COLUMN: Ensuring proper progression

Brett Adams, regional head coach for Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Kootenay Academy, offers tips to soccer coaches.

Hi, my name is Brett Adams and I am the regional head coach for Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Kootenay Academy.

Welcome to the first instalment of the new monthly column, Whitecaps FC Coach’s Corner. Thank you to Black Press and the Nelson Star for providing this space to promote soccer in our community.

I currently hold a UEFA A coaching licence, the highest coaching qualification in soccer. In this space I will be discussing current and related issues regarding the game of soccer, as well as share ideas and offer tips for anything coaching and sport related.

For my first article I thought I would discuss structuring a successful coaching session. I often get asked by coaches, “how do you ensure the proper progression of your sessions?”

The idea of proper progression is a simple but effective one.

Let’s say you are working on “keeping possession as a team.” The way to structure the session is to split it into four phases.

Warm-up: Although this is the warm-up, start with players passing the ball and keeping possession. You can pin down some of the principles of your session inside these first 15-20 minutes. Start to correct and advise while you are warming the players up physically and mentally.

Technical: This is where you can really pin down your coaching principles and what you are trying to achieve. This can be unopposed (without defenders) or opposed (with defenders). This is entirely your decision of where you want to go with the topic and the ability of the players.

Technical/Tactical: At this point it has to be opposed (with defenders). This has to be adapted to represent a game-like situation, where the players can take the principles of the technique into an environment where they are forced to make decisions at match tempo. A cone or pylon doesn’t tackle or move, so it needs to be taken to the next level.  It is important that you still coach and reiterate your principles of what you are trying to achieve. Don’t let it just turn into a game. Let there be clear objectives.

Game: Set the game up so it is geared towards the topic. For example, using the theme of “keeping possession as a team,” make the players do five passes before they go and score. However, be careful not to take the realism out of the game. If a player is in a goal scoring position and checks back to get the fifth pass then it’s unrealistic to the game. In that case, use comments and suggestions like “try to keep the ball five times before you can score” and not make it too rigid. However, don’t let it turn into a free-for-all. Remind the players of their individual jobs and structure it so that you see the results.

Coaching is like a book; it has to have a beginning, middle and end. All are important if you are to get your points across. From experience, I would encourage patience and perseverance and if you follow that structure the flow and tempo of your session will not drop.

I hope this has been useful. Please feel free to contact me via email for advice or information at badams@whitecapsfc.com.

  • The next NYSA coaching clinic will take place on Saturday, November 30 at 6 p.m. at the LVR high school with Pre Residency and Academy Centres head coach Bart Choufour. Any coaches or prospect coaches that are interested should contact badams@whitecapsfc.com to register.
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