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Latest Blog Posts

Sport4Kids Football Coaching, Child Development & Girls Football Blog!

We are passionate about everything to do with sport and child development. We have a number of authors who love nothing better than to post about their passions, thoughts and feelings around the sports that they love. Take a look at our posts below and remember to link in with your favourite authors via email and social media!

Our First Kids Football Match - Worried Parents

Our First Kids Football Match - Worried Parents
Today, we went to our very first kids football U7’s league match. The day started well, getting up at the rise, all excited, nerves and expectancy in the air.I have to admit I was fairly worried. We were worried parents. Would we go to the right place? Would we remember all the kit? Would everyone get there? Would we be on time? Would we get our team instructions right? Would the kids enjoy it?And of course the biggest worry of all – the parents … not really ours, but the oppositions. Would they be nice? Stories of parent bad behaviour is rampant all across the media, we all know that it is painted as the scourge of English football. Even Gary Lineker has had his say and fill of bad parent experiences. Having read all the reports we had images of parents shouting at the players, the referee and opposition players and parents.Tom Spring the Explorers U7’s Team Manager seemed a cracking chap on the phone, “it’s all about the kids enjoying themselves” he said. Being the first time our kid...
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Teaching Children to Head the Football Safely

Teaching Children to Head the Football Safely
Sport4Kids - 15 Tips for Coaching Safe Heading for Kids FootballHeading the ball correctly is important for both fun and enjoyment but also for the safety of children and players as they develop. Safety is the key element and helping children to learn the proper way is crucial. Developing the right muscles and strength in their bodies and to get them to react well and prepare to head a ball is a key part of safe heading.  The key to the prevention of concussion in heading starts with teaching our kids the right way to head the ball when they are young. Here are some tips that all parents and wannabe coaches should read for helping our kids get the right start - teaching kids football the right way.  1.    Balloons & Head Tennis. Start them young with the concept of heading. In the safety of your own home get your children to play head tennis with a balloon. Starting with hitting the balloon in the air with their hands and then with their heads. Starting wi...
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Kids Football Coaching in Sri Lanka - Smiles All Around!

Kids Football Coaching in Sri Lanka - Smiles All Around!
You will all best know me as Coach Charlotte, and having worked as an Assistant Coach at Sport4Kids for just shy of 2 years, I am sure I have met many of you, especially those in the Windsor area and at St John Beaumont School. Those that know me may have also realized that I have been absent from coaching our kids football classes this summer as I have been volunteering abroad in Sri Lanka. As a Psychology undergraduate this largely involved work in mental health facilities and special needs projects, however I also took over a football program at a local community school. Football coaching in Sri Lanka was a far cry from my experiences at Sport4Kids. At Sport4Kids we are lucky enough to have the most fantastic facilities and equipment (despite Coach Adam always getting his dirty) although before I went I would never have considered having a ball each a considerable luxury. In Sri Lanka, I was coaching a group of around 40 children with 3 balls and about 6 pairs of shoes bet...
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Why is sport important for children's development?

Why is sport important for children's development?
Getting Kids Involved in Sports Research has shown that sports contribute to the psychological well-being of all by reducing anxiety and enhancing self-esteem. Therefore it is no surprise that they are recommended as a positive addition to a child’s development. Why are they Important? By participating in sports activities in general, children’s social skills are likely to come alive as it is a fantastic facilitator to promote social interaction, cooperation, teamwork and friendship. Research has also shown how sports can improve problem solving skills, build self-discipline, respect for authority and team-mates, trust, leadership and coping skills. Confidence is a huge factor for children and participation in sports will only assist the development of character. Children with enhanced self esteem will inevitably be more comfortable in their own skin and therefore be well placed to proceed well in their early school and social lives.   Keys to Positive Development When choosin...
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How England can win the World Cup in 2030...

How England can win the World Cup in 2030...
So another World Cup has passed us by and once again, despite having no expectations, England have still managed to under-achieve.  The media who cried out for the inclusion of youth are starting the blame game of a lack of experience in the squad - where was Gareth Barry?  what about Michael Carrick?  Both players villanised as the "old era" of English football.  Had they been taken to the World Cup and England were knocked out at this stage, they would have been made the scapegoats.  Instead, we find the blame levied at the feet of Wayne Rooney, whom the media once again placed on the national pedestal, before snatching it from under him on the grounds that he did not "cover" Leighton Baines enough against Italy - despite playing in a less than favoured position on the left and covering more ground than any other England player on the night.  Oh and let's not forget Steven Gerrard - "captain fantastic" - who is now being pressured to retire following the...
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Italia '90 - Coach Beanie's World Cup Blog!

