How to keep players engaged in training sessions?

Discussion in 'Youth Leagues & Cups' started by FootballReligion, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. FootballReligion

    FootballReligion New Member

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    For all the coaches out there, do you have some suggestions on how to keep boys engaged in practices. The old fashioned way of making them run until they drop doesn't seem to work anymore. I am sure the general answer will be to keep practices fun. BUT HOW?
     
  2. TKBC

    TKBC Established Member

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    1. In August outline the purposes of your sessions - show the boys the trajectory intended over the course of the season. Explain the process.
    2. Different session plans. Sessions should have a few constants - warm-up, rondo, team talk etc should all remain consistent. But after that, you have to change your games and topics.
    3. Make sure the players are challenged appropriately for their level. For example, a 3v3 in a 40x40 (yes I've seen this - then the coach wonders why his team struggles with possession during games) is probably going to get old pretty quick. But a 5v5 in a 30x30 with differing conditions will be a nice challenge.
    4. Make sure the players are engaged in their learning. Do question and answer. Let the players explain the purpose. What they are learning, and how it applies "to Saturday". When they make mistakes let them figure it out. If they can't resolve the mistakes themselves, then give them guidance to learn how to resolve the mistake themselves.
    5. Be energetic as a coach. This doesn't mean jumping up and down, and cheering them on and always telling them they are "doing a great job" because often players are not doing a great job. This means being engaged, clearly being there is enjoyable for the coach. That sort of thing.
    6. Don't interrupt too quickly. Don't start a session, and within 15-30 seconds stop the players and tell them what they are doing wrong. Let them play a few minutes, and if they struggle with application or effort or both, bring them in and have them verbalize what's going well or isn't going well.
    7. Don't just run sessions - run tactical sessions too, and make sure you can find a way for the players to try the new tactic in a match setting against another team at the club on a practice night.
    8. SMILE.

    And no, telling them to run doesn't typically work for long - if at all - these days!

    I could go on!.....

    I suggest you also spend some time googling this topic!
     
  3. FootballReligion

    FootballReligion New Member

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    Hi TKBC

    Thanks for the pointers. I'll look at incorporating your suggestions.
    cheers
     
  4. TKBC

    TKBC Established Member

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    good luck!

    love to hear if things improve for ya.
     
  5. easoccer

    easoccer Established Member

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    Best thing is not to get too frustrated. There will always be distractions when dealing with young children and teenagers.
     
  6. 4_the_kids

    4_the_kids Active Member

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    To further the points already made. There are going to be days when young boys attentions are elsewhere, or the team is distracted by one or two, it happens especially towards the end of the season. Your mood, preparedness, etc as a coach will influence the energy of practice, some days us coaches are just not engaged as well.
    Change up your sessions frequently , don't use the same drills over and over again. On days when they don't seem engaged , try to get one point across and just let em play a game without stopping it to make pointers or corrections....
     
  7. mattieuk

    mattieuk Member

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    To elaborate on some previous comments - every team is going to have days where they're just not "on". This last year I've coached a U13 Bronze team (without an assistant/co coach) who despite being hyper-competitive, also lack focus in a lot of sessions. The only way to keep on top of it was to accept at you're not going to be able to flick the light switch on a group of boys, and that the best way to keep on track during a planned session (i.e. not abandoning everything and just scrimmaging for the whole session) is deflecting that attitude into a more productive manner. Using tools like creating mini competition during a drill the peer pressure to succeed from their teammates/myself tended to lead them to become more focused on perfecting the task presented to them. For example during a simple first touch drill which has 2/3 progressions built into it, I turned the progressions into checkpoints for the pairing/group to achieve before being allowed to progress - and by elevating each group at different times (rather than moving to the next progression as a whole team) they will often accept the fact that the next group is further along as a challenge to try and beat their teammates to the end of the drill.

    It always helps is you have a player who is always on regardless of the engagement of his teammates - as they can be used as a role model and leader for the rest - however I've never shied away from jumping into a small sized game/drill for a couple of minutes (and then quietly pulling myself back up) to raise an intensity level to where it needs to be. For example, often teams that I've coached have begun the season quite quietly and not had the communication that players would have at a later point in the season - so as part of our small sided games, there will be an emphasis on getting 3-4 simple on field communications as routine. These small sided games will often start quietly, despite the instructions pre-drill - however after a couple of minutes of me jumping in to one side and deliberately communicating at a louder than normal level the kids will mimic the behaviour and start to adopt the example (even after you've withdrawn from the drill back to the sideline).

    And as easoccer said - don't get frustrated. Accept that this will happen to every youth coach in the world at every ability level, and have a game plan for when it happens that lets you continue to coach what you need to coach.
     

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