PLANNING A STRUCTURED COACHING SESSION
Organising a football session with a clear objective or football problem is not always easy, especially in a team context with varying abilities, but it is important. There are times that what we thought and planned on our coaching planner neatly doesn’t always turn out the way we expect it to be.
How do we avoid these situations when you're just beginning to explore your coaching capabilities? Here are some useful tips when planning your training sessions.
Consider keeping your main objective or football problem as the focus of the session and don’t get tempted to coach every problem you see.Try not to get caught up in elaborate drills & exercises but focus on how the football problem or objective relates to the core skills, the main moments of the game (Attack, Defense, Attacking Transition, Defensive Transition & Set Pieces) and the principles of attack and defense. Encourage habits that you want to see in the game and in your teams.
Here comes the subcategory of your general objective. When talking about the exercises or drills, list down the actions, tasks and habits in each category in a sequence that you think would work for your team or player. Here’s an example below, based on some of the core skills.Below 4 are provided but in a normal session choose 1 in line with your session objective & specific aspect.
- 1v1 Drill
- Cone exercise
- Advanced cone exercise
- Circle of cones
- Shooting from a square pass
- One touch shooting
- Three goal drill
- Lay off, turns, and chest control
- Headers on goal
- Basic short passes
- Shuffling passes
- The drive ball
- The through ball
- One-touch passing
- Pressuring warm-up
- Sliding tackle
- Defensive header
- Small-sided game
Having this list doesn’t mean that everything has to be covered in one session. A complete list of your detailed objectives will help you track which drills have been covered, are ongoing, and to be covered during the next session.
If you’re having a 1-on-1 session, you only have to worry about your player attending. It’s a different story when it comes to a small-group or team session. Think about the number of players that you are going to handle in a session. It is wise to consider the possibility of one or a couple of your players not showing up. This will make you prepared for sudden changes in the group activities you’ve planned for the session.
Four main parts
Each session should have the 4 main parts and each should follow a timeline. It is important to keep everyone moving.
1. Warm-up (5-10 min)
This is an important element of the session because it will set the player's mental and physical awareness. Here are some warm-up ideas.
- Dynamic warm-ups
- Relay warm-ups
- Tag games
- Warm-up games like capture the cone, treasure hunters, and pinnie grabbers.
- Skill-specific warm-ups like scoring spree, wall passing combination, and down the ladder.
2. Activation/Technical & Skill-Based (15-20 min)
This is where you add pressure on your players wherein they will have to focus on the execution of a specific technique. During this time, you can incorporate individual activities for dribbling and passing or small group activities like positioning games, rondo’s, passing and receiving exercises, defensive drills, and many more. Whichever you think will work on the objective you have for the session or both. More importantly, the techniques you practice here should be related to the small-sided game you’ll play next.
3. Small-sided game (25-30 min)
This is an awesome way to get the players improve in a fun and competitive training environment. This is when the application of the technical based drill you previously worked on is being observed. As it is a game, the team is divided into smaller groups. For example, you were previously working on the offense. One good SSG you can play would be 3v2 variation; the last person to touch comes off.
4. Match (15 min)
Let your players finish off with a match. Try letting them play without boundaries, but focus on the objective you have for the session. This will help you assess each player and how they are as a team.
Remind your players about the objective you have for the session. Give constructive feedback and end the session by asking your players some questions. You’ll be able to gauge whether they’ve understood the objective clearly or not. All answers should be acknowledged even if it’s incorrect. This will guide you in making revisions or improving your plan for the succeeding session.
When you set small, visible goals, and people achieve them, they start to get it into their heads that they can succeed. They break the habit of losing and begin to get into the habit of winning. It’s extremely satisfying to see that kind of shift take place. - Bill Parcells