How to prepare for club training sessions

October 10, 2020

In the first instalment of our Club Management Webinar Series, Shelbourne FC manager Ian Morris looks at advising coaches on how to best 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. 

In this webinar, Ian speaks to Francis Creaven about how he approaches planning for training, with little tips and tricks he's learned during his lifetime in football and addresses questions from attendees on specific aspects of planning a training session for underage football players. To view the webinar, click the link below and enter your details. 

Watch the webinar

What to expect: 

In this session Ian runs through 5 key elements of a training session for coaches to consider as they plan. These are outlined briefly below: 

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 app can help coaches to understand how many players plan to attend a training session. 

If your club enforces a 'no pay no play' policy, the Manager View function in Clubforce allows the coach to see who has or hasn't paid (in real-time) and can factor those numbers into the training session. 

Health & Safety

It's important for the coach to scan the training location and equipemtn 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 - copies of training certificates for coaches can be stored in the volunteer management section of the Clubforce admin panel and if they have expiry dates, the Clubforce system can be set up to send alerts to the coach reminding them to renew their certification. 

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 - that 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. How long you train for and how long each part of the session will be should be planned in advance and monitored during the session to ensure one part doesn't dominate the entire training session. Prescribed warm-up drills can also be kicked off while waiting for an earlier group to leave the pitch or astro turf so that when you get access to the playing surface, you are ready to get straight into the training session planned.

Theme / Aim of the session

What do you want to happened 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. 

Session Layout

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. 

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About Ian Morris

Ian works as a Business Development Consultant with Clubforce and is the current manager of Airticity Premier Division side Shelbourne FC, having guided Shels to promotion winning the First Division title in his first season in charge at Tolka Park. He has represented Ireland at all age grades from U15 to U21 and during a 13-year playing career won two league titles and three promotions in England before stints in Irish League and League of Ireland football. 

As a coach, Ian has attained UEFA A, UEFA B and UEFA Elite Youth A licences and is currently a UEFA PRO Licence candidate. He has coached at academies at Torquay United FC, Northampton Town FC, coached League of Ireland U19s in UEFA Youth League qualification rounds and worked as a Youth Development Officer at Bohemian FC. Ian is also a Level 3 qualified personal trainer and has been a regular guest speaker at FAI coach education seminars.  

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