Planning For a New Football Season
As a coach we plan our sessions, ensuring that we are prepared and can get the appropriate outcomes from our players. But how many of us plan past this week’s session? There are extensive benefits to looking further ahead; each team is different so how can we plan to meet the needs of our team?
The benefits of pre-planning can be seen at all levels of the game, whether it is short term or long term. Arsene Wenger has often been described as a long term planner, with emphasis on players for the future. This kind of philosophy is very long term and focuses on improving players and instilling a certain playing style. This is at one end of the scale, with short term planning being at the other. This can be improving players over a short period of time, i.e. before the next game. The extent to which a coach decides to plan to affect their team lies solely with them and their philosophy. By creating a season plan, a coach can incorporate all the major areas in which they would like their team to improve. It can help them to organise their coaching ideas and deliver exciting and fresh sessions to their team. Focusing on the season as a whole enables the coach to deliver training in all aspects of the game, continuing a player’s long term development.
When working with junior teams, the coach should always be aware of Long Term Player Development and work towards improving their players to become better players in the future, not just to win the next game. LTPD is key to the production of quality players in this country. Junior coaches and clubs have a responsibility to those children in their teams to help them become the best they can be. Planning for the season is a great way of ensuring that all the core skills are visited during the season and that the children can develop in all areas of the game.
The time to create a season plan is as early as possible, preferably before pre-season starts. This plan should include preseason fitness training, allowing you to bring your players up to their best football fitness for the start of the season. Remember that children under the age of 14 need little or no aerobic fitness work, and more football specific work can be incorporated. The plan should highlight the basic areas in which you will be training your team and to how much time is dedicated to each. These can be general or specific, depending on the age and skill level of your team. But all teams will have some core areas which they will cover over the season. These can be strategically plotted and revisited along the season plan, keeping the sessions fresh and un-repetitive. The coach can also plan in time to work on the team tactically, involving team shape and pattern of play. By planning these in advance, they can ensure that their team gains enough time in each area and the coach can instil their philosophy and style onto their team. Plans do not have to be rigid and can be fluid in nature, allowing for new ideas and sessions. Each plan is different and can be written accordingly, highlighting general ideas or specific areas of coaching. Each session must include some technical work, especially when working with children.
During preseason it is often beneficial to use match analysis, see article ‘Match Analysis – Why bother?’ The information gained from this kind of analysis can enable a coach to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of their team at an early point. From this they can formulate the areas that their team needs to work on and incorporate them into the season plan. Each session does not need to be planned out individually at this stage, just an overview of the areas to work on. The detailed planning can be done as normal in the same week of each session, allowing the coach to be creative and fun with their session planning, increasing the enjoyment for the squad.
There is nothing wrong with a coach seeing a problem or weakness in their side on a match day, then planning to overcome it at training. This can be done along with your plan by allowing flexibility and time in training for this. Session outcomes can be changed and moved depending on how the season progresses. The coach decides how much detail they want to include and to what extent they feel is necessary.
The picture above shows a basic plan which has some detail described in the technical and tactical sections.