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Session plans, games and ice breakers

Photo: Planning sessions for deaf children and young people

When planning for coaching sessions

Some deaf children struggle to make progress in mainstream football coaching sessions because of the level of verbal instructions required, and lack of communicators.  Make sure you are fully prepared to include a deaf child by using our handy checklist for deaf-friendly football coaching sessions.

Things to ask the parent or footballer

  • What level of deafness do you have?
  • How do you like to communicate?
  • If you are not looking at me, what is the best way to get your attention?
  • Do you use any equipment to help you hear?
  • Do you use any equipment at school like a radio aid?

Things to bring

  • Dry wipe board and pens
  • Coloured flags
  • Resources for games, for example, pictures or objects.

Other considerations

  • Are assistant coaches or reception staff aware that deaf young people will be attending?
  • Does everyone know what the alarm means and what to do?

Do's and don'ts of coaching a deaf player

Simple tips for coaching deaf athletes. Credits: Writer, Director, Video Co-editor: Kira E. Video Co-Editor, Audio Engineer, Videographer: David L.

Deaf-friendly games

Warm ups and cool downs are essential aspects of a coaching session or match situation, and should be fully inclusive. Nothing needs to be said during the games themselves, other than visual signals of encouragement for the deaf players who might not be able to hear you verbally.

Not all games will be suitable for all ages and abilities, but with some creative thinking, most games can be adapted to suit the footballers you are working with. Think about other games you regularly play on the pitch and how these can be adapted to be more deaf-friendly.

In many cases, these activities can have a positive effect on all players’ development. For example, holding up cones and other visual signals encourages the players to look up more, thereby improving their spatial awareness on the field of play.

Here are a few examples of warm ups using strong visual signals:

Traffic lights 

  1. Each player has a ball.
  2. The players must move around the designated area with the ball at their feet.
  3. When the coach holds up a red cone, they must all stop with the ball under control.
  4. Introduce a yellow cone and the players must change direction with a turn.
  5. A green cone denotes the players must increase their speed with the ball.


  1. Players must jog around a designated area trying to dodge each other.
  2. When the coach holds up two cones all the players must get into pairs.
  3. Any player who is not in a pair is out.
  4. This also works if the coach holds up three, four or even five cones in turn until there are only two players left. 

Simon Says

  1. Each player has a ball to dribble around with.
  2. The coach will then demonstrate a series of skills and dribbles one at a time.
  3. The players should only copy the coach if he/she is also holding up a red cone.
  4. If the coach doesn’t raise a red cone when demonstrating a skill, the players must not copy the coach’s action.