My team is a mix of ability and interest levels. They have fun at practices and games and have played together for a long time. They aren’t really winning games, but they keep coming back. Should I be worried about wins? Should I be pushing them more?
Lee – Start off by asking them what they want. Get to know each individual on their own level and why they play. Create an individual development plan for each player. We talk all the time about creating life-long lovers of the game and if that’s the core of your team, and they’re having fun regardless, then you’re right on target.
It will also help you to gauge their interest in being ‘pushed’ into more competition. This will include things like supplemental training at camps/clinics and then training at home too.
For your own peace of mind, and to not let wins/losses become the only factor in a season, try our curriculum. The plans are based around small-sided games, so the players get to play more, and they connect the training theme to the game at the weekend.
– This means that you can set objective goals to measure success in the game, instead of just focusing on ‘winning’.
Example – The small-sided game in training week 1 challenges the blue team to dribble into an end zone. So in the game on the weekend, our challenge for the players is to dribble (over halfway? past an opponent? Into open space?) and then we can objectively count for success.
When my players get into the game they seem intimidated. They panic with the ball a lot, but in practice, they can pass and keep possession. Do you have any tips or tricks for helping with this?
Lee – Lots of ideas on this one, but the first and most important point, I think is to draw a connection between practice and the game.
Does your team keeping possession/passing in practice look like it does in the game?
Do you play 6v2 in practice? And if so, is that all you do? I think most players look ‘good’ and can handle a 6v2, but in a game they play 7v7/9v9/11v11 and a 6v2 might only happen once in a game and for a second or two.
The same question, but for ‘passing’. Do you have the players working on passing patterns (A pass to B, B dribbles and passes to C, whilst A runs around behind C and get the ball to score) without defenders or in a strict pattern? If so, you might not ever see this ‘pattern’ present itself in the game and so everything the players have become familiar with is disconnected from the environment that they are supposed to perform it in.
So, you might end up with panicked kicking of the ball or players that don’t want to play. Much like the point above, how connected in your practice to the game? If you play a 3v3 with a focus on dribbling into the opponent’s half, then use that as an objective measurement for the next game – now the players have a connection from practice to the game. Build from there.
That’s it for this week – two great subjects to get your teeth into!
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