Efficient and Effective Training
Unless you are a coach of a professional adult team playing in the football league or the Premiership, you will not have your players every day for as long as you want them. Time constraints are a major factor when dealing with football/soccer training for teams in junior leagues, academies and up to non league adult football.
The 10,000 hour rule has been mentioned on TheCoachesBench.com before and some coaches may be more aware of it than others. It is the idea that to become elite in a certain field, a person would require around 10,000 hours of deliberate and purposeful practice. If this is taken into account when thinking of the amount of time each coach gets with their team, it can be quite daunting. This is why it is very important that the training time a coach has, is used efficiently to gain the maximum number of outcomes.
Efficient Use of Time
Plan the session in advance, with clear themes, targets and goals. It is often easier to progress along a theme, from technical to skill to game. This can also help with time management as the players can understand what is expected from them faster as it follows on from the previous part of the session. Set out ALL of your cones and other equipment before the session starts, it may not always be possible but is good practice for saving time. The session can then flow from one part to another with little disruption, this also helps to keep the tempo of the session up, this can have an additional positive effect when thinking of football fitness. Good practice for all sessions should be to provide as many balls as possible, enough for one for each player; understandably this is not always achievable. Keep using these balls throughout the session, try not to get tempted to clear them all away and use one ball for a small sided game. The use of all the balls will keep the game tempo high, encourage quick play from your players and reduce rest periods.
Effective Use of Time
Try to think of ‘multi-tasking’ when planning, can I get two benefits from a part of the session, instead of one. Sending your players for a running warm up will only serve one purpose, be creative and incorporate some ball work and even some SAQ into this time. Plan sessions that have ALL the players involved, less waiting around means more ball touches. Set the goalkeepers separate tasks that involve their specific skill sets, if this is not possible within the drill then set them their own drill. If the drill involves a little rest time for a couple of players, have them warm up the goalkeepers while they wait, two outcomes. Use small sided games to challenge the players to apply their knowledge and skills in a match environment. Keep the teams small to increase repetition of the skill sets and the intensity high, improving technique, use of skill and football fitness.
Change Your Thinking
Coaches often think sessions must follow a pattern of warm up, technical time and game time. This is not always the case, challenge your players, combine the technical and warm up and follow with a game; the problems can then be identified by the coach. The players can be given the opportunity to solve these problems themselves within the game, or the session can move back into a skill session to affect the players and possibly come up with a solution. The coach then gets the opportunity to put these players back into a game to see if they have improved and understand what the desired outcomes were. Take a step back and think of the bigger picture sometimes when planning or evaluating a session, what can be adapted to achieve new goals and to challenge the players in a new way. Flexibility is an effective tool, use it.