Coaching The Coaches, Rehan Mirza on ‘How to build in progression during your session’

By Rehan Mirza, UEFA B licence and Coach, Centre of Excellence, Notts County FC.

It was a strange couple of weeks for me. On two consecutive Sundays, I was present at Newcastle United FC academy and Nottingham Forest FC academy for the purpose of learning via the English football association. In essence, all participating coaches were learning the process of coaching the younger and older age groups to discuss what is important when leading a session. The outcomes of what you have prepared for your session should always be met. This made me think of how it could help coaches when preparing their sessions in Pakistan.

When coaching, especially amongst younger age groups, we work on their technique. This could be basic ball control, passing, shooting etc. There are numerous ways of coaching this and it would be at the discretion of the coach to demonstrate/teach this. This would be an un-opposed situation. However, we cannot simply focus just on techniques on the ball as there would need to be a progression. To establish a good technique on the ball, we would need to apply this as part of a skill session. So, where we teach a technique on the ball (shoot, pass, dribble, turn etc) we can then apply this with perhaps a 1v1, 2v1 situation. This works best with the younger age groups as players let their instinct take over. They have now applied their techniques in an opposed situation. This can be progressed further where team mates are part of the session i.e. a small sided game, drill, phase of play, etc.

When coaching techniques on the ball with adults, we would be fine tuning what they have learned as an adolescent. It would be hard to teach a novice at the age of 20 to kick, run, shoot or dribble with the ball as these are techniques that should have been developed when they are 5-11. However, a variety of techniques can be applied to make them more useful during game situations. This could be improving such techniques with speed, agility or better vision. These techniques are practised un-opposed. Again, it is at the discretion of the coach to plan for the outcomes of the session and decide what is relevant. These techniques would then be applied in an opposed situation for using them in a skills practice e.g., dribbling with the ball past a defender.

To demonstrate in a session:

Technique – dribbling with the ball in a 10×10 area keeping the ball close. Performing a variety of turns and change of speed.

Skill – (3 players) 2 players, each at one end of a 10×20 yard area and a 3rd player acting as a defender standing in the central part of the area. Each player from the end zone has to dribble the ball past the defender using a variety of techniques.

Small sided game – In an 8v8 game, the players in wide areas challenge the opposition full backs by running at them using a variety of techniques.

As a coach at the Nott’s County centre of excellence, it is at the discretion of all us coaches to coach what is relevant for the monthly topics (defending, attacking, passing etc). Of course, we have to coach what is also relevant to the understanding of the players. Like any session, there should be some form of progression during the session for the participants to sustain steady progress. As a coach, it would be an idea to plan a session on the basis of working from a technique, to a skill and then applying it in a small sided game, drill etc. This way, it would be easier for a coach to identify steady progress and relevant outcomes of the session.