As a coach, it’s important to understand when planning how to progress and adapt your coaching sessions that you’re planning on delivering. Planning is an important part of the coaching process and should not be undervalued as it’s a great way of considering how you may need to adjust your session to meet the needs of the players that you are working with.

In this blog, I’m going to explore some different approaches to session adaptation that you may wish to consider when working with your players.The first way is the TREE method.

TREE Method:

Teaching Style: Can be adapted to help explain a practice or adjust the way you communicate to individuals or the group throughout the session. It may be that you consider being more command-led use Q/A or guided discovery more frequently throughout your session. Likewise, you may decide to keep quiet or make the session player led.

Rules: By having simple rules to begin with at the beginning of each practice will help players to understand the game and spend less time learning the skill. Adding or adapting rules to a game will impact what is needed from the players in that game and will have an impact on the outcomes of the practice. Alternatively rules can be used by players with them deciding on their own rules based on what they feel would be an appropriate challenge too.

Equipment: Can be exciting for young players and will certainly vary the challenge and outcome in any practice. A great way or adapting your equipment within training may be by having a variety of footballs around the outside of the area of different sizes and weights they can choose from throughout the game. In addition, you may wish to adapt goal size or add interface with mannequins, poles or cones.

Environment: Will also have an impact on the outcomes for your sessions as well. A great way of varying your sessions is by changing your location (inside, outside, 3G, grass) which will all adapt the speed and potentially space of your sessions. Adapting the size of your area too will mean players will have to negotiate tasks in order to get success. Music can also be a great way of changing the environment whether it’s played throughout your sessions or intermittently.

The TREE method is a way of you considering how you will approach each session from how you will teach it to what rules can be added/changed of your practices to provide certain returns. Different equipment will provide a varied experience for your players and will mean they will have to adapt in order to achieve each task. Lastly changing the environment each time will not only make it exciting for your players it will also change the outcomes you get from your sessions.


In a previous blog I explored the STEP method and how it can be used when planning your sessions.

Space: Adjusting the size of your area or what space players are allowed within will mean players will have to adapt and adjust to negotiate the task in order to gain success. Space can be applied to the whole practice but also individuals within the practice I.e. you’re only allowed in the middle channel third which will help you to not only focus on the group but also challenging individual players as well. You may also wish to consider changing where points are scored or what type of action is allowed in certain areas i.e. you can only play forwards in a wide area.

Task: Your task can be adapted to help you meet the needs of your players. This is can be simply done by changing the rule of the activity or what is asked of by the group or individual player. Ways tasks can be changed are by adding a time limit, number of turns, direction as well as scoring system.

Equipment: As in the TREE method the STEP principle also challenges coaches to look at ways equipment can be used or changed to vary the task. This can be from changing the size, volume or type of equipment for players to use throughout the practice.

People: Modifying the number of players or teams for any practice are a great way or adapting or progressing. In addition, enabling players to work individually or to lead a practice as well can also be a great way of challenging individuals too.


A great way to ‘spice’ up your sessions is using the SPICE approach which has similar considerations to the two other principles.

Space: Adjusting size or shape of the area will vary not only the challenge for the players but also the outcome too.

Play: Is the amount of time given for the players to practice but also the time spent without you ‘actively’ coaching and being involved in the session. For example it may be that you plan for this particular part to step back and allow the players to lead. Alternatively it may be that you set out for a certain amount of ball rolling time in your session.

Individuals: Is how you will work individuals throughout your session but also plan for them too. For example, it may be that you wish to challenge a player on how they receive and you decide to work closely with them throughout the session giving the additional support etc.

Challenges: What challenges can be given to the group or individuals will promote problem solving as well as helping you to adjust the practice to meet the needs of your players. It may be that you have a whole group challenge but you give individuals challenges in that practice as well. Challenge, check and consolidate is a approach that I would certainly recommend!

Environment: Varying the surface, reward (I.e. trophy) or competition I.e. tournament, knock out etc. Are all means to adapt or progress your session.


To conclude all of the above methods will enable coaches to consider ways in which you can progress and adapt your sessions to meet the needs of your players. I would d recommend including one of the above as part of your session plan, or your planning process to help you to understand how you will approach the whole session but also each individual practice. Most importantly all of these approaches can be applied to any practice or coaching environment and will change the outcome and make up of any practices. This will certainly keep your sessions varied and fun as well as helping you to develop adaptable problem solvers in your group. Which way will you choose and give a go first?

Contact us via Twitter, Facebook or comment on this post to let us know how you’ve used the above within your own environment!