With Pre-Season training starting around the island and friendly games being lined up, I thought it would be interesting to touch base on both these subjects in the coming weeks.
First of all – Match days.
Just how do you as a Coach prepare on match days?
This season is the first time in my 15 years as a coach that I have not been attached to a club. (Through my own choice I would like to add! LOL – Family life dictates now after having a baby with my beautiful wife last year)
I thought it would interesting to see how some of you coaches out there pre-pare your selves on match days.
• Do you have a regular routine you go through?
• Do you have a specific way in which you share information to the players and parents?
• What do you deem a success after the final whistle has blown?
Below is my own personal way of preparing for game. Sometimes it will vary, but I do try to keep the routine…. Well, a routine!
The warm ups my squads do before each match always have a ball related activity inclusive of hand ball, and small group work building up the intensity as we go.
We use the dynamic stretches as the “breather” in between the activities, (players choose the muscle to stretch for that interval) and time dependent, we try to cover all the major groups.
For each game the routine is very similar, however we do try to change the activities after time before they become stagnant and the players start “going through the motions”
Before this however, my usual routine is to arrive 90 minutes before kick off, grab a cup of tea, take the equipment to the changing room, lay out the kit, inspect the pitch for any hazards, and then begin work on a team sheet.
Invariably, the team I would like to put out against the opposition of the day will change several times before kick off. Years ago when first starting out on my own coaching journey, and I should add, playing for the win, this would cause me some strife!
However, with a change in my own philosophy, further coaching education, and gaining a good amount of experience with these situations, I now prepare in my own mind a possible three different starting line ups that can easily be tinkered with.
These lines ups are based on match time from the previous game, who started that game, who has not yet started as a subsitute throughout the season so far, how adaptable are the players in playing different positions, and like i mentioned, what players are available for the game.
Without doubt, almost before every game, something will come up that you cannot prepare for. As information starts to come in days previous and right up until the warm up before the game, players will advise that they have picked up an injury; are sick; are going away unexpectedly or have become unavailable for another other reason. It’s the nature of the beast!
Player adaptability and preparing your squad for this eventuality during your training schedule really is key to maintaining a calm environment just before kick off. How many times have we seen the player that is perceived to be the best by their peers miss a game, and then certain members of the squad going into meltdown!
Players (U11 plus) are expected to arrive one hour before kick off, and I’ll call them into the changing room 45 minutes prior to the game.
For those 15 minutes in between, the first players to arrive come to the coaches, shake hands and have a general chat about school, holidays, other sports or whatever, and then I give them one ball to go out and have a kick about with, socialize with each other and time to catch up with their peer group.
As the remaining members of the squad arrive, they too come over shake hands with the coaches, leave their belongings in the changing rooms and then go and join the rest of the group. These 15 minutes of social time I highly recommend! It really is invaluable!
Time dependent, sometimes I will start to pull players out to discuss and reiterate their own individual roles and responsibilities within the team for the up and coming game. I sometimes do this individually, in pairs I.e full backs or in units i.e back four.
One of my coaches is also part of these discussions, and I would like to speak to every player during the actual warm up. However a lot of the time it is just not possible, so if required, I will start discussion before we go into the changing room.
During this time, players have the opportunity to ask questions, usually starting with “What if…?” and gain the clarity and understanding of what is being asked of them without going out into the field feeling uncertain.
Players come in 45 minutes before kick off. They know at this point, it is time to start focusing on the game. They change into our playing kit, check on any knocks, niggles or injuries.
We then have a discussion of expectations not only of our own squad performance, but expectations of the weather and how the game may develop due to the the rain, wind, heat etc; expectations of opposition players, opposition coaches and parents, and expectations of the environment in general.
Sometimes, whilst players are getting changed and preparing themselves for the game, we ask them to write on a sheet of paper their own specific challenge they want try and complete during the first half. i.e deliver three quality crosses that create goal scoring opportunities, or whatever it is specific to them as an individual.
We then discuss a Team Challenge for that half.
With 30 minutes before kick off, we go out to start our warm up – Keepers involved with the rest of the squad initially, especially during the handball activities and dynamic stretching.
The warm up is for around 20-25 minutes. Keepers will separate from the group after 10-15 minutes and complete a pre established goalkeeper specific warm up.
Depending on the availability of my coaches, one of them may take the warm up as I continue to pull out other players I am yet to speak with regarding their roles and responsibilities for the game.
To finish the warm up, we have a 5-10 minute “Possession Football” game to lift the intensity to almost match speed.
After this, we return to the changing room, check any last minute injuries, discuss the tactics for this match (as practiced in training), and reaffirm that players do understand their own individual tasks and the challenges they have set themselves.
Once the above has been completed and the ref is ready, we go out and try to enjoy the game.
Oh! And how could I forget! Depending on the age group, (teenagers mostly) I also have some tunes playing in the background before we have a team talk! – Tunes requested by the players of course!
This is a rough generalization of how I approach a game on match day.
So in the famous words of the Cadbury’s Cream Egg Adverts – How do you do it?
Please feel free to leave your Match Day Preparations on Feedback in the Comments box.