Looking back to the beginning of my coaching career I made a lot of mistakes in terms of the structure of the session plan.
Firstly I remember trying too hard to please the players which I knew was never going to work.
You will find it very difficult to please everyone when coaching youth football players which I quickly realized and then channeled my focus on developing the players.
Another common mistake of mine was that my message wasn’t consistent throughout the session, often going off task which would then confuse the players and hinder their learning.
These are just a few mistakes I made at the beginning of my coaching career and I could include a lot more but instead, I would like to focus on how you can avoid making similar mistakes with your session.
A coach should always come prepared to deliver a quality football session so you want to make sure you arrive at least fifteen minutes early so you can set up your field in the way you want.
When coaching youth football players, bring plenty of footballs, cones and training bibs so you can divide players into different teams.
We want to have plenty of balls because you want every single player to be able to have a ball at their feet if required. for example, It is better to teach a topic such as dribbling with a ball each because every player is involved in the practice.
In the next section, we will take a look at the structure of a football session.
In the introductory phase, I like to break it down into two areas which are a game then a no-pressure practice.
It is good to begin with a small-sided game because it a) gets the players enthusiastic for the session b) helps give them an understanding of how to use their skills in when a game when you break it down in the practice.
I recommend that this is played either in a 2v2,3v3 or 4v4 format to encourage lots of contact on the ball.
Then, we would look to work on the fundamentals first.
So basically, there are no restrictions on the players and no pressure.
There is no pressure because I want the players to have some element of success within the session.
This will help with their confidence later in the session when I expect them to perform in a game scenario.
Then we will move on to match-related which basically is going to look more like a game, but it’s not really a game.
Here we are looking to add a little bit of pressure now to the players either by moving with quickness or somebody trying to take the ball away from the player, forcing the player to make more decisions.
Game with a condition
Then finally, we move into a match condition where we are actually playing a game of football.
It doesn’t have to be eleven on eleven, you can do five on five or three on three, but it looks like a real football match attacking each end.
Look to set your player’s individual, group and team challenges when they play the game.
When coaching youth football players you want them to be focused on the theme of the session so it all doesn’t get forgotten once they start playing.
Here are some examples of setting challenges:
Individual; when necessary can you spot the gaps to dribble through and penetrate space.
Group: midfielders, can we provide good support positions when the striker has the ball.
Team: when we lose the ball, can you win it back as quickly as possible ( 10-second rule ).
You don’t need your players in lines to teach a technique.
Just get your players inside a square with a ball and you can incorporate how to dribble, to take possession of the ball, to get away from players and dribbling so that you can get used to looking up instead of looking at the ground all the time.
You can do a lot of little games that incorporate a lot of things we actually do in football in a small area.
It is also fun for them, they’re doing a lot of learning at the same time and you are forcing the kids to do a number of game-related techniques in a fun way.
So to summarise this post, firstly start with your fundamentals, move into your match-related and then the final step is the game, which can contain conditions but ensure it resembles a real game.
In part 2 we will be looking at how can involve parents in the coaching process and coaching styles.
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