The following outlines structural elements of training sessions…


Give outline and over-all expectations – what should athletes have learned by the end, the specific learning outcomes (Why? is always appreciated, so athletes have a clearer focus and sense of purpose / achievement or progress, at least.)


Relevant to needs. Blood flow and multi-directional range of motion. A good place to use varied technical drills – short, sharp and intense. Games and challenges can enhance engagement – must make sure everyone on task.

Devising / Selecting Activities

  • What do they need? Now / next month / next year?
  • Solicited from players: “What do you think we need to work on?”
    • … can take their input
    • … can present a series of options based upon previous game / session de-brief

Activities – Skill Development / Unit Development / Team Development

It’s important to consider needs and the types of activities that will address them…

Technique – Isolated, closed practice. Mastery of technique only, not application. Can build confidence for pressure situations through movement automaticity.

Drills – Technique under pressure. Closed environment. Few decisions. Limited variables.

Skills – Open environment. Multiple variables and decisions. Limited in scope. Opposition often constrained to the point of predictability.

Small-sided Games – Open environment. Multiple variables and decisions. Scope wider. Opposition less predictable. Numbers actually or close to even.

Modified Games – Open environment. Multiple variables and decisions. Scope wider or game-like. Opposition constrained to emphasise desired outcome(s) / teach certain lesson(s). Numbers actually or close to even.

Scenarios – Open environment. Game situations isolated to emphasise desired outcome(s) / teach certain lesson(s).

Full Game – Open environment. Game-like (may not be full contact, for example, but certain conditions imposed depending on circumstances). Numbers balanced.

For each, provide expectations and/or the problem to be solved. Check for understanding and ask for possible solutions.

  • Try it – explore, acclimitise
  • Quick evaluation and/or adjustment – Do they get it? Modify to set proper challenge point? Chance to clarify any questions.
  • Play on! – use positive statements on the fly to reinforce good behaviour. Limit stoppages (maybe another coach can watch and comment or take someone aside quickly for a question or explanation).
  • De-brief – What was learned? Why was this important? Where can it be applied? Praise, highlights, analysis, self-analysis. Can be a segue into another, more complex activity.

Session De-Brief

  • Quick re-cap of learning objectives
  • Solicit input what worked / could be tweaked
  • Leave a ‘take away’ from this session or a ‘big question’ for next time