When creating a training session, assessing or coaching a game, or communicating with a player / players, understanding the W's helps you understand the behavior and helps you identify the desired behavior.
What is happening?
Where on the field is this occurring?
Who is involved?
When does it happen?
Why is it happening?
Understanding the W's helps you understand the behavior. Here is an example from a group task on my 'A' license:
What - We do not consistently prevent opponent from playing forwards. We do not force an inaccurate pass or make the opponent predictable. Where - From the middle to our defensive 3rd. Who - We: Primary 10,8,6. Secondary 2,3,4,5. Tertiary 1 (1-4-3).
Who - They: Primary 6,8,10,9. Secondary 11,7 (1-3-3). When - France are in controlled possession in the middle 3rd. Why - We are not able to get and stay organized, allowing the opponent to play through us. There is too much spacing between the #10 and #8, chasing the ball, leaving the #6 isolated and outnumbered, resulting in direct balls that break our line into the opponents #9 to receive. #4 and #5 do not connect with the #6 to provide support or direction for positioning to prevent through balls or to provide cover.
Working through this particular scenario, I was able to review the current behavior and then assess to work on the desired behavior. This is, of course, the way I would like for my team to play vs France which looks like:
What - We are able to consistently prevent opponent from playing forwards. We are able to force an inaccurate pass or make the opponent predictable.
Where - From the middle to our defensive 3rd.
Who - We: Primary 10,8,6. Secondary 4,5. Tertiary 1,2,3 (1-4-3).
Who - They: Primary 6,8,10,9. Secondary 11,7 (1-3-3).
When - France are in controlled possession in the middle 3rd.
Why - We are able to get and stay organized, preventing the opponent from playing through us. The spacing between the #10 and #8 is relative to the ball and the opponent, maintaining a connected unit with the covering #6. The result is forced, direct balls into the #9 that we can win. #4 and #5 are connected with the #6 to provide support or direction for positioning to prevent through balls or to provide cover.
So, the desired behavior really helps me to process what I would like to happen for the next session or game. From this, add 'how'.
How are we going to do this?
Insert your approach, your game model, your beliefs and instruction here. The options are endless:
Relationship between the primary and secondary players.
Where do the tertiary players, if any, fit?
Invite the opponent into tighter spaces?
Force play a certain way?
Have 1:1 cover on the #9?
Whatever you like, but you know why and how.
I believe this should be the foundation of communication with the players you are working with. Then use it to understand the individuals - Are you #8 and #10 playing together for the first time? Are they often fringe players excited to be on the field? Are they familiar with having the ball at their feet and chasing the ball because they don't know what else to do?
The same assessment goes to all of the players around them.
Then the same assessment goes to the game plan - why have a single CDM? How did you plan to deal with the #9, how would you given the change again? How do you chose to control an opponent having control of the ball, as it will inevitably happen in a game! This is an example from a practice coaching session, in a controlled environment after assessing the US in a Youth World Cup game vs France. With your team, you might go much deeper into the particular nuances of a phase of play, or you might have general W's for a younger, developing team to focus on and begin to develop their understanding. You might have also picked a different problem from the clip based on your beliefs for playing the game.
What I do know from this task is that game understanding is significantly tested when you analyze it this way. Why?
To start with, the opponent is considered when they are often not.
My analysis was that the #9 was the constant outlet and was causing the biggest problem with checking in/out, plus not wanting the ball to go into a central channel like that lead me to look at the behavior of the forward players (10,8,6) that lead to those passes being an option.
From there it spanned into the secondary players and how they affect this immediate moment, with a thought for tertiary and for anything significant - if the opponent #7/#11 stayed wide and took our #2/#3 with them they might have become more significant / secondary players, but were often inverted pointing all of the focus on the central pass.
Again, you might read it a little differently, but thats the beauty of coaching.
Take the W's everywhere with you. I adapted this from my experience with US Soccer Coaching Education, also recognized by other sources such as the Coaching Manual, but the concept is 'simple' on paper. Then you get into the weeds, and that is where the fun begins - which is pretty much the majority of any coaching conversation... 'what if this, or that, or if she did that...'
Enjoy. Pass it on. @leedunnesoccer if you want to share!