A “session” is simply a combination of multiple (great!) drills put together (ideally) around a particular theme. First, you should never feel obligated to create your own practices. With all the research and planning done by top coaches to put together ready-made plans for you, you should feel comfortable leveraging these throughout your season. At the 8u and below levels you may even rely exclusively on them.
Play-Practice-Play is a Grassroots developed philosophy designed around a player-centered approach to coaching. Taking a player centered approach places the needs and motivations of the player at the forefront of a coach’s approach to coaching his or her players. The concept of Play-Practice-Play is to allow young players to experience the game and game-like situations as much as possible. This approach differs from traditional practices that may have children standing in lines, running laps and participating in drills that don’t resemble the game of soccer.
In simplified terms, what this means is:
- Activity 1 – Small-sided game up to 3v3, having multiple iterations as needed
- Activity 2 (and 3 or 4 as needed) – Focused training that exhibit game-like qualities
- Activity 3 – Full sided game (as close as you can get with # of players and field space you have)
The best collection of sessions that exhibit this methodology can be found here. I have attached full season plans by age for reference.
For some session ideas based around specific game situations, check out the Coach’s Decision Tree.