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Try asking 'why'

I've written before about the 5 elements of a training activity. Once you are familiar with them, they're easy to keep as guidelines. If you're unfamiliar and want to read more, check it out here.


Yet, my pondering around the 'complexity' of this checklist leads me to think that for the average coach, checking the boxes is difficult. Running from your real job, fighting through traffic just to be there for your players takes precedence over the thoughtful planning approach to repetition. That's the reality.

Yes, everything should be meticulously planned. Yes, we pride ourselves on providing the best for our players, but the reality is that it's not always possible to plan every 'what-if' like you are sat around the lunch table on your next coaching license.


So, ask yourself why.

Why am I planning to focus on 'x'?

Why is that important?

There's my reason.


Then consider the player actions you are seeking, and why?

We want to play out of the back, and bounce the ball off of the #6 to the #2/#3 as one way to play, but why?

"because if we play centrally, pressure will come centrally, so we can use the newly opened wide space to attack".

So what does my practice need to look like?

A goal. Lots of balls. Counter attacking goals.

Build out team:

A goalkeeper.

A defensive line (depending on your formation/game size).

One, or two, holding midfielders (again, as you need with your formation/game size).

- That's enough to connect two lines.

Defending team:

Attacking line (strikers - typically a front 3 in the US game)

Midfielders (do you play against a team that presses with one or two central mid's?)


So the quick plan looks like this, with red lines crossing out those not necessary (in this example). So we'll play 7 blue (including GK) vs 5 red. Decide on your counter attacking goals - channel goals, end zone, target players etc.






Revisit 'why'.

Why would the 6 lay the ball wide?

Because of pressure from a red midfielder.

So, when you play, they must press in that way.

If we were to 'teach' the check of the #6 with a bounce to the #2/#3 without pressure what problems would your players face? AKA, in a passing pattern or as a 7v0 game.

Number one would be a lack of reality. No pressure means no realistic challenge on playing that pass. A passing pattern would be nice, and it'll flow, but it all goes differently with pressure.


One of the 5 elements of a training activity is 'game-like'. Not just two goals and play, but is the training scenario recreating the game challenge? Answer your why with a game-like scenario. Demand player behavior based on the game, and trained like the game. Stop cheating and removing the reality because it is easier to coach. Stop shouting at your players for not trying very hard when they have no reason to. Stop making practice easy so you feel good about 'progression'.


@leedunnesoccer