As described in the sections above, each practice can be organized into distinct phases. LIJSL has defined these phases as:
- Warm Up
- Fundamental Phase
- Match Related Phase
- Match Condition Phase
Before anything else though you need prior, proper preparation, sometimes known as the 3 P’s.
- Every practice should have a plan, even if you just scribble down some notes on a piece of paper about the things you want to work on.
- Always have more things planned for a practice than you can do in the time allotted. There will be drills that you think will work, that just will not. Instead of forcing the issue, be prepared to move on.
- The coach should have definitive rules for practices. It is usually good to put these in writing at the beginning of the year.
- Have a definitive start and end time.
- Always be there 5 to 10 minutes before practice time. If your players and parents see that you are serious, they will tend to be that way also.
- Always have your equipment with you, extra balls (great for shooting drills, not for players that forget theirs), pennies and cones.
- If possible have an assistant. And don’t be afraid to ask parents to stay and help you out. You are not a babysitter.
- If possible, get a player 2 to 3 years older than your charges to help demonstrate skills. There are a lot of travel players who would love to work with the younger ones if you would only ask them.
The warm up phase has been described in the age characteristic sections above. A good warm up phase should include exercises with the ball and, if practical, exercises that deal with the particular skill you are working on that day. However some coaches like to warm up the same way no matter what the practice goal is for the day and that is all right also. Some coaches, such as Frank Schmidt of Sachem (LI Class A Champions 1997 and 1998) like to start out each practice with a 10-10-10 scenario.
- 10 minutes of foot skills
- 10 minutes of coervers and
- 10 minutes on 1 v 1
This type of practice will be discussed in more detail further on in the manual.
The fundamental phase which can be described as learning the basic skill. The basic skill can be broken down into different steps so that the player knows what to do from his “toes to his nose”. The basic skill can further be divided into segments so that there is a progression from the least difficult to the more difficult aspects of the skill.
Match Related Phase
The match related phase is training the skill to be used in a game situation. Again progression can be used. For example adding a passive defender to the drill simulates a game condition at the lowest level. Making that defender semi-active makes the skill being practiced a little harder. Adding an active defender makes the skill even harder still.
Match Condition Phase
Reiteration of the match related phase into a scrimmage like situation. Progression can again be used. For example, practicing team shape of a triangle with basic passing skills using 3 offense and one defense. Progressing up to 3 on 2 and finally 3 on 3. If passing and receiving was the basic skill award points for completed passing, combination passes, etc. not for goal scoring.
In a practice, especially with the younger levels, teaching proper technique is extremely important. The basic steps for teaching technique are as follows:
- Introduction – Keep it short
- Demonstration – Break down step by step, – “toes to nose”
- Convincing and repeated demonstration. Don’t let mistakes perpetuate