One of the biggest challenges facing coaches working with young and developing players is taking the ‘learning outcomes’ identified in training and coaching sessions and using them during match days.
Soccer Prep.’s match day preparation should be closely linked to the overall team or club philosophy. Our match day philosophy includes: -
- 1. Attitude – Respect, Work rate and Competitive
- 2. Team learning focus – Attacking and Defending
- 3. Individual or positional learning focus (1 for U9-11, 2 for U12+)
- 4. Try to win but not at the expense of 1, 2 or 3
- Try to play attractive, attacking, creative football
- Play out from the back and use the middle 1/3 when possible
- Debrief players following performance
Match days are different from training because of the emotion charge. The mistakes made on a match day will outweigh the mistakes made in training. They are a great opportunity to learn, if the coach manages them correctly.
Warm up – 45min time frame
- Physical mobility warm up – 15 mins
- Reminders of how we try to play football linked to the overall philosophy – 1 min
- Objectives for today’s match linked to work carried out by the coaches during the week – 1 min
- SSG which allows the players to practise the objectives in a physical sense – 15 mins
- Pre- match talk – 2 mins
- Players own time – 5 mins
- Huddle – 1 min
- 5 min overlap for activities
Physical warm ups can be done with or without a ball. They are designed to prepare the body for activity by mobilising the joints and increasing heart rate / blood flow to the active muscles.
It is helpful for players’ learning if their match day objectives bring together what they have been working on in recent coaching sessions. People seem to readily be able to cope with remembering three things. That is perfect for football (defending, attacking and transition). Significantly it is also not necessary to overload players with too many things to think about. Giving your players a focus for their learning is good, overburdening them is not.
Small-sided games can help to physically and mentally prepare the players. It is an opportunity to learn in movement and sharpen reactions to visual cues in the game.
The coaches chat is a chance to get across that things will go wrong but if they do, they should try to get back ‘into credit’ by working hard to put it right.
End of the game
The way the coach related to the players here is crucial. For example, asking the players to give themselves a mark out of 10 for their performance (to keep it to themselves) and then think how they can make their performance one mark better. Other questions include-
- How do you think we are doing against out 3 objectives?
- Think about how much success you had – now how can you improve?
- What could you change in the second half to make things even better?
Coach feedback is essential to learning. A careful balance of criticism and praise is needed. Overpraising is dangerous because it can bring about the fixed mindset and not the growth mindset.
The key to the success with young players is in the planning and the match day preparation is a good example to follow. Coaches will often go into great detail with their coaching session planning but on a match day their focus on the result is at the detriment to the player learning.