Coaching can be interpreted as helping another person, or persons, improve in some aspect of their development. In the case of coaching a sport there are technical, strategic, mental and physical aspects which need to be addressed. In the case of soccer, due to the free flowing nature of the sport and the lack of intervention coaches can have on the game, the quality of the practice and the interaction between the coach and the players is of the highest importance. Generally coaches will deal with practices with the following in mind;

  1. Chronological and developmental age of the players. Certain aspects of the game need to be mastered by certain ages and youth coaches will design practices which address the needs of the players in a particular age group. These will be practices of a largely general nature which everyone will do as it is part of the developmental template for that age group. Young players will work a lot with the ball and play a lot of fun games. Older players may combine practice activities with conditioning.
  2. Addressing the issues raised by the play of the team, units or individuals in their last game or games. Issues like, lack of compactness, lack of width, poor defending may need to be addressed and improved in the next practice.
  3. Preparing for an upcoming opponent. Some coaches will use a practice, or part of a practice, to prepare for an upcoming opponent.
  4. Addressing general soccer issues which arise in the flow of the season. This would include practicing being a man down or man up, beating an offside trap, counter attacking, defending a counter attack etc.

Quality practices are inspiring to players and invigorating for coaches. There are few feelings like walking off the practice field after a good practice when everyone has pushed themselves, the players have successfully faced the challenges that the coach has set them and practice has finished with a competitive inner squad game. Steve Round, in this video clip gives us one aspect of the basic skills of coaching. Steve is, presently, the assistant manager at Everton FC and is one of the many bright young English coaches in the Premier League. I hope that your attendance at a Jeff Tipping Coaching Education Clinic will help inspire you to get the very best out of the players on your team.