Last week I was delivering a session at a local school on the Isle of Man.  Recently, a little boy has started at the school called Pharell.  He moved to the Island just before TT and has instantly become popular with his classmates.  Unfortunately, he injured his shoulder in a PE session earlier this week and so has his arm in a sling and couldn’t take part in our lesson.

To keep him involved in the session, I asked him to watch one of the teams in the first 6 minute match we were playing and share some feedback with them at the end of the game, to help them with the next one.  They lost this first game by 11 points to 5 (with a maximum of 16 points available).

Wow, he absolutely revelled in this role!  Calling the team in he shared his thoughts with them and they went out to play the second game, winning 16-0.  Because of the success, I asked that team to reflect on the differences in their performance themselves, and asked Pharell to now work with the other team.

Out they went for the third match and this time the game finished 10-6, another significant change in score.

At the end of the game the children were brought together and asked to share their thoughts on Pharell’s interactions with them, here are some of the comments they made;

‘He gave us a simple plan, making sure we have people to stop the other team and people to attack the other team – we all knew what to do’

‘He was nice, he made you listen to the other children so everyone got chance to say what they thought.  We didn’t listen to each other the first time’

‘He was really funny, when he told you something you could do better it wasn’t like you were being complained at’

‘In the first games I was told I wasn’t allowed to attack and had to guard the box.  Pharell said I should have a turn at attacking, but also defend like a midfielder.  It was cool because I got to have a go at attacking too’

‘He just made me laugh because he was funny’

Two things about this session stood out for me. One, the impact Pharell had upon the children’s performance with simple strategy and clear roles and responsibilities.

Two, the value the children placed upon humour, making them feel valued and listening to them – as they said ‘being nice’ 😃

A truly fantastic template for coaches of young players to build from. A lesson learnt for me on the priorities of children and how effective these two simple considerations can be for a coach.

This strategy of using a child to coach/manage/feedback to a team was incredibly powerful – for him, the players and me – so definitely an intervention I will use again in the future.


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