It is vital to get as much benefit as possible out of each coaching session. To assess performance levels and improvement, it’s necessary to observe your squad playing both as a team and individually, noting technical expertise and tactical skills. To ensure you get the full benefit out of observing your players, follow the four tips listed below.
Know what to watch out for
If you’re out on the practice pitch, unsure what to focus on or the session is not going how you anticipated, then almost certainly you need to work on your pre training planning. The coaching session should be well prepared, organized and comprehensive, covering all the essential training objectives. Use these key training objectives as the starting point for your observations.
Don’t attempt to watch the whole pitch
If you’re watching all the players intently, both on and off the ball, you’ll undoubtedly see many minor errors. These need to be rectified, however, it’s important to stay focused on the aims of this particular coaching session and keep to the key training objectives associated with it. In essence, errors need corrected but don’t get sidetracked from the main purpose of the session.
Ensure useful feedback
This is possibly the most crucial aspect in any method of soccer training and development. Once it has been established that errors have been made or training objectives have not been followed, you need to consider the best way of getting this across to the players or player concerned.
In this situation, it’s tempting to halt play and then re-create the action. This however, is frustrating to other players within the team, particularly if they are not involved or have just taken possession of the ball. Therefore, any stoppages you make should be suitably timed and appropriate. To do this you need to consider the best coaching method for the situation.
Sometimes allowing play to carry on will be the most suitable option. Take one player off the pitch for sideline coaching, before putting him back into the game. Other times it will be necessary to halt the action and re-create what has just happened. When this occurs, always halt the play immediately and reproduce the play exactly as it happened, as accurately as possible.
Reinforce your coaching point and ask questions about the scenario so the players gain an understanding of the point you are trying to get across. Don’t spend longer than necessary on this and get the session started again as quickly as possible.
Technical and skill analysis
Be aware of the differences between skill and technique. A technique is regarded as the ability to perform a specific action with the ball, away from match conditions and free from any pressure. A skill is having the judgement of when and where to use the technique during a game and performing it whilst under match pressure.
If you wish to practice technique in your training session, players need to have ball possession and if it’s skill you’re honing, your squad need a purpose and an opposition.
Excellent observation is a vital skill for successful coaching. Just as your soccer squad must show ability and skill for the training exercises and games, you must be able to demonstrate excellent observation skills. Keep the four points listed above in mind whilst coaching your players.