Welcome to our Training Page
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Training plays a hugely important part in our club. We have two weekly sessions detailed elsewhere. Here are some photos and a short video of typical sessions. There are also some articles with tips and hints to improve our members.
These articles were written by Tim Richens Coach / Goalkeeper at Cheddar WFC in Somerset. We thank him for permitting us to reproduce these specialist training aids. We start with Goalkeeping, keep an eye out in the weeks to come for tips on Attacking, Defending, Communication and Possession.
How to be a better attacker in walking footballer
This article is all about how to be better as a Walking Footballer, so it really applies to those who play more regular Walking football (older players particularly).
Before I move into the specifics for attacking in Walking Football, I would like to address one or two key points that are essential to all outfield positions particularly.
Fitness is crucial in any type of football, and this includes Walking Football, as a crucial part of the game is to be able to get into a position in which to influence the game on behalf of your team.
So, as a result I would suggest that to train for Walking Football, it is crucial that players practice walking, not only on a speed basis, but also distance and stamina.
This will be no surprise to any player who has done preseason training for the "mainstream" game, where it is crucial that players are fit to be involved in the game.
Another generic area for all positions is the one of COMMUNICATION.
It is crucial, especially attacking in Walking Football, that players can call for the ball and talk to teammates, to explain where the ball is going, so that they are ready to receive it.
This may sound obvious, but many pitches and games are too quiet and calling for the ball helps your teammates and yourself!
TECHNIQUE is crucial, in Walking Football as well as in conventional football, as you must know how to master these skills. Shoot, Receive a pass, Make space to receive a ball, which is a particular skill itself!
The walking football attacker has to have the conventional attributes of any “mainstream”attacker (i.e. being able to hit the target accurately and repetitively).
But, they also have to be a player who can hold the ball up, bringing other players into play, changing the direction of the attack often.
The opportunity for a “Jamie Vardy type” striker, who wants the ball over the top, to run onto, does not exist at Walking Football standard. This is presumably because the ball cannot be passed over the top of a defender!
However, it is crucial that the striker has the awareness, to find space behind defenders, in order to get his shots in on a regular basis.
As in the conventional game, shooting is a crucial part of the game, however the key difference in Walking Football to the conventional game is the lack of a need to be a great header of the ball (for obvious reasons!).
So, specifically, what skills make a great forward?
high rate of hitting the target!
By this, obvious though it is, I mean it is vital to hit a shot on target rather than generate pace on the ball, to do both is the ultimate aim! Here is a stark, but simple fact, a shot on target will always have a chance of scoring but a “power-drive” wide of the target (even by an inch) will NEVER result in a goal (unless it gets a deflection! Practice hitting the target and build up on your power gradually rather than try to “knock the cover off the ball”. The best natural finisher in my lifetime was Jimmy Greaves and he was known as a player who passed the ball into the goal! Accuracy over power, but both is the ideal!
Learn how to beat a defender!
In walking football, you are unlikely to dribble past a defender, or out sprint them (as in the mainstream game) so the way to beat a defender in from of your us the simple old fashioned 1:2 (using a wall pass!) which relies on having a teammate in support! Try to establish an overload wherever you can (this is where teamwork and communication come to the fore) and then simply pass the ball to the teammate and move into a position to receive the ball in a position behind the defender! (If the defender gets “clever” and goes with you to stop you scoring, simply draw him away from the goal by moving away and leave your team mate to have the 1on1 with the keeper!)
Keep moving but ensure your team know where you are!It is vital that you are consistently available to receive a pass from a teammate, linked to the previous section sometimes you can be a decoy to free up room for your team mates to get at the opposition!There is something natural about how “born forwards” seem to find themselves unmarked near the goal but I have studied this, and it is usually all about their movement so if you are the striker be prepared to make movements that draw a defender away from where you would want to receive the ball.
