How to design a Women’s World Cup coaching session - part two

Guide 5 - 11 12 - 16

In part two of a series of articles on effective practice design, Amy Price, FA women’s national coach developer, highlights how ‘pausing’ your practice session can provide young players with the opportunity to improve their reflection, planning and communication skills.

The role of the Video Assistant Referee [VAR] has been one of the key talking points at the 2019 Women’s World Cup so far.

With regular breaks to the action on the pitch, coaches have had more opportunity than ever before to communicate with their players during the game. Similarly, players have had lots of chances to speak with their teammates.

USA head coach, Jill Ellis, makes the 'think' gesture to Lindsey Horan during their game with Sweden.
Breaks in play have offered coaches at the 2019 Women’s World Cup the chance to embed messages at key points during the match. Image: Paul Currie/BPI/REX.

Recreating similar scenarios in your practice sessions can be a great way to help young players develop their communication skills and game-understanding.

Pausing your coaching session – or, better still, allowing the players to decide when to pause the action – provides an opportunity for the players to think about:

  • What is going well? What we need to get better at and why?
  • Strengths and weaknesses of our own team and opposition.
  • Who is causing a threat on our team and theirs?
  • In which area of the pitch is there an opportunity to exploit?
  • How to use all of the above information in order to win the game.
A coach points into the distance whilst giving a young girl some instructions during an SSE Wildcats training session.
Utilise interventions to pass on guidance to your players when they need it.

This process is even more beneficial when the discussions are player-led with the coach acting as a support mechanism if needed.

If the players want your input they should be specific with their request. Encourage the players to:

  • decide on the support they need and why they need it (as outlined in article one)
  • use the ‘pause’ to strategically gain the best possible advantage.

This coaching approach is fundamentally different to noticing and intervening. As such, players will need lots of support when working in this way for the first time.

To gradually introduce these ideas you may need to:

  • decide when to pause the practice
  • offer a menu of options within the 4Cs (cheat, challenge, clue, change) framework
  • state how many times a team can use each of the 4Cs
  • ask if the players need instruction or demonstration about something specific.

Being conscious of what is going on within a game, and having the ability to articulate it, is a high level cognitive skill.

If we want our future players to be autonomous, flexible and be able to set and solve problems, then ‘pausing’ and letting them think might just help.

This is the second of three articles looking at the Women’s World Cup and practice design. Follow The Boot Room and @StGeorgesPark over the next week for Amy’s final article which will explore the above ideas in more detail. Article image courtesy of Paul Currie/BPI/REX.

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