I watched an interesting coaching session recently at a Premier League academy. It was based on the principles that Chinese super league club Dalian Yifang manager Rafa Benitez learnt when he was coaching in Spain. It is about position for possession and works on the defensive nature of possession, as well as the attacking angle. MORE
Back after the break
I’ve been out and about this pre-season watching teams getting back into the swing of the new season. The weather has been excellent and some of the work by coaches up and down the country is a testament to how committed everyone is, from mums and dads right up to the head coach.
Getting focused on training again is never easy after a break, but hopefully the equipment has been stored properly and all your players have come back.
One thing you mustn’t forget is that your players have probably not seen one another for a few weeks and want to catch up with what they have been doing during their vacations and with their time off school.
A social occasion
The social side of running a soccer team is often overlooked but it is a vital part of communication and bonding between players so you must allow time for them to get that initial meeting out of their systems.
This week I had three players who were best friends and just wanted to talk and talk to each other because they had all been on holidays at different times so they hadn’t seen each other for a number of weeks. They need time to socialise and so I ran a series of warm ups for around 20 minutes that involved keep ball, quick passing and changing position. During this time I allowed them to talk because they know the sessions off by heart and they don’t need to think about what they are doing for them to work.
It beats letting them take corners while they all hang around in the penalty area wildly shooting at goal. I’ve witnessed a number of coaches who warm up in this way and it isn’t helping warming them up although they do get to chat to their friends.
Players switched on
Having a social 20 minutes at the start when there has been a few weeks break in training is a great way to ensure players are more switched on during the rest of the session and are not distracted by friends trying to tell them something really interesting.
Another good way to allow bonding and getting teams back together is to play small-sided games of 4v4 – simple games with a couple of goals and a few teams. You can control the amount of talk by the tempo of the game.
Start at jogging pace and then turn the tempo up so they eventually play at match pace and then the players will be ready to play in a proper session.