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Welcome to the 4th installment of the Coach's Desk, this week we will be looking at a how to plan the technical focus of your session. Be sure to read the full article as we provide you with several examples you can do with your team.
At the start of each new season, or period of training it is always useful to assess the level or abilities of your players in order to establish a technical direction for your training. This will allow you to recognize and establish technical priorities for the continued success and development regarding your group of players. The tactical details must also be incorporated into your training plan, but we will discuss this area in future newsletters. If you are working with youth ages 9, 10, 11 years the general focus will be receiving the ball, passing, dribbling, ball juggling and communication.
Once you have established the areas of focus listed above it is important to create a training plan that will work on the specified areas of the game on a regular basis. For example, the dribbling warm-up can incorporate ball juggling (with repetition the players abilities improve). From the dribbling warm-up it is a natural progression to work on passing technique with simple drills in which the players begin by passing in pairs.
Once the players are comfortable with a variety of passing techniques (inside of the foot, chipped pass and/or driven pass) the idea would then be to progress to possession based games to work on passing, ball control, communication as well as movement on and off the ball. Keep in mind; the level of passing accuracy, decision-making and ability of the player to control the ball under pressure will impact the success of your exercise.
As with a recent training session with an amateur women's soccer team, I noticed during the possession game (6 versus 2 in a grid (20 m x 20 m) that the players were not comfortable handling the pressure of receiving the ball in a confined area with the defenders seeking the ball. So, we made the decision to become more comfortable receiving the ball under pressure within this confined space by providing better passing angles, as well as the player receiving the ball concentrating more on a better first touch, a better decision as to when and whom to pass to, as well as making sure the pass was made with the proper weight. The progress was immediate, as was the success. The drill became livelier, there was greater communication between the players and the speed at which they treated the ball increased. From this point we then progressed into a larger area (40 m x 30 m) to play four versus four in the area with four targets on the outside of the area (one neutral player on each side of the area). The players started with the best intentions, but struggled to keep their depth and width, as well as experienced little success making the proper decisions with the ball to pass, control and/or dribble while keeping the ball away from the team trying to regain the ball. So, we stopped the activity to ensure that when the player received the ball they had to be more comfortable handling the defensive pressure, which meant that they had to be able to receive the ball, create space for themselves and then look to make a connecting pass with one of their teammates. Again, these slight adjustments gave the players greater success and enjoyment.
Ultimately, it is up to the coach to control the tempo, the level of detail, the structure of the training session. Within the training sessions all parts must be connected to create a pathway to ensure success and enjoyment by all of the players.
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Thanks for joining us this week. Be sure to tune next week where we go over small sided game simulations.
Yours in Soccer,