How to Save a Training Session Gone Bad – Have a Plan B

For the last week you poured over other club session plans, blogs, Twitter and if you have to spend another night combing through Google for a decent YouTube video on how to do a proper shoulder charge you’re going to scream! But that’s OK, because all that hard work has allowed you to put together the best training session for your young soccer players.  It flows, the progression is perfect and you have all the questions you’ll ask the players to have them tease out the key coaching points for the evening.


Of course, when it comes to the night of the session it doesn’t play out quite like you imagined it.  The players just don’t seem to be “getting it” and you spend a lot of time explaining it.  Or maybe what made perfect sense to you by the glow of your computer screen sudden has you wondering “how is this supposed to work” when you’re trying to do it.  There are lots of reasons why, but this will happen to you at some point and from time to time – the session is dragging, the players aren’t getting much out of it, and you feel what precious little time you have with the kiddos slipping away.


Very frustrating.

And totally normal.  It is going to happen from time to time.  From my experience, when this happens it is because the activities that I picked are too complex for the girls at that point in time.

The solution?  Have a Plan B.  Heck, having a Plan C will come in useful from time to time too. Here’s an example from one of the last sessions of the Fall.  I pulled the below activity from the FC Chelsea Development Center Booklet.

FC Directional

Looks like a good one!  Not too tough and teaches some good concepts – we were focusing on directional first touches.  I gave some very basic instructions, had the girls get started and started walking around.  What I noticed was a lot of confused 7- and 8-year-olds.  We started going from group to group to help give some extra explanation and tips, but I realized we were burning a lot of time explaining.

Not good.  I know by now that the longer I talk has a direct correlation to how not-so-good the session is going.  I want the girls to build confidence and learn new skills and this was achieving neither.

So I went with Plan B…


Same idea, but less cones.  Player 1 passes the ball to Player 2 who directs the ball with their first touch to the left of the cone where they pass it back to Player 2 with their second touch.  Player 1 then does the same thing.  They got it!  Just making it a little simpler did the trick.

Even though I was happy they were getting it, we spent long enough on the first that I could tell the girls spirits were still a bit down.  Plus it was really cold and they weren’t moving enough to keep warm.  Didn’t help with the moods.

Time for Plan C – I announced we would be scrimmaging for the remainder of the practice.  Cheers went up!  Mission accomplished.

Practices will not always go this way.  The good news is the more you do, the better you’ll get at picking the right sessions for your players and how to adjust on the fly.  Hey, even coaches with a lot of experience, and who actually get paid to coach, always have something on their sleeve because this happens to them too.

And, the more I coach, the more I realize that one of the things that makes  really good coaches, well, really good are because they can handle things when they don’t go well.

So buck up, don’t fret and come to your training sessions prepared.

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Filed under Coaching Tips, Training Sessions

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