Remember ONLY YOU know where you are going to move to and from, so you’ve always got a head-start and use these couple of seconds (a defender can only REACT to your move, not predict it!) So, if your team has the ball, vacate the space where you eventually want to receive the ball, taking the defender with you then, just before you want the ball call (loudly) for it - making sure the pass is possible!
This gives you a second or two over the defender so get yourself between the defender and the place the ball will be collected (so even if they are quicker than you are they have to foul you to get to the ball!!).
If you get there slightly before them, use your technique to move the ball out of your feet and into a position to get a shot away!
Call for the ball (this is football, not Hide and Seek!!)
Too often I watch great movement by a striker who then fails to call for the ball, causing them, and their team, loads of frustration!
When I ask why they failed to call for the ball the answer IS ALWAYS “I didn’t want the defender to mark me” and my response IS ALWAYS “fine, but how did your teammate know where you were?”
So, if you do what I’ve just pointed out in the last section, you can still receive the ball in a shooting position without the defender stopping your shot AND help your teammates.
Make yourself “accessible”.
It’s great calling for the ball but that’s only half the battle! If there are 40 yards and 8 players between you and the passer then are you really being effective (or even realistic)? I have yet (in 50 years of watching football) to see a pass over 40 years, below head height and through a few defenders!
Even when receiving a five yard pass you sometimes may need to move a little bit to receive a pass from a teammate - this is where fitness comes in (both speed walking and stamina too!) to your benefit!
My ideal striker from football history for this was Pele, although he was strong in the air, as he could play going “both ways”.
Most lively, fit, top notch players could do this role successfully though - I look at Maradona, Messi and Jimmy Greaves and they would have been brilliant at this game too!
However, in today's game I would suggest that the perfect choice would be Harry Kane.
Kane can hold a ball up, using his strength; but also shoots powerfully, early and accurately too! The last two parts (early and accurate) being his most important weapons!
So, in summary
As you will see there are many techniques and requirements in Walking Football, that are also needed in the “conventional game”, and although it is done at a slower pace, this often creates more difficulty for the attacking Walking Footballer.
The need to practice technique is even more vital in Walking Football than in conventional football, as, contrary to what many people may believe, people think Walking Football is a very "simple" game.
But it’s lots of fun!!
Armed with these tips you will find that you are a better walking striker, but you will also enjoy the game far more.
Your team is more likely to succeed!
You get better enjoyment!
You feel that you are still playing the GREAT GAME OF FOOTBALL!
THE ART OF DEFENDING WITHOUT CONTACT
The most effective Walking Football defenders are great at positioning, have great communication skills (as they are unable to do EVERYTHING themselves (no matter how good they think they are!)
Additionally, in walking football, they do not have the luxury of being able to recover any loss, by being quick in recovery, as they CANNOT RUN!
To get a mental picture of what makes a better defender, WITHOUT CONTACT, just think of England (World Cup team 1966) and the Centre Backs - Bobby Moore and Jack Charlton - Moore was regarded as a great reader of the game, top communicator, timer of a tackle and distributor, but “Big Jack” was a traditional big centre back who was strong, great in the air and “no nonsense”, however in walking football the ball can’t be headed, contact isn’t allowed and attacks normally start in your defensive third!!
If picking your team you should pick Moore over Charlton every time for walking football!! Despite Jackie being a great player in his own right. I believe that Paolo Maldini would have been a perfect Walking Football defender, mainly as he read the game extremely well. But the reason that I believe Maldini, would make the perfect defender was that he was not only a great defender, but was both great initiators of attacks, and could pass the ball well.
To illustrate this, I would like to use a quote that Maldini once used, as it really shows what is ideal about the type of player that he would make in Walking Football.
His famous (and translated) quote was "if I ever make a great tackle, I have already made a mistake".
What he means by this is that his reading of the game was so good that, if he was forced to make emergency recovery tackle (no matter how good it was), it was “bad” because he had already got his self out of position and in the wrong place to do the right thing, defensively.
