Gala season has started and many junior football teams across the country will spend some of the summer weekends competing in tournaments.
Gala's are great and it's normally a very good footballing experience for the players, as well as a generally fun day all round.
With such a high volume of youth players all in once place, gala's attract a lot of professional football academy scouts. Below we've listed a few things that parents can read if you're interested in knowing what your player can do to stand out.
1. First, and possibly the most important thing, don't make a big deal of it Tournaments are meant to be fun and they give the players the chance to experience some competitive action. They've got enough on their plate without having the added pressure of worrying about getting scouted. Our advice would be to not even mention it. Word soon gets round when a scout is spotted so the players will be fully aware - if you're relaxed about it, they won't think it's too much of big deal which should hopefully mean they play with less on their mind.
2. What am I doing when I don't have the ball? One area you can help with is encouraging good habits during the games. One big thing is what they are doing when they don't have the ball. Encourage them to track back when the other team has the ball and find space when their team mates have it. Scouts look for intelligence out of possession - its not all about what they do with the ball.
3. Keep the ball moving An old saying in football that still rings true today. When they receive the ball encourage your player to take a touch in a direction as opposed to stopping it dead and holding up play. It's looked on very favorably.
4. Pass, dribble or shoot? Decision-making is becoming more and more prevalent in coaching and scouts look out for what decisions a player makes when they have the ball. Many believe that the player who takes on the most players or scores the most goals will be scouted but that isn't the case. Promote team play with your player but encourage them to take people on if they need to. If they see a chance for a shot then take it. But if it doesn't work out - see point 1.
5. Confidence As a parent you want to encourage your player to express themselves and be comfortable with the ball. Scouts look for players who want the ball and don't shy away from having it at their feet.
6. Good discipline Players who deliberately foul, are rude to parents/referees/other players are unlikely to be picked no matter how good they are. It comes down to the scout looking at how coachable a child will be. There's no point wasting time with someone with a bad attitude. Smile, play fairly and enjoy it.
We hope that has given you a few ideas. As a parent you can help your child in so many ways when it comes to these situations and we feel the biggest thing is simply letting them play with no worries. That's what it's all about at the end of the day. Note how many times the word 'encourage' is wrote above.
Enjoy your galas and let us know how your team does.