Organizing a Training Session

The match related phase is training the skill to be used in a game situation. Again progression can be used. For example adding a passive defender to a drill stimulates a game condition at its lowest level. Making the defender semi-active makes the skill more difficult. Adding an active defender makes the skill even harder.

Organization of a Practice Session

Practices can be organized into distinct phases. The NSCAA has defined these phases as:

  • Warm Up

  • Fundamental Phase

  • Match Related Phase

  • Match Condition Phase


Before anything else you need prior, proper preparation. This is sometimes called the 3 P’s.

Every practice should have a plan, even if it is some notes scribbled down on a piece of paper. Always have more things to practice than you can accomplish in the time allowed. There will be drills and activities that will not work. Be prepared to move on. Do not force a drill that is not working.

The coach should have definite rules for practices. It is a good idea to put these in writing at the beginning of the year. Have definite start and finish times. Always arrive 5-10 minutes early. It shows you are serious and sets an example for players and parents.

Always have equipment. This should include plates/cones, pinnies, and balls. Players should get in the habit of bringing their own ball to every session.

A good warm-up should be soccer specific, include exercises with a ball, and if possible, pertain to the day’s skill. Warm-ups can take any form you are comfortable with. Foot skills, coervers, agility training, 1 v 1’s are all possibilities. The purpose is to get muscles warm and players ready to safely practice.

Fundamental Phase

This is the phase which involves working on a basic skill. If it is a technical activity there is no pressure on the ball. The skill should be able to be broken down into different steps so players have a clear understanding of the entire process. The basic skill can be further divided into segments so that there is a progression from least difficult to the more difficult aspects of the skill. Tactical exercises always begin with some kind of possession play in the fundamental phase.


Match Related Phase   

 Match condition phase takes the match related phase into a scrimmage-like situation. Progression is used once again. For example, practicing team shape in a 3 v 1 exercise. Progressing to 3 v 2 and finally 3 v 3 extends the exercise. If passing was the skill of the day then awarding points for completed passes or combination passing, etc. may be stressed instead of goals scored.

Teaching Technique

In practice, especially with the younger levels, teaching proper technique is extremely important. The basic steps for teaching technique are as follows:

  • Introduction - Keep it Short

  • Demonstration - Break down step by step

  • Repeat Demonstration if necessary

  • Organize groups  

  • Time to practice

  • Individual and group correction

  • Perform under match conditions - small sided games stressing the day’s skill


Economical Training

Economical training is the concept of putting together 2 or more training ideas at the same time. For example, Physical conditioning is important. Instead of just running sprints or laps to build conditioning, combine them with ball handling drills so the skill is worked on at the same time as the conditioning. Another example is having children warm-up with a ball. They will get loose and also get multiple touches in at the same time.