It's Better When It's Real [Video]

Real training.

That is what we need more of.

Real training in the sense that the activities we use at practice must help us win the game on the weekend, not the game on the practice field.

What I am about to tell you is not a secret.

In order to accomplish any of your goals as a coach, you must narrow your focus and concentrate your efforts on perfecting one, or maybe two, things at a slow pace. Do not move on until your players are REALLY ready.

Over the last couple of months I have been leaking videos which show how my outside backs move forward. This took us three seasons to get to. It didn't happen overnight. And it was a long, long process.

We were finally comfortable enough moving the ball across our back line that we could start working on midfield movement. Once our midfield was moving quite well, we started working on forwards/wingers. And once we had worked on all three levels, we could finally begin to tie everything together and get creative.

When you watch the video, the obvious run of our right outside back stands out. She casually jogs down the far side line and receives a pretty decent ball from our left center back over a crowded midfield.

I'd like you to go back and watch a second time though. This time I want to watch what happens at the bottom of your screen. Most of it happens off camera unfortunately, but I can paint a picture for you.

Our left back (#6) is in the frame from the start, along with our left sided attacking mid (#3) and our left winger (#11).  If you hit play and then pause the video really quick, you can see them forming a triangle around the football fields number 30.

If you hit play, we win the ball from their keepers goal kick fairly quickly. Hit pause again around 7 seconds. This is our regular attacking shape. We played 4 defenders at the back with a midfield 3 triangle.

Let it play for a second and you'll see the ball begin to switch from one side of the field to the other. Our attacking mid #3 leaves the frame at 15 seconds, but knowing where she is at is crucial for this explanation. She leaves the frame 30 yards from midfield but dead center. Our outside back #6 is beginning to back pedal and provide width, until she notices that our left winger #11 has taken her run inside. So our outside back realizes her centerback has time and space to either- 1) play direct or 2) dribble forward- so she takes off down the line. Our centerback (#22) begins to dribble forward and you see #3 reenter the picture quickly replacing the outside back who vacated that space.

Needless to say, there was a lot happening right there in a short amount of time! So much happening that EVERYONE on the far side of the field lost track of what was happening around them and that our allowed our far side outside back to just go for a stroll down the touchline. Unfortunately for all of those players moving around on the nearside, they didn't get the ball.

I cannot stress to you how hard it was to want to ALL of this at 100mph from day one.

It was layered. Slowly. Very slowly! Swinging the ball from side to side with our back 5 was step one. We worked on it relentlessly. Every practice, even if it was only for 10 minutes. We still did it. And we still do it. All the time! Even if it's only for 10 minutes.

But why did we choose to use that exercise and not something else? Because it translates perfectly to the real game. We morphed that exercise into 10 others, but they all built off the same principles. Spacing, talking, awareness, receiving across your body, patience, precision.

And when it came time to design activities for the midfielders, we did the same thing. What was realistic? And for the forwards? Same thing. And what happened we worked with a full 11? Yep, same thing. We kept it as realistic as possible with rules and guidelines that didn't help us win games on the practice field... we were using drills that were helping us win games on game day.