The videos below show MWFA Coach Development Manager Eugene Lawrenz’s ‘A’ Licence video assessment from 2016.
These might be useful for coaches working with teams who play 11v11 football and who run ‘Game Training’ sessions, and who want a better understanding of the process of identifying, recreating and solving a football problem with their team.
Additionally, coaches who undertake the FFA ‘C’ Licence often struggle initially to fully understand the expectations of their own final video assessment, and a visual example of each step in the process may help make this clearer as well.
In the videos below, various notes, suggestions and tips are included for each step of the process. This is not a perfect training session however, and there are both good examples and mistakes to learn from in each clip.
The Football Problem
In this example, the team has been struggling to create goalscoring chances, due to a number of factors:
- The wingers (#7 and #11) often start too narrow and end up making runs into wide positions where they have limited space and options and are too far away from the goal, instead of starting wide and making runs inside towards the goal where they can be a lot more dangerous
- Passes from the central midfielders (#6, #8 and #10) also often send the wingers towards the corner flag instead of towards the goal
- The positioning of the central midfielders when the ball is played wide often doesn’t allow for switches of play when the opposition sends a lot of defenders to that side of the field, causing the team to get stuck on that side and rushing their attacks, or to pass backwards to start a new attack all over again
The Frame is where the coach can establish the session objective, while also planting seeds and encouraging the players to think about the kinds of behaviours that may help them solve the football problem. The coach can explain the problem the team has been having in the past with a lot of detail (using the 5 Ws), how they will try to solve the problem in the present, and how this will help the team win more games in the future.
Using visual aids such as a whiteboard with a moving picture can help the players better understand the scenarios the coach is describing, and it is always good to engage the players with Q&A to check their understanding, as well as help them identify potential solutions themselves.
The Checklist stage is where the coach ensures the football problem is being recreated in the training session to give the team plenty of opportunities to find new solutions. If the football problem is not accurately recreated, the work done in training will not help the team solve that problem when it reoccurs in their next match.
Players appreciate it if play can commence as quickly as possible, so it is important to not make things too complicated, and to make the rules of the exercise clear with a good demonstration. Once play has begun, the coach should consider if the method of starting and restarting the exercise is suitable; if the equipment, area and goals are organised well; if the players are training with sufficient intensity and the right attitude; if the difficulty of the exercise is suitable for the ability level of the players; if the players fully understand how the exercise works; if the shape of both teams is maintained consistently throughout the exercise; and if the manner and positioning of the coach is effective.
Although it is important to get the checklist right before making any interventions and teaching, it is still something the coach should keep their eye on and address as required throughout the entire session. If the intensity drops or the shape of the teams loses structure for example, then the football problem will no longer be occurring and the teaching taking place may not be realistic or relevant to that problem.
The Teaching Process
Once the football problem is occurring regularly, there will be an opportunity to make an intervention and give the team a collective challenge. This is known as the ‘team task’. It is not giving away the answer, but simply giving the players some direction around how they should approach solving the football problem.
Setting the team task may be enough for some players to understand their role and how they can best contribute to the team solving the football problem. If not, a ‘player task’ can be given to provide some clearer direction to that individual. It is beneficial to consider which players are the most relevant or most important to solving the football problem and focusing on them (if they need it) before the other players.
Should the player task not be enough, giving the player some ‘cues’ may help provide them with an extra level of detail to contribute effectively. This is often a trigger for the player to recognise the right moment to perform a certain football action e.g. “if/when/as…”.
The reason why it is encouraged to go through this step by step process of team task, player tasks and finally cues, is to give the players the opportunity to find their own solutions and not be too prescriptive. Implicit learning is more effective long term, because in the end the players need to make the correct decisions on their own during a real match.
Not every coaching point needs to an intervention however, as sometimes quick hints or even positive reinforcement can be given on the run or during breaks in play, especially if it is for an individual player and not the whole team. If the game does need to be stopped to make a point clear to everyone though, recreating the picture that the coach saw and taking the players through the scenario step by step (with a moving picture) is again the most effective way to help the players understand what they need to see. Using Q&A again to check their understanding and engage their thinking is also an essential tool for a coach.
A good way to finish a session like this is with a ‘Training Game’ where any restrictions are removed to allow for free and fully realistic play, and the coach mainly observes and evaluates the effectiveness of the session and if the team has been able to solve the football problem (i.e. should they move on to another football problem in their next training session, or does this one need to be worked on further?). The coach should ideally also make time to evaluate their own performance to see if they can improve in any areas such as defining the football problem accurately, designing relevant training exercises, or conducting the training session effectively.