As we make our way into the middle of April, now having played in several spring league games and maybe even a tournament or two, it is the perfect time to give our players a little "progress report". This isn't something that the club officially mandates, but instead, a suggestion. Why? The simplest answer, taken from the 'Teacher of Teachers' Doug Lemov, "Feedback can be the most productive way to improve learning. Feedback's purpose is not necessarily to make someone feel better, but to make someone perform better". Assuming all our players have been given at least one hardcopy evaluation this season, giving them real concepts that they should try to improve upon, it may be beneficial to give them a little reminder as to what you discussed with them and if they have been able to put the feedback into action. This can be as simple as a thirty-second conversation as your training session is about to start or, as I've witnessed some coaches do, hand each player an index card praising their efforts to improve in areas you have discussed. No matter how this quick follow up to our evaluation from the winter is conducted, it is a great way to connect with each individual on your team as well as a way to continue giving them real-time guidance and teaching in this game we love.
As the new week was about to begin it was time to put my training plan together to help my groups get ready for their next set of games. I sat in my office chair at home, reflecting on the past weekends games. I thought to myself, "We need to defend better." I put together exercises to refresh players in the area of 1v1 defending as well as exercises to force the players to work on pressure and cover in small group defending exercises. The entire week's plan was a progression from individual defending to full team defending to create more individual discipline, team organization, and understanding from the defensive side of the ball. The week started well, the 1v1 defending exercises were forcing players to take away passing lanes as well as bend runs as they closed down the ball. The players seemed to focus on the purpose of the weeks training. The next evening we moved to small group defending that required timely movement and communication between teammates. I was hoping to get to some simulated "team defending" but we could not move past this current exercise. The exercise "looked good" and it seemed like the girls were working. But were they getting "work done"? My co-coach asked me, "Where's the intensity in their movements?" That's when I realized that the session was not helping the players as much as it could, simply because I was not demanding enough intensity. The pressure was correct in most cases, the cover sharp, but the girls were going "through the motions" because they had done the exercise before or because I wasn't motivating them to compete. Either way, I had to chat with them about the energy they were putting in to the exercise so that the session would have the chance to translate to the game on the weekend. I would imagine that we all have exercises we have used repeatedly throughout the season. As the season is progressing through its ninth month be sure to keep an eye on the energy the girls are putting in to these exercises so that you can see benefit on the weekend. It may be helpful to ask a co-coach to help you, or if you don't have a co-coach, ask a coach of another team to help you one evening. The added perspective can make a big difference in how a particular exercise, being repeated, impacts your players.
Click here for some interesting perspective on training in our land versus another that relates to my week described above. Hope you enjoy, have a great weekend on the field!
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Spring goalkeeper training is now in full swing! SLSG continues to produce some of the top keepers in the Midwest Region! Tim Kelly and Staff will continue to work hard this spring to help players improve and reach their potential. For a complete schedule please refer to materials sent via email from the Program Director.