We came across this fantastic breakdown of activities that occur during a football match presented by Ray Power, author of Making the Ball Roll – A Complete Guide to Youth Football for the Aspiring Coach, and it holds several insights for grassroots coaches on how to train our young footballers.
As we can see from this analysis, this is extremely valuable data and it is important to utilise this information in a way that improves our training sessions. Critically, it gives us a framework to analyse how we are preparing our boys and girls for the game. Is our training match-related? Are the activities from today’s session equipping the kids to perform better in the game? These are some of the questions we constantly need to ask ourselves because our objective is for the kids to learn new skills, improve their abilities and enjoy themselves while they are doing so.
However, statistics need to be used intelligently. So if footballers are standing for 18% of a 90-minute game, does that mean we need to have sessions where our children are standing around for 18% of the time? Or if footballers run at high speeds for 2% of the game, do we train for high-speed running only 2% of the time? Of course not. Things like standing and walking back and forth are movements that will happen by default during a football match.
As for movements like high-speed running and jogging, just because players will do it for shorter periods doesn’t mean we have to train less for those moments. Instead, it tells us how crucial it is for players to be ready for those specific movements because football is often decided in those moments. The defender is a fraction of a second late recovering his position and that’s all the time the player may have to make the right decision – do I shoot or pass? Do I pass to my left or right? In which direction should I make my run off the ball? So while the players may perform some movements for shorter periods in a match, it is very likely that we will spend a disproportionate amount of time training for them.
Summing up, these are fabulous insights and full credit to Ray Power for presenting the findings. As with all forms of knowledge, it is important that us coaches use this information to put out ever-improving training sessions in our pursuit of excellence.
To learn more about coaching youth football, grab a copy of Ray Power’s book, Making the Ball Roll, from here.