What To do before matches or training sessions

You’ve put all of your plans for your training sessions and matches together and now it’s the big day, it’s match day. So let’s look at how to organize for match day or for training and let’s focus on the key areas to making this both a learning environment as well as something that is enjoyable and easy for everyone. Repetition of these kinds of routines will be beneficial for everyone – that way no matter what they know what to expect once they arrive. Here’s how to prepare on game day.

Arrive early

It’s always best that you arrive thirty minutes before very match or every session. You will need to be there to greet your players and their parents on arrival and organize all of the logistics that go into an average match day. It will also give you time to register and collect your match fees and start planning for any injuries or mishaps that will mean a change to your lineup. Set out the times that you expect your players to arrive and have set times for when you plan to start your warm ups. Share these with the players and their parents so that everyone is on the same page.

field-jpgCheck the field

You will need to inspect the field and make sure that it is safe for your team to play upon. You will need to make sure that here are no new divots in the ground that could pose a risk for your players young ankles and that it has not succumbed to any weather conditions. You will also need to check the nets(or just put them up) and make sure that they are securely fastened. These checks and set up need to be done so that when your players arrive they know that they can just get straight on with their warm up and preparing for the game in hand.

Set up what you need

For the smoothness of your warm up have the balls, cones and anything else that you will incorporate into your pre-game routine ready to go. The idea here is that you have as smooth a transition from the team being in a non-playing state of mind into a playing frame of mind and that will mean preventing them from waiting around getting bored, getting cold or getting too distracted. For the early comers get a single ball passed around until you are ready to begin as a unit. It is important that you do your warm ups as a team so that all of the players are together from the first moment they enter the field.

Clear what’s going to happen

Always be very clear as to what is about to unfold. If you are holding a training session break down exactly what exercises you will be doing and a brief explanation as to why. A lot of kids will be looking forward to just getting into a mini-match situation and may be less excited by the training, but this way they will know that the match that they crave will eventually arrive. On match days set out what you want from your team, what they should ficus on and why. Ignore your opponents and simply concentrate on getting your players to focus on what they need to do to play their game.

Make notes for half time

Throughout the first half make notes about things that you liked and things that you want your team to work on next time or in training, then when the half time whistle goes use it as a time to praise the things that they have done well. Try to get some feedback from them on how they feel the match is going and then set them some further challenges and targets for the second half. Explain why you are setting certain tasks and if looking to implement certain tactical ideas, explain how these ideas would work against your opponent. A good idea is to have three things you really liked and three things that you now want the team to work on. This will both encourage as well as help them understand what is happening on the pitch whilst they are playing.

Praise their efforts

After the game it is all about praise. It is all about reward and congratulating your players. The result doesn’t matter. What matters is picking up positives for praise and making sure that praise extends to all the members of the team so that they all feel involved. Games are hard because naturally they come with more emotional investment from yourself, the kids and their parents but use the post-match to go for ice cream or just put yourselves in a different situation away from the field where everyone can relax again. This will help everybody feel as though whatever happens out on the filed, they are able to walk away and enjoy themselves. This will reassure and encourage them in the long term.

Keep a logbook

It’s a good idea to keep track of your team’s progress and keep changing the targets and challenges that you are setting for your players. Keep a log book of everything you thought went well or things you need to work on, and you will be able to ensure consistency is kept from week to week and that you are targeting the areas of the team’s game that needs targeting and improving. What will also be great is that one day when you look back through this log you will see the progression that your team made and know that it was all worth it. Feel free to show the team this book at the end of each season and show them just how much progress they’ve made.