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'What adults can learn from kids'

by Adora Svitak (age 12)


"I always had a ball with me, even when I was

in the house. So I was doing all sorts of

things - loads of touches of the ball, trying to

do tricks, juggling"

- Peter Crouch


“School held limited appeal: I sat in class,

longing for play-time because there was

always a match on in the playground. I loved

dinner-time because it lasted an hour, which

meant a longer match. I abandoned hot

dinners as they wasted precious minutes.

Eventually I asked my mother for packed

lunches. Speed was vital at dinner- time. I ate

the packed lunch while playing or wolfed it

down running back into class”

- Steven Gerrard


Is winning important? Yes, but not as much

as enjoying and playing. Watch this movie,

L'Equip Petit, about a team that never wins,

and hardly ever scores a goal



Muswell Hill's Number 1 Football Development Programme



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"I feel an endless need to learn, to improve, to evolve, not only to please the coach and the fans, but also to feel satisfied with myself. It is my conviction that there are no limits to learning, and that it can never stop, no matter what our age"

- Cristiano Ronaldo



It takes a lot of hard work to get good at sport. Watch the video below and learn more about what talent is and how you get it.

Arnold Murhen and his brother Gerrie played in the great Holland team of the 1970s and 1980s. This is what Arnold said about how much football he played before they joined their first club Volendam:

"My brother played with his friends and when I was five or six I started joining in. We played every day. If it was raining, we played in the bedroom. At school we played football between lessons. When school finished we played on the street again; there was no traffic. We played with anything as long as it was round - rolled up papers tied up with string, anything. Some people's parents had money and could get hold of a proper ball, but mostly is was tennis balls. You develop great technique like that. No-one ever told us how to play. It was all natural. When we joined Volendam when we were twelve, we already knew how to play. Now you can join a club when you're six years old and train once or maybe twice a week, but there's a lot of difference between that and playing every day, seven days a week."

How many hours of sport do you usually do a day? And how many hours do you spend practising with a football? At Ministry of Football, we know that getting better at football doesn't happen by accident. The children we see who improve the quickest are almost always the ones who are practising the most. This webpage has been set-up to help you to find ways to practice and get better at football. It includes ideas, help, facts, inspiration and activities. It has lots of links to other webpages too - to help you to surf the net to find new skills to try-out and new ways of beating opponents and mastering a football.


"Every single day I wake up and commit to myself to becoming a better player"

- Mia Hamm, American female football star - who scored more international goals in her career than any other player, male or female, in the history of football




1. Practising on your own.

Remember - all you need is a ball. You could practice in your back garden, in the school playground. Or how about turning up to your football sessions a bit early to spend an extra 10 minutes practising there? The following activities and ideas are ideal for ages 6 to 12. Keep an eye on this page as we will add more content as we find it...

Keepy-uppys / juggles / kick-ups

Flicking the ball up ; Around the World ; Juggle Stepover

Moving and controlling the ball

Four basic turnsTrap and drag turn ; Ball Mastery ; Pull-Push

Dribbling and beating an opponent

Faking and zig-zag dribbling ; BSS Rai Flick ; BSS Adriano ; BSS Ronaldo Chop ; BSS Zico ; BSS Ronaldo ; BSS Stepover ; BSS Robinho ; BSS Combination ; BSS Leonardo   


“David Beckham is Britain’s finest striker of a football not because of God-given talent but because he practises with a relentless application that the vast majority of less gifted players wouldn’t contemplate"

- Alex Ferguson on David Beckham, 1999



2. Practices to try with friends or a parent

Changing Direction ; 1v1 ; 1v1 with goalie ; 2v1

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a football, get out of the house, and get practising!

3. Getting strong, getting fit and helping prevent injuries

For all players, no matter what their age, getting stronger requires lots of activities on Agility, Balance and Co-ordination.

For players under age 13, try finding time in your day to complete the exercises in this BBC video:

For older players it is a good idea to begin strengthening work by using your own body weight. For teenage players, strengthening work is a must. The following FIFA 11+ exercises show a variety of exercises that form a 20 minute work-out. 

The FIFA 11+ Exercises

4. Healthy eating

Your body is like a machine, and it needs the proper fuel and rest in order to make it work properly. Young footballers need to eat the right things in the right amounts in order to grow strong and healthy. If we eat too much, we put on weight and this means that our muscles have to work harder to take us the same distance. This reduces our stamina, and our ability to accelerate quickly. If we don't eat enough, we can become weak and our overall health can decline, because we are not getting enough nutrients.

