Introducing Fun 1st Football! What is it?
Repetition accelerates performance. These where the words used when our team met with the Fun 1st Football team. Launching in the coming weeks, Fun 1st Football is now making it accessible for everyone to train like the professionals. As always with anything new happening in the industry, we were intrigued to find out more about their coaching sessions.
What are the main benefits for young players using this equipment?
Firstly, it’s not just for young people. More or less anyone can use our equipment. Each piece of equipment has its own key benefits, which include improving things like ball manipulation, passing, receiving, accuracy, spatial awareness and vision. All of our sessions will be carefully designed to include all of these benefits.
Do you think players growing up now miss some of those key points you mentioned?
It's not that they miss them as much, I think it’s just players are learning it at a slower rate. They are not playing as much, when we were kids, we used to play every single day. Now due to weather, or parents not wanting their kids on the streets, the kids aren’t getting the same amount of touches of the ball as what we did. Some kids are just training once a week and playing on a Saturday, and then the people are expecting the kids to get better and better just from them playing 3 hours of football a week, it's just not enough.
The equipment was originally designed for professionals coming back from injuries to help them get back to match sharpness, that’s why you see this equipment at a lot of clubs. If it benefits them, why can’t it benefit the younger ones?
Do you think if younger players use this equipment it will improve their skill level?
100%! And it has been statistically proven to do just that. We aim to improve each individual that comes through the door. Nearly all of this equipment was designed with the help of the science team at Southampton FC and the training modes set into each piece of equipment come from sessions designed by and for professional footballers, one in particular designed by Barcelona. I genuinely believe if you do it enough, as with anything in life, if you’re taught a skill and you continually do it, eventually you will master it. I can’t say how many sessions it’ll take because everyone is different. That’s why we only have small groups, 6 individuals to one coach and one piece of equipment. That way we can guarantee attention to the individual and they'll have multiple touches of the ball in a range of different ways.
Is there a certain skill level you have to be at to use this?
No, the best thing about this equipment is that you can set it to your level. The sessions are designed so that we can alter to fit the individual’s skill level. In the case of the TOCA sessions, for example, we can use a lot of the same session content with younger children and slow the speed down of the delivery. We can take the same session with, let’s say 15-year olds, but speed it up. Just small adjustments but crucial to aid development.
Where will you be based?
We will open our launch session at Holly Lodge High School in West Derby on Friday 1st March. We will release more dates in the coming weeks.
How often would you suggest a player would need to use the equipment to see improvements?
Again, there's no answer to that because every individual is completely different. Someone could go in there that is at a really good level and still improve - they would become sharper. What I would say is that because of the way the sessions are laid out it gives the coach the benefit of being able to look at each individual players needs more quickly, for example in the ICON the player doesn’t need to be told to lift their head to scan as they already know they are looking for the next light in sequence to come on, therefore, the coach can then concentrate on that individual's body shape and receiving technique and so on. Ask any coach out there and they will agree its very difficult to teach youngsters to get their head up to look for their next pass before they receive the ball but in the ICON the first thing you notice is that this process is made so much easier.
How will a session be conducted?
Firstly, you would book online. All sessions will be laid out online, each piece of equipment is split into age groups, they are 5-7, 8-10, 11-13, 14-16, 17+. Once you find the piece of equipment you want to train with, you select your age group and book the session. You then simply turn up on the night knowing that you will be apart of a small group that are all of a similar age of you. There will be one coach for every piece of equipment. We will also have someone walking around talking to the parents explaining the session and helping them understand what’s going on.
Do you have a set standard of coaches?
We’ve got a lot of UEFA B coaches, and even a couple at level 2 who have plenty of experience. We are now working with the coaches to make sure they all 100% understand the equipment and can put together sessions to get the most out of the equipment.
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