Half-time, season 2019/20. It's shaping up to be an absolute cracker.
The season started with lots of new signings. Behind Every Kick welcomed young female footballers from Cricklewood Wanderers FC, boys from Rap-Aid FC in north London and GCSE Physical Education students from Skinners’ Academy into the programme. Just as exciting, Sporting Hackney FC, School 21 (basketball) and Wealdstone FC all returned, following their participation last year.
Development session one explored pressure. Players faced-off in a fun no-stakes football penalty shootout or basketball free-throw competition. "Easy".
They then tried again, this time though with real-life, crowd noise sound-effects piped in and 'friendly' discouragement from their teammates. "He keeps putting me off. That ain't fair."
Score or miss - all the players reflected on how they'd felt when taking their shot before being challenged to devise strategies to cope with pressure.
Ewan, one of BEK's trainers at Skinners' Academy said: "The golden moment was seeing the boys realise the techniques they'd come up with to manage the pressure of penalties - practice, focus, visualisation, deep breathing - can work for them in wider life too. It was my first time delivering training for Behind Every Kick, so feeling under pressure was definitely something I could relate to. Especially when I couldn't get the projector screen working."
The theme of session two was communication. BEK participants watched clips of two professional football managers delivering half-time team-talks. One very much of the 'old school' - swears, blames his players and smashes some tea-cups. The other, by contrast, encourages his players and gives them tactical insights to go and win the match. While exploring what the participants liked and didn't like in the two football managers' differing communication styles and who they'd rather play for, they were also introduced to the MAD framework for effective communication. Message - what do you want to say. Audience - who are you speaking to. Delivery - how are you saying it.
Players from Rap-Aid FC felt they could use the concept of MAD to improve their communication with each other on the pitch, or when talking to the referee. They then began to discuss how it could also work when speaking to their parents or a teacher.
Session three looked at motivation. Players explored their own motivation through a ball passing game, where rules and rewards were at various points applied and taken away, leading to group discussions about the effect this had on their motivation. Players examined the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and considered which over the long-term was more powerful. They also learned about the ‘DRIVE model' where highly successful people, including top athletes, harness a sense of purpose, autonomy and mastery to reach their goals.
"At the end of the session at Cricklewood Wanderers FC ..." says BEK trainer Ryan "... I was approached by Cricklewood's coaches. They told me that several of the girls are doing their FA Level One Coaching Qualification and that they are applying their learning from Behind Every Kick to it. I was buzzing to hear that"
Away from the development sessions, the mentorship work with those players who asked for a BEK mentor has been quietly reinforcing the work delivered by our trainers and forging deeper bonds between this year's participants and Behind Every Kick. BEK Connect our provision for last year's graduates also held its first workshop on goal setting which you can read about here.
After the festive break, the three remaining development sessions will look at building confidence, flourishing within teams and creating opportunities. Roll-on 2020.