A successful football team does not happen accidentally. It only occurs after both the team and the soccer coach have given much determination and thought. Time, organization and preparation are the key factors to developing a winning football team. The coach must instruct his players so that each individual is aware of his role within the team and has knowledge and understanding of the tasks and responsibilities of the other members of the team.
You can encourage development of this awareness in your team by following the ten easy steps listed below.
Create a profile for each position
Each position on the field requires its own skill and technical ability. To assist the players in fully understanding what is required of each role, draw up a list containing the necessary things each player must know in order to perform the requirements of each position.
Carry out regular assessments
Evaluate the abilities of your players to carry out the main attributes related to the position. Using a player assessment form, carry out an appraisal pinpointing areas needing improvement and agree the necessary actions.
Structure coaching sessions toward different skills
Spend some time planning your coaching sessions, putting players into situations where they are honing the necessary skills and techniques required for their position. For instance if the tactical awareness, communication skills and team cohesion of your defence need to be worked on, instigate a 4 v 8 match, where they are totally overworked and see just how many shots they are able to prevent.
Build up coaching sessions gradually
Coaching sessions should aim to develop progressively. Work on technique through toward skill, develop decision making using effective implementation of skill and gradually increase the pressure in sessions as players show improvement. This allows your players to aim for success instead of failure. Start with simple exercises, increasing the intensity and pace as you go along. This encourages motivation among players who see it as a challenge and shows them that training sessions really work.
Give your players constructive feedback
Players need to be regularly informed of their progress as part of their ongoing assessment. Ensure your feedback remains factual, on topic, easy to understand and focuses on how the player can improve. Give plenty of praise for positive attributes. Keep a balance and don’t offer negative feedback only.
Offer advice and guidance
During any coaching program there will always be errors made and occasional set backs. A good trainer will use such circumstances to assist the player in getting back on track. Consider what went wrong and understand that occasionally mistakes are made but identify positives in how errors can be minimised or eliminated. Use these errors when planning your structured coaching sessions.
Players need to be encouraged to think and act
When a player is inundated with negative feedback and his coach does not discuss with him or involve him in the analysis part of his assessment, he will not feel any encouragement or motivation to improve. Get the player involved, ask plenty of questions, discuss situations and share views with each other – and differences of opinion. A good player – coach relationship will only develop when both people concerned discuss honestly and objectively both the positives and negatives.
Encourage role models
There are more soccer matches now on television than ever before, with junior and youth team players watching many of these games. Make use of this powerful visual media by asking players to try to be like the stars. If they see the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldhino, Adu or John Terry performing well, they will be much more enthusiastic to emulate it. Ask your players to watch particular matches on television and analyse contributions, work rates, tackles won, closing down, free kicks conceded, etc.
Praise any progress
If you spot a player making a positive contribution, praise him for it. All too often, a coach will notice a player making a mistake and nag him about it, which isn’t very motivating for the player. Provide plenty of encouragement, support self-expression, stimulate creativity and see your players flourish.
When a player is aware he is improving, he will remain motivated and continue progressing. However, this is only possible if his improvement is measured. When setting goals with your players, decide the factors to be used as measures; this could include clean sheets kept, goals scored, tackles won, possession regained or shots on target.
By following these ten key steps, players will appreciate what their position entails and will be aware of how it corresponds with other roles in the team. Once this happens, you will see much better organisation, a higher standard of play, increased confidence and a much-improved game of soccer.