Football Coaching Session: Using Scenarios


I was skimming through some of the Youth Mod 2 content last week and came across a note I’d made about using scenarios in sessions as a way to get your topic across. I always try and use different sessions so thought I’d look at using scenarios/situations to continue our recent theme of defending (pressing or being compact).

I’ve heard coaches talking about using situations previously, perhaps at the end of the session or just to introduce a different angle to a game but having tried it last week I think there were good benefits to using this type of session.

Firstly, the setup. We had 12 players so it was perfect for 6v6 in the 35 x 35 area we have (we sometimes have 17 players which is hard work on such an area!) and to begin with they played a 10 minute game to get started. This gets rid of a bit of early energy and also allows me to see if the teams are evenly matched (they create the teams, not me). I also split the pitch in to thirds and asked them to “defend in two but attack in three”.

We then stopped it, allowed them to get a drink and I explained that we’d now play a 10 minute game where the situation was that one team had a 2-0 lead to defend. The team who were to lead were the team who’d lost the opening game so it was an interesting change of focus and challenge for them.

What I like about the situation approach is that it gives team’s a chance to set out a strategy or plan for how they play before the game and it gives you an opportunity to explore what they come up with via some Q&A. What I found interesting was their response to the challenge – they defended more aggressively than in the opening game, generally worked harder and actually won the game.

Before the first situation I was going to give each team the same challenge but due to the outcome of the second game I instead used the same challenge but this time spoke more to the alternate team about how they could change their approach to win the game.

To summarise:

1st Game: Team A beat Team B (by a couple of goals)

2nd Game: Team B beat Team A (Team B had started with 2-0 lead)

In the 2nd game there was no change in performance from Team A but Team B, as shown above, improved considerably.

Game 3 used the same situation but I spoke to Team A about their approach because I wanted to see how they’d react. They wanted to try and draw out Team B who’d sat in a compact shape and didn’t feel they should press because Team B were “going long”. Team B were happy with their approach from the previous game but felt they could be better in possession.

Outcome of Game 3? Team A won, comfortably. The difference? Team A scored an early goal and Team B’s work rate / belief dropped so they didn’t defend as aggressively and conceded soft goals. This provided an opportunity to talk about this with them after the game finished.

In the final situation I wanted to challenge a couple of players in Team A (as they’d won two of the games without too much challenge) so I changed Team A to 4 players and had 6 on Team B. I gave Team A a 2-0 lead and then asked them to discuss how they would approach protecting that lead. The result? The 4 players won the game by securing a 2-1 win.

The different perspectives to the game certainly opened up interesting decisions for them to make regards their game plan. It also altered their work rate and most noticeably, how hard they worked when out of possession.

In addition to this I also had players on Team B being responsible for organising their team’s defensive shape and that was given to a different player in each of the 3 games which gave them a separate challenge to think about.

All in all it was a really good session and a great way to discuss strategies to the game from both an attacking and defensive approach but with the main focus on the latter.

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About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

4 Responses to Football Coaching Session: Using Scenarios

  1. andylowe99 says:

    Hi, Simon. Thanks for this. Really interesting.

    I’m about to do my Level 2 final assessment and I’ve been advised to move on to the Youth Modules next (I’ve coached Under 8s, Under 9s and, this season, Under 10s – the same group, more or less).

    I love the idea of scenario training because, as you say, it seems to concentrate minds – and perhaps simplify things a little in the players’ minds, which helps with focus.

    The issue I’ve found with Level 2 session work is that I have to keep adapting for my players’ age/attention span/learning, so I’m really looking forward to taking on the Youth Modules. (I’m hoping to stay with the same group as they progress up from 7 to 9 a side next season).

    Quick question before I stop rambling… When you talk about dividing the pitch into three and defending in 1 & 2, attacking in 3 – are you basically talking about keeping possession, switching play etc? I was going to try a SSG with my boys on Saturday where the pitch is divided this way and I restrict them all to two/three touches (one of my issues is coaching them away from charging forwards to attack constantly, getting them used to the idea that they can pass backward/across, etc).

    Thanks!

    • Hi Andy

      Thanks, always nice to know if people have enjoyed a blog post!

      I think you’ll find the Youth Awards hugely more beneficial towards your coaching at that age group, I know I did.

      With the pitch split in to vertical thirds I wanted them to think about the concepts of width/depth when attacking and being compact when defending so this is how I used the setup. Obviously in terms of width I am looking at where we can switch play and we’ve done work on that in pre-season (see Monday’s post). Dan Wright has some great SSGs which you may find interesting.

      Good luck in your final assessment.

      Regards
      Simon

  2. andylowe99 says:

    Understood. 🙂 Thanks, Simon. And I’ll check out Dan’s SSGs.

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