Planning your practice sessions

Each session should have activities that allow players to dribble, shoot, pass, and receive. Activities that allow for all techniques are ideal.

 
Progression
 
The training session needs to follow a simple to complex progression.  A popular method of achieving this progression is to have a warm up period, individual activity period, small group activity, and game.
 
Warm Up - The warm up can start as soon as players arrive.  The warm up can be done with or without the ball, or the ball can be added during the warm up.  The warm up does need to get the players physically and mentally prepared for the session.  Dynamic movement is required.
 
Individual Activities - Individual activities allow for repetition as every player has plenty of time with the ball.  These activities need to be structured so that players are moving and making decisions.  Opposition does not need to be present in the individual portion of the session.
 
Small Group Activities - These activities include opposition. The groups do not need to be even. Two versus one, three versus two, one versus three are examples of small group activities.
 
The Game - Ending each training session with a soccer game is needed.  The game needs to be the largest part of the practice session and can be as much as half of the training time.  The game is the best teacher and players come to training to play.  Again teams do not need to be even.  Coaches are also encouraged to vary the size of the field and use conditions to challenge the players.
 
Recognizing Coaching Moments
 
Coaches that do not find opportunities to give feedback to their players are leaving all learning up to trial and error.  Your ability to recognize coaching moments gives players a short cut to learning.  It is important to note that the best coaches recognize that player can not only learn from corrections but also learn from good examples.  Make corrections but also highlight positive play.  Pick a good coaching position to allow you to see your entire team.  Coaches that position themselves with their back to players can not evaluate the entire team.  Once your position has been established give the players some time to acclimate to the activity.  Use this time to recognize patterns that can be corrected or publicized.  After a few moments have passed you can begin to act on coaching moments.  Determine the method of distributing the information from the list below.  Remember to be as unobtrusive to the players as possible.

Methods of Coaching
 
Coaching moments need to be as unobtrusive as possible to the children’s play.  Almost every adult soccer player remembers the times when their fun was constantly interrupted by the coach.  The following methods of coaching are listed in the preferred order of use.
 
Coaching Over the Top - Provides players with information they can use during the activity.  The coach states observations or instructions as the activity progresses.  This coaching tool must be used sparingly as players tend to stop listening to a constant stream of instructions.
 
Coaching During Natural Stoppages - Natural stoppages occur throughout a practice.  Every time players switch roles, the ball goes out of play, and a goal is scored a natural stoppage occurs.  You can use this time to give the players information they need to improve their play.
 
Coaching the Individual - Every player can be given information during the activity.  You as a coach can enter the field and give specific information to players that pertain to their play.  Timing is important as this tool disrupts the play for the individual player.
 
Stop/Freeze Coaching Method - This tool is most often used in the small group and game portion of the practice.  The coach projects his/her voice with the command stop and freeze. Once the players have frozen the coach shows the players the coaching moment.  Players must be trained to stop and freeze as their attention is on the soccer activity.  The coach must also make sure the players do not move throughout the coaching to gain an advantage.  Once the information has been given the play can be rehearsed to check and see if the players gained the information

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