The following is an excerpt from The Ultimate Youth Coaches Training Guide; A Complete 6 to 10 Year Old Developmental Coaching and Training Program.
This 750 page program is perfect for youth coaches wanting practices to start their soccer coaching education and it is also for those more advanced and experienced coaches wanting to train their players as best they can at these wonderful open minded ages for development and education of both the mind and body. Our plan is to help all coaches at whatever level of experience they are at. Find Out More
Using Learning Theory to Influence Practice
Short Term Learning and Performance
Greatest short term learning and performance gains comes from practice that is high in repetition, specific to the skill required (practicing that one particular technique), uses blocked (repetitive) practice that involves few decisions.
This type of practice will demonstrate the greatest short term gains in performance but is necessary to increase the likelihood of long term learning.
Practicing ball control and manipulation many times over in a designated area without competition; as we do with the younger players is an example of this short term learning. This builds confidence and helps performance. Introduce competition slowly.
Long Term Learning and Performance
Greatest gains in long term learning and improved performance come from practices involves more free play, uses variable practice conditions, and involves making many decisions.
Developing the previous example of ball control and manipulation here, in an area with “opposed” practice, where decisions need to be made as to when, where and how to use the ball.
Hence we need to start players at an early age using the practices pertaining to the Short Term Learning model and as they develop as players introduce practices related to the Long Term Learning Model.
Short Term Training Problems
Short term performance objective practices can lead to de-motivation (boredom) if overdone. Appropriate challenges and variety are needed. To avoid this boredom factor, practices that are more game contextual i.e. situated in appropriate game areas but still involving repetition, will be more motivating. Players can see the relevance in the game to the movements.
The practices I have created involve a little competition which is designed to keep the players motivated and avoid the boredom factor setting in, such as: how many step over turns can a player do in a minute?
This involves more practice and less coaching interventions as these practices can be designed to run automatically with minimal interference from the coach.
Practices can vary from blocked repetition to more random free play but in repetitive form, 2 v 1’s for example, a lot of repetition with a 2 v 1 overload but variety and free play in as much as making decisions and having options within the repetitive practices.
A by-product of repetitive, little coach intervention practice is that specific fitness qualities improve depending on the type, intensity and frequency of the practice.
Short Term Learning Model
- Repetition of the Same Techniques - Specific Practices Using These Techniques
- Few Decisions Needed to Be Made in These Practices
- Introduce a Competitive Element Slowly When the Players Have Overlearnt the Specific Techniques so they Can Gain Success
- Keep It Interesting to Avoid Boredom
- Introduce Overload Games and Then Small Sided Games to Bridge the Gap Between the Two Forms of Learning
Long Term Learning Model
- Introducing Free Play – Game Situations Also
- Using Different Themes in Practice
- Increasing the Number of Decisions Needing to Be Made
- Reverting Back to Short Term Practices Periodically to Further Cement These Techniques to Continue the Long Term Development of the Players
This Is a Breakdown of the Coaching and Training That Goes with Each Session
- Session Plan Checklist
- Warm Ups
- Individual Session Plan Theme
- Small-Sided Games
- Fast Footwork and Coordination
- Cool Down (Same as The Warm Up Though at a Slower Pace)
As the coach you can do them in any order you may want to change the small-sided game to after the warm up but before the theme, or the fast footwork do it at the beginning when they are fresh. This above is just the usual order sessions are run.