In order to set the right tone and make training as effective and efficient as possible, soccer coaches must ensure that the training environment is properly set. The ingredients are as follows:
- Appropriate number of soccer balls – Ideally every player should have their own soccer ball for training. This is not always necessary, but for technical drills and individual training, it is helpful. At the very least, you should have 1 ball for every two or three players. If you are fortunate enough to have a goalkeeper coach, then separate goalkeeper training typically will require an additional 5-10 balls.
- Soccer balls must be properly inflated – Every ball MUST be properly inflated in order for the players to gain anything constructive from training. Under-inflated balls develop poor touch and handling techniques. Kicking and passing exercises are pointless with under-inflated balls. Balls must inflated until they are hard, not soft, “bouncy”, or “cushioned”. You will not be able to press your thumb and deform a properly inflated ball. A ball that is inflated in this way will aid in the development of proper passing and touch, especially accurate and long passing, good shooting technique, and excellent control (i.e. one and two touch control of a pass).
- An adequate number of cones – Cones are cheap. They come in a variety of sizes and colors. Get lots and lots of them. Hundreds, even. All different colors and sizes (large disc and small disc cones). With adequate numbers of cones a coach can layout the individual training zones using color coding so the players can clearly identify the areas in which each exercise is to be conducted. When players walk out to the field before training and they see the area laid out in this manner, you are sending the signal that training is prepared, planned, and professional. The players will know that when they come to training it is all business.
- Coaches must be dressed in the proper coaching attire – To continue the theme of setting the right tone at training so that the players understand what is expected and required of them, coaches must dress like coaches. No three-piece suits, flip-flops, business casual attire, etc. The proper “uniform” for a soccer coach at training is soccer boots of some sort (flats, turfs, or molded studs), soccer coaching shorts or warm-up pants, preferably with pockets, and a coaching polo or similar top. Ideally, coaching attire should be different than the training uniform that the players are wearing, at least in the shorts and shirt category. Again, this sets an important tone with the players regarding behavior and expectations. Other additional items that coaches may find helpful include the obligatory whistle (although some coaches simply like to use their voice), a stopwatch, and a pen or pencil.
- Appropriate number of training jerseys (“pennies”) – When dividing the team up into smaller units for small-sided games, training jerseys are critical. “Shirts and skins” is OK for pick-up games and park play, but won’t cut it when you’re dealing with large groups and multiple training exercises. You have to think ahead of the types of training exercises and games that you expect to use in training. Typically, the largest game you will play is 11 v 11 so you will need at least 2 colors of 11 “pennies”. However, with substitutes, you will most likely need an additional 4-5 “pennies” of each color. On the other hand, most training involves smaller-sided games, like 4v4 or 6v6 or 8v8. In this case, you will have more than 2 teams participating. Therefore, it is best to have 15-16 “pennies” of 4-5 colors. This will allow you to prepared for all eventualities.
- The field should be set out before training begins –
- All additional training equipment should be available –
- Players should wear a training uniform –