Soccer IQ Academy has been growing very fast and we experienced the need for more coaches. SIQ owners, Azary, Yura, and Tolya, always look for high-quality coaches but we also always explain and show new coaches SIQ WAY of running a soccer session. Below, coach Tolya discusses SIQ way of running any soccer activity/drill.
First of all - each activity should have a well-defined objective which manifests in 1-2 (3 maximum) main coaching points that players need to learn. So the coaching points are the most important aspect which coach must have in his head before starting the activity. At SIQ we often need to coach very different age and level groups so if we understand the coaching points we can change either some rules and space of the activity or at times it is ok to completely change the activity as long as the new activity addresses the same coaching points (but might be more suitable for specific level).
Once again, we are fine if the coach changes/modifies the activity as long as the key coaching points are the same as in the initial activity.
Now the players come, the coach explains the rules (not coaching points - only rules!) and the activity starts. We always recommend observing for 1-2min how the activity goes (these are the only two minutes in the session when the coach can be quiet).
The objective is to make conditions of the activity that players are not successful unless they do the main technical/tactical coaching points correctly.
A) if the activity goes well in the first couple of minutes and players are constantly successful then this is BAD for the coach as the players are not learning anything - they already executing it very well. The coach must check a few different aspects:
- are the dimensions/conditions/rules of the activity are correct and appropriate for the level?
- is the activity and coaching points are proper for the level of players?
For example, if top-level 16 years old players play 4v1 monkey in the middle in the square 20x20 they will keep the monkey for a long time not because they are so good but because they should probably play 4v2 and in 8x8 square.
The coach needs to change/modify the activity so that the success rate should be around 50%
B) activity doesn't go well - players fail more often than succeed. The first question the coach needs to ask is WHY?
Is it because conditions are not appropriate? (make 5 years old kids play 4v2 in 8x8 square is again a wrong set up and the coach must change it).
If the conditions are good, and activity is appropriate for the age/level then the reason players are not successful must be that they don't perform certain actions properly and these must be your coaching points.
(Sometimes it is not the case and players are not successful because they fail in the area different from the focus of coaching points but this usually goes back to the question if the activity is appropriate to the level of players)
C) So now it is the coach's job to pick the right moment or two to explain the main coaching points (the coach can freeze the activity if he/she wants to) and then within the next 5-8min reinforce these points but now without stopping the activity.
Now we hope the success rate goes up to target 70-75% and now the real coaching begins. The coach needs to figure out how to change the activity so that the success level drops again and players work at the top of their abilities to be successful. It can be done by adding some new rules, by changing conditions (for example by making the field smaller), or often by demanding defenders to increase the level of pressure. Very often at this time coach needs to forget about coaching points and start to coach only the opposition (for example in 4v2 Rondo coaching those 2 players in the middle how to press, the intensity of the press, the arc of the run, how to prevent the split, etc.).
The objective is to push players to perform those soccer concepts that were taught at the level of maximum pressure. So we have to make the activity that players are not successful unless they do the main technical/tactical coaching points correctly and then increase the intensity to push them to the limit and to teach the players to execute concepts correctly under high pressure to be ready to do it in a real game.
All these steps usually take way more than one practice, that's why it is very surprising when to see coaches doing totally different activities every practice (except warmup - which is in most cases such a waste of time but that's a different topic)! When training a team, I usually ran maximum 4-5 different activities in one week (4 training sessions) - the idea is not to familiarize players with different concepts but to teach players execute these concepts very quickly and under high pressure.
Very often we hear coaches saying after the game "we have been working on this concept the entire last week and yet players keep making the same mistakes". Well, I guess instead of implying that players don't learn, the coach should question whether his/her teaching/coaching was actually productive. I still remember the phrase that one of the greatest minds of coaching, Marcelo Bielsa, once said: "If the coach asks the players to do something they have been training for, but they are not yet able to execute it, the coach must take responsibility".