What is your #1 priority when running a soccer club?
This is is a question that I am asked regularly when discussing soccer. My #1 priority is the player. Because this is my priority, there are now other important factors to consider. What are your coaches like? What is your culture? What are your facilities like? Do you have a long-term development plan? In truth, a lot goes into the structure within a soccer academy. Firstly, you need to surround yourself with the right people. People that believe in working together.
On this site, I will share some of the things that I consider when planning a practice session. I will also share some different session plan examples from my time coaching at Preston North End FC, Foothills SC, and FC Portland.
Once you have the right people working with you, it's now about the practice sessions. Your practice must be engaging, game-related, purposeful and this will make it fun for the players. Each practice should promote and develop the style you want to implement in your club/team and provide a clear picture to your players. They need to know what you are working on. They need to understand their role within the team and the problems they must solve/overcome within the game to be successful. If players encounter performance problems and have the freedom (and help from the coach) to find answers, you are going to create decision-makers, and that is your goal.
When planning a session, I think about the following:
Who is in the session and what is the age of the players?
At my first practice with new players, I allow them to play. Watching them play will allow me to work on future practice plans.
Once I have encountered an area for improvement, I now concentrate on who is the main focus?
The key player or players are involved in the practice.
What do they need to work on?
Don’t always look at action areas or weaknesses, players need to continue to practice their strengths and try to make them even better. I try to make the exercise the teacher. The conditions of the practice will force the actions required.
What are we working to improve on?
I want to improve efficiency and understanding in a certain aspect of the game and areas of the field.
What is the state of the group?
What is the ability level? What is their emotional level? How will that impact my planning and communication?
Whom do we play next?
I keep an eye on our next match.
Would I enjoy being in this practice session?
I visualize what the practice session looks like.
I do hope that the session plans on the site will help you and your players. If you would like to discuss a development plan for your club, visit our club blueprint page.