EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Pre-season | Week 3: Assessing your players

INTRO | WEEK 1 | WEEK 2 | WEEK 3 | WEEK 4

Pre-season training is in full swing. You’ve recapped the basics of passing, possession and fitness, and there has been plenty of small-sided game-play thrown into the mix as well, but now you want to delve down into what your players are going to produce this coming season.


Timeline

0mins: Refresh from last week
3mins: Light jogging
6mins: Static stretches
9mins: Light jogging
12mins: Dynamic stretches
15mins: Passing and ‘pass and move’ drills
30mins: Ball control challenge
40mins: ‘Crossing and finishing’ practice
60mins: Race to the line
70mins: Small-sided game
90mins: Warm down and closing chat


Refresh

The third training session should really see you visualising how players will fulfil their roles, and for that to happen you’ll need a clear indication of what is expected in each position. Use the table below to formulate the roles of your kids, whilst assessing in which area players might need to improve:

Position Physical qualities
required
Technical qualities
required
Tactical qualities
required
Mental qualities
required
Goalkeeper Size, Agility
Reactions
Jumping skills
Suppleness
Safe hands,
Good technique on the
line and in the air
Good skills with the feet
Choice of positioning
and movement
Anticipation
Good distribution
Personality
Confidence
Calmness
Concentration
Full-backs Speed endurance
Explosive speed
Defensive technique
Tackling and sliding
Receiving
Good-quality passing
Running with the ball
Positioning and
repositioning
Timing
Versatility in attack
Aggressiveness
Willpower
Confidence
Central
defenders
Height
Power
Jumping skills
Speed, Mobility
Intercepting
Ball control
Heading
Long/short passing
Anticipation
Positioning, Marking
Covering and
support play
Leadership
Temperament
Direction, Calmness
Courage
Midfielders Endurance
Strength (in the duel)
Mobility
Defensive technique
Passing
Receiving
Dribbling
Positioning and
repositioning
Anticipation
Pressing
Fighting qualities
Cooperation
Willpower
Wingers Endurance
Speed
Running with the ball
Dribbling
Crossing
Shooting
Moving to defend
Moving to attack
Pressing
Winning duels
Courage, Willpower
Generosity of spirit
Concentration
Risk-taking
Strikers Power
Speed
Liveliness
Agility
Finishing
Control
Heading
Dribbling, Feinting
Constant movement
Changing of positions
Runs into space
Timing
Confidence
Opportunism
Trickery
Perseverance

Passing and ball control

As with the previous weeks, a good warmup is essential. Then go through some passing drills followed by a ‘pass and move’ game, as outlined in the first two parts of this plan. These are the fundamental basics and should be incorporated into any training session. But from this point onwards we can be a little bit more ambitious. Practise some ball control games – a simple ‘throw and control’ between two players will do for starters.

Crossing and finishing

For the first team drill, try a ‘crossing and finishing’ challenge. Not only is the ability to get balls in from the wing a very important part of the game, but this doubles as a great conditioning tool too. And what’s more, any
practice that ends with an effort on goal will reinforce in your team the idea that training has a positive end product.

Start with four players in the final third – a midfielder, a winger and two forwards – plus a keeper in the goal. The midfielder plays out to the winger who, in one or two touches, crosses for the forwards.

Starting on the edge of the area, they now run in looking to finish in the goal.

As players get used to the process, progress it by adding in overlaps on the wing, or by introducing a defender – and always ensure you rotate positions so every player samples each role.

You can also use these two simple sessions to get your players crossing and finishing:

Race to the line

By the third session, you’ll also find that players’ fitness is building nicely. For a great pursuit that tests pace and finishing skill, give a player the ball 40 yards from goal, and tell him he has 10 seconds in which to find the net. This is extremely motivating, generates good banter and concentrates on skill.

Finish the session with a small-sided game, putting into practice everything the players have learnt, then a warm down.


PRE-SEASON TRAINING ESSENTIALS

No.4: You are what you eat –
Kids may not be renowned for having the best diets – they do not know how critical a good diet is to an athlete,
and a fair proportion don’t care. After all, this is football with their mates, so there’s no point making them conduct a health regime befitting of an Olympian.

But eating a proper diet during the season can be the difference between a starting position and sitting on the bench; or taking home a championship trophy and finishing second.

What players should eat and drink

It can also be the deciding factor in close games. A poor diet can undo all the hard work that is done in training by preventing the body from recovering, adapting, and improving.

You should inform your players what is good to eat and what to avoid, offering guidelines for what and when
to eat before games and training.

Finally, identify the foods that, ideally, should be avoided, such as sweets, high fat and deep fried food and high
sugar drinks. If players’ parents follow these guidelines for proper nutrition throughout the season, the rewards can be great!

 

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