If you are a coach, a Training Session is the vehicle for most of the delivery of information and knowledge that is communicated to a team. When looking at a training session however, there is a very limited amount of time most coaches have with their teams to achieve the things they need to be successful. For many coaches the time available is simply not enough at the junior and senior levels of the sport.
While coaches often plan and build sessions around focusing on concepts, this can be a far-flung reality between the drills selected for a training sessions and the realism of an actual game. For this reason one of the most powerful skills a coach can develop in their craft is the ability to be able to examine the tactics or a game and create breakdowns specific to the needs of a team’s offense and defence.
To start the process of modifying training sessions a coach must first have a clear plan about where they want their team to be heading towards. This requires a coach to sit down and map out their team’s playbook in detail. Knowing what the possible options to be chosen are is very important as a starting point because it provides a target or outcome for the training sessions to then be geared towards.
When looking at the desire plays a coach must examine the different movement patterns and if possible break these into sections or snippets of the overall play situations. As an example, a coach might look to isolate the first five passes of their offense to highlight a section, and then create a drill break down for this pattern. In some offenses, it might only be appropriate to select maybe the first two or three passes to create an offense specific drill breakdown. It will depend on the complexity of the offense and the specific nature of the technical or tactical element needing to be focused upon.
A team’s defensive strategy can of course be broken down for a training session in a similar way.
A key element though to helping with implementing play specific breakdowns in your drills is adding the component of competition to the drill. This can take the form of simply adding the pressure of time or a target. The alternative to this thought, and the most preferable competition option to add to any drill is defence. By adding defence to a drill, you instantaneously add pressure and build a drill into a more and more game realistic scenario.
When designing game realistic breakdowns for a training session a coach must keep in mind the balance between making a drill realistic and satisfying the need for technical and tactical development. There is no need developing a breakdown for a drill if it does not satisfy to some level the development of the individual player within your team. In some instances, it will be beneficial to blend abstract drills focusing on technical skill development with tactical breakdowns from the team’s playbook.
Being able to interpret the need of a team and its individual members is all part of the craft of coaching. A key skill in rising your coaching to the next level will be taking moments within a game that your team is needing development in and creating team specific training drills and scenarios to expedite a team’s development and results from a team’s training sessions.