At Clubforce we are constantly looking at how to make coaches and club volunteers lives easier. Today we’re exploring best tips on how to prepare for training sessions. What controllable and uncontrollable factors do you need to consider before a training session and how do you take those into account to prepare the most effective and enjoyable session possible for the kids participating in club training? Coaches are always bound by certain constraints but these should not limit the fun in football (or any other sport) which is necessary to drive continued participation.
Number of players
The number of players influences what you can and can’t do at training e.g. if you plan to do an 11 v 11 session, you’ll need 22 players+ or if you are planning on organising tactical elements that require key positions in attendance at the session. The invitations and attendance tracking feature in the Clubforce Connect app can help coaches to understand how many players plan to attend a training session.
Health & Safety
It’s important for the coach to scan the training location and equipment before training. Is the pitch safe to play and is the training equipment safe and secure? Make sure there is nothing unexpected on the pitch e.g. vandals might have damaged an area of the pitch or their may be sharp objects e.g. broken glass dumped on the ground. Nets, goalposts and other equipment should also be checked before each session to make sure they are safe.
Coaches should also have completed a relevant safeguarding course and the trained First Aid contact(s) at the club should also be known in the event of an emergency.
Area & Time
Does the available space cater for the number of players? It’s important to know this before the session as the limitation of space will dictate what can and can’t happen – the last thing you want is idle participants who will get bored and won’t enjoy the session to the fullest extent. Similarly, with time, it’s likely with a lot of clubs that training sessions of different groups run back-to-back so making the most of the time available is important to ensure the players enjoy the session to the maximum – any delays can curtail the enjoyment of the session for participants.
Do your players know when training sessions are on and the location? Whatsapp group chats can get cluttered, the Clubforce Connect App holds all the relevant information within the training events tab so the chat can be used for communication only. Also, players can add their training sessions to their calendars (including recurring events) to stay on top of their game.
Theme / Aim of the session
What do you want to happen at the session and how does that influence different scenarios you might have in mind for the training session? Repetition is key to building skills but it’s also vital that the scenario is a real-world example and relevant to what they will face in a game. The theme helps the coach to stay focused on the objective of the session too – e.g. if it’s an attacking scenario, the performance of the defenders needs to be overlooked in favour of the objective which in this instance is to improve the attacking scenario – otherwise the coach can be distracted and the objective might not be fulfilled.
The theme, number of players, time and area available will all be elements in determining your session layout. Each part of the session should be set up in a way that allows you to stay aligned to your theme, involve all of the players as actively as possible while maximising the use of the area and time available. Progression through different parts of the session (e.g. technical, unopposed, opposed, game) will be another key consideration here as you don’t want to be spending time adjusting your playing area while players idle on the sideline.