Tuesday, November 18th
It’s great having a 2-hour window for training with the 2002 girls that I coach. For our Tuesday evening sessions we use the first 30 minutes of that time frame to cover aspects of the girls four-corner development that goes beyond the technical-tactical and the physical. The remaining 90 minutes is business as usual then.
This past Tuesday, we continued to work on content that represents the team’s expectations and standards. Out of all the ideas the girls and coaches had come up with for what we expected of each other, I’d created some wordles (visual arrangements of words/text where the larger the word, the more frequently it was used within the text). I did one made up of only ideas from the player expectations. I also did one made up of the ideas from the expectations of coaches. And I did one where I combined all the ideas together (player and coach) to make a team expectations wordle. Here’s what that final one looked like.
So the girls were divided into three groups and each group spent a few minutes looking at each of the three wordles. Their task was to create a one sentence statement that they felt best represented what they saw in that wordle. By the end, each group had a statement of player expectations, a statement of coach expectations and a statement of team expectations.
That was as far as we got with that as I’d had more I wanted to do so I told the players we’d look at their statements the next week (more on that next post). With the time we had left in our half hour, the girls copied out the following into their journals
I will be starting the player-parent conferences this week in order to begin creating an individual performance plan for each player. I wanted the girls to start thinking about what they were strong at and what they felt they needed work at in each of the four corners of development.
Of course, I knew they may need a little help with it so I spelled out some things in each of the four corners to get their wheels turning. When we sit down to discuss their plans, we will directly try to incorporate the suggestions they have for improving themselves in each of the four corners.
Wednesday, November 19th
Yuck! Snow fell throughout the day and made rush hour very difficult for everyone. And yet as I saw player after player arrive at the field, I realized just how lucky I was to be coaching this group of girls. Yes, I’m smiling with pride right now.
It was a much better session from the Wednesday before which I’d noted in last week’s blog was probably one of the weakest performances yet. Interesting to note were the resting heart rates of most of the players upon arrival. They were high. Very high. Maybe they were stressed because they were arriving late as a result of the inclement weather and that stress resulted in the elevation? It’s something I can show them and that we can talk about. They know that stress is one thing that elevates heart rates so it will be interesting to see if they arrive at the same conclusion when I show them the numbers.
For a few weeks now, I’d been meaning to talk to them about the 2v2 random games competition that we do each Wednesday. This was week #4 and since the session they’d completed the night before had a great deal of connecting points to the 2v2, I felt it was the best time to note those connections.
We talked about balance in a 2v2 and how the defense wanted to maintain balance while the job of the attacking team was to break that balance. The first way to do that was to dribble 1v1 and try to get behind the nearest defender. There was also a combination play between the two attackers to get behind the nearest defender. And there was an overlap in order to unbalance the defenders by creating a 2v1 against the defender nearest the ball.
The most important thing was that the attacking team had to find a way to unbalance the defense but in doing so, they had to unbalance themselves (i.e., if the player on the ball chose to dribble and failed, there would most likely be an advantage for the defending team as they’ll have now won the ball and be looking at a potential 2v1 in their favour). In other words, trying to unbalance the opponents carried with it an element of risk. I told them I wanted to take risks, to go for it.
Did they go for it? Absolutely! Looking at the games, you could see the risk. The intensity was high. Games were very competitive. They were failing and their opponent would immediately try to counter and score. If that happened, the team that failed would take the ball and go right back at their opponent again. The game scores coming in that night were high.
I did the tally later that night and compared it to the week before (the not so good session). Total goals from all the games? 71. The week before? 60. Average heart rate by the end of the 2v2? 155. The week before? 133. So if we speculate from the numbers, taking risks paid off in increased goals but it also resulted in more intense games which were confirmed by the higher heart rates from the week before. Of course, the higher heart rates could also have been a lingering sign of the stress from arriving late at the session that night.
In either case, it’s data I can’t wait to share with them next week in order to start a discussion. Even if they decide that the elevated heart rates may have been as much from stress as from higher work rates, I hope they will realize that the best way to find out for sure is to try and replicate the risk taking from the last session in order to see if they can reproduce the same results.
If it works, they’ll be taking a very active role in their learning.
Next post Saturday, November 29th.