How do we increase efficiency and get the most out of every minute of Drills?
1. Touches Matter:
The more we get players/athletes touching the ball, the better. Incorporate passing and dribbling to set up the actual drill you are running. A drill designed to get some goalie work can incorporate passing and dribbling, so now we have three players outside the goalie getting work. An example would be a pass & shoot combo drill, any variation, but the kicker is the two setting up the drill. So we have 2 working the drill with the goalie, and two working a retrieving drill, i.e. be behind the goal and they dribble the ball back to set up the pass & shoot combo. This is a way to get more kids working on skills, running around, and getting more touches.
2. Players must first understand the reason for the particular drill, another words: random drills without understanding does not work!
There is going to be practice time where players can not only understand the drill, but game situations that relate to the particular drill. Explain quickly where the drill falls in the spectrum of the game; this puts more importance on the drill and makes the skills developed transfer to the game smoother.
3. Divide groups into more efficient sizes to get more touches.
We have either been in that line or lined kids up in a line to take some shots at the goalie. 12 kids in a line to take a shot on goal and we have scheduled 10 minutes for the particular drill. In those 10 minutes we have had each kid touch the ball 3-5 times and wasted a portion of practice waiting and not being active. Then, this process of waiting in line is repeated throughout the practice. Instead, let’s break those groups into 4 groups of 3 and then we have all kids active. One kid shooting another being goalie and the last being the retriever who is working on dribbling and conditioning.
4. Don’t exhaust the players by over coaching, make coaching points quick and to the point.
Kids lose concentration and focus when coaches drag on the coaching past 15-30 seconds. Make corrections quick, 15 seconds to correct the issue and continue the drill. The more unneeded talking we do the, the less drills are accomplished, thus meaning less touches for the players.
5. Game speed training.
Training at game speed puts together all the drill and practice into the game situation. Game speed training is often confused with only scrimmages, which can often leave several kids on the sideline not getting reps and not getting any touches. Instead, try making 4 sets of full speed drills/ 4v4 scrimmage that can get more kids involved and more touches. Put something to motivate the kids to play at full game speed by making the losing team of the drill do 10 pushups or having to fill the water bottles. The losing team assignment is used as a motivational item, not a punishment, i.e. no one wants to fill the bottles, but it is just enough to motivate players.