I have been busy creating recently, thinking about how we communicate ideas, challenges and problems to the children we teach. I think there is real value in occasionally using physical resources (e.g. cards) to get messages to children. Firstly, it saves time explaining things verbally, and secondly it can help enhance ownership of the game and session - especially if the children can choose their own level of challenge and have time to discuss tactics and strategies. Here are some of the things I have recently developed, I hope you find them useful and interesting...
The MoF Boardgame (including 'cheat' and 'challenge' cards)
This idea, inspired by Amy Price's work on video games, has teams compete on a board to see who can accomplish a mission first. As the teams score goals, the goalscorer runs over to the board to move their team's counter along the board, picking up cheats and challenges along the way. Different goals are worth different amounts, so a one-touch finish could be worth three points for example - and the coach and/or players can agree on the 'dice' before the game.
Below is an example of a Mission Card, in a Futsal context, with the four outfield players locked into zones to begin the game. The mission is to free all the players from being locked-in, and you can free a player each time you complete a level.
The idea is for the coach to add in cheats and challenges for players and teams to adjust the constraints of the game in order to make things easier, more difficult or just different. There are lots of cheats and challenges available in the powerpoint, but coaches should make their own depending on their own context and what will work with their players. As well as cheats and challenges, there are also 'changes' (where teams can agree to change something about the game - space, rules, scoring) and 'clues' (where teams agree to ask the coach for some coaching or help). Some cards below give examples:
(Of course, the cheat and challenge cards may be used effectively aside from the board game too).
World Cup Tournament Cards
This idea was partly inspired by Steve Hooper of Inclusion Coaching (twitter), who uses ratings on player cards in order to challenge teams in tournament matches (an idea he talks about at the end of this podcast with the Talent Equation). With our cards, teams score points based on how many goals they score and concede during each game they play.
We have used the World Cup cards in a small-sided games festival in the following way: Each team gets a card before their game and a few minutes to discuss the card together and work out a strategy for the game in order to win the most points available. For example, if they have a team with a high attack rating and a low defence rating, it may be more sensible to make the first priority to score three or more goals. The teams get a different card each game they play.
On each card are cheat and challenge options, and these allow the coach or organiser to adjust the difficulty level for a team based on how they are doing in the event and to make sure games are more evenly contested. For example, if a team has the Portugal card and have easily won two out of two games so far, then the next game they play with the challenge on the card (you can only score with a one-touch finish). There are 16 cards in the downloadable powerpoint, each with a different cheat and challenge.
Another way of organising this could be to allow teams to choose when they want to use their cheat and challenge, but they must use each one once during their first five games. This allows even more choice and ownership, and gives teams a chance to discuss their own strengths and abilities in relation to the cheat and challenge options available on the card and the opponents they are facing.
There is also a star player on each team card. This allows the coach or organiser to challenge and support one player on a team if that is necessary. For example, a player who is dominating games and their team winning comfortably because of their higher ability, could be be challenged to be the star player and that they must assist goals rather than score them.
Player Challenge Cards
I have designed a set of Player Challenge cards, using male and female role models from football, futsal and disability football. These can be used in a variety of ways, and examples are given at the end of the downloadable powerpoint.
In addition, I have found using tally clickers a useful way of helping children explore individual and team challenges. I have been using double clickers like the one pictured, with a challenge like: Each time you get you get the ball and make a successful pass or shot on target then click green, and each time you lose possession of the ball or make a bad pass or shoot off-target then click red. You can then let them play for a bit and you have some data to then reflect with the child on how they might keep the ball better (or take more risks, if they are always being safe).
I have also used them to play the boardgame (above) when a team lands on the Player Challenge square. I choose one of the players from that team and give them a challenge they can score using the clicker, for example, can you make 5 forward passes in the next 3 minutes. If they succeed in their mini-mission, then they can move their team one more square forward on the board.
The videos below introduce the work of Amy Price on using a video-games approach, including working with young players at a Surrey FA CPD event.