When WORLD CLASS COACHING conducted a tour of Dutch club a few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend. While visiting the Ajax Academy I watched a session presented by Robin Pronk, coach of the U17 Boys Academy team. The focus of his session was on passing combinations but after going through a number of progressions that lead to a small-sided game the team then moved to a series of shooting competitions.
I usually end each session with a shooting exercise that incorporates aspects of the practice theme. One of the formats I often us is a simple three line set-up. I like this because you can do a wide variety of things from these basic starting position. The players are comfortable because we use this set-up often but I can make adjustments to place the emphasis where I want it.
If there’s one standard possession game that just about every coach uses it must be 5 v 2. It’s a great introduction to possession play because the intensity of the defending is easily controlled by the size of the area. The attackers have enough of an advantage that they can gain confidence from being successful but it is still a challenge. Once the players achieve a certain degree of comfort you can put a limit on their touches and challenge their ability to think quickly and read where the open pass is.
When I’m adding a new drill, exercise or small-sided game to a training session I know that the players will go through three separate phases of learning; first, they need to focus on the framework and rules of the activity, then they can pay attention to the technique that the activity requires. Only then can they play with the necessary speed and intensity that will replicate a game situation.
One of the biggest mistakes I see from coaches is a lack of attention and patience to the first two phases so that they can get to the final phase. They push players to play quickly and game like before they Continue reading ‘The Three Phases of Learning’ »
The indoor season provides a change of pace and focus that I think is good for player development but you don’t want to completely lose the base of fitness that was built during the outdoor season. The challenge is that you have a limited amount of space to work with when you’re training indoor. We use a school gym, and a small one at that. I look for exercises that mimic the movement patterns of the game while using space as economically as possible.
One of the perks of being apart of WORLD CLASS COACHING is that I have access to a large library of training sessions from some of the top professional, collegiate, and youth coaches. We have published books and DVDs on every aspect and topic of coaching.
I often refer to our DVD especially for new ways to approach topics to keep my coaching fresh and interesting to the players I work with. I think we’re all probably guilty of using the same few drills or exercises for a specific technique over and over. This can be a good thing because it allows us to focus on teaching the game rather than having to spend a lot of time teaching the drill. But changing things up on occasion can breath new life into a stale session and motivate players to perform at a higher level with the addition of new challenges.
Teaching players how to protect the ball until the option to shoot or pass is available is extremely important if you want your team to keep possession and learn to build an attack. There will be times when there isn’t an open team mate and they need to buy some time and create some space before support arrives.
I think coaches spend a lot more time teaching offensive skills and techniques than they do teaching young players how do defend individually and in small groups. The attacking techniques of dribbling, passing and shooting are easy to create training sessions around and they are definitely the sexier skills of the game. But teaching a young player to defend a 1 v 1 effectively is vital to their development as a player.
This point was driven home to me last weekend as my teams played their first games of the new season. We had worked on all of the attacking skills but spent no time learning how to defend correctly. There are so many topics to cover that you just can’t do it all in two weeks of training sessions before the first game. So this week Continue reading ‘The Importance of Teaching Individual Defending’ »