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Intro to MoF

MoF Values

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An MoF Coach

As well as being punctual and reliable, these are

qualities that MoF coaches should have and be growing:


Assessing player needs

A learning coach


The MoF Session Checklist



The 7 things that a MoF session must have:

Problem statement

Session plan

Game-based learning

Simple, varied activities

High 'Active Learning Time'

Fair, fun, inclusive behaviours

Uninterrupted games (joy & flow)


5 key inputs into the session of an expert MoF coach:

Coaching interventions

Managing difference

Child collaboration and problem solving

Providing feedback to children

Bridging learning



Futsal Club

4pm Red class



End of session de-brief

Assistant coaches



Muswell Hill's Number 1 Football Development Programme



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Activities should be designed to help children explore and solve the problem in the problem statement. Activities should be age-appropriate, meaning they should be simple enough for that age of child to easily understand. Once the children understand how the activity works and experience success, then the coach can make the activity or task progressively more complex if needed. 

An example is given in the video here. The problem statement for the session is How to Defend as a Pair. The coach wants the children to explore depth of defending and what happens when one of the two defenders presses the ball. The coach has set-up a very simple activity, which is game-related within which he can assess what the children know, teach defending as a pair, and give feedback, support and challenge as required:

Another example is given below, also on Defending, this time defending individually. Again the coach has considered the problem statement How to Defend Patiently on Your Own, and designed a session where all children are active and engaged in exploring the problem:



Types of Practice

Constant practice involves a player repeating specific movements with the aim of acquiring, refining or maintaining technique. In a constant practice a player focuses on learning the same technique under constant conditions. Elements of competition and challenge may be built into constant practices to increase a player’s motivation.

Variable practice involves a player practising a variety of techniques and skills under different conditions. A passing practice which incorporates passing the ball over varying distances and heights, using different speeds and techniques, is an example of a variable practice. Variable practices are less predictable than constant practices.

Random practice involves a player practising a variety of skills under different and changing conditions. Practice is often unpredictable with players making a variety of decisions. Random practices challenge players to transfer their technique into games, encouraging the development of tactical and game understanding.

Coaches should experiment with different types of practice, and try to find the right balance to fit the age/stage (needs) of the players in the group. All types of practice are necessary in order to develop a footballer: Constant practice is required to develop ‘muscle memory’ while random practice will develop game understanding.

It is important to remember that a random practice is most similar to the game of football itself. Football is a chaotic game, and some of this chaos should be replicated in MoF sessions so children are comfortable with taking in lots of information at once. For example, real football doesn’t have cones to dribble round but it does have opponents to beat. At MoF we want to create skilful football players (i.e. players who make good decisions), so we need to use random, opposed practices. Remember: Constant practice can be given for homework.


Realism and repetition



Transitions and progressions



Good coaches know when and how to adjust and progress activities. These coaching decisions are critical in order to deliver great sessions. Coaches can use the STEPs template to help them consider how an activity needs to be altered to fit the age/stage (needs) of the children in the group.

Space - Challenge or support players by varying the size and shape of the space that you work in. A smaller space will make a drill more challenging. Instead of using a square for a possession session, try and use a triangle or a circle to challenge the players. A long, narrow pitch will encourage a very different type of attacking and defending than a short, wide pitch.

Task - Vary the difficulty of the task or challenge so that all participants can achieve success. Success is an important part of learning. Success is a great motivating tool, as long as it is not too easy and not too hard. If the task is too hard or too easy, children will get bored or frustrated with the session. That may be evidenced by disruptive behaviour.

Equipment – E.g. use a smaller ball to work with to see if the children can still achieve success. Or turn the goals round so a team can no longer shoot from distance.

In the set-up to the left, we see that the objective of the game is to knock a ball off one of the cones. When this happens, the player steals the ball and cone and takes them back to set them up at their own end. That player's team now has less cones to aim for. And the opposing team has more cones to aim for.

People – Teams and opposition should usually be evenly-matched, but coaches can change this set-up to give a particular group of children a new challenge. (e.g. in a 3v5 - “Can you three players defend these two goals for the next minute without conceding a goal?”). Children learn from each other, and they don't always need a coach to tell them what to do. Often, they will pick things up by working with and watching their peers.


Dealing with odd numbers

When group sizes are of odd numbers, pair work and small-sided games can be tricky. Here are some solutions:

For pair work:

  • Include an Assistant Coach if you have one
  • Make a three if possible

Try not to join in yourself, as these means you are less able to coach others and manage the activity.

For small-sided games:

  • Have a smaller team of higher ability players. There’s nothing wrong with playing a 5v3 or 4v2 etc. It is realistic preparation for adult football where very often players are outnumbered in their area of the pitch.
  • Don't have a magic player who plays for whichever team has possession. This is not realistic to real football, and most of the time this player gets very little of the ball.

Using goalkeepers: No child should spend more than 5 mins of an hour’s session in goal. Share this duty around. Encourage goalkeepers to come out and play too – and for outfield players to use them to pass to.

For small-sided games with older age-groups, assign each team a captain and ask the captain to ensure that everyone gets a turn in goal. Then all you need do is stop the music, shout “New Goalkeeper!”. Or you can ask teams to number themselves for SSGs and then remind them to change every few minutes.

Tag games and football movements


Drink breaks

Players will only need 2 or 3 drink breaks during an hour’s session. Keep them snappy, don’t waste 5 mins on a drink break, 30 seconds is more than enough. Remember to get a drink for yourself too, especially if you’re doing two or more sessions in a row.

When sending players for drink breaks, how can we ensure they spend minimum time away from learning? Give them something to practice when they have finished. Show them, demo, then send them for a drink – asking them to practice as soon as they’ve had a drink. This gives the keen players something to be doing rather than waiting for others to return. (e.g. ‘Who can do “throw-bounce-trap”? Get yourselves a drink, and then come back and show me!’)

Skill circuits