However, the most crucial skill for any Walking Football defender, is to be able to organise the rest of his team and make sure that he stays as central as possible, where he can influence the game most, and be in position to react to any danger - as this is the top priority of any defender, in Walking Football, or Conventional Football!
A great Walking Football defender may not always be central, as they will be wherever they need to be, to minimise the danger of opposition attacks!
SO, to keep it simple, they should take a start position (like the keeper) somewhere on an imaginary line between the ball and the middle of the goal!
Once there they can react to any scenario.
Once there their role is to delay an opposition attack (ALWAYS STAYING ON THE IMAGINARY LINE BETWEEN THE BALL AND THE CENTRE OF THE GOAL) and allow team mates to get “behind the ball” and stop ANY route to their goal.
(The role of the main defender is that they must also be aware of their defending team mates, and also opponents, so that they can make sure that while they protect the goal, other players “routes to goal” are covered)
To do this great defenders need two key skills primarily
* communication skills
* great vision and awareness
(Note - neither of these are specific football technical skills, but instead rely on normal “human” senses)
To remind, again, you of the defender’s priority - it is to stop goals being scored.
Being the instigator of attack is very much a bonus, albeit a welcome one!
So, never, ever, allow yourself as a defender to be caught against two or more attackers without assistance!!
If you do, try to buy time to allow team mates to recover, by “staying low” and always stay between the ball and the centre of the goal and work with your keeper to stop a shot coming in or limiting the target for strikers to aim at!
In walking football, just like “mainstream football”, there is one glaring fact - possession is king!
Forget the “clever statisticians” who preach transition (or counterattack as we used to call it!), there is one undeniable set of facts in football - you cannot score without having the ball and your opponent’s cannot score if they don’t have the ball!!
In my experience of walking football, I get very frustrated by the way that my teams concede possession and I’ve looked at why, with a view to helping my teams improve in this area.
Before I start, let’s make it clear - players who play the game of walking football are not Glenn Hoddle (the best passer of a ball that I have ever seen!) and even if they could do what he did technically, walking football does not allow this, as you cannot pass above head height!
So, the first thing to remember is to KEEP IT SIMPLE and make sure that when you do pass, you pass to a team mate, no matter how far away they are - 100% pass success rate to a team mate has to be your target!
But passing square for the sake of it is of no benefit at all!
So, how to improve your pass rate?
Here are my tips!
If there is no obvious pass on, it’s usually because you cannot hear your teammates, don’t just try the “killer” ball.
The technique for this (the killer ball) is too difficult, to thread the ball through a crowded defence (without the option to hit the ball over the top), you’d have struggled “back in the day”, but with the “no overhead height limit”, in walking football, you’d definitely struggle nowadays!
LISTEN TO YOUR TEAM MATE AND TRUST THEM
If a team mate calls for the ball, it’s mainly because they can see the “bigger picture”, and have a better vision of where their opponents are, so this is where you MUST trust them and release the ball.
Remember, if you don’t pass it to them, they will stop calling for it, and soon you will have no option but to keep it, under pressure, and may get dispossessed!
You’ve been warned!
PRACTICE YOUR TECHNIQUE
Knowing what to do is half the battle, but actually doing it is another story!
So, practice passing, practice again and keep practicing till you do it without thinking about it!
You CAN “teach an old dog, new tricks”!!!
MAKE SURE TEAMMATES CALL FOR THE BALL
If your teammates don’t call for the ball, to HELP YOU OUT, then you have to be brave and tell them that you need their help. You will be concentrating on keeping control of the ball, so you will be looking down at it, so it’s vital you use your ears, but even that will be useless if your teammates go “mute”!! If they aren’t calling, they aren’t helping - so be a “leader” and tell them to call!!
THE JOB'S NOT DONE
When you’ve passed it, that isn’t “job done”, move to become a receiver ASAP and stay involved!
