Play the Women’s World Cup Final in your next coaching session

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In the final part of a series looking at effective practice design, FA national coach developer, Amy Price, explains how you can use the Women’s World Cup Final as a template for a number of game-based coaching sessions.
Sunday’s Women’s World Cup Final will, quite rightly, capture the imagination of the footballing world. How each team apply and adapt their game-plan based on the occasion, opposition and flow of the game will, no doubt, make for intriguing viewing.

The showcase event also represents a great opportunity to engage your players at training.

Young players love nothing more than to play games during a practice session and the idea of playing in a World Cup Final will only add to their motivation and game understanding.

During the Men’s World Cup in 2018, a friend of mine shared his ideas of playing a World Cup tournament over a series of weeks.

It proved to be a huge success and something that can be used around the Women’s World Cup Final this weekend.

A Wildcats player smiles as she lifts up a trophy one handed into the air.
Staying in the final for the longest period of time is one way to decide the winning team.

Here are some ideas to try at your next training sessions:

1. Split your group into a number of World Cup teams (4 players in a team would be great).

2. Set up a number of small-sided pitches and let play begin with each team starting in the group stage of the World Cup tournament.

3. Each time a team wins a game they move up a level, and each time a team loses a game they move down a level.

For example: Level 1 = group stage

Level 2= quarter final

Level 3= semi final

Level 4 = final

5. The teams who are in the final have the challenge of staying there as long as they can.

6. Give the players the opportunity to use a ‘pause’ within games in order to consider their game plan and strategy. You can read more here.

These are just some ideas on how to create a tournament format and you will have your own. The main aim is that the players are thinking strategically about how to get to, and stay in, the final.

Two Foundation Phase teams walk onto a small pitch, within the indoor 3G at St. George's Park, titled 'St Petersburg Stadium' as part of a World Cup themed tournament.
A World Cup themed tournament can help excite and engage your players in training.

Most importantly, the tournament doesn’t have to end at the conclusion of the coaching session.

To create the feeling of a real World Cup extend the tournament over a number of weeks. The players can simply pick up the competition where they left it at the end of the previous session.

Each team then has the opportunity to consider their strategy before they play again the following week.

This is a principle borrowed from computer game design. When you are playing a computer game you can save your progress and pick it up the next time you switch the computer on.

Special features are another key part of computer games and should be used within your tournament. Consider how you can help each team to find the right level of challenge and also to have an opportunity of getting to the final. Nothing should be out of reach for any of the teams competing.

Some of these ideas were mentioned in my previous article which encouraged the players to ‘pause’ the game to utilise a menu of options.

Other ideas include:

  • Using different scoring system for different stages of the tournament. For example: goals in the final are worth less than in the group stages.
  • Having a ‘boss’ level for a team that has been in the final for a long time. For example: for every minute that passes in the final you have to remove a player from your team.

In the end, the team that has been in the final the longest or the team that is winning in the final when you decide the tournament is over wins the game overall.

It is this concept that allowed last year’s group to play a tournament for the best part of two months.

Please contact @AmyPrice_10 if you would like to discuss the ideas in this article further.

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