Work out Your Objectives
What do you want to get out of the session? This is the number one consideration for me. I tend to structure my sessions around a goal. If it is a more advanced group, it might be concentrating on a specific scenario, or it could be a session where I try to stress them mentally, and see how they manage the pressure. Whatever it is, this guides the whole session, and is what I focus on throughout.
Whoever you are coaching, you will see lots of things that you want to work on. However, what’s really important is that you stay on task. If you give the athlete 10 completely different pieces of feedback, they probably won’t take any of them onboard. If you concentrate on 2 or 3 aspects, and consistently challenge the athletes on them, then the athlete has the chance to really hone in and focus on the task.
Build it up
If you go flying straight into an all-singing, all-dancing gameplay drill, then the likelihood is that the athletes will be thinking about lots of different things. I like to layer my trainings, beginning from something relatively simple and building up towards more game-like scenarios. Give them a chance to practise the skill in isolation, and then bring it into more and more game-like scenarios. You can often do this in games by structuring the drills-if you want to practise defence, why not say that the ‘serve’ is a spike, and then play on from there?
If a drill isn’t achieving what you want it to, or if someone extra turns up to training, then don’t be afraid to change things. It’s OK to make a drill simpler if the athletes aren’t practising exactly what you want them to; likewise, if they are finding it too easy, then move them on! Remember, you want to make your sessions engaging and fun-that way, the players will be more onboard with what you want them to do. It’s a skill to ‘read the room’, and see how the dynamics of the group are working, who is bored and needs pushing, and who is panicking because they are out of their depth. You will get a feel for it-just don’t be afraid to trust your gut and change things!
Get Feedback (and listen to it)
At the end of the day, reading the Fireblog is all well and good, but the biggest resource you have for growing your coaching is the players themselves. Don’t be afraid of asking them what they think. It will actually make the players feel more involved in training, and they definitely won’t tear you apart. Remember, criticism is just things to improve, like you give them when they are coaching. Be open to it, and you and the players can get better together.
Anything else you would add? I would love to hear it.