If you pass it and stand still, your team cannot progress towards goal. So, walking football isn’t just about “the here and now”, your job isn’t over if you pass the ball then just watch.
It’s also about thinking “I’ve passed it, now where can I move to get it back and get my next pass ready”, it’s like chess, or snooker, think two steps ahead and you’ll be a better player, and, more importantly, a better teammate!!
PASS QUICKLY AND EARLY
One of the most frequent, and dangerous, things I see in walking football is “dallying on the ball”.
This is dangerous because it allows opponents to close down the space, without tackling, and reduce your passing options (this is not just outfield players, it’s often keepers too!).
So, it’s vital to make a quick decision (as a passer or receiver) and get the ball moving as quickly as possible. The longer you “dally” in possession, the more your opponents can organise their defence (including a high press) to recover the ball (and remember - you ONLY score when in possession!!)
Make sure every pass you make goes to a teammate, and once you’ve passed it, look to get involved again as soon as you can!
If you are waiting for the ball from a teammate, call for it - it’s football, not “hide and seek”!!
You cannot score without a ball, so keep it at all costs, if a pass to a colleague isn’t on, keep the ball and ask for help!
You cannot concede with possession, so to ensure you never lose, keep the ball.
Silence is not “golden”, it is the enemy of the good walking footballers, so get “mouthy”, it will help your team massively!
Finally, football is much more fun when you have the ball, if you just want to chase (without running) the ball, give up walking football and join a walking club!
Improve your game in 3 easy steps!
Calling & moving
They are often too slow in their passing (though this may be down to being too slow to control the ball or having too many players in a small area), and because they, as a group, defend well and get back in shape quickly,
So, this slow passing means that often they do not get the ball to teammates in a way that allow them to attack the goal!
It also means they attempt the tricky pass rather than the simple one, increasing the chance of being intercepted and counter attacked!
Good advice is always to get a short, quicker pass to a teammate, rather than wait until you are closed down and your intended recipient is marked!
MOVING AND CALLING
As well as the pressure on the passer to move the ball quicker, there is a responsibility on players to help them more than is currently happening.
It is no good calling for the ball when a player cannot get it to you, or you are 40 metres away, so you MUST move into a place where a teammate can pass it to you.
However, it is still vital that you call for the ball as this helps your teammates know where you are!
Too many times I see teammates that are in good positions, but not call for the ball (thus wasting their own effort and not helping their teammates)!
Often, in walking football, a player who wants to pass a ball is concentrating on controlling it before making a pass so relies on hearing your call, as well as seeing where you are!
(I know many players think “sneaking” into a position where defenders can’t see you is clever, it’s not!!
Because if a defender/opponent cannot see you, nor can your teammate!!)
TRUSTING AND LISTENING
Finally, to make things work above, you must start to trust your teammates and if they call for the ball (and they are in a position to receive it) they can, likely, see more of the pitch than you (because you are controlling the ball) so pass it to them!
BUT, if they don’t call for the ball, don’t pass it to them!!
The most important thing in football, especially Walking Football, is communication (not skill or speed) as it makes the game easier! So, remember, pass the ball quicker, listen to people calling for the ball, trust them!
If a teammate has the ball, move to a position to receive an easy pass.
AND THEN CALL FOR IT!
How to be a better walking football goalkeeper - this is only part of the “job” but may give you a decent start!!
I have already done a generic session for players to follow, but this session aims to address one or two key points specific to certain positions.
This approach started with defending, but I now move this on with the most crucial position, arguably!
The ideal goalkeeper (for both mainstream AND walking football) is one who is a great shot stopper, also commands their area and can block the angle of a shot.
Finally they should be a great distributor of the ball, so not only the last line of defence but also the first line of attack!
The main difference with goalkeepers to the “conventional game” is that, in Walking Football, they do not have to catch crosses – as the ball is not allowed above head height!
