Creating a Training Session - Planning Cycle

One way to clarify our view of training sessions and games is to relate it to the environment that the players understand and that is school.  In school you have lessons that are building up to the test and along with those lessons you have homework at home.  Once you take the test you get a score.  If that score shows a good understanding of the content then the teacher can add more content to further your understanding but if that test shows a lack of understanding then the teacher can find different ways to teach the information so that the student can understand.  This is very similar to the way that I view creating a training session.  

Class = Training Session.  This should be an environment where the players are learning what is expected of them during the "test" or "game".  They should be able to try and implement the new techniques or strategies multiple times in this environment. 

Homework = Work at home.  These should be exercises that the coach provides for the player to practice on their own time to develop skills needed to complete the concepts learned at training.

Test  = Game.  This is where the players are able to implement and show what they have learned during the training sessions over the week.  This environment should be positive and encourage the players to focus on the areas they practiced in the week.

Each team you coach is different. Creating a plan is very important but maybe for a reason different than you think.  An organized plan makes it easier to change and adapt! If you have a plan for the season and what you want to accomplish from a learning perspective for your players it will be easier to modify after you analyze practices and games.  You must analyze the practices and see what the players are doing well and what they are struggling with, then develop a plan for the next training session. Over the season you end up with a pattern like below. 


Plan your session: What do you want to focus on during the week and how are you going to implement that? Do the activities create an environment that is similar to the game but provide repetition? 

Training Session:  Run the training session.  Create a learning environment where the players are practicing the concepts that you have designed. 

Analyze the training session:  Did the players learn what I thought they would learn? Why or why not? Was the practice game realistic? Do I need to modify for next time I teach this concept with this team? 

Plan for the game: What is the lineup I will use? What information do the players need before the game? What information during the game? Halftime team talk? Am I reiterating the concepts we learned during the week?  

Game: Manage the game. Encourage the players on the field and provide feedback when necessary but remember they are taking the test. Does the teacher stand beside your desk and say, "write the answer", "Add it up" or in a soccer setting "Shoot!" "Pass!" 

Analyze the Game: Review the game based on what you worked on during the week.  Did the players show competence in the areas they were trained at practice? What areas did the players excel and where did they show a lack of competence. 

Then the planning cycle starts again and you must plan the training sessions using information from the game.