Whatever level you’re coaching at, it’s easy to get carried away with the amount of drills and tactical exercises you’re training your players with. Of course, they’re essential parts of any pre-season, but you don’t want to bore your players.
Enthusiasm shouldn’t be underestimated. That’s why your drills and more regimented exercises should sometimes give way to training games, exercises that help your players practise situations that’ll occur in matches.
Obviously these will be different depending on the identity and style of play which your team has, but the advice remains the same; find a midway point between drills and an actual match, and try to create a game context which is as realistic as possible.
After all, your players want to play football and in these sessions they’re not only doing that, but you’ll be increasing their understanding of your team’s identity, as well as building cohesion and morale.
Aspects to remember
When your team is engaged in a training game, try to take a back seat. You don’t want to keep stopping and starting the session because your players will lose any intensity and momentum that they might’ve gained. Keeping things as competitive as possible will aid expression, vital to creativity and quick-thinking.
As noted before, you’ll want to make sure your training games are tailored to your team, their identity and style. For example, there’s not going to be much need for training games relating to target men if your team doesn’t have one. Essentially, these sessions are about aiding morale at the same time as helping the understanding of tactics in a match scenario.
In a real match, your players aren’t going to be allowed to rest on their laurels. So why should they in these training sessions? Urge a competitive atmosphere to get the best out of them and help them become more comfortable following your instructions under a little extra pressure.
For more football tactics, drills and training advice, download the full pre-season guide below.