My ideal goalkeeper, from football history, for this version of the game would be Peter Schmeichel, however in today's game I would suggest that Alisson Becker (at Liverpool FC) would be an even better choice!
The reason that these two keepers would be so good in “our game”, is that they are aware of their area, the goal position, and are great “shot stoppers”, plus, as with any great goalkeeper, they both have a huge amount of bravery.
Shot stopping means using all parts of your body, not just your hands, to protect your goal
If the ball goes out of play, at least you get another chance to stop a goal; so, remember a keeper’s FIRST (and main) priority is to stop the ball going in the goal. Anything else is a bonus!
So, always know where your goal is and where you are in relation to this.
To help with this, mark out “reference” points (without the referee seeing!) in your area so that you are alway on a “virtual line” between the ball and the centre of the goal, then get your hands/feet/body on “that line” and force the striker to shoot wide of you!
And, remember, the closer you are to the ball (whilst staying inside your area) then the less of a target the attacker has to score past you!
With Allison particularly, a big strength of his game is his distribution; and in Walking Football quick distribution and decision making is vital, otherwise opponents get set and intercept the ball!
My biggest criticism of walking football keepers is that they take too long to distribute the ball and their targets get marked before the ball is released!!
Never forget, only a team with the ball can score and only a team with the ball cannot let goals in (except own goals - for the clever b***ers!)
Too many keepers try to be too clever and distribute “sneakily” but losing the ball is the cardinal sin!
It’s better to keep it simple and pass/throw accurately, even if it means giving it to the closest player!
Outfield players can also help their keepers by making the effort to get into a position to receive a ball whilst they are
This means a bit more effort, but is worth it for the benefit of the team!
So, in summary
As you will see there are many techniques and requirements in Walking Football, that are also needed in the “conventional game”, and this is particularly relevant in goal!
Therefore the need to practice goalkeeping is just as vital in Walking Football as it is in “conventional football”.
Just putting someone in goal for the sake of it, doesn’t really help a team, as the keeper is not just an additional player, he is a crucial member of any team!
Take on these goalkeeping tips and you will find that you are a better walking footballer, but you will also enjoy the game far more.
And, as with any outfield player;
- your team is more likely to succeed
- you get better enjoyment
- you feel that you are still playing the GREAT GAME OF FOOTBALL
Extra notes - for newer keepers!
Goalkeeping - some cheats/tips - for a “new” goalkeeper - these tips also apply to “mainstream” 11 a side keepers!
REMEMBER - YOUR FIRST AND MAIN PRIORITY IS TO STOP THE BALL GOING OVER YOUR LINE FOR A GOAL, ANYTHING ELSE IS A BONUS!!
• Wherever the ball is ON the pitch get onto an IMAGINARY line from the centre of the goal to the ball and stay on that “line”
• Mark out “reference” points around your area, so that you always know your bearings
• ANY time the ball is in your area JUST PICK IT UP (once it’s safely in your hands you have done your main job and the opponents cannot score!), worry about what to do next after this!! The exception is if you see an early passing opportunity, but still make the save first!!
• The further up the pitch the ball is, then the further up the area that you should be - NEVER STAND ON YOUR LINE ESPECIALLY IF YOUR TEAM HAS THE BALL
• If a forward is coming towards you “one on one (1:1”)” never step backwards - just work out your “imaginary line” and move UP it towards them (if they put it to your side and into the net don’t worry!!), always stay between them and the centre of the goal
• Shout instructions to your teammates during the game, it’s their job to protect you and stop the opponents getting near your goal - you’re not being “horrible” just trying to help the team!!
• Find someone to walk through and shoot at the goal and you practice “getting into line and in the way”
• Practice catching a ball and “securing it” in and around the stomach
• Practice walking and general fitness work - keepers must be fit to move around during a game.
DO ALL OF THE ABOVE AND YOU’LL BE A VERY GOOD GOALKEEPER