Get your teams to play as a country and give them a scenario that happened in the tournament. For example, “You’re one-nil down with ten minutes to go, can you take the game to extra-time?”. Then, add in computer-game-inspired elements, and allow players to ‘pause’ the match and change their tactics. This promotes the idea of planning their next move.
When using pauses, allocate a set number per game (e.g. four). This limitation helps your team pay attention to what’s happening. It encourages them to observe the opposition and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
During pauses, offer special rules that your players can introduce. Here are some great examples:
- Cheat - use VAR to cancel out a goal scored by the opposition.
- Challenge - accept a challenge such as playing in a smaller space.
- Clue - ask the coach to help you.
- Change - change an aspect of the practice design to your advantage.
For visibility, write these options on a whiteboard. Once a team has used a rule, they can’t use it again and they can only use one per pause. This means the players must strategise and discuss what to use and when.
It’s worth remembering that winning at a grassroots level isn’t the be-all and end-all. Coaches have a role in helping players think strategically to be successful – and this is an approach that can help.