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ESSENTIAL TIP 1. What ever you do, do NOT Over coach!

Id like to expand a little more on what I mean by over coaching. Its a word that
we often hear in soccer. The most common mistakes are;
1. Stopping the practice, the drill or the game too early. For example if youre
practicing receiving and passing and you stop after a couple of minutes,
your players will not be able to practice this skill enough to improve.

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Additionally you will not be able to identify your players mistakes and how
to improve them.

2. Stopping the practice or drill too many times. This can happen if you're
trying to coach the game, and you keep stopping the action and asking the
players to be still so you can make your point. This breaks up the play and
interrupts your players practice time and focus.

3. Trying to teach too many topics within one drill or game. This can happen
when youre practice planning and you pick a drill such as finishing on goal
which includes defenders. One-week focus on the points for the attackers
and the following week focus on the defenders. Trying to coach attackers
and defenders in the same one drill can confuse your players.

4. Giving too much information. Young players have short attention spans,
you need to be simple, sure and clear. Its much better if you or one of your
better players demonstrates the technique. There is no commentary by

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you, just some key points after and then your players practice.
Demonstration is very important. A common problem for many coaches
working with young players is that they actually talk the demonstration
rather than show the demonstration. For many beginner coaches it can be
difficult for you to show the correct demonstration. One way around this is
to practice if you're a young coach. Practice the drill or technique yourself,
not as a player, but as a demonstrator. Otherwise use one of the young
players as a demonstrator, and remember don't give any points while they

5. Especially in small-sided games during your practices make sure that you
don't commentate. Don't follow the ball around and commentate on what's
happening during the game. In fact it would be quite good if you tried not
speaking at all! Of course you should observe, see what's happening, so
you can include any improvements or remedies to any problems in future
practices or at a break.

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In order not to over coach follow the below essential communication steps;
a. Introduce your topic.
b. Tell your players the purpose, why and what the drill is going to do for
c. Demonstrate the practice and the logistics especially when players
are trying it for the first time. They may find the logistics difficult.
While you are demonstrating the drill and the logistics, give the main
points. Give a maximum of three key points per exercise.

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d. The players then practice. During this time you should just look. It
may take you weeks since there are so many players and those
players may have different challenges. This observation and analysis
is a really important step for coaches.

e. At the end of the drill or practice have a feedback session youre your
players. This is a good time to engage them, ask them what you
thought was important, what you learnt.

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In summary be careful that your session planning doesn't get out of control, as
you only have a certain amount of practice time, and you need to pack as much
action into it as possible.

ESSENTIAL TIP 2. Focus, Focus, Focus!!!

Here are some priorities and common mistakes.
1. The first priority for you is to make sure that the drills or games are safe.
Before practice use a checklist to; inspect the field, make sure that there
are no dangerous objects, make sure that the goals are secured, and make
sure there is water.

2. Think like a personal trainer! Of course soccer is a team game, when you
are a development coach think about each player. This is a mindset for a
coach and often not understood by parents. This reasons and detail behind
your approach need to be explained to parents. The personal trainer
approach is important, in that you focus on each young player, analyze

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whats difficult and easy for them, and then set out a plan on you can help
them. Focusing on the individual is more difficult than focusing on the team,
so you have to concentrate.

3. One other area of focus is improving communication skills. You have

different types of communication and mistakes can be made on all. My first
advice is if you are aware of the problem, then maybe you can address it.

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4. Another focus for coaches should be to concentrate on player

development, not winning matches. That's not to say that winning is not
important. Players feel better when they win, but a development coach is
trying to improve every player on the team, and values winning as much as
performance. Not more important and not less important, but as important.
The way to do that especially with parents is to explain why and what
you're teaching the players. Clearly explain the benefits that this gives the

ESSENTIAL TIP 3. Practice planning

It is something that you can never be good enough at. You need to spend time
on it, especially if you are just starting out the source of all sessions is your drill
library. The main goals of a good session are fun and improvement. It has to be
fun, especially for the younger players. If it is not fun you will lose your players
It has to be progressive. Especially over a season. The progression can be small,
sometimes you have to stay or go back in difficulty, but eventually you want
some sort of progression. These are all the things you should look for in a drill

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Mistakes to avoid.

