Getting the best out of your session plans

The questions we get asked most from coaches are to do with session planning.

Coaches generally do not have much time to plan. They likely work mostly with mixed-ability players and are challenged with improving the team while, at the same time, ensuring each player is enjoying their football. Planning in this environment becomes difficult.

To help improve players and help coaches, over the last 40 years we have developed Coerver Coaching session planning formulas for the 4-7, 8-12 and 13-16 age groups.

These formulas help coaches quickly plan their session, improving and challenges their players and making sure they manage their time effectively.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic with a tactics board before the match

Let’s start with four key factors to consider before putting your sessions together.

1. Know your philosophy: What realistic playing style do you want to achieve for your team? Do you want to keep the ball like Manchester City or counter-attack like Atletico Madrid?

2. Know your players: What are their ages and abilities? It is really difficult to put on a session that is appropriate for beginners and more advanced players in the same session.

3. Know your resources: How many training sessions and for how many weeks in the season do you need sessions for? What is practical and fits in with the players’ other sport or school commitments? Your players need more practice time than you can give them. How do you motivate them to do the necessary home practice they need to do to improve?


“Do you want to keep the ball like Man City or counter-attack like Atletico Madrid…?”


4. Know your environment: What is the approximate group size? Do you have even or odd numbers? What is the pitch size and layout? What equipment do you have – goals, fences, nets, bibs, balls, cones? What is the likely weather? What is the total time needed for your session? You need to factor in set-up, parent drop-off, delivery of the session, pack-up and parent pick-up.

Once you have factored in the above, the second step is to go into your drill library and select the activities and games that fit into your session-plan formula.

At Coerver Coaching, we have built an extensive drill library over the years which covers the below important criteria:

1. Can the drill be competitive? If so, there is more fun and more focus.

2. Can the drill be adapted to suit the player level and age?

3. Are there many decision-making opportunities in the drill, activity or game? More decisions can lead to more

4. Is there minimal waiting time for players? Players should be active and engaged for most of the

5. Are there opportunities within the drill, activity or game for defenders and attackers to switch roles frequently?

6. In small-sided games, how do we get more shots on goal, more forward passes and more decision-making?

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