Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Using a “plan, do, observe, review” cycle in your training sessions

David Clarke

To improve as a coach and pass on that improvement to your players, you need to reflect on your coaching and look for ways to enhance it.

I work in three-week blocks and have a particular focus for the sessions in these weeks. For instance it might be that we need to improve our defensive organisation around free kicks or corners.

I write down the key points I need to put across to my players over these three weeks. I then break it down into the objectives for each individual session and the key message for the players to take away from the session.

From that I decide which games and exercises will best introduce and reinforce the message.

Do and observe
As I coach the session, I analyse key aspects of my coaching. I focus on one or two elements of the session such as my demonstrations and questioning or organisation and work/rest ratio. I make mental notes about them and how effective they are in the session.

I am very critical of my own coaching and always striving to improve it. Immediately after the session I ask myself how well the session went. Were the elements I was focusing on as effective as I had wanted?

I always write brief notes on my session plan to remind me what went well and what could be improved upon in the next session. I also review the session within my three-week block. Did I cover everything I wanted to? Are there areas where the players need more reinforcement?

Keep to the cycle
I coach to improve my players. To improve them I need to improve myself. This is why I keep to the cycle of “plan, do, observe, review” and I keep detailed plans on which I also write my reflections.


1 Comment so far
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Excellent points about improving ourselves as coaches, and having some idea or direction, not only for each session, but block of sessions. I usually look at the things we didn’t do well in a match, and concentrate my small-sided games to those that emphasize those points.

Well said – we coaches have to get better all the time, too!

Comment by coacheli

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