Westfield Soccer Association

Build Up of a Practice Session

Weekly Coaches Email 9/24


Hope all is well.
You are all aware that I spent a lot of time during the weekends to attend games and practice sessions. My main goal is to get familiar with all our programs and get to know the many volunteer coaches that help us run our programs. By means of these emails I would like to give you all access to different resources that can help you when planning your practice sessions or when you get ready for games.
In this email I would like to briefly discuss how to build up a practice session. 
1 - When planning a session it is very important to pick a topic that not only fit the needs of the players you are working with, but is also age appropriate. If we force young players to play the adult version of the game to quickly they might not develop and in the end loose out on good opportunities to become better players. 
To better understand the needs of our players I would like to refer you all to our WSA curriculum which is available online in our coaches corner.
2 - When you prepare a session it is also very important to stay on topic. Players need to not only be given the opportunity to learn a new skill or technique, but also how to apply them in game situations. In the end we want our players to be able to make the right decisions on the ball, so we have to create the right environment for them to practice this.
By building up a session you can increase the pressure and demands placed on the players while they are given the opportunity to continue to work on what we started to work on in the beginning of practice.

I found a quote not to long ago that explains this well.
" A technical player can perform an action on demand. A skillful player, however, can perform the technique under pressure".
If we only practice certain skills without pressure players might be able to dribble by a cone, but they will never be able to apply it in to a game situation.
3 - Below an example build up for a session with the focus on developing the players dribbling skills. We not only want players to develop these skills, but also understand when and how to utilize these skills under pressure.
Part 1 - Technical Warm Up
During the warming up we can address the different techniques of how to dribble the ball and work on a few moves players can use to beat a defender.
Part 2 - Main Theme 1 
1v1 Line Dribbling
Players are constantly forced to get around the defender to score a goal. By not including small goals players can't shoot the ball from far out and are forced to take on the defender they are playing.
Part 3 - Main Theme 2 
2v2 Line Dribbling
Players are now given the the opportunity to explore when they should try to take on a defender and when to pass the ball to their teammate. You continue to encourage players to take on the opponent when in 1v1 situation occurs.
Part 4 - Conditioned Game
3v3 / 4v4 - You are only allowed to pass the ball backwards
Players are given the opportunity to play the game, but by putting a condition on the game they are still working on the technique/skill worked on in the previous exercises. 
Part 5 - "Free Play"
Without any conditions players are given the  opportunity to play, but you will encourage the player on the ball to go 1v1 when the right opportunity comes around.
As you can see the topic has stayed the same throughout practice while the demands placed on the players changed. 

I would like to encourage you all to check the link attached as well. This is a document coming from US Youth Soccer that can help you understand how to work out a session plan. It gives you the items to consider before you actually go out and run your sessions.You can also find it in our coaches ' corner on the WSA website.


As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out to me.

Thank you

Ruben Vloedgraven
Director of Coaching - Westfield Soccer Association