Progressing Sessions as Players Improve

One of the most important decisions we make as coaches is when to move through the various stages of skill development with our players. Move on too soon before the technique is mastered and the players performance becomes sloppy and inconsistent. If you wait too long to challenge the players with the next level of a skill or tactic and they will become bored and unmotivated so they just go through the motions. This will also hurt they're performance because they'll begin to develop bad habit through lazy practice. We've all seen a team that can keep great possession in a 5 v 2 exercise but lose composure (and possession) when the pressure is greater in a game situation.

Just as importantly, we have to decide what is the best way to progress a given skill or tactical idea. Most coaches will progress technical topics from static to dynamic then to game related and finally to game situations. But there are some big gaps in there that can be filled with any number of different conditions. For example, when you're teaching passing and you're moving from dynamic to game related it's important add enough pressure to challenge the players but still give them plenty of opportunities to succeed.

Each summer I spend some time putting together a plan for my fall sessions. The format I use is very similar to a book that we have recently released call, "The Complete Soccer Coaching Guide - 76 Training Sessions that Develop the Advanced Player". One of the insights the author, Chris Apple, provides is a month-by-month frame work for his training sessions. The calendars show what topics will be focused on for each training session during the month. Then the individual sessions are explained with detailed diagrams and descriptions within the chapter. This allows you to get inside the mind of the coach and see how he is constructing his team from a broad overview right down to each individual detail. From this you can see how he moves his team from the basic to the complex in each area of the game. The individual sessions are also useful on their own or put together to create your own progression.

I enjoy seeing this type of inside look at a coach's methods and structure because it's different from what you normal see. Most of the time a book on coaching just includes session on a given topic or area of the game. Those are useful as well but looking at the coach's methods and framework for player and team development can be even more useful. I always pull a few ideas from these types of resources to incorporate into my own team planning for the following year.

So how do you approach your planning your sessions and progressing the topics you coach? I think we all agree that making it up in the car on the way to practice isn't going to give you the out come you or the players are looking for. Does anyone still do that? Come on, you can tell us, your among friends and it's anonymous 🙂

Have a Great Day!


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