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The Fourth ‘L’. Lost Time.

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No Laps, Lines, or Lectures. What about the 4th ‘L’?

By: Kevin Butler

Whether you’re 18 or 58, we’ve all heard about the value of starting early when it comes to retirement savings. That $10 per week you started with coming out of high school, makes a big difference when you get to be 60. First, it develops the right habits. Second, it all adds up to a bigger picture down the road.

I’m on a training field 4 days a week and on the sidelines the other 3. I see many coaches work hard at running a good training session. Coaches have players working in smaller groups to increase the repetition. Warm-ups are dynamic, and fitness is done in a way other than circling the field. Preparation is made for the training session ahead of time so coaching points, progressions, focus areas, etc have been thought through so the coach can deliver specific information, without reciting a book.

So, where does it go wrong? Coaches lose 10-20% of their training time, sometimes more, for two main reasons. Not being organized. Too many water breaks.

Organization is key. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Equipment: It starts with making sure you have everything you need for training before you leave the house. Arrive to the field 20-30min early to setup your field and review your session. Have what you need laid out and separated, cones, pinnies, flags, etc. Coaches will lose 5-10 minutes just getting their things together by showing up at the start of training. For a 90-min session, this represents 5-10% of your training time.

  2. Good flow to your training: Make sure you can move from your warm up activity, your small sided activity, expanded activity, to the game at the end with minimal movement of your cones. If you need 5 minutes instead of 2 minutes to setup each activity, between each activity, you’ve lost another 3 minutes. 3 min times three times per training is another 9 minutes lost. Another 10% of training time.

Too many water breaks and/or breaks are too long is another mistake coaches make. For perspective, we are not referencing an 85-degree day, 80% humidity, first day of the season. This is also general and needs to be adjusted to younger players or older players. An 8-year-old is not going to last as long as a 16-year-old.

I see players have 10 minute breaks or I see players have a break every 10 minutes during training. This can easily lead to another 5-10 minutes of wasted time.

  1. Players need to be able to go 30 minutes on the field without coming off. Players should be able to get through a 90 minute sessions with one or two water breaks. Keep the water break to a couple of minutes. Once the players start talking about everything else other than soccer, it’s time to reign them back in.

  2. Bring the team in and review focus, ask questions, go over coaching points, talk about what is happening and what adjustments need to be made. This is valuable and does not need to be a lecture. Coaches use this time to allow players to bring their heart rate down and have some recovery, without losing focus on the training.

If you lose an extra 13 minutes of training time at each day due to a combination of these mistakes, you lose 26 minutes of training per week. That’s 1/3 of a 90-minute session. Over 12 weeks, you lose the equivalent of 4 training sessions with your team. That’s an extra two weeks of training! What would you give to have that back?

Like saving for retirement, the little things we do in the beginning of the season makes a big difference at the end. We can develop the right habits, and we know that it adds up to a bigger picture down the road. That bigger picture is your player’s development and the impact you’ve had on it.

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