Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Why quality is better than quantity

By David Clarke
David ClarkeI am always being told by coaches they don’t have enough time to get things done because they only have one hour coaching a week. It’s tough for them and I genuinely sympathise. I know myself how hard it is to get enough time with my players.

I’ve had to pull out of coaching tomorrow night because there’s a great coach education session at the Premier League Academy I go to – you can’t fit everything in but what you do fit in should always be relevant.

I was taking the rubbish bins out last weekend at home when one of the coaches who works at our club pulled up in his car. ‘What are you doing on Tuesday afternoon?” he asked.

“I’ll have to check – what do you have in mind?”

“My team needs some coaching; we’re all over the place at the moment.”

I know his team because I’ve coached them at various stages in their development, and given the players they have on board, I was a bit surprised that he felt they needed help. So getting to the bottom of the issues he was having was undoubtedly the best starting point.

I found that he was getting the team together for two one-hour sessions a week – he led each session while another coach helped out. His players were getting a good quantity of coaching – two hours a week for training is good; about double the average – but was the quality there?

He told me that his focus had been weakened by work commitments, and that much of those two hours was spent on general play and fitness – players running around and a number of small-sided games. He hadn’t been coaching passages of play, for instance, because time hadn’t allowed him to get started on specific ideas.

This was resulting in players who used the width of the pitch well but took the wrong options when in key attacking situations.

“It just seems to fizzle out,” he said.

So I took one of his sessions with the aim of focusing the players on things they weren’t doing so well. After all, the season is still only halfway through and his team could still turn this into a memorable year. We worked on giving his players options and letting them see the different ways to solve problems. I then offered him additional sessions to build on coaching points – none of them requiring him to come home early from work!

And as for the second training session? “Scrap it”, I said. “Halve the time you’re with them but make the session driven and relevant for the entire 60 minutes.”

And using resources such as Soccer Coach Weekly really does help.

Surely it’s better to introduce an all-encompassing session rather than use a number of loose ideas that might take two hours to combine together? An hour a week is enough if you focus your sessions and squeeze every ounce out of whatever coaching point is being introduced… and there should always be one.