Training Concepts (for Coaches)
(1) In General
- Player Safety
- Do not leave players unattended or leave the site of any club sanctioned event until all players have been picked up.
- Send players to public restrooms in small groups.
- Teach players to safely move equipment and supervise such actions at all times.
- Choose only safe activities that mirror actions in match play.
- Punctuality: Have your training / warm-up spaces set up by the time your event is scheduled to start.
- Neat Bench Area: Players and Coaches will keep their spaces in order. Bags should be lined up, water bottles next to bags, etc. Keep pinnies, discs, balls, etc. next to team spaces in an orderly way.
- Respect for Fields: Do not warm-up in goal mouths, perform repetitive actions inside field boundaries, or continue to use spaces you see are being overly worn during usage.
- Use Soccer Lines: When possible, limit disc usage and set your activities up in the areas the topic most commonly develops. This way players can orient themselves appropriately with the actual lines on the field.
- The Appropriate Level: When addressing your players, try to speak to them at their level. If you’re working with U9s (for example) it helps to go down to one knee so you’re not talking over them.
- The Sun: Ensure the sun is behind the players and not yourself. If kids have to look up and toward the sun, they’re less likely to be able to focus on your words.
- A Half Circle: Have players face you in a half circle. This will ensure players are not behind teammates and will limit side conversations, distractions, and inability to follow your direction.
- Coaching Points: Coaching points should be delivered in a positive way, focused on effort and whenever possible, coaches should lead players to find the right solution on their own.
- No Sitting: Other than during match play, do not sit while coaching. Do not allow players to sit, even while not physically participating in an activity. Once you do (or a player does), more will follow and the overall energy will drop.
- No Leaning: Do not lean on goal posts (or similar items) while coaching.
- No Hands in Pockets: Wear gloves on cold days instead of putting your hands in your pockets. We don’t allow players to play with their hands in their pockets. We won’t coach that way either.
- Player Attire: Players are expected to wear the proper attire in training. This includes club branded gear meant for training and competition. Common sense exceptions can be made for extreme weather situations.
- Coach Attire: Coaches will be provided club branded gear for training and matches. These items must be worn when working for the club.
- Wear a Watch: Wear a watch when you coach and do not use your phone to keep time.
- Phone Usage: Do not use your phone for personal use while coaching.
- Attendance: Keep attendance. Parents will often ask about playing time, an offer after Tryouts, etc. This is important information to be clear on.
- Participation in Activities: It is allowable for coaches to participate in training activities if the action enhances the exercise. This should only be in cases where this type of intervention is necessary. If you do so, you may not go into tackles or into 50/50 situations with players. Furthermore your actions must be confined to actions that support your topic. It is not acceptable to nutmeg three players and use your adult pace to accelerate past a child when the topic is combination play. Some examples of acceptable reasons for a coach to play in an activity include:
- Playing in goal so as to not force a dis-interested player to volunteer, or to allow players to progress toward a real goal instead of small goals / cone goals.
- Playing alongside a player to more easily provide instruction during the run of play.
- Mistakes: Consider when playing or demonstrating, especially with younger kids, either intentionally making a mistake or allowing yourself to demonstrate something you might struggle with. Persevering and showing a positive response to errors will teach young players it is o.k. to make “mistakes.”
(2) One Topic
- When designing a training session, you must have one over-arching topic in mind. Once that is decided, activities to effectively address that topic can be chosen.
- Your plan is to be written and prepared based on the topic of the session.
- Make sure the topic is clear. Although it is best to use/create activities that teach a concept without much coach intervention, if players are unaware of the topic, they may not make the connection you hoped for.
- In general, a coach should explain the topic at the beginning of a session.
- During the course of a session, with rare exceptions, coaches should center coaching points solely around the topic of the session. It is harder for players to make connections and recognize cues if your coaching points are not connected to the topic.
- When needed, use a dry erase board, magnetic board or iPad to illustrate concepts that may be difficult to conceptualize.
- At the end of the session, take a moment to ask questions in review of the topic. Make sure when parents ask players on the ride home: “what did you learn today?” players can effectively answer.
(3) Session Building
- The Process: With a topic in mind, it is often easier to build a session backward starting with the final exercise since it should be the one most comparable to game play.
- The Final Exercise: Now that you have a topic, the final activity of your session should be game play with the largest numbers you have and as much as possible, to large goals. Make sure your activity promotes the topic and your coaching points stay in line.
- The Middle Exercise: The middle 3rd of your session should include small group actions that connect the topic to the way players address the concept. When possible, this activity should take place in the part of the field this event most often occurs. If you have a full field, it is better to set up an activity in the wide spaces if the topic most often occurs there, versus a random space anywhere else on the field.
- The First Exercise: The initial 3rd of a session should include a focus on the individual skills needed to act out the topic of the session. For example, your warm-up should include dribbling skills if your topic is taking players on 1v1. You should use a rondo if your topic is focused on playing quicker. It may not make sense to use a rondo before a session focused on walking through Set Pieces.
- The Warm-Up / Activation: Ensure your warm-up is thoughtful and prepares players for the activities you’ve chosen.
(4) Coaching Style Considerations
- Keep in mind, most kids want simply to play the game. Lines, drills, drawn out activities, difficult to understand exercises, etc. will diminish interest quickly. Consider starting your session with small sided games or fun rondos that involve no coaching. This can be used in young kids to get them moving after a long day in school or a long drive to training.
- When setting up an activity, it is easier to put players in place, then describe the activity than it is to assume every player on your team will “see” the theoretical activity you’re describing. Consider laying pinnies in the areas players will initially be placed, then sending players to those areas and having them put pinnies on. Now they’ll be better able to see what you are describing.
- Be aware of the number of stoppages and how long each stoppage lasts. Stoppages are frustrating for players and the younger the players are, the less you’ll be able to hold their attention. Choose your timing and words carefully to allow for efficiency in your coaching.
- Avoid lines whenever possible. Sometimes limited space can lead to lines, but plan ahead while you create your session to limit lines and stoppages.
- Whenever possible, coach from outside the playing space to not disrupt the flow by being in the way.
- Keep balls next to you when coaching to ensure you can put a ball into play immediately when needed. Limit times an activity is forced to stop because a ball is not available.
- Consider the words you use and evaluate their impact. For example, telling players to use the “outside of their feet” for a dribbling activity variation is not as effective as telling them to use their “pinky toes.” This is more concise and better conveys proper technique.
- One effective teaching concept promotes a coach providing little direction on a topic, allowing players to struggle, then beginning to introduce coaching points that lead to noticeable improvement. This is a great way to see where your team stands on a topic before deciding where to intervene.
- Put players in challenging, unique situations and encourage them to think of creative solutions. Celebrate when players are being creative, even if you eventually share a more effective solution.
(5) Physical Punishment
- There is to be no physical punishment practiced within the club!
- The current societal view on physical punishment is different from when we were younger.
- The safety of our players and coaches is of utmost importance.
- Physical preparation is an integral part of the game. We cannot afford to link conditioning with a negative connotation. If players view strengthening / conditioning as “punishment,” they are less likely to want to participate in conditioning.
- Consider making conditioning the reward for winning a small-sided tournament or activity. When only the winning team gets to participate in conditioning, players not included will feel they’re missing out. For this to work, the conditioning in this moment effective and fun.