Combining the ‘four corners’ in sessions

For all coaches, understanding the game in various component parts is always helpful.

In many of the most successful coach education programs, those component parts are understood to be…

  • Technique
  • Tactics
  • Physical
  • Psychology

This is known in the UK as the ‘four- corner model’ and an economical training session is one where these components are not developed in isolation, but rather coincidentally.

Technique, such as dribbling and shooting etc. become skills when applied in the game. You can practice a skill apart from the other components and the pressure of time, space and opposition. However, that technique becomes a skill when it is put to use.

Tactics are an aspect of the game that coaches too often want to address without considering if their players are technically equipped to execute them.

It is positive to think of tactics as decisions. The complexity of any activity influences the number of potential decisions and their sophistication. Understood as decisions, developing tactics can become a training theme for coaches of all ages.

Youth Football Team with Coach at the Soccer Stadium. Boys Listening to Coach’s Instructions Before Competition. Coach Giving Team Talk Using Soccer Tactics Board

Physical preparation in a training session is important to integrate using of the ball. Consider the acronym SAID – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.

Managing activity in line with the type, volume and frequency of workload the players will be facing is important. The explosive, multi-directional nature of soccer is unlike that of, say, cross-country running and requires unique physical literacy.

Psychology is an important part of sport. As coaches, we must be careful with how we approach integrating the psychological component into training. This is not an area to experiment too broadly in until you know your players as individuals and appreciate their social dynamic.

The coach can manage activity that has challenge, adversity, competition, collaboration, communication and so on. Observing the individual and group response to challenge – beyond the technical, tactical and physical – is very useful.

An even-numbered squad game towards the end of training can reasonably be considered economical. That said, a 1-v-1 game can also be economical.


“Technique becomes a skill with pressure of time, space and opposition…”


In a 1-v-1 game, dribbling, shielding, shooting and defending will occur and can be coached. Both players will have decisions to make in and out of possession and at the moments of frequent transition.

Intentional management of space, time and the supply of balls allows the coach to set realistic physical demands in the 1-v-1 battles, where it is impossible to hide – meaning the coach can observe each player’s response to challenge and success or failure.

Develop the training into 2-v-2 and technique, tactics, physical and psychology all become more complex.

Passing, combination play and tandem defending emerge and the number of possible decisions available to players multiply, with the introduction of teammates and multiple opponents. In terms of psychology, players now have to collaborate, share in problem solving and communicate.

The modern coach, managing their support resources and contact time they have with players, should be committed to delivering economical training sessions that most effectively elevate individual, group and team performance.

At the same time, these economical training sessions engage players in enjoyable, game-based sessions that are certain to support retention and development.

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