We are in the heart of the training and games of this fall season we continue to work to build focused meaningful training sessions/practices. Since Dan and I entered CYSA we have been using the U.S. Soccer Curriculum Age Group Organization to help us organize both the structure of our practice and the specific areas to focus training on. Then .we look for drills and activities to help us work with the players in those areas. Look at pages 50 through 60 of this document to find the breakdown for your age group. Here is U15, the current age of the Tsunami
The U.S. Soccer Curriculum Age Group Organization guild breaks down the four areas of a content to be worked on in practice as Tactical, Technical, Physical, and Physholicial. It identifies the four areas of session sections as Tactics, Techniques, Physical, and… SCRIMMAGE! Each age group chart has two major things that Dan and I use. The first is what are the areas of skills that our specific age group should be working on. The second is how much of the practice time should be devoted to each of the four main areas of the session structure. As you look at different age groups you will see the amount of time placed towards Tactics, Techniques, and Physical will change, but what does not change is the 30% that each practice should be Scrimmage.
So this all sounds good and fancy on the page, but how does this actually translate to a 90-minute practice. What it has translated for Dan and I is to set the practice up in the basic following structure:
10 minutes- Warm up- player arrive
20 minutes- Ball skills
20 to 25 minutes- session specific drill
20 to 30 minutes- scrimmage.
Let’s go into some more detail about that breakdown. The first ten minutes most the players have arrived, but we are still waiting for those last few players and we don’t want them to miss anything major. For the first few years, Dan and I got our players to form two rondo circles. This gave them focus and allowed for other players to join as they arrived. This is also a great time for us as the coaches to set up any cones, or other training gear for the ball skills and/or the session specific drills so that those are ready to go. Once the players have arrived, we start with ball skills. 20 minutes with every player with a ball at their feet where we are working to get as many ball touches as possible while also working on our endurance (that physical component. Once we complete ball skills, it is into one major practice focus. This may be a technical aspect like making accurate 10-yard passes, to tactics like how to set up a wall for a free kick outside your 18-yard box. This portion of the session is a mix of teaching and setting up one or two drills to help work on the identified skill. Once you have completed that, it is time to let them scrimmage. Now to think you are off the hook because they are going to scrimmage is not true! There are many things you can do around the scrimmage time to help work on those age specific goals, and to reinforce what you are working on in practice. If I worked on short accurate passes during practice then, I would set up small side scrimmages on small fields. I would tell my players no balls in the air, and then I would let them play, just for one of many examples.
When I look at the time breakdown of the drills, with water breaks, moving from one task to the next, we will lose time and the practice will go so much quicker than I thought or hoped it would. I try to keep the practice very simple into this template most times. The last think I will share is as a practices starts to take more time than I thought, and we ae 60 to 70 minutes in, we also say we have to get them playing (scrimmaging) so if I have to cut the drill(s) short to get that just getting to playing, I do it!
Along with the U.S. Soccer Curriculum Age Group Organization, Dan and I have also relied on the US Youth Soccer Player Development Model, and the Full U.S. Soccer Coaching Curriculum to guide us in our coaching journeys. I have attached all three of those documents to this post. If you are a coach and would like me to work with you to create practice sessions, please reach out to me. I would love to help. If you reach out, I will pull these documents up and together we will start to look at what your age group should be working on, what you would like to work on them with and together we will start to build a training session.