and games seem to be few (similar in spanish tennis) but teaching is abundant.  Clear techniques, tactics and requirements allow the players to grow, develop and become well rounded players.  SIMPLES!

If you have read this far you won’t mind one more little interesting point…..

Some of the coaches have limited English (I even spoke to them in Spanish) and I have begun to think of language as being an issue. The instructions given by the foreign coaches in English were short, concise and easy to comprehend.   Since I have been learning Spanish I have found when translating  material from Spanish to English how simple the language is in terms of being able to understand what is being said.  I put my hands up here that when coaching I have sometimes gone into too much detail and elaborated topics when there is no need.  Children require simple language with simple requests for easy understanding.  Again another “simple”!

Un abrazo





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  2. Moin Agate says:

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