Match Play (and Preparation For)
(1) The Warm-Up
- Young players need to get into the habit of properly preparing for a match, even if they don’t need the same preparation as an older athlete.
- Understand the activities you choose should always have variations to account for limited space and/or limited time, should that be the case at an event.
- If you coach a team that plays 25-minute halves and you advance to the final of a weekend tournament, warming up for 30 minutes before each kick-off will add two more matches to your weekend.
- You should be familiar with the FIFA 11+ Warm-Up
- Creating a variation of the activity can help prepare players for current matches and future preparation.
- Give each player one aspect of the warm-up (1-John: Jog, 2-Mike: Skip, 3-Blake: Shuffle, etc.) until each player has an exercise. Have them remember their order. After demonstrating proper movements, this Warm-Up can now be run by players if you’re running late to a session, need to set up your training space, etc.
- Create a common Warm-Up for matches and games so players can get into the habit and run things on their own if needed. Detail the activities on paper and laminate the plan in case you need coverage.
(2) Sideline Behavior
- Many coaches believe training is for teaching and match play is for allowing players to display what they’ve learned. With this point of view, some coaches limit coaching during matches.
- Matches should be viewed as tremendous learning opportunities and coach intervention is essential to ensuring proper habits are being formed.
- Coaches should not be “Joystick” Coaching. Telling players to “dribble,” “pass,” “shoot,” prevents them from making decisions on their own in the future. Conversely however, players will quickly forget events they do not connect to a learning opportunity. It is ok during a dead ball situation to remind a player: “In that situation, take him on.” You can also use moments to tell a player: “Remember everything you can about that moment. We’ll talk about it at Halftime.”
- It is important to give players advice as they enter or exit the field, although it isn’t necessary every time. Players should not mature believing they are owed an explanation every time they come off the field.
- Each coach will have their own “voice,” but should keep in mind we live in an era where yelling and frustrated voices are viewed differently than years ago. If your comments are fueled by emotion, you run the risk of your words being misconstrued.
- Coaches are expected to take notes during matches. This is an invaluable practice to help create impactful training sessions in the days after a match.
- Respect for Referees must be shown at all times. Young players are modeling their future behavior after your actions. It is important to advocate on your players behalf, doing so in a respectful tone.
(3) One-Sided Matches
- When involved in a one-sided match, be respectful. Do not run the score up on any opponent. Challenge your team with touch restrictions, a challenge to score only from a cross or one-time finish, or passing challenges. Practice these scenarios in training and plan for how to implement your actions in a respectful way.