This section will help the coach to quickly organize the season into competitive periods, transition periods (in between competitive periods) and off- season periods in the case of the older age groups. For younger groups, it will be even more essential to have a broader vision of the objectives, content, distribution and means of use during the season.
Macrocycle or 12-Week Program Cycle
This 12-week distribution of content ensures that all key elements in the curriculum are covered for each stage and age group. It is organized in two-week periods to give the player enough time to show significant improvement in the specific categories. Please note, this content distribution follows an appropriate order for developing the style and principles of play.
Microcycle or Week Program
This section helps the coach organize weekly training sessions. Each week has a main technical, tactical and physical objective specified in the macrocycle. However, each team is different and has its own learning dynamic. Therefore, the weekly plan is flexible. The team will evolve week after week and the coach must continually identify the team’s needs.
The focus of our training is that everything in practice should resemble the actual game as much as possible. Exercises and drills serve a purpose; however, the majority of practice should be spent playing the game. If in doubt, ask yourself the following question: “Are we playing soccer?” There have to be teammates, an opponent, a field with boundaries, a direction, a purpose to the game and an objective. For best results create sessions with the following characteristics:
- Competitive: All games will have a competitive component, rewarding the winning team and creating a healthy competitive spirit and training environment.
- Ball: All practices must be done with the ball whenever possible.
- Fun: The coach must use his/her creativity to design fun practices, which apply to soccer, especially for younger players.
- A game will have the best results when the following elements are present:
- Scoring goals.
- Attacking to create scoring chances.
- Defending to prevent goals and winning the ball.
- Preparation: All coaches will prepare and review a session plan before the session. A record of all session plans will be kept with the coaching department.
- Evaluation: Take a few minutes after the session to review and note what worked well and what needs improvement.
Coaching the Player
- Ball Control and Passing: The technique of the player is based upon ball control as well as accuracy of the pass. The quality and direction of the first touch is of paramount importance.
- Perception and Awareness: Emphasize keeping the head up and scanning the field at all times. Perception and awareness are major parts of the game.
- Speed and Reaction: All practices will incorporate speed in perception, decision-making and execution. Increasing individual speed will increase the speed of the whole team.
- Our challenge is to develop players that are:
- Technically Gifted
- Tactically Sound
- Risk Takers
- “Own the Game” and are focused on solving the problems that the game presents, instead of primarily thinking about coach imposed solutions to the game
Coaching the Team
- Space and Movement: Creating space in order to receive the ball and offer passing options to the player in possession is essential. Demonstrate to players how to move at the right time.
- Attack – Defend: All players attack and defend. Give specific roles and explain the appropriate movements for your players individually and as a team-unit.
- Speed of Play: The main objective of the team will be to play at maximum speed. Reducing the space and number of touches on the ball increases the speed of play.
Below we explain the guidelines about coaching-style and how it should look to the coach during the session:
- Preparation Session Plan: In order to be efficient during training sessions, all coaches must prepare a session plan. Regardless of a coach’s experience, preparation prior to training is essential to a dynamic and rewarding training session.
- Time: The coach has to plan and manage time during the session. For effective management, the coach should indicate the time spent on each exercise in the session plan.
- Coaching Points: Each exercise should have 4 or 5 key points gathered in the session plan.
- Before the Session Equipment: Have all the necessary materials prepared. Goals, balls, multicolor cones and 3 or 4 sets of bibs should be enough to prepare your session.
- Initial Set Up: Make sure that you have the spaces organized and plan for a smooth transition from one exercise to another. Minimize the number of cones that you have to pick up or reset.
Review: Take a few minutes just before the training session to review the session plan and the coaching points.
During the Session
- Position During the Session: Coaches should occupy a central but sideline position during practice, which allows a clear, general vision of training and simultaneously permits the observation of small details.
- Flexible: A good coach must be capable of adapting the initial plan of the session to the time available, characteristics of the players and time required for players to learn a given task.
- Coaching Points: Coaches should cover necessary coaching-points in the session plan depending on players’ performance and adaptation.
- During the Session: Do not stop the session too often. Players must learn to find solutions without constant coaching. Give clear and accurate coaching points and quickly restart the practice.
After the Session
- Discussion With the Players: Do not underestimate the value and impact of a positive comment or individual feedback to a player after the training session.
- Review Your Session Plan: Review the session plan at the end of the training session and note what worked well and what needs to improve.
- Evaluate Yourself: Do not be ashamed to ask for constructive feedback and the opinion of your colleagues in relation to your coaching management and structure of the session.