Italia '90 - Coach Beanie's World Cup Blog!
Panini Stickers, The Collapse of the Berlin Wall, The Owls returning to top flight football and off Course Italia 90! It just seems like yesterday, sitting on the couch swotting through my Panini Sticker Book as a 9 year old whose life revolved around football. Little did I know that one Team stood out and in particular one Player…. You guessed it! Roberto Baggio. The young Italian Prodigy who many tipped, would sit in the legends of Football could not have been more right! Seeing flashes of that magical goal against the Czech Republic (Formally known as Czechoslovakia) saw the start of a fantastic football career and inheriting the Number 10 Shirt at Juventus that was worn by the great Michelle Platini. Nearly 25 years have passed by, but it still seems so recent. Whenever, there is a World Cup, I always think back to 1990. It was a truly unforgettable experience and whilst it produced an incalculably dull final, we saw an abundance of goals and a flurry of shocking incidents which ...
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Parental Roles in Kids' Football Development

Parental Roles in Kids' Football Development
Unless you live in a pleasant little cul-de-sac on Neptune, you’ll know that football now finds itself not only the world’s most popular pastime but possibly its greatest obsession.  The global enthusiasm for it has reached a level previously unknown, in part due to the financial benefits awaiting its finest exponents but also due to the sheer excitement generated from the game itself. A major bone of contention in the coaching world these days is how to identify and handle the greater numbers of children wanting to play the sport.  Equally important, is how to nurture those showing aptitude and talent whilst protecting a child’s natural enthusiasm. The Football Association (FA) has long maintained that children should be coached in organised groups from the age of 5 but those of us in the global football family who are aware of what pre school aged children are truly capable of see it differently. There isn’t a youngster that gives their coach a high five at the start of a k...
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Coach Richard's 1974 Panini Sticker Book

Coach Richard's 1974 Panini Sticker Book
I never did get Ndaye Mulamba, Zaire's 9-goal hero of the African Nations Cup some 40 years ago. He was the one blank spot in my otherwise full 1974 World Cup sticker collection. To make matters worse, my doubles pile contained 14 Grzegorz Lato's, England's Polish nemesis. Each time a new packet of stickers was ripped open, I held my breath, hoping upon hope that the Zairian marksman would jump out at me. I even knew his sticker number. Sadly he never did, just a plethora of little fat Poles. I thought I had eventually laid to rest the ghost of Mulamba, but in 2002, the man came back to haunt me again at the African Festival of football, when a 2 minute silence was held in honour of his passing away. This was a quite stunning tribute to the Congolese veteran, especially given the fact that he was alive and well and living in Cape Town at the time. Ndaye Mulamba, a name I'll take to my own grave. Nowadays it is much simpler to finish your footy sticker book collection. You can access ...
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1982 - Coach Marcus'Panini World Cup Memory

1982 - Coach Marcus'Panini World Cup Memory
Mark’s recollections of the France 98 World Cup tournament struck a chord for a whole host of reasons. Being significantly older than the good Doctor I watched most of those games in my local, but his perceptions of that England team being seen through 11 year old eyes made my mind wander. Argentina 78 I remember bits of. Mostly the extraordinary scenes at the start of the final, tonnes of ticker tape descending from the skies onto the heads of the home team and their Dutch counterparts. But I was 6, the nuances of Argentina’s 3-1 victory lost on me. No, the World Cup that rocked my world, filled my Panini sticker album and convinced me that football meant a little bit more than just a pastime, was Spain 82. My mother is from Armagh, Northern Ireland, my father from Dublin. I favoured the southern side of the border, but at this point, the occasional flash of brilliance from Liam Brady aside, we were no great shakes internationally. But Northern Ireland had qualified, along with Engla...
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Dance and Football Take to the Stage

Dance and Football Take to the Stage
Football is the inspiration behind one of the international dance shows at Lift next week by a troop of aspiring professional footballers from West Africa pulled together by a visionary choreographer Ahilan Ratnamohan. The Australian has been all around Europe playing in Sweden, Holland and Germany but has fallen in love with the rhythm and the ballet of football. His great idol is Johann Cruyff “The way he moves the ball and the way he creates angles with his body, its pure ballet” says Ratnamohan. There is a lovelly atmospheric compilation of the great Dutch master called The Art of Johann Cruyff. Try watching it without a tear of nostaligia in your eye. Ahilan has a vision of football as a dance and brings that to life with his productions on stage. His first was a 2009 fusion of football and dance called The Football Diaries. This week he brings his latest creation “Michael Essien – I want to play as you …” to Londons Lift festival. The dancers are not dancers by trade but as aspir...
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World Cup 1998 - My Panini Moment

