The Structure of a Coaching Session

The ideal coaching session for young people will last between 45 to 75 minutes, depending on the age of the players. The plan below is based on a 60-minute session but can be modified according to the time available.

Group Organisation (5 mins)

Use this time to bring the players together. Talk to them about the session. It allows for latecomers to settle before beginning the planned activities.

Warm-Up (5 mins)

Warm Up activities incorporate brief, mild exercise which is performed in preparation for more vigorous activity. Warming-up typically involves:

  1. Pulse Raising – e.g. Walking, Jogging, Hopping, Skipping, Jumping
  2. Mobilisation – Bringing the joints through their Range of Movement e.g. Arm Rotations, Hip Rotations, etc.
  3. Stretching – Light, short stretches of the Major Muscle groups
It is good practice to warm up dynamically, i.e. to incorporate the mobilisation and stretching activities into the overall pulse raising activity. Remember; incorporate the ball into warm-up activities where possible. ABC/Have-a-Ball exercises and Fun Games are ideal warm up activities for children. Structured jogging or running in lines etc. is not recommended as a warm up for children.

Play a Game (10 mins)

At the beginning of a coaching session, children will want to play a game. Use a Fun Game or Modified Game. Playing a game at this time will allow you to observe the players. Take note of any deficiencies in proficiency that may exist. If you have not planned on coaching these skills in this session, try to incorporate them into the following sessions.

See Warm Up for Younger Ages for more ideas

Introduce/Revise a Skill (5 mins)

Introduce a new skill or revise a skill taught in an earlier session. Demonstrate (or have someone else demonstrate) the skill as a whole and at normal speed. Break the skill into parts if necessary before demonstrating the whole skill again. Make sure everyone can see the demonstration and repeat it several times, highlighting the key points.

Practice the Technique (10 mins)

Organise a drill for the players to practice the technique. Progress from Basic to Intermediate drills to Advanced Drills gradually. Observe all players so that you can praise good technique and spot basic errors. It is better to walk around the area rather than stand in the same position so that the players feel that you are paying attention to the whole group. Coach the players who need correction. If you find a number of players making the same errors, re-demonstrate the skill. Be sure to be positive and supportive. Emphasise what to do rather than what not to do. Shouting and criticising won't achieve anything.

Develop the Skill (10 mins)

Progress development of the technique using a Fun Game, Game Play Drill or Modified Game. This will challenge the players to use the technique as a skill, incorporating Tactical Prowess and possibly Team Play.

Play a Game (15 mins)

Set aside the end of the session to play a game again. Use a Modified Game that allows the players to apply what they have learned during the session. Ensure that their is full participation, fair play and above all fun!

Concluding activity/Cool Down (5 mins)

Use this time to emphasise the key points from the skill introduced in this session. This revision can be done whilst the players are cooling down. Praise all the players and also use the time to talk about the next session or game and other organisational matters.

Key Points

  • Select activities that provide variety and an appropriate challenge
  • Grade activities - make early activities easy and later ones more difficult
  • Give lots of praise for improvement and effort
  • Allow children to be with their friends
  • Allow children to learn; children learn best through activity and fun
  • Be flexible to deal with the available facilities and environmental conditions

  • ''Emphasise what to do rather than what not to do. Shouting and criticising won't achieve anything.''