How and why to use arrival activities in the Foundation Phase

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Not sure how to start your Foundation Phase training sessions? Here’s why you should think about introducing your players to arrival activities.

Arrival activities are a central part of the England DNA’s Foundation Phase. They provide the opportunity for players (who often arrive at different times) to get involved in small-sided games before a session formally starts. This means that your team is moving straight away, and it also creates a foundation for game-based coaching.

If you’re working with a new team or you’re an inexperienced coach, you may want to organise the arrival activity yourself.

However, as you get to know your players over time, you can encourage them to take more ownership over the process – such as asking them to arrange the different teams.

It’s important to recognise that the level of responsibility you allow your team will depend on a variety of factors such as:

A player’s age
Players of any age can accept a degree of ownership and choice – your role is to determine what, when and how to give this to them.

Your relationship with the team
How well do you know your players? If you’re working with a new group, you need to assess their level of development before allocating responsibility.

The context
In some situations, it’s easier to give responsibility to your team. For example: if your next activity is a 3v3 game and on each side you want a left footed player, a right footed player and a goalkeeper – the players could quickly sort this out.

However, at other times, it might be more difficult. For example: if the area size is a really important constraint you would mark out the area yourself, but let the players select who they play with.

As a coach, your job is to assess the context knowing that in the long-term you would like to be able to handle most, if not all, of the decision-making over to the group. In order to do this effectively, you have to start with the small steps indicated here.

The experience of your players
If you’re working with players who already have experience of taking more responsibility and ownership, they’re more likely to accept and benefit from this approach.

The experience of the whole group
When coaching a team, difference is to be expected. You may have players who are able to cope with more or less responsibility than others. Take the time to assess your players and manage their needs.

Remember, this decision is also dependant on your own coaching experience: as you progress, you’ll find it easier to assess the level of ownership your players should be given – even when working with a new team.

Although allocating responsibility and decision-making has some great benefits, it’s important to apply this approach slowly. Your priority is to form a safe, secure and trusting relationship with your team.

Once you have done this you’ll be in a great position to begin to hand the reins over to the players.


To learn more about Foundation Phase DNA, click here.


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