Opening circles are best conducted by bringing the players together in a standing circle as they are about to become physically active. The coach-educator should stand in the circle with the players so that they can be easily seen and heard by the players.
Closing circles are best conducted with the players sitting and can take place at the football field or even in a classroom.
The closing circle is the time to bring players together to reflect on the football activities and make a link to life skills. A range of participatory methods are used in the closing circle to maximise participation, encourage discussion and critical thinking. It is not the coach-educator’s role to lecture to the players, rather to foster healthy discussion and moderate the group. A successful closing circle will see the players talking and discussing more than the coach-educator! Use the following tips to help to moderate a successful closing circle.
- Ensure you have enough space to sit in a large circle and/or spread into small groups. Use the space you have available. For example, you could gather in a quiet shady place next to the football field or return to the classroom.
- Use the participatory methods provided to involve all players in the follow up discussion, make sure no player is left out.
- Use the simple and open questions provided to encourage discussion.
- Allow players adequate time to think and discuss.
- Listen and facilitate feedback and discussion from the players, provide some coaching but try to avoid delivering a lecture-style session.
- Encourage players to share their thoughts and experiences.
- Create a safe and comfortable environment for discussion, reflection, and critical thinking.
- Foster a non-judgemental atmosphere in the group, asking players to value and respect each other’s contributions.
- Use reflective statements that demonstrate you are listening and to summarise what has been said.
- Keep an eye on the time and keep conversations concise.