We are now progressing through our second week of training sessions heading into our first weekend of games this weekend, so I wanted to reach out to everyone with some thoughts, ideas, and tips. One thing that I will be doing this season with both the recreation and challenge divisions is that I frequently go out to observe training sessions. Similarly, both of the staff working with me will be doing the same thing and we will be sure to get out to Garner, Cary, Raleigh, and Wake Forest. So, you may see me out walking around the training ground. On occasion I may stop over to speak with a coach, but very seldom as I do not want to interfere with your session, but I may follow up with you via email if there is anything that I want to pass along.
Here are some of the things that I look for with coaches/teams during training:
- Energy and passion from the coach or coaches. This is one of the most important aspects to coaching as players are going to feed off of and emulate the personality, energy, enthusiasm, and passion of the coach. If you as the coach carry yourself as though you do not want to be there, your players are going to follow suit. For the 90 minutes of your session with your players, bring the energy, passion, excitement, and love of the game of soccer.
- Organization. Coaches need to be organized with their activities in order to maximize the value for which the players can learn and develop. Good coaches have great organization and are able to have very minimal transition time between activities, which also helps to keep the players focused and on task. Most silly incidents and injuries at practice will occur in the time between activities, so minimizing this time with good organization not only makes more effective use of your 90 minutes of training, but will also minimize silliness and accidents with players during this "dead time".
- Communication: At training I really like to find examples of coaches that are coaching and teaching. For anyone that has been through any level of coaching course, one of the most prominent aspects of these courses are finding those coachable moments and making corrections and teaching.
- Training session flow: Within any training session there needs to be a connection of activities that all relate to one primary topic. An awful training session will be one in which there is a dribbling activity, followed by a passing activity, then a shooting activity, and then some game. Example of a session that focuses on 1v1 attacking:
- Technical warm up with lots of touches on the ball to include a few 1v1 moves (no pressure).
- Activity 1: Simulate 1v1, such that the defender must apply no more than 50% defensive pressure.
- Activity 2: Live defending of 1v1 play with line soccer. Divide the team up into 2 and play 3 minute games between the teams. Add a competitive element to the 1v1 attacking game.
- End game. Play a game as normal for the final 25-30 minutes. Since the focus of the day was 1v1, award teams a bonus goal each time they successfully beat a defender with a 1v1 move.
- Lines at training: Far too often do I see coaches running an activity in which too many players are standing. For example, I observed a team this past week doing a "running with the ball activity". This was an older girls team of about 14 players. The team was divided in half with 7 players on one side facing the other 7 players. One player at a time had a ball and would speed dribble across to the other side and then it would repeat. The problem with this is that with 14 players, only one is working with the ball at any one time, with 13 girls standing.
- Any activities involving lines should have no more than 4 players per line.
- For example, if I had a team of 12-16 players, I would split them up into 4 groups of 3-4 players each and each group gets a ball. This ensures that the work to rest ratio is much higher with one player working and 3 actively resting. This not only gets more touches for the players more frequently, but you can also add the component of fitness with higher work rates.