The new football season is in full swing, and local youth football clubs are facing up to a packed schedule of training and football matches.
Here's some ideas from Wicken to help hone those football skills from the comfort of your own back garden.
#1 Dribble Practice You've probably already got plenty of natural obstacles in your garden, so use these as dummy defenders, and encourage your child to dribble around them. You can set up a course, or call out which obstacle to go around next. Make it competitive by timing how long it takes them to dribble around the course, and challenging them to go faster next time.
#2 Perfecting The Pass Being able to accurately pass the ball is a very important footballing skill. One thing that will help improve the accuracy of your child's passing is if they can learn to rely on their ears to locate the player. For this game you will need an open area of grass, without any obstacles. Blindfold the child and stand them in the centre of the space. Then quietly move around before calling out to them. The aim of the game is for your child to locate where they need to turn too, and how far they need to kick the ball, without using their eyes.
#3 Controlling The Kick The strength of the pass is just as important as how accurate its direction of travel is. If you have a slide, your child can practice kicking the ball with just the right amount of force by trying to get it to land on the platform at the top of the slide. They need to kick it hard enough to roll up the slide, but not so hard that it runs back down the other side.
#4 Volleying Raising the ball into the air from a static position is a tricky skill, but useful for dodging past defenders. Label the rungs of the ladder on your climbing frame or slide, so that each space above the rung has a points value. Then take it in turns volleying the ball through the gaps. The winner is the person who scores the most points.
#5 Football Rounders You'll need a but more space for this game, so if you don't have a big garden, you might need to pack up your Thermos flask and head for the park. You'll also need at least five players. One child is the 'batter', another is the bowler, and the remainder are fielders. Play the game just like rounders or cricket. Roll a ball along the ground, and the 'batter' needs to kick it as hard as they can. If a fielder catches the ball, or traps it dead under their foot, the 'batter' is out. If the ball is not out, then the 'batter' can score runs by running between his batting position and a predetermined marker, approximately 20 feet away. He has until the bowler is holding the ball again to score as many runs as possible. Everyone gets three bowls to reach as high a total as possible before it's the next player's turn.