TeamSnap Preseason: A Soccer “Mock Session”

If you are a soccer coach or parent tackling coaching for the first time, here’s a basic rundown as to what a preseason session could look like for your soccer team. Every coach, club, and team is different. So, at the end of the day use your best judgment to put together a plan that fits the needs of the players you are coaching. To help you get started, here’s a basic outline to consider. As a youth soccer coach in New York, I’ve operated several preseasons for players of all ages. At the end of the day, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that it’s just the starting point. Everything isn’t supposed to be perfect from the jump and it’s about development, not scoring lots of goals and winning. As a coach, focus on getting the team to feel good through team bonding and mini successes every day.

Preseason practice plan “mock session” 

Phase 1: Players arrive. If following the U.S. Soccer model, allow the player to free-play a bit and get comfortable. Put out some small goals and spread out some soccer balls for them to kick around. After you’ve let them get moving a bit and play, move onto a warm-up. ~10 minutes

Phase 2: A dynamic warm-up. Take the players through a mix of active stretches and movements that will occur during practice. Incorporate some jumps, sprints, and shuffles to make sure they are warm. Talk to the players about why a warm-up is important and talk them through the exercises with the hope that later on in the season they can warm-up themselves. ~10 minutes

Phase 3: Small sided activity. Start things off on a smaller scale so you can get the players comfortable kicking the ball around and moving in small spaces. This will allow them more touches on the ball, but also you as a coach a chance to see their technical ability. A small sided activity could be variations of rondo and other possession games, 4v4, 5v5, or even 3v2 games. ~15-20 mins

Phase 4: Open up the space. Try and just open up the space to encourage the players to now start to recognize the space of a field and movement throughout the area. Now that they’ve had a good amount of time playing small, can they just apply the same skills in a bigger space? ~15-20 mins

Phase 5: Scrimmage and play to goals. Depending on the age group, make the field as game-like as possible. Have two goals and make even teams. Let the players free play for the remaining time. Coach on the fly and see if they can apply their understanding of the game from the earlier small sided games into the full field. ~20 mins

Phase 6: Cool down and debrief. After the session is complete, make sure to take the players through a cool down. During the cool down re-visit some of the coaching points from the session and open up some of the conversation for the players to ask questions and comment as they wish.

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