Without all the resources of a Premier League club, mid-winter training can be a real slog. The cold, wet weather can lead to lack of motivation, cold muscles and increased chance of injury. So we’ve put together this list of five simple steps to keep team training effective over the next few months.
1: Get started straight away
Keep ‘em moving. Keep ‘em motivated. Keep ‘em fit.
On the worst and wettest days of winter, standing around waiting for the session to start will get your players cold quickly.
As we said above, that can cause lack of motivation and increased likelihood of injury. Getting players doing some dynamic stretching exercises as soon as they arrive helps get muscles ready for the session, once that’s covered off, move on to low impact off-the-ball work such as shuttle runs and pitch laps. Follow that with high intensity group passing exercises, 1 v 1s, and 2 v 2s. When everyone is warmed up, you can kick the session off in the knowledge that everyone is ready to go.
2: No bystanders
Keep everyone involved. Keep the ball moving. Keep an eye out.
Standing on the sidelines is no fun when the cold wind is blowing or the rain is lashing in, so making sure everyone is involved the whole time is vital.
If you don’t it’s easy to lose group focus. So if you have more than one coach, split the group into three and five-a-side matches and set a coach to keep an eye on one or two games each. Break up free play games with two-sided retention and possessions drills.
3: Concise and targeted feedback
Keep the session flowing. Keep the feedback short. Keep the players moving.
When you need to communicate with players or teams, try to keep it short, to the point, and ideally, avoid stopping the game.
Make notes of more in-depth issues that need to be addressed, and cover them off when you’re inside, out of the weather. Whenever, possible don’t stop the whole activity or match to give group feedback, see if you can pull individuals to one side, or have a quick word as they run past. But if you have to stop the game for direct coaching, keep it short and snappy, 20 seconds max.
4: Skills training indoors
Keep ‘em warm. Keep ‘em happy. Keep ‘em indoors.
There comes a point when the weather is so awful that the only option is to cancel or find a place indoors.
If you’re not lucky enough to have your own indoor facilities, pulling together a list of contacts locally who have indoor facilities is vital. Once you have that you’ll need to stay on top of winter weather reports, and get a venue sorted at the earliest opportunity. High intensity five-a-side games and futsal sessions offer a great opportunity to practice close control and skills.
5: Wet weather and cold weather policies
Keep players informed. Keep ‘em dry. Keep ‘em training.
If you want to run more structured sessions in mid-winter, making sure players have access to the kit they need to keep warm and dry is vital.
Setting wet and extreme weather guidelines will help to make sure everyone is able to take part. If your players take care of their kit from home, communicating weather kit requirements for specific sessions through mobile or email is the best way to ensure that players are able to participate in all outdoor sessions. If the club is lucky enough to have a kitman, you’ll just need to ensure they have an eye on the weather reports and that the relevant kit is available when needed.