Time with Players

Lesson 3 Chapter 1 Module 2

We have three types of session with the lads. In this page I'll discuss each type of session and how we use them to develop the four corners.

Wednesday Afternoons

We have practice on the astro-turf every Wednesday afternoon.  It's usually a bit of a rush getting from work to collect my son and the kit so we'll typically arrive at 4:15pm which is when we ask the lads to arrive, though many will be there closer to 4:30pm. 

‚ÄčWednesdays we start at 4:15pm and have the slot till 5:30pm. Reality is that at 4:15pm the lads are given a ball to set up their own little match while I set up cones for the first activity. The lads arrive between 4:15 and 4:30pm and love this time because they can just play football without any pressure or instruction. 

Arrival Activity

I know some would say this "Arrival Activity" could be more geared towards the session goals but the lads look forward to practice all day and this is often the most creative play they'll get to express in the session. 

Once I've setup I do come and check that all the lads are participating and getting lots of touches on the ball.  

Activity 1

Practice starts properly at 4:30pm or when we have 10 lads. We typically run two activities then a small sided match at the end. We'll always discuss the focus/outcome and how it relates to our recent performances. 

The first activity is often more constrained than the second activity. It's often in more of a grid setup or a game with a layout which doesn't really resemble a football pitch so less specific but allowing lots of repetition and opportunities to pause for a quick discussion. 

The purpose of this is to make it obvious what we want the lads to focus on during the session and to give them lots of opportunities to perform the type of play or technique we've discussed. 

We'll often have multiple balls in the activity so players get more touches and opportunities to practice the skills.

Activity 2

Activity 2 is often played as a half court or full court match but with certain constraints or points awarded to encourage types of play. There is a lot more running involved so the lads have to think while they're under physical pressure. 

There are usually just two teams in these matches so each is asked to go and discuss their tactics after the rules are explained. I'll then have a quick chat with one of the teams, usually the weaker one or the one who's starting out with the in possession or out of possession focus of the session. 

The other team is asked to report back their tactics with me just before the activity starts. 

This approach means the lads are less likely to mess around between the team talk and the match. They're often excited to tell me what they discussed which is great to hear. 

Activity 3/Small Sided Match

This will always be full pitch, usually 5 aside but sometimes 7-aside if we have 12 or more players. I want our team to be fit and playing a fast brand of football so typically spend more time encouraging the lads to get the ball in quick and think faster than the opposition. 

If one team is being outplayed then I will have a little team talk with them on the way back from pulling the ball out of their net. I'll often use this as an opportunity to reference something we've worked on in the past which I think could help them win the match. Whether we discuss the session focus will very much depend on how the game is going and what the focus is. 

Saturday Practices

When we've run Saturday practices we've often managed to get on to a marked up 5 aside pitch which is perfect for the 10-12 lads we'll typically have along. 

These sessions are good in that we don't have to wait to get off the pitch at a certain time and some of the lads will often kick around after the session.  

The structure is fairly similar to Wednesdays but we'll often have a more constrained arrival activity because we're set up by the time most players arrive and can dedicate a coach or two. 


On Match-days we typically have the lads arrive around 20-30mins before kick-off. This gives us a chance to take the lads through a warm up with some dribbling & passing, possession games and shots on goal. 

I want the lads properly warmed up so they can push the pace from kickoff and hopefully catch the opposition short of breath. The lads just want to play football so are happy to start playing warm up games as soon as they arrive. 

We'll always have a 5 minute chat before kickoff so they get that time to recover from their warm up. 

We have a goal keeper coach who takes the keepers for warm up before the match. He does some work with them on Wednesdays but given the keepers also play in the field we try not to let them miss out on the technical/tactical activities. 

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