INSPIRED, CONFIDENT & EFFECTIVE COACHING

What your players know

I’m already preparing for next season and one thing I’m looking at is how much information the players at each age group will be bringing with them when the season starts, and how that will affect the curriculum I am preparing for them.

At the younger age groups every player will be able to kick a ball and they will all know what scoring a goal is, and older players will have some idea of tactics and player positions.

But this got me thinking. What do my players know when they arrive at training and have they actually learned anything by the time they go home?

It struck me that maybe I was showing them something they already knew; what if their development had hit a brick wall and they went home with the same knowledge they turned up with?

Of course, this is a highly unlikely situation because a young player will always learn something from training, however high or low the standard of the session.

Ask the players

But I thought maybe it would be a good idea if I actually asked the players what they knew about aspects of the game before I ran the session.

So last week, when I was running an exercise, I brought a large sheet of paper and some pens and asked the players to write down what they knew about counterattacking.

I started by explaining how it worked: “it’s when a team wins the ball off your team at a time when you are attacking with a lot of players”. I then got them to write down the key things to remember when attacking and defending in a counterattack.

Some of the answers were fantastic. Under ‘attacking’ they wrote: speed; turning; passing; dribbling; shooting. Under ‘defending’ they wrote: get back; run; help out; catch up; get in front.

Player understanding

So immediately I knew the players understood the concept of the tactic, so I didn’t need to go into great detail about what players needed to do during the session.

This cut out at least 10 minutes of them listening to me and instead I got 10 minutes of me listening to them – far more entertaining and a much better use of time!

What then do I do next week? I’m planning some passing and receiving sessions so I guess I will do the same thing again and ask them what they already know about the topic – and in future maybe I will do it before I plan the session, so they will have played a part in designing their own training activities.

How great is that!

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