World Cup 1998 - My Panini Moment
This year, the nice folks down at Panini have sponsored our S4K World Cup Tournament and supplied our children with sticker books and stickers so that they can engage with this summer's festivities and follow their favourite players.  As part of this sponsorship, we at S4K have been tasked with writing a blog entry on our first World Cup memory.  My first experience of the nationwide euphoria induced by England's participation in a summer tournament was in fact Euro '96, so by the time World Cup 1998 rolled around, I was a seasoned professional England spectator.  I remember the build-up well, my dad even took me to see Michael Owen make his debut against Chile and to me, Mr Owen was the man I idolised for the tournament - but would Glenn Hoddle pick him?  We had the young guns of Owen and Beckham pushing for starting places over the experience and aging legs of Sheringham and Anderton and the nation was pushing for change (much like this year...). The tournament st...
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Child-centric Learning - The S4K Way

Child-centric Learning - The S4K Way
In Victorian times, children were not viewed as developing human beings, but in fact as "little adults".  This meant that they were put to work in the same way that adults were and more importantly, there was an expectation that children possessed the same level of understanding as adults.  This idea may seem extremely far fetched and archaic, but it still happens today - particularly on the football pitch.When shouting the word "SHOOT!" at a child as they dribble towards goal, at what point does the coach ask themselves - does this child actually know what shoot means?  To us adult footballers, it is a given and sacred word that we have screamed from the terraces or (for most of us) at the television since we can remember.  But a child - well a child might not know what this means.  To take the discussion one step further, consider a child that is asked to stand beside and cone, paired with their friend, and told to kick the ball to their friend, but stay next...
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My Panini Jumpers For Goal Posts Moment

My Panini Jumpers For Goal Posts Moment
With the World Cup build up upon us and my children going mad for their Panini stickers it must be time for us all to reminisce about our first World Cup expereinces. My childhood memories of playing football with other kids in our street are as vivid and as real as if they happened yesterday.Memories of the World Cup take me back to the old Jimmy Hill phrase of "Jumpers for Goal Posts" (or was it The Fast Show?). Those were the days when we actually did take our jumpers off and put them in piles to make the goals. No cones or pop-up plastic goals with nets for us.Our jumpers, particularly in October and November, were the playing out ones. You know the ones that were made by a relative of some sort, a nan or a distant aunty were always good candidates. Or that one of mums that she presented to you after a failed knitting expedition. You will remember the homemade blue wool jumpers - heavy, long and saggy.These were the ones that after one w...
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How to teach Football to Toddlers, Children and Older Kids in 10 easy steps?

How to teach Football to Toddlers, Children and Older Kids in 10 easy steps?
Hello, this article is for mums and dads wanting to teach their toddlers, children and older kids to play football from the start. You want them to have fun, keep up with their friends or even make the school football team? Right, so how do you to get your child game ready?  Here are our S4K Ten Easy Steps to Teaching Kids to Play Football.It does not matter whether this is for your newly walking toddler or rampaging kids or your traumatized teenagers wanting to make it with their friends at school, in the garden and in the park. Our ten steps has something for them all.1.       For absolute beginners and toddlers, first introduce them to the ball and share with them the fun of playing with and kicking the ball. For Toddlers we tell them that in football we only use our feet not our hands. This might need a little persistence and good humour. Hold your hands up and say "Do we use these in football?" or "What don’t we use in football?"&n...
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No Need to Park the Bus in Kids Football

No Need to Park the Bus in Kids Football
At risk of sounding like a disgruntled Liverpool fan (this may be slightly true), I'd like to take a minute to focus on the "parking of the bus" tactics that saw Chelsea run out of Anfield with a 2-0 victory last weekend.  Many claimed that Brendan Rodgers and his young Liverpool team were given a "tactical masterclass" by Joe Mourinho's outfit.  Now before we go any further, I am no hypocrite.  I remember many a time under the tenure of Rafa Benitez and even as recently as Kenny Dalglish where Liverpool were set up to "not get beaten" opposed to try to win the game.  Indeed, there is a time and a place for these sorts of tactics and the Premier League - with all of the financial ramifications for finishing near the summit - is exactly where one would expect to see them.  However, where does this "win at all costs" mentality reach its limit?  I would argue, in the kids football clubs.  Too often we see parents on the sidelines at football matches, urg...
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Childrens Football Is Not Racist

