Top tips: adding variety to your coaching sessions

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Delivering coaching sessions that are different to what you have done before requires an element of risk-taking. Here, FA county coach developer, Danny Fenner, encourages you to provide your players with a variety of new experiences by breaking from the norm.
Vary your practice designFA coaching courses provide an insight into a variety of practice designs including: arrival activities, whole, part, whole sessions, as well as constant, variable and random practices. But how many of these do you use over the course of a season? In order to engage and motivate your players each work be brave and try different types of practice design. You might not want to try a whole session that is different - instead just experiment with a small part to start with.

Play gamesWe all know that players love to play games at training. 4v4 games, line ball and other small-sided games are all ways of engaging your players at training. Always consider the learning focus when delivering a game and the team and individual challenges that will help you achieve your objective.

For example, the learning focus for the evening might be playing forward quickly and the constraint on the match: play with one touch or four or more touches.

Player-led tournaments.Playing tournaments at training is a great opportunity to challenge the players in the social corner. A player-led tournament can help the players work on their teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. Read more about using tournaments at training here.

Other sports Playing other sports at training - particularly during the summer months - is a great way to help the players develop their physical skills. Young players will enjoy the challenge of trying new sports whilst developing their movement skills. It can also be a great way of developing social skills. Have a go at incorporating tag-rugby, basketball or netball into your sessions - what are the transferable skills to football?

Different positions and tacticsUse training games to allow players to play in different positions and formations. Give the players different roles and responsibilities - including goalkeeper - than they would have at your normal weekend games. You might just be surprised at what you find out about certain individuals.

Variety of agesIf you train at the same venue as another age-group at your club explore opportunities of mixing the groups or moving players to train with different groups. If considered and planned appropriately there are lots of benefits across the four corners for challenging players to train with different age-groups. Socially and psychologically there are lots of benefits. It can also demonstrate club unity and support.

Social corner development Across the course of a season there should be opportunities to swap a training session for a social event. For example, you might take the group bowling and then for food afterwards. Such events can be a great opportunity for players to express themselves outside football and help them develop life skills and experiences that might help them in the future.

Winter programme When the weather gets bad consider moving training indoors. Not only will the change of environment provide the players with a new challenge, but it will also give you lots of opportunities to deliver a variety of activities. Futsal is a perfect indoor activity to challenge your group.

Have fun
Not every part of your coaching programme has to be serious. If done in the right way, at the right time, humour can add some fun and laughter to training sessions.

The above article is based on a presentation at the 2019 United Soccer Coaches convention.

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