Now that the season has started for many of us, and soon for the rest, we have to consider our practice plans. How efficiently and effectively you plan your practice is how good your practice will be.

Do any of these sound like your soccer team?

You don't have a soccer practice plan. You improvise it. Sometimes things that need to get done get done. Other times, you forget. You run completely on instinct.

You spend a lot of time creating a practice schedule, sometimes as long as the practice itself will be. But when he starts his soccer practice, he finds himself extending stints, eliminating special teams and losing the focus he had that day.

You have a great soccer practice schedule and you intend to follow it. But you are so into your exercises that you forget to look at your watch, almost every day. You go over your periods and struggle to catch up again.

If so, there is good news and bad news. First, the good news: There are great programs, championship teams, all over this country that are just like you.

Bad news? There are many more teams that run a tight boat, follow a schedule, get the job done on time, and win championships.

To plan an effective practice, you need to consider 6 steps (maybe 5?):

Warm-up: Get your players to relax, work on flexibility and movement issues, relieve tension, and generally avoid injury; do it all with a good warm-up. A mix of dynamic and static stretching, with a focus on hip flexibility, will work.

Individuals: This is the money part of the practice. I know many of you have so few coaches that it is difficult to focus on the specific skills of each position, but find a way. At least work on blocking, defeating blocks and tackling, that applies to everyone! Do you have a good staff? Take care of your E.D.D.s: daily exercises that your players must be able to perform to be successful. After that, work on specific skills for your next opponent.

Teaching: Install new fronts, formations, plays, stunts, blitzes, etc. This can be in an individual or team period, but take time to teach at a slow pace.

Group: Divide the parts of your team. We work 3 drills at a time: indoor, weak outdoor, and strong outdoor drills. We may be working against Inside Trap or Iso with Mike Linebacker and two tackles inside, while working with End, OLB, Safety and Corner on either side against outside running plays. We're maxing out reps here - the rear OLB doesn't learn anything on the gear when you sweep away from it!

Team: Put it all together. Show a variety of styles, try to recreate the game for your children. Show them your opponent's best plays, try to sequence them like your opponent would, mix up the calls and have them line up and attack! By the way, this is the only part of our practice that is done at the pace of the actual game. Most of our day we won't even go to the ground. I hope this year our team is good enough to stay off the ground on the team too!

Conditioning: We don't condition (this is where the "Maybe" comes in!). I don't think it's wrong to run some gasifiers at the end of practice. But if your kids are in shape, probably due to their off-season schedule, and you do lively, fast-paced practice with minimal standing time, you shouldn't have much of a need for conditioning. If you're still using gasifiers in the last week of your season, you don't understand the human body. Sorry to offend you, but you need to change. But seat your own kids, and if they're out of shape to start the season, get it running more here (no more than 40 yards). To be most effective, use a pursuit drill or some other soccer-related conditioning that will help you a lot more than straight line work.

Sample practice plan

Now, we have solved the problem for the people in the first group.

If you fall into the second category and frequently ignore your practice schedule, you must commit to it. Force yourself to follow the practice plan. At the end of the week, evaluate your progress. What could you have done to improve your soccer team? Incorporate that into your schedule for the next week. During practice, constantly tell yourself that you will adjust the next schedule, not the current one.

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Do you need to know how to organize all this? See a sample practice, both complete and blank: