Get a refund, now.
We seem to have embraced a circus approach to training or what I like to call "short attention span theater." Coaches feel that we need to change a drill every six minutes and then make up sensationally complex exercises to keep the attention of the players.
We are not entertainers; we are trainers. We do not need light shows, fireworks, or half time rock stars to motivate our children to play soccer. They will play it without us.
Yesterday, my boys spent three hours playing soccer in the park with their friends and strangers. They just divided up, put the ball in play and played ... and played and played. No drills, no referees, no coaches, no problems.
What we need to consider is how children develop. How they learn. How they process information and how they wire experience into an ever-growing skill set. When we do this, we will probably do a lot less and accomplish a lot more.
We do know that our players (and all human beings) learn through the recognition of patterns. We apply what we have seen, heard and experienced before to new yet similar situations. We do that pretty well as it turns out and it allows us to apply skills to conquer challenges. It allows us to apply concepts to complexity. It allows our players to seek solutions with the confidence they have tackled the scenario several times before.
Unless, of course, they have not seen the same scenario several times before. If they have seen 1,000 different drills, pattern recognition becomes a bit difficult. If we expect them to master a skill or a concept in six minutes we are woefully misguided.
Showing off how many drills or how many cones we can use does not make us impressive coaches. It makes us poor educators.
We are charged with enhancing the experience of young players who would be happy playing 3 hours in the park without us. We can do that by keeping it simple and by using a core base of exercises that have simple variations to add complexity as the players advance. We do not need much more than that. Maybe just throw in a pinch of praise to make the learning tasty.
"Remember that it may take some time for lessons or concepts to sink into young brains. Repetition over time will help form those memories and associations so that they stick." -- Dan Peterson
So, clean out the digital closet a bit and donate the ineffective drills to the cyber trash bin. Focus on rondos, position-play games, and training games to present a repetitive but dynamic series of learning activities.
Then let the kids go home and sleep on it.
When you wake up a few Saturdays from now, you will be the one entertained. You will be delighted by the way your players play the beautiful game and in awe of their ability to play it well without you.
(This article was republished courtesy of Todd Beane, who can be followed on Twitter at @_ToddBeane. He is Founder of TOVO Training and TOVO Academy Barcelona. TOVO Training combines pedagogical practices of experts in the field of education with the visionary principles of a total soccer legend Johan Cruyff. TOVO Academy Barcelona offers soccer immersion programs for youth players and development courses for coaches.)