When you look at your drill library look to see that the drills you have picked are
age and level appropriate. If the job is too difficult for your players, they will lose
confidence and therefore lose interest. If it really is too easy they will get bored,
again its difficult to learn if you get bored. Your selection has to be level and age
appropriate. It also has to be something your players like which challenges them

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in a competitive way. Don't be afraid to select competitive drills, competition can

be fun.

When you are selecting drills make sure that you don't select too many to put in
your session plan. This is another big mistake that coaches make. If you have 60
or a 90-minute practice, dont select too many drills. This results in what we call,
loss of time control. A large part of your session should be spent playing smallsided games, free from any coaching. When you put too many drills in your
session and you spend too long on the drills, it eats into the small-sided games.
You should always protect the integrity and the time of small-sided games. Be
careful not to put too many drills into your session plan.

Another common mistake is that coaches pick drills where there are too many
players and consequently too much waiting time. Repetition is an important step
in learning. It is also is a good way to focus young players on their tasks.
Therefore if you pick a drill where there is too much waiting time, you will lose
that focus and again you won't get learning.

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In Coerver Coaching we have a formula for practice planning, The Session

Planner www.soccersessionplanner.com . Let me give you an example. We start
with a warm-up, which is usually ball mastery. We then have a section called
speed with and without the ball. The next section is 1V1, which includes 1V1, 2v2
and sometimes 3V3. Then we have a section called small group play, this is
basically receiving and passing combination play. Then we have our small-sided
games section, which is at least 30% of our session time. We finish off with home
assignments, kind of fun soccer homework for our players. All of our coaches
follow these steps, these sections and every time they have to organize or plan

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their practices, they go into the session planner and look for drills and games that
fall into the topics that I have just described. One other thing that is important,
when you go into your drill library and you find a drill that fits into one of the
sections that I have described such as 1V1, make sure that that drill has
variations within it. The drills that have several variations give you flexibility in
your practice. If your players are finding it difficult, you can move on to another
variation with a small adjustment to logistics to make it easier or more difficult.

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So session planning is important to all coaches, if you want to plan good
sessions, make sure you have a good drill library. Remember a great practice
plan is one that combines fun with learning.

How to coach a great practice

So now that we have looked at some essential tips, lets go through a great
practice plan. Effective Practice planning is they key to a great practice.
So what does a great practice look like through the eyes of your players?

Its fun & safe

It improves
Its competitive

As a coach what do you need to do to make this possible?

Practice Plan
Select the right drills and games
Manage your time
Manage the logistics of the practice
Communicate at the right time with the right points
Know when its right to change a drill to make sure your players are getting
the most out of it
Ensuring that all of your players are being challenged, working hard, having
fun and are motivated!

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So there is a lot to think about! Dont worry you will improve with
experience and practice. Below you will see a recommended practice that
we have put together from the Coerver Coaching Session Planner Pie.
That's the way that our coaches put together their practices. It helps them;
Plan each practice effectively
Manage the time for each drill
Set up the logistics so that players can quickly change into the next
Each player is challenged to their ability level and improves
Oh yeah and the coach has fun too!

There are 6 topics in the Coerver Coaching Session Planner:


Warm Up
Moves 1v1
Group Play
Small Sided Games
Home Assignment

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Example of constructing a Practice Session using the

Coerver Drills and Games in this book
Drill 1
Planner Section: Warm Up

Matrix Number: WU-1

Drill 4
Planner Section: Small Group Play

Matrix Number: SGP-2

Drill 2
Planner Section: Speed

Matrix Number: S-2

Drill 5
Planner Section: Small Sided Game

Matrix Number: SSG-4

Drill 3
Planner Section: Moves

Matrix Number: M-2

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You can also adapt each drill to the level of your players by adjusting the
following variables:

Area: make bigger or smaller

Speed: make quicker or slower
Number of Touches Allowed: increase or decrease
Degree of Pressure: no/limited/full pressure
Duration: increase/decrease

We really hope this helps you with your next practice. Please tweet us
@coervercoaching with any questions. Good luck!

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