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The coach should plan and conduct his/her coaching sessions on sound principles, which enhance the learning process for all their players and the team. The following model provides a systematic approach to delivering effective sessions to assist the coach in achieving this.
Session planning is often overlooked by coaches, especially at grassroots level. The tendency to repeat sessions every week with no specific aim is demotivating for the players and can be detrimental to their learning and improvement.
It is recommended to write down your session beforehand and to have a list of ‘Key Points’ you wish to make during and after the session.
A simple session sheet as shown in diag 1(in the attached PDF) is a good way of organizing your ideas so you can carry it with you throughout the practice for reference. This will ensure that you have all the essential information to hand and will give you confidence when coaching.
The key to effectively organizing your session is in the planning. Make sure you arrive 15 minutes before the players so you have enough time to set up the cones, goals, balls etc.. Players appreciate a structured practice session and they like to get on with things, so spend as little time as possible setting things up while the players are there.
If you have a number of drills planned for a single session, ensure that these are all set up in the 15 minute period you have given yourself before the session starts. This will enable a smooth transition from one activity to another.
When observing the players during training it is best to take up a position where you can see the whole picture. A position of height is a great advantage. Where you stand should be dependent on what you wish to emphasise during your session. For instance, if you wanted to work on the defence, then taking up a position behind your defenders could be advantageous to see exactly what needs to be worked on.
In general, a central position is best as you can observe the entire team and can jump in when you wish to explain any relevant coaching points. The only rule of thumb is not to be in a position that stops the general flow of the session.
A useful coaching formula that should be used as often as possible is ‘explain’, ‘demonstrate’ and ‘imitate’.
It is important to watch your players in open play first so that when any opportunity to coach your ‘Key Points’ arises you can step in. Always be specific when coaching any technical detail as this is easier for the player to take on board.
It is advised to work through the three areas gradually through the session starting with the player on the ball first.
As a coach it is essential that you are enthusiastic when making your points and that you are sure about what you are saying. Playrs often pick up any signs of uncertainty, which can breed a lack of confidence in the information you are giving.
After the session has finished it is important to evaluate any ways you can develop the session for future practices. There are two key questions to attend to when evaluating:
Progression of practice is important in keeping players motivated and improving their performance.
When reviewing your sessions there are a number of questions you need to ask:
After going through these questions you should have a good idea of how to improve the practice for future use. In this way you can detect weaknesses so to avoid problems and design better practice sessions for future use.