Nothing is more important than to base the soccer training on the rules of the ideal training planning and organisation (Children and Youth Soccer).
But in practice, is it really enough? No!
It is not sufficient if you manage it to organize your training diversified and interesting. Always the same procedures and constant repetitions will reduce the training participation very quickly.
But always keep in mind, that just children need repetitions and rules. They love rituals but they also love surprises. Therefore please plan your training properly and review the contents constantly and critically.
© Frédéric Prochasson - Fotolia.com
But is it possible to offer a diversified training without neglecting your teaching aims? What exactly can you vary?
A training unit consists of the following factors:
Let’s question every single bullet point, since every factor can be organized differently. It is easier to vary some of them, but others are more difficult.
Please don’t get me wrong: There is no need to plan something special every single week. Regarding the bullet points “time” and “place” it is more than enough to do something special one or two times a season.
Let’s start with the time. The training should always start at the same time and the length of the training is always the same. I suggest not to change too often the time, since it causes organisational problems for every participant (trainer, club, parents, players).
What about weekend training or special training for single players before or after training? As trainer of children and teenagers please do not use this as penalty (!) but as reward or just to compensate deficiencies in capability. In general, it is popular with children and teenagers to offer them extra training units with unusual drills and games. The curiosity towards the next training will ensure a high participation.
The place is always related to the time. It does not have to be always the soccer ground of the club. It is good fun to relocate the training to the beach, the common soccer ground, the forest or the swimming pool.
The precondition for that is that you clarify all legal and insurance-related issues beforehand.
The training aims can be pursuited even at these places. Coordination or technique drills can be done everywhere. You could plan a fitness unit for the seniors, for example.
Just give free rein to your imagination. Pylons, loops, sticks or a coordination ladder can be used everywhere. In nature, you will always find natural utilities to organize an interesting training. You only need to do a good planning and visit the place before in order to be not caught off guard.
Tip: If you relocate the training of a kids’ team, look for a place where already some other children are. Choose the place smartly and you can probably motivate other children to join your team.
3. Weather conditions
In our latitudes, we often have difficulties with the planning of the training due to the weather.
Basically, the training should never be cancelled, therefore always be prepared for a theory unit. Many clubs offer a common room. A coach board is basic equipment and should be available to every trainer.
Use the time for conversation and for the collection of ideas. It might be a good idea for Youth teams to do communication games or party games if the weather is extreme, because at least they are good for the team building. The kids could bring their favorite games and play in small groups. Such measures are often much more useful than a normal training unit. I recommend avoiding always any risk of boredom if you stay indoors with the team. Your team must be happy to participate in the training, even with bad weather.
And again: With a little bit of imagination you can include the sprinkler or a snowman in your program.
4. Training participation
Some experience or very good preparation is needed if you want to modify your training at short hand accordingly to an unusual participation.
Everybody has already experienced that: You are prepared and suddenly more or less players are participating the training. To avoid you stumbling through the whole training, you should amend your plan to this unforeseen participation. Again the basic rule: Never cancel a training. If the participation is unexpected high, form smaller groups, announce competitions or, if you cannot think of anything else, let them do a tournament.
If the participation is unexpected low, I can recommend fun training. The team will talk about that and just children and teenagers will try not to miss any training in the future. The players shall regret that they missed this training. The given situation can be also used as single training for the seniors.
5. Content (preparation, main part, finish)
The easiest way to organize a varied program, is the content of the training. It is not just boring to repeat soccer drills, but it is also damaging.
Bernhard Peters (Advisor of German Soccer Federation and sport director at Hoffenheim) said: …” one of the most important training principles is variation. If I always practice the same drills: Direct shots on Wednesday from three o’clock until half past three in always the same three variations, I can’t be surprised about the result of the weekend…”
By the way: Peter is referring to training for adults. A diversified training is not just more fun, ensures also a major quality of soccer skills. And this is applicable for every age.
I am using the example “Passing on the ball”. There are countless drills which you can choose from, depending on the capability of your team. Your team could train passing for years, without repeat an soccer drill. Of course, there are drills which are more effective than others and they are therefore done more often, but think about it if probably your standard drills can be varied. You could include more balls or obstacles in your training and there will be more variation in training routine of the team.
As trainer of children it is important not only to offer the drills as “training”. For every unit, you could think about a nice, children-suitable story to bring some excitement into it. Cowboys, Indians, knights, police or fire fighters and other adventures let every practicing become a highlight. The ball could be a treasure, a cannon ball or an animal. It is easier for the kids to remember the drills and they can repeat them more easily.
6. Training facilities
A good tool to vary the training routine is the clever use of facilities. The more material your club is providing the better. It is getting interesting if you are using unusual objects or you put accents in the setting.
In the senior team the main focus is on the extensive use of training facilities. In the Youth team, a good and imaginative setting supports the training.
It does not have to be always the same trainer. A new face, specialized on certain training elements, brings fresh air into the training. Probably you know a fitness trainer or another trainer of your club takes over the goal keeper training or technique training. The announcement of a special training unit will be cause for high participation. In return you could take over the training of another team. Introducing one or two times per season another trainer and you will be one step further on your way to organize the training more interesting.
You finally made it when your players really want to participate in your training because they do not want to miss anything.
To design a training program is one thing, but it is much more difficult and time-consuming to organize it diversified. It means more time exposure and many trainers cannot provide this. I just wanted to make you think about what options you have, but you have to decide in the end.