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Review - Playing for laughs

Introduce fun and games into football training with Mr Bean

Introduce fun and games into football training with Mr Bean

Mr Bean made a surprising appearance at last year's Olympics Opening Ceremony. This bumbling comic character, played by Rowan Atkinson, would not usually be associated with sporting prowess. Nonetheless, he pops up again in Soccer Drills, a book that offers instructions for 190 training sessions for all levels of youth and adult football teams.

Compiled by David Smith, a teacher and football coach since the late 1980s (whose football drill resources have proved popular on TES Connect), the original games and activities aim to enliven football training sessions, with each drill broken down into step-by-step diagrams.

"Mr Bean's moment" involves players jogging around the playing area while the coach shouts out the names of different types of beans. The players then respond with specific actions: "jumping bean" demands students bounce about; "baked bean" offers a chance to lie down and sunbathe (weather permitting); and the entertaining "jelly bean" requires participants to stand still, then wobble like a jelly.

After a few more beans we get to Mr Bean himself: students are required to evoke the iconic character by sitting down and pretending, in his idiosyncratic style, to drive a Mini. This drill has three stages, as does each of the others.

Those who are more adept at dribbling the ball, however, might take on an Attack of the Green Goblins, where they must become either a menacing green goblin or the more heroic Spiderman, battling to keep their ball away from the goblins. Other activities are centred around half-pitches and penalty shoot-outs.

Smith says that, despite the title and its aim to make sports training fun, Soccer Drills can be adapted for any kind of physical activity. "I wanted this to be fun, whether in a PE lesson, after-school clubs or even games for play leaders to use at break times," he says.

Soccer Drills is clear and accessible. Smith hopes it will inspire not only coaches of the future but also less athletic children to "have a go" on the playing field. It doesn't feel like sport and can be used for all levels of ability.

Soccer Drills by David Smith, published by Crowood, is available online and in major high-street bookshops. www.crowood.com.

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