With the hurdle of everyday work and busy lifestyles, often times coaches barely even have time to plan their sessions, let alone come up with a coherent session topic. But fear not, this article will explore the five best ways to come up with a session topic as well as tips and tricks to ensure you always have an effective session. Here are 5 Ways To Come Up With Your Session Topics. Enjoy!
PRE-SEASON PLANEmbed from Getty Images
Before every season begins, it is a great idea to develop a plan for what topics you would like to cover in training and when during the season they should be covered. This will help you understand how to make your sessions progressive, meaning players can build on their knowledge week after week. This can be an imperative step for coaches to take in ensuring that players are actually ready to work on a topic that the coach has in mind. For example, players can not learn how to play out from the back without first learning how to keep possession or how to play under pressure. Players also cannot learn how to properly take their first touch into space without first learning the art of scanning. Session topics should be as progressive as possible in helping players expand on their knowledge week after week and also in helping players peak at the right times during the course of the season.
The concept of periodization – the systematic planning of athletic or physical training, is something a lot of coaches take a fair amount of thought into and can be key in helping athletes peak at exactly the right time in their sport. For soccer, obviously most of us are not building up to one big season-end tournament. However, considering how to get the players to progress through various stages in their development can be an essential step in helping each and every player improve, which is ultimately one of the main reasons we all love to coach. Obviously this pre-season plan can change as the season progresses, but it’s great to have a general idea of what you want to work on and when you want to work on it before the season even begins.
PREVIOUS GAMESEmbed from Getty Images
One of the most common methods that coaches use to develop their session topic ideas is simply to base it off what the team struggled with most in the previous game. This may seem like a very natural thing, however what a team struggles with in one game may be completely different than what they are going to struggle with the next game. This is particularly the case of youth teams, where players can be very inconsistent with their performances. Nonetheless, this may be an effective tool to use in guiding the session topic. If for example the team struggled with maintaining width in the previous game, it might make sense to spend the next practice discussing topics of switching play and utilizing the wings. Even just having the time to reflect on what didn’t work well in the previous game and what can be improved upon is very valuable for coaches. Actually putting that into action at practice is even more amazing from a player development perspective. So although this might not be exactly what the professional teams do, it can certainly be a useful guide in developing session topic ideas.
FUTURE GAMESEmbed from Getty Images
Instead of ruminating in the past, coaches can also look forward and consider what their team will need to work on most before their upcoming set of games. This is something that all professional clubs everywhere use as a guide to help focus their training. If the team is going to be playing against a strong team that likes to keep possession of the football, perhaps a training session all about how to stay compact and defend in numbers might be best. Similarly, a session on counter attacking or attacking transitions could also work well in this case. Considering who the opponent is, how they play and what their strengths and weaknesses are can all be very valuable in deciding on the practice design and session topic. It will also give your players a focus going into the next game, motivating them to do better and allowing them to focus on one or two really specific things that they have already worked on in training. On match-day, many coaches go into the pre-game talk with a lot of new information and jargon that players have never even heard of. Why not put some of those ideas into practice before the game and give the players time to think about how they are actually going to accomplish those complex ideas?
PREVIOUS PRACTICESEmbed from Getty Images
No session is going to be perfect the first time you do it and new activities will almost always be confusing to players at first. However, with more practice players will begin to grasp each session topic more and more. As a result, it may be a good idea to repeat some of the most important session topics over the course of the season and to also re-explore topics that did not work out the first time. Rather than forgetting these sessions ever happened and moving on, coaches can challenge the players by re-introducing something that was difficult for them the first time. The players can sometimes come up with surprising results, especially if they have been able to build on other concepts since the first time. At the same time, at least if the ideas don’t quite work out the way you planned at least you can get their brains thinking in new ways and motivate them to improve on their own, rather than giving them something they are already very comfortable with and that they do every day. If the players found everything easy, you’d have a major issue. It’s good to challenge players with complex ideas and difficult activities, you just make sure it’s age appropriate and fun.
ASK THE PLAYERSEmbed from Getty Images
All players probably have an idea of what they would like to work on in training, so why not ask them? Sure, sometimes you might get answers like “Free kicks and corner kicks!”. Obviously your time would be best spent not focusing an entire hour-long session working on set pieces. However, perhaps these set-pieces can be worked into a different topic. For example, when my team does a topic like playing out from the back or anything possession-based, any unnecessary kick up the field that a player did without looking is penalized as a free kick for the other team where the player kicked it. This is a great way to practice the odd free kick, while still making sure to practice what is actually important to the whole of the match on game-day.
That being said, players will often have great ideas for what they should be working on in training and although every player may have a different answer it might be good to gauge their opinions nonetheless and allow them to be a part of the process. Ultimately we run practice sessions for the players, not for the coach, so they deserve at least some say on their learning.
So there it is! 5 Ways To Come Up With Your Session Topics including tips and tricks to ensure that you have an effective practice with your players. For more articles like this be sure to check out our Session Plans and Coaching articles. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
You might also like -> 4 Reasons Your Practice Session Isn’t Working.