Grassroots Coaching

5 easy ways for a football coach to improve.

As football coaches, we should always be looking to improve and to review our training sessions with a self critical eye. An easy way to do this and to improve as coaches is to follow the S.T.E.P.P coaching process.

So what is the S.T.E.P.P coaching process?

S.T.E.P.P stands for the following:

S – Size

T – Tempo and time

E – Equipment

P – Players

P – Progressions and challenges

S – Size.

  • Adjust the size and or shape of the training area or pitch to take into account the number of players, their age and their ability. For example, if the coaching session focus is on close range shooting and finishing, use an area that is roughly the size of an age related pitch penalty area, as this will naturally create through the size of the area, close range finishing situations.
  • Adjust the size of the pitch or training area to make the practice harder or easier for the players. In some attacking sessions and practices, making the area bigger will make it easier for the players to succeed by creating more space and therefore more time for the players. In other attacking sessions and practices making the area smaller will challenge the players by making the space tighter and giving the players less time. The reverse is true for defending sessions and practices, smaller areas will encourage tighter pressure situations and more 1 v 1’s as the distance to pressure the ball is shorter. The bigger the area, the more decisions defenders have to make about the distance they have to cover to apply relevant pressure.
  • Changing the size of the area will also encourage different techniques and skills, such as in a bigger area, longer passing, smaller area, tighter ball control and more first time passing
  • Size of goals – Where possible, use goals in your training sessions and games that are appropriately and game sized for the age of the players. This will help the players to develop game related decisions about both defending and attacking.

T- Tempo and time

  • So that players can understand and be given the chance to understand and successfully perform practices and drills, it is a good idea at the start of your training sessions to slow the tempo of the practice right down, even to a walk initially. This gives the players time to think and perform the practice successfully. As the players improve, the tempo and intensity of the practice can be increased.
  • Use time to ¬†challenge the players. For example, in the next 30 seconds, let’s see if we can complete 10 successful passes or let’s see who can score the most goals in the next 2 minutes.

E – Equipment

  • Organise footballs so that they can quickly be passed onto the training area or game pitch. This will increase the continuity and intensity of the practice or game.
  • By increasing or decreasing the number footballs in practices, can make the practice harder and more challenging or easier by giving player more time to focus on only one or two footballs.
  • Discs and markers – it is important that the players know and understand the size of the areas and pitches they are playing on. Use safety discs and markers to mark out areas and pitches and target areas within the practice.
  • Goals – for attacking sessions and practices, use goals that are appropriately and game sized for the age of the players. This will help the players to practice and shoot into goals that are appropriately sized for the games they will play.
  • Bibs – Like in a game, it is important that players can easily recognise their own players and the opposition. Wherever possible use bibs to help with this basic requirement.

P – Players

  • If you have more players than you can cope with for a session or practice, split them into 3 teams. 2 teams playing and one team either resting or working on their own or with an assistant on developing individual skills, away from the pitch. Play short, intense games and rotate the teams often. You can also organise a round robin type tournament for all 3 or 4 teams.
  • To give players more time, space and therefore more success and confidence in attacking sessions and practices , initially adjust the overload of the players in favour¬† of the attacking team, say 7 v 3. As the players get better and more confident, adjust the overload to 6 v 4 and finally to 5 v 5.
  • Use of floating or golden players. Most teams, particularly younger teams have one or two players that are bigger, stronger and faster than the rest and can sometimes dominate training sessions and games through these physical attributes. Conversely, there are always one or two younger, smaller, less physically able players who are behind the rest of the team and who struggle in games.
  • By playing games where the better and more physically able players become floating or golden players, who play for both teams and are restricted to not being able to score a goal and conditioned to having only 2 or 3 touches, it achieves two things:
  1. The better players are restricted from using their strength, pace and power and have to adapt their game to become more team orientated players, more spatially aware which enables them to develop as players by restricting their physical attributes and forcing them to use different skills, such as passing, support and awareness of other players.
  2. The team in possession that use the floating or golden player have an extra player. This gives the less able players more time and space to become more involved than they normally would. The floating or golden players, because of the restrictions and conditions placed on them, have to pass more often than they normally would to the less able players. Thus, all the players develop in different ways.
  • But, beware, these conditioned games can only work for short periods of time, because sooner, rather than later the better players will become frustrated at not being able to use their superior physical attributes.
  • When picking teams or players for training sessions, try and pick players that are ability, speed and physically matched.

P – Progressions and challenges

  • Use progressions, such as progressing from 1 v 1, to 2 v 2 to 3 v 3 and eventually into a small sided game when focussing on defending or dribbling sessions.
  • Introduce more than one ball into a passing and support session. This will encourage players to play with their heads up and to communicate better with each other
  • Challenges, stimulate and provide excitement and competition for the players. For example, challenge the players to not to be the player who makes a mistake in a passing and support session for a certain period of time. Or to complete a certain number of passes in an overload game, before they can try and score.
  • Of course the best challenges are to win games. But so players can experience and learn to deal with both winning and losing, play lots of shorter games and change the teams around to make them more even.

Remember and use the coaching acronym S.T.E.P.P and apply when and where it is appropriate. This might be at the start of the session or, depending on how well or badly the session is going, during the session or practice.



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