Planning is not always an easy task and I have lost count of the number of times I have meticulously planned a session to then end up doing something completely different at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances such as kids falling ill or not turning up for training.  Admittedly, this is only possible because of personal experience over the years, not forgetting the security of having planned the session in the first place.

So, how can you deal with these situations when just starting out in the world of coaching with little or no experience under your belt?  Well here are a few useful tips when planning your session:

  1. Set a global objective, without too much detail.  For example:  passing, dribbling, shooting, and crossing.
  2. Set a more detailed objective:  Short passes, dribbling, 1v1´s, Long distance shots, low crosses into crowded boxes.
  3. Think about how many players you are going to have and consider the amount who may or may not turn up, floaters are always the way out of a sticky situation.
  4. Divide your session into four parts;  Warm Up  – Activation/Technical Practice Unopposed or Opposed  –  Structured Small Sided Game – Free Play Match

Warm Up: (Time: 5-10 Mins)  Practise composed of players moving without opposition, at their own speed and ability. Ideally, use games including a ball. “Tag games, dynamic stretches with a ball, warm up in pairs, pass and move, dribbling and skills.”

Activation/Technical & Skill Based: (Time: 15 – 20 Mins)  Add pressure: a time a limit, a defender or a specific execution or technique.  Activation demands that the player is challenged. Ideally, a practise with a high tempo and requires concentration as it’s challenging the players ability. “Passing patterns, rondos, races, circuits…” Relate this part to the SSG you will play next like a technical practice on passing short & long to switch play.

Structured SSG: (Time 25 – 30 Mins) Get into a small-sided game with two teams and add in the number of floaters necessary to achieve repetition of your main objective. Ideally, a structure related to the philosophy that you wish your team to play. The structure of the game should allow the topic you have worked on in the previous part of the session to come out. For example: Switching the Play could be developed using a wider pitch than normal with 3 vertical channels setting players a challenge like – Can you fill all of the channels? Are you able to transfer the ball across all 3 channels?

Free Play Match: (Time 15 Mins) Finish with a match of some kind, to allow freedom, but focusing on the objective proposed at the beginning of the session. Ideally a match between two teams with a goal or an objective including competitive freedom. “7v7,8v8,9v9..” So you could take the vertical channels out and see if players keep their shape as a team.

Make sure that all your activities link to your main objective. End the session by asking the players a set of questions.  For example, if the aim was passing in tight areas prepared beforehand, make sure the players have understood how.

It’s important to understand you will not always get the answers you expect, but each one should be acknowledged, even if it is not considered to be correct.  This provides the perfect opportunity to self-evaluate your session as a coach and start enthusiastically start planning the next one ……..