Follow these tips in order to keep healthy, have more energy and enjoy playing better football:

  • Eat breakfast! This is the most important meal of the day, so it should not be skipped.
  • Reduce the amount of fizzy drinks that you drink, and replace them with water or fruit juice.
  • Eat healthier snacks. Eat carrots, dry breakfast cereal, nuts, rice cakes, rye, crisp breads, bagels or toast rather than crisps, chocolate bars and sweets.
  • Reduce sugary foods, for example by not having sugar with your breakfast cereal.
  • Eat less fatty foods. For example, reduce the amount of butter, margarine, fatty meat, beef burgers, chips and crisps that you eat.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after football (and other sports).
  • Avoid sugary snacks immediately before football (and other sports). Fruit, such as bananas, or other carbohydrate-rich snacks are better. Avoid over-eating before football.
  • Replace fluids, salts and carbohydrates that you have used during your football session.

5. Recovering after football

As soon as you have finished a football session, your body needs to replace the nutrients, fluids and energy it has used up. Here are some tips to help you recover from a hard match or training session:

  • Rest, and make sure you have enough sleep.
  • Replace your body salts by eating. Most foods naturally contain salts, but fruit juices are particularly good choices, and these will also replace fluids.
  • Replace your body carbohydrates by eating carbohydrate-rich foods within two hours after football (or other sports).
  • Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost through sweat.

6. Being a Good Learner

Do you think you are good at learning things? Let's find out. Here's an exercise that we'd like you to try:

Write down 3 or 4 things that you have learnt to do recently. These could be things in football like learning a new turn or trick, things in school like learning to spell a new word or do some new maths, or something else like learning to climb a wall or learning to ride a bike. Next to each thing you have written down - also write how you learned to do this new thing.

What you should have noted when doing this exercise is that we learn things in lots of different ways. Sometimes we need to be shown how to do something by someone else, and sometimes we need to watch someone else doing something before we feel able to give it a go. Sometimes we need lots of advice and encouragement, and other times we don't. Sometimes we find things really tough and feel like we want to give up, and other times it can be easy to learn something new. Sometimes we have to think really hard about what we are learning, and other times it just seems natural and requires no thought at all. Sometimes we have to steal ideas from someone else, or do some research or study in order to learn, and sometimes we are forced to learn because we are put in a new situation and we have to learn in order to survive.

Many experts believe there are certain things that make some people better at learning things than others. And these experts also believe that we can get better at learning if we understand what these things are. Here are some of the things that a good learner needs - we call them the 6 R's. How many did you use in order to learn the things in your list?

  • Resilience. Learning is not always easy. Sometimes we get a feeling that we can't do something and that we will never learn to do it. This is when lots of people give up. Some people though are resilient, and they ignore this bad feeling and keep trying anyway. Resilient people also don't let others put them off - they ignore criticism and keep trying.
  • Reflection. When you are doing something for the first time, your body and mind tell you how it looks, feels, sounds. This feedback is very important for us to learn. And after we have done something new, it often helps if we take time to think about what went well and what we could do better at. This is called reflecting - and is a very important part of learning.
  • Resourceful. Some people like learning new things because they see it as a challenge, while other people are afraid of trying something new. Resourceful people are better learners as they can use their previous experiences to help them when confronted with something new. For example, if you are learning to spell a new word and you are struggling, then you can think of how you learnt to spell a word before and use the same method again.
  • Relationships. When we learn something new, we often depend on getting knowledge from someone else. This could mean we steal an idea we see from someone else, or that we get taught something by a teacher or parent, or that we work with a friend to figure out how to do something, It could also mean that we go to the library or the internet to try to find a solution.
  • Relevance. What we learn is often influenced by what we want to learn. For example if I asked a class of children if they wanted to learn to dance upside-down then I am quite sure some of them would say 'Don't be silly, why do I want to learn that?' And they'd be quite right too! When we learn new things we sometimes need to see why they are relevant to what we want to do. If all your friends could swim and you couldn't, I bet you would really want to learn to swim.
  • Responsibility. Sometimes we learn things because we are given the chance to. For example if you are asked to be the captain of your football team, then you will soon learn how to organise your team-mates on the field and how to motivate them to play well.

Now think about your football learning at Ministry of Football. How can you use each of the 6 R's to learn to play football better?