Develop a style of play

Pre-season and the weeks leading up to the start of the new season are the right time to start thinking about how the team will play – do you have new players to bed into the team or do you have positions that need one of your players to step up and fill? You need to get to know any new player in your team and think about how you rotate players in positions and accelerate their match development.

This season may look different with the coronavirus challenges to how you coach your team and with local leagues looking at the best weekend to start playing contact games again. In my area we can play contact games and behave in a more normal way during matches but there will still be some rules to follow. Make sure you are well informed about how the matches will be run and what the parents of your players can and cannot do.

I am sure there are a lot of coaches who have new teams, new ideas and a new formation to tackle in the coming season. It is key for them to develop their playing style and stick with it in the early matches when things don’t always go to plan. And certainly I know some weeks the team will play well and some weeks will be much more difficult, but you must have faith in your philosophy – you’ll have a better team at the end of the season if you do.

Check out my four key tips for giving your team an identity in the way they play.

Start with a formation – have you got strength up front or at the back? Great midfielders who can tackle back or spray passes all over the park. I always check out a formation like the 9v9 formation 1-3-1-2-1 because it has a lot of different player positions.

Then look at a tactic, such as using high pressing to suffocate the opposition and win the ball in key areas of the pitch. High Press is ideal for this – it’s a great game that gets players trying to win the ball back as soon as it is in play.

Or do you want your teams to be a defensive powerhouse and park the bus so the opposition cannot score? The Pivot/Goalkeeper relationship is vital to having a team that is difficult to break down. If you have players who are good in this role then this is the key for you.

Finally, pay a visit to my AskDave section and read the advice on how to make sure your team is playing better this season than last. I answer questions like “We’re often caught out on the break. How can I get my team to repel counterattacks?”, which will be key to you ironing out any problem before the season starts.

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