Childrens Football Is Not Racist
In a week when Dani Alves, the great Brazilian right back, turns the tables on racist bullies, we ask why is children's football not racist and how can we keep it that way?Dany Alves playing for Barcelona versus Villa Real last Sunday was the victim of racist bullies who threw bananas at him as he was preparing to take a corner kick. Dani surprised everyone and turned the tables by picking up the banana and eating it in front of the crowd before taking the corner kick.It was a great way of responding and has brought widespread support and publicity in the media, social media and has been widely backed by fellow football stars and senior leadership of the beautiful game. I have always felt that reacting badly by getting upset or angry at the actions of racist bullies gives them what they want. They want a reaction, they want you to feel bad and they want you to take your mind off the game and help their own team. Dani didn't let them get the better of him and Barcelona from 2-...
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The Importance of Skills in Kids Football Clubs

The Importance of Skills in Kids Football Clubs
While there is some merit in the long-ball by the defender,  up to the big striker, who chests the ball off to his partner, the modern game has changed somewhat.  In reminiscing while watching the Premiership years of 15 years ago, I have fond memories of a long ball over the top picking out Michael Owen, before he raced through and slotted home.  Indeed, there is a time and a place for "direct" football. This time and place however, is not at grass-roots level kids football clubs, where children need to be encouraged to explore their creative sides.  Being a full back is not the same as it was 20 years ago.  They have become more pivotal to the best team's game plans - charging down the flanks, whipping in crosses and most importantly - showcasing some intricate skills along the way.  Take a look at Everton's Seamus Coleman at the weekend - he was under pressure from Arsenal's Santi Cazorla on the right wing and looked like he was heading nowhere. ...
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Guest — Coach40
Developing skill acquisition at this young age is key! And yes it truly helps develop their confidence and creativity. Great blog!... Read More
Friday, 25 April 2014 7:07 AM
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Kids Football Coaching - Why Competition is Healthy for Your Child

Kids Football Coaching - Why Competition is Healthy for Your Child
Competition is a complex thing for anyone to get their head around in the football coaching world. There is a fine line between having a healthy competitive streak that drives you on to want to achieve more, and taking things too far in becoming someone who has to turn everything into a competition and always wants to win. This can be difficult for children especially to understand and so some parents may feel that it’s better to shield their kids from competition until they are old enough to understand it. However, there are many reasons why competition can actually aid in the development of a child and cause them to excel in a variety of ways. Introducing a degree of competitiveness into their lives from an early age may be just what they need to help them succeed. It Increases The Chance Of Success In the right environment, competition in football coaching has been proven to encourage children to perform better than they would have done without it. This is due to many different re...
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What are healthy eating habits for Childrens Football?

What are healthy eating habits for Childrens Football?
Kids football diets are often the topics of debate for busy parents asking themselves what stuff should we be feeding our children for football? Not only is it for nutritional purposes but also how do we get them off to good eating habits early in their lives.Honing skills getting tactically clued up is part of development but so is developing healthy eating habits. If our children develop a sense of healthy eating early in their development years it can pay dividends for a future healthy lifestyle in and out of their sporting careers.If we feed them with the wrong stuff then not only will their football suffer, so will our childrens physical development.So what foods should our budding Beckhams eat to aid their football development? With experts and government now saying that we should be moving more towards 7 portions of fruit and veg per day from their traditional 5-a-day recommendation, food and how we re-fuel is crucial to how we bring up our children and create the best of habits...
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Toddler Football - Engagement to Passion

Toddler Football - Engagement to Passion
As our England footballers begin to ramp up preparations for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, many of us are left to wonder – will we watch Steven Gerrard lift the trophy?  Will we get to see our young dynamos Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling in action?  Will Wayne Rooney sustain a freak injury that leaves our national media praying for a speedy recovery?  We are at an age in England where everybody expects – the media expects, the fans expect and even our politicians chime in with their two cents (well on the subject of football shirt prices…).  One thing that all of these individuals fail to look at is the role that toddler activity classes and toddler sports can have in shaping the next generation of sporting heroes. So why are children no longer as engaged in sport?  A lot of this comes down to the “Playstation” generation that we are all too aware of – children would rather sit on their iPad than kick a ball against a wall.  How do we beat this pro...
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