By Tara Barrett
I have been playing football for most of my life and when I moved to Brighton after finishing university, I decided to get involved with coaching grassroots football. I am now an FA Level 1 qualified coach and manage the Hollingbury Hawks Under 14 Girls’ team in Brighton. After coaching the girls for three years, I have picked up a few valuable coaching hacks and grassroots equipment tips along the way which make training and match days just that little bit easier to manage. Grassroots clubs need to be resourceful, which is why the focus of this feature is on equipment that is inexpensive, practical and versatile.
Other than a referee, plastic net clips are my match day essential. When I first started coaching, I relied on tape to secure my nets which was often a two-man job. It was an absolute nightmare to attach in wet weather and regularly fell down mid-match, leaving holes in the net.
So, get rid of your single-use tape that goalposts seem to collect an extra layer of every week and invest a fiver on a set of plastic net clips. Not only are they reusable and therefore cheaper in the long-run, but they are way easier to set up and so much more effective than tape. It’s a win-win-win for net clips in my opinion.
Poles are essential for any football coach. While typically used for dribbling drills, you can also use them to mark out some quick goalposts/corner flags or even orientate them to create a makeshift dummy defender.
When I started coaching, I was driving a little Seat Ibiza. Fitting all my coaching equipment into the car was a struggle at the best of times, and trying to manoeuvre 6ft poles through the boot to rest securely on the passenger seat was definitely a deterrent to transporting this versatile piece of equipment. Thankfully, I found that split poles exist. Split poles are essentially full-length poles which are cut in half and can be secured together at your convenience. They are so much more portable as I can fit them width-ways into my boot – I now take them everywhere.
Flat disc markers
Other than a set of footballs, when you think of the one piece of equipment any coach needs, it’s cones. Yes, cones are great, but they can definitely get in the way sometimes. This is where flat disc markers save the day. In my opinion, flat disc markers are a vital accompaniment to a set of cones as, unlike cones, they will never disrupt a drill! I mostly use them to split the pitch into zones for specific drills, but also use them to mark out goalkeeper areas for small-sided games.
A tarpaulin is an absolute lifesaver at matches on a wet weekend. Simply lay it out on the floor for everyone to put their belongings on and fold over so nothing gets wet. You can even have an extra one to use as a shelter for substitutes. Costing approximately £6 for 3m x 3m of material, a tarpaulin is a very cost-effective solution for avoiding the Great British elements.