EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

How match day can change your training plans

Setting out a curriculum for the season has to be a moveable object because sometimes you want to work on something different to the topic you have decided on for that week.

Richmond Park FC U15s

In my case I was with my Under 15s at a match at the weekend and they were not finishing off great moves – shots were not on target. The defending was brilliant with players covering each other and the one time an opposition striker got into the space behind the team across came the winger and in a 1v1 took the ball off her and cleared the danger.

So when I was looking at my training sessions for this week it was working on recovery play and moving the ball away from danger. What I wanted was a session on getting the players in the zone to focus on finishing off great moves.

Three times the girls broke through into the penalty area in the first half and three times they took so many touches of the ball that they ended up too wide making the shot difficult.

They went in at half time 1-0 down but recovered in the second half winning 2-1 – I was very proud of them – but again they were off target with a lot of shots.

So I’m changing what I’m going to work on and move the defending work to later in the month.

Players ‘in the zone’

Keeping players ‘in the zone’ can be easier said than done, especially in training.

In an ideal world, coaching sessions would have all the same fire and importance as a matchday setting, but it’s difficult to recreate that same passion when there’s nothing really at stake. The best way to keep players engaged, of course, is to practise moves in which they feel they are really gaining enjoyment or experience.

Basic patterns of play, for instance, provide good ways for young players to showcase a variety of skills, while match-like combination exercises give coaches a real platform on which to build tactical moves.

Match relevant practice

So what I want is an exercise that replicates what the players are doing in matches when on the attack – namely, making runs off the ball, receiving passes, turning, progressing forward and shooting at goal.

What I want are sessions that create an end product that the players can get on the end of and shoot at goal.

What I will do is set up a simple move outside the penalty area and get the ball played into the player to make a run and shoot at goal. In this case servers are very important as you want crisp passing that is accurate with quality balls played into the player who will run at goal.

I will involve some form of turning with the ball and areas I want the players to move into to attack the box. In this way I will attempt to make the session very game relevant and get them in the shooting zone.

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