As a coach, how do you select the activities you use during your training sessions? This is an important and often overlooked portion of player development as we are interested in creating players that can actually perform in the game…not players that can master the coaches drills.
Are you one of the following?
- The coach that creates the training session in the car on the way to the practice.
- The coach that uses drills their coach used with them when they were a player.
- The coach that finds and uses a professional training session found on the internet.
The above mentioned methods of planning could allow the coach to find success for some of the teams or some of the players in which they work with, but it is not sustainable over time for everybody within the groups. These methods of planning are haphazard at best and the players we work with truly deserve better.
Activity selection has multiple questions that have to be considered when deciding upon the structure of the training session. Some of these questions include:
- How old are the participants?
- What part of the season will this training session be happening?
- How many hours will I be able to work with the participants throughout the week?
- What is the commitment level of the participants in the training session?
- What is your current level of trust with the athletes?
How old are the participants? Once that is determined, you will have a better knowledge of where they fall within the Athlete Development Model. A great one to check out is the Lacrosse Athlete Developmental Model. Are they in stage one which is discovery (4 to 6 year olds) or are they in stage four (emerging competition) which is for participants between the ages of 11 and 14. The activities selected will be altered for each stage ensuring the correct challenge, fun, and learning is available so that the participants have a memorable experience.
What part of the season will this training session be happening? Pre-season, mid-season, the playoffs, or following a training curriculum…all will require different types of training sessions with:
- varying coaching points emphasized in accordance with game play.
- training session intensity dependent upon fatigue of the players and portion of the season.
- knowledge of athletes school schedules and stresses they could possibly be having with school work.
- awareness of team cohesion and how that plays into individual player and team effectiveness.
- varying activities that will allow the participants to strive for daily success.
How many hours will I be able to work with the participants throughout the week? Do I have 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 hours to train the group throughout the week. The amount of time I work with the group will allow me to either teach in greater detail or just skim the surface of numerous topics. With less hours to train the players, either technical, physical, psychological, or tactical development will not be taught in a fully effective manner simply because the time does not exist to do so. Some coaches are able to intertwine the various types of development together leading to success requiring less on field hours.
In macro planning, the coach must determine what the most important aspects of the sport are for that specific age group so they can be covered first and emphasized at training sessions. The emphasized aspects of the sport could be written as age appropriate standards in which the kids work towards throughout the season. This could potentially increase motivation for the players having a better understanding of what they are working towards during every training session. Increased time equals increased topic depth but that also brings into play commitment level of the participants on the team.
What is the commitment level of the participants in the training session? Are you training a dedicated group of 14 year old’s that train three days per week and play high level league games/tournaments on the weekend or are you working with a group of 14 year old recreational players? Both groups have value…but coaches must realize they have to adjust expectations, coaching mannerisms, and how to build trust and relationships with players that have different reasons for being part of a team. These two groups would require different activities being selected in order for individual and team success to be found by the group
What is your current level of trust with the athletes? When coaches build trust with their athletes, the relationships become more authentic, which allows for more team cohesiveness and opens up effective lines of communication.
What are your conversations like with your athletes? Simply about the sport you coach or other aspects of their lives like family, school, and other interests. Increased trust with your athletes will enhance the experience for all participants. This deeper relationship will allow the coach to feel at ease in trying new practice games/activities giving the coach the benefit of the doubt if the activity does not go as planned. A positive relationship will also have more motivated athletes during all aspects of the training session leading to possible increases in speed of skill acquisition.
Training activity selection is an important aspect of individual and team success and development. The coach that plans out activities with the above questions in mind will enhance the overall experience of sports participation for all team members.
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