9th Session: End of Off-Season

I finally had a full squad this Tuesday. Thirteen players plus one trialing. So now I can say that my off-season is finished. Judging from last year’s fixtures I’ll have a 6 week pre-season. From now on we can start working on the proper shaping of the team. I’ve never had an introductory team speech with the squad, stating all I want and all I expect from my players. I’ll prepare a team talk carefully.

I don’t think the team achieved much improvement during the off-season, but it served me to know the players and to have a valuable experience on how to run sessions again, which I haven’t done in a while. All of that enlightened by a mountain of new football knowledge from all my latest readings.

Yesterday I planned a Cooper Test (12 min of continuous run), and once again I learned from my mistakes. I tried to keep track of everyone’s laps and it’s a virtually impossible task when the overlaps start. So I’ll repeat it next week, this time filming the start line to keep track of the players. Even though the test didn’t work, the fitness state of the players was shocking. Most of them were outpuffed before 5 minutes. I don’t want to create endurance runners but they are way below the minimum acceptable aerobic power.

It’s always said that we shouldn’t do pure conditioning sessions but I completely disagree. Not only I can incorporate those practices during off-season, but I can also encourage the players to run during their off-days.

This is the golden age of technical learning but also for endurance conditioning. It’s also a great type of practice to ingrain the resilience required to resist to those efforts. I can and will create different conditioning practices that also involve the ball, but the fact is: fitness is overlooked and I feel it’s not being properly approached after puberty in the football environments in Australia.

After the test I ran a poor 5v5+2 possession game while I was getting ready for the positional practice. I couldn’t do much else since Thursday’s training is a little shorter (I have to run quickly to the academy where I teach dance). But it was a good session where I had all my defenders and midfielders against mids and front third (8v6) and I could start positioning them.

It was good overal, except for the positioning of my right CB who was too wide most of the time. Also, the midfield tended to sit too close to the back line, squishing the back four towards our goal. Number 6 came too many times close to our center backs. When our goal keeper has the ball my opinion at the moment is that our CDM should start high, so we can create a rotation that allows us to have free men in the middle to get out from the back.

In the practice, lots of interesting things happened. Movements from the full backs into the center, center backs going high to receive the ball (which I don’t like, although I don’t mind them running with the ball to push forward.

Once again I had two goals wide but I might introduce a third one in the center on our next session so that the mids are encouraged to stay higher to spread the opposition. I think in the next session I can also start thinking about our pressing system, giving our attackers basic information about that to do to chase the ball high up the field.

The diagram shows what happened: The square is the are that should have been covered by the mid-trio.


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