How to Plan Soccer Practice
How to have planned soccer practices and still have fun
Pre-planned soccer practices

Hi SoccerHelp,

I'm a co-coach for a 7th grade girl's team and I like to plan practice´┐Żs so we know what we're going to do before we arrive at the field. I also like to compile practice games, etc. before the season starts and tentatively plan out the first 3/4 practices with some goals and progressions in mind. My current problem is that my co-coach, who cares passionately about the sport and the team, knows how to play, etc., likes to arrive at the field and make it up on the spot. After 3 years of coaching together and successfully blending very different methods, we now are playing 11v11 with a roster of 18 kids, and the non-planned and planned impulses are coming into conflict. My question is what does the rest of the world do? Do other coaches plan out their practices, and if so, how? If not, do they improvise as a rule, and if they do, how does that work? Any input from the forum is very welcome.

7th Grade Coach, Premium Member

See Soccer Practice Plans for pre-planned practices

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Hi 7th Grade Coach,

I think it's MUCH better to plan your practice if you want to get the most out of your practices. If you don't, it's too easy to get distracted and be inefficient.

I suspect your co-coach either doesn't like taking the time to plan a practice, or thinks that that planning takes the fun out of it.

I think which approach is best depends on your objectives:

  1. Do you want your players to improve the most possible given your practice time, or do you want them to be prepared for your games so they have the best chance of winning? If so, in either case you will want to plan your practices.

  2. Or, is your objective to just have fun at practice? If your objective is just to have fun at practice, then just let the players do whatever they think is fun at practice.

Personally, I think you can have a structured practice and still have fun. Also, I think a lot of players (even Rec players) DO want to improve and most players and parents prefer winning to losing.

If you start a season with 2 teams that have players with equal athletic ability, speed and aggressiveness, and one team just scrimmages at practice, and the other team plays SoccerHelp Practice Games, teaches Coaching Rule No. 3, "shifting and sagging", First Defender/Second Defender, and the coach teaches a Style of Play and a Socer Formation that gives his team the best chance to be successful, by the end of the season the team that had planned practices will beat the one that didn't 90% of the time. This is why SoccerHelp teams win so many games -- they learn more in practice because the practices are efficient and effective. Other things being equal, players who have good practices will become better soccer players than those who don't. I think this is true in every sport.

SoccerHelp had 2.3 million visitors and over 30 million hits last year from 147 countries. I have the advantage of corresponding with hundreds of coaches and I've set up "testing" programs where coaches test different games and techniques under pre-set conditions. My opinion here is based on these experiences.

Good luck!

David at SoccerHelp