Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Barcelona Training Week

Tapio is a typical parent coach currently coaching U13's in South-West Finland. He started football coaching six years ago, when his sons' team needed an assistant coach. A year ago he took full responsibility for that team. Tapio has completed some Finnish FA coaching courses, but in his own words "they have not provided very much useful information". So he has been learning about coaching from internet and looking at how other coaches do their job. 

The greatest influence in his coaching has been reading Horst Wein's books, and he was lucky enough to participate in a course of his a year ago. Last week he participated in course run by SoccerServices, below are his notes on from that a great Barcelona training week, which I hope you find as interesting as I did:

Joan Vila, one of the founders of Soccer Services, is currently FCB “director of methodology”, I understood he is responsible for the training methods and practices (but he is not coaching himself) from the smallest kids up to the second team. Joan wasn’t present, but two other founders were.

Horst Wein has been working in Barcelona area, and his work was referred to often. Especially considering at which age it is best to teach which topics. The phrase “player development process” was mentioned often.

They said it seems in Spanish football all works well, but the reality is different. There are still playing formats of 7vs7 and 11vs11 available for most of the kids - that is too hard a better model would be 3v3>4v4>7v7>9v9>11v11.

They do not want to win games with junior teams. They want to develop players. Player development is divided in three stages: before 9 years of age is the egocentric stage, 10 to 14 years of age is the summative stage, over 15 collective stage As an example, u8 kids should not learn passing: They still live in egocentric phase. It is me and the ball or 1vs1.This is important for these kids, this is what they will learn easily. 10-14 year old players are best able to learn combination play with their team mates. They still think of themselves mostly, but they can see team-mates as opportunities. 15 years and older they should learn special skills for position, they are ready for collective benefits.

This development model tries to optimize learning at each age. 999 out of 1000 players learn best this way.

- Teach skills that the player is the most eager to learn and practice at his current age
- Prevent teaching skills that are too complex to that age > learning is not so effective > practice time wasted
- Prevent teaching skills that are too easy and already learned > learning is not effective > practice time wasted

Position rotation of players should happen until 15 years.

What to coach:
- running with the ball
- ball protection
- tackling
- dribbling
- (less) control of orientation (body position related to ball, field and other players)
- (less) kicking the ball

same as 6-7, but more emphasis on control of orientation (body position with regards to play)

- dribbling
- control of orientation
- supporting
- marking
- covering
- passing
- shooting
- unchecking (get rid of your marker)
- positioning in the zone (zonal play)
- wideness
- depth
- (less) header
- (less) crossing

- passing
- header
- crossing

Note that passing as a concept includes the whole team work in relation to opponent.

If you train according to this, you will not necessarily win the matches early on. But the players and the team will be much better eventually.

The coach should coach the same topic(s) for e.g. 3 months, until the players learn it. Then move to next topic. Do not coach the previous topic anymore. This approach was new to me and most of the fellow coaches:
- they coach the same topic area for like 100 or 150 sessions (can be 3 sessions in one practice hour). Then they move to next topic area.
- the training is based on games. Always games, designed to learn the topic.
- only coach what your theme is: e.g. if your theme is passing/creating space, you don’t then coach the defenders, you don’t coach using wrong foot, etc. You only coach the topic.
- the coaching is done by asking questions from a single player who did not succeed (not the whole group). it is not allowed to tell the solution to the player: the player must think himself. It is much better to ask 20 times and let the player think compared to just providing a solution.
- the players will not be bored, because you only play 15-20 minutes of each game, then you change the game. But the coaching theme should be the same (e.g. passing/creating space)

Almost everything can be coached with three basic game formats:
- keep the ball game (with extra players)
- wave (attack with extra player towards a single goal)
- 2 goal game with extra players
- extra rules can be added, and there can be also special zones, e.g. for keeping the playing wide

Some notes from FCB playing style:
- keep the ball, don’t loose it
- look for space, look for numeric advantage
- play from left in order to attack from right (fool the defense)
- play from wings in order to attack from the middle (fool the defense)
- team maturity can be measured by the number of REASONABLE back passes
- pass back in order to create space and depth (when the ball is played to front, the depth is temporarily lost)
- direct passes and indirect passes (via 3rd team mate)
- constant support to the player in ball possession
- strikers need to keep the game deep and wide
- midfielders needed inside to provide passing options and to occupy space
- Diamond is the basic structure in the game and in practices. Triangle is not that good.
- Important in all the practice games, especially the keep-the-ball games: ALWAYS have a player in the middle also, to learn how the midfield is played.

Typical practice session:
- warm-up
- keep-the-ball game 20min
- wave game 20min
- 2 goal game 20 min

They spent a lot of time to organize the game so that the players play as they wanted so that they can then start coaching the theme they had planned. Often they adjusted the game rules for 10 minutes before the actual coaching started. Especially in the beginning they commented the playing speed of the kids in the sessions was too fast. “Calm down, think!” “Don’t run, think! Where is the best position?”

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