DONEGAL ladies footballer Emer Gallagher believes that one of the most important drills you can teach a young player is the block.
Gallagher, who is also a secondary school teacher, says that when she is coaching girls she will prioritise the block in training.
“I always say to the girls, and his is especially from a defender’s point of view, you might not be the one who is getting your name in the paper for getting the winning point or the goal, but a block can change a game.
“It can change the whole mentality of the team when you put in a block at the right moment.
“Sometimes that is like the defender’s ‘winning goal’. It can be the inspiration that the team needs to push on.”
Gallagher said that often the girls she coaches can sometimes be a little hesitant when working on this skill.
“It is a fundamental skill but I don’t think you see it a lot in ladies football. There are different reasons for that. One of them is that there might a bit of fear.
“It isn’t always incorporated into training so I always encourage girls to do it at the start of training.”
Gallagher says that there is a progression that she will go through with her players in helping them to learn the skill.
“It is such a simple drill. I would get the girls to get into pairs and then stand in a line, facing each other. The girl with the ball has to kick it with force and the other girl has to be brave and put her body over the ball.
“It is a simple drill of putting both your hands over the ball and being brave.
“I think it is something that if you continue to practice then you are more likely to bring it into your game scenario. It is important that you are coming in from the side. But you can’t block from behind.
“It is really important that you are hip to hip, and you put your arms across the ball. You don’t want to block and then be on the ground. It is about not lunging, keeping your feet apart, not leaning your body over too far.
“We would start drills from a standing position and then work towards being hip to hip, and trying to block the ball on the move.”
“Sometimes they might turn their head away, or drop their hands down, but as time goes on you will see them getting braver and braver.
“You will then see them replicating that in a game situation,” the player added.