In Thursday’s session I started the session with a longer team talk. It’s something that I haven’t been doing in a while and I’ll definitely do in every sessin from now on: Team-talk and a cool down after training where I can again talk to my players. Those are tiny but important moments where you get to emphasize the team’s philosophy and assess the session with the players. And also build more rapport with them.
The first exercise of the day was 16min of continuous running with goals from each side. It’s a tiny task, but at the same time I’m working on the long balls and making a running exercise less boring. I strongly believe that at this age group continuous running is important to build long-term endurance and mental resilience. I wouldn’t spend much time doing it, obviously. But some of my players would get tired after 5 minutes of running. It’s unnaceptable. There should be a minimum aerobic platform upon which the players can work. How am I gonna ask my players to press during all game if they can’t keep running?
The next activity was again an end-zone game. I shortened the space and limited the number of touches at some point, forcing the players to run more off the ball to give options to their team mates. After a few minutes the activity was very intense. All they just need a higher cognitive challenge to work harder. It’s the job of the coach to provide this environment. Many players at this age will just relax if the task is not challenging enough.
The last part of the session was a 9v5 positioning activity. I had my goal keeper in specific training so I was the goal keeper. One can see so much more of the team’s dynamics from inside the field! Specially the distance between the players and the shape of the team horizontally. One of my defenders, a player that wasn’t with Olympic last year is still very raw positionally and won’t “hold the line” very often. He has so much fun playing football that sometimes he just doesn’t care about team tasks at all.
This activity also showed me how we’re missing attacking patterns activities. I think the team has a decent organization in defense and mid-field at the moment but the combinations in the final third are still poor. Even in a 9v5 the attacking team struggled to keep the ball and create chances. I’ll certainly step in this week to increase our attacking power.
Once again we finished the session with a shooting activity. This time I had one player combining and had manequins as a back line. Offside would apply so that the players would have to time their runs. Later on I added a third man run.
I wrapped up the session with stretching and informing the players about our next commitments: internal training game against U14 NPL on Friday, Sunday game against U15 Div 3 (should be a nice challenge against bigger, stronger boys) and another weekend game against U14 Div 2.