Creating a Possession-Based Team: Demands
Every year we see a top team sack a manager for under performing. In comes the next manager and often we see a dramatic change in the culture of the team, as well as development of the team play.
How is it that a team of the exact same players can see such a drastic change in performance and often results?
A manager, coach in the youth game, can truly make an incredible impact on a team and individuals. The implementation of the coaches’ philosophy, the demands required and the types of training sessions can dramatically alter a team.
Based on my last article, Creating a Possession-Based Team: Philosophy, I hope you realize the necessity of a possession-based philosophy for the future of US Soccer and have committed to this possession based philosophy.
Now the question remains, what type of demands will your training environment require? What types of sessions will you be utilizing with your limited available time? The answers to these questions will ultimately determine the long term success of your team and players, as well as define your abilities as a coach.
So where do we start? Let’s look at some of the demands or personal philosophies of coaches from around the world to give you some ideas.
Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game, lists the following as his key leadership lessons:
· Start with the Foundation
· Dare to Rebuild your team
· Set High Standards- and Hold Everyone to them
· Never, ever cede control
· Match the message to the moment
· Prepare to win
· Rely on the power of observation
· Never stop adapting
Caleb Porter, a successful collegiate and now MLS coach, describes the following as his necessary demands, “Train the shape, train the function, train attacking movement and train defending: The general principles of pressure. Every day has to be about two things: Your shape and your system. If players never do things in practice they won’t in the game.”
Pep Guardiola’s teams train with such intensity, that players such as Thomas Muller have been quoted saying, “Our training matches are more difficult than any Bundesliga game.” Guardiola firmly believes in implementation of intensity and discipline within his teams from day one. This creates a culture that demands the utmost from each individual, pushing the team to higher levels collectively.
Your first step as a coach must be to decide on the type of environment you want to create and commit to implementing these demands every single day.
Each of these top coaches listed above, as well as thousands of others have two key similarities. They all set and demand high standards within their teams, as well as make training as “game-like” as possible. While it is much easier to implement these changes at the start of the season, it’s never too late to make changes.
Just as we sat down the parents and let them know the staff expectations of them, we must let the players know the expectations for each of them and the team collectively. Without a clear vision and implementation of expectations and requirements, it will not matter the sessions you run or the philosophy you have.
My personal demands and environment created within my own teams focus on the following key factors:
· Players should always be 10 minutes early for training
· Players will always shake the hands of the coaching staff before and after training
· Players work on passing/skills in small groups prior to training start
· Demand the players respect and attention when communicating
· Coaching staff has exercises carefully planned and prepared before training
· Coaching staff demands intensity and high level of quality at all times
· Coaching staff exhibits enthusiasm and positivity (your actions set the tone for environment)
· Create a culture that is focused on team first-everyone must buy in
· Culture must focus on hard work, intensity and passion for the game
· Training MUST be game-like
· Encourage creativity and truly teach the game
· Relate to players individually, showing them you care- that’s why you demand more
· Remember, the game is about the players NOT you
Perhaps your list of demands and ideal environment will look similar or vary slightly. The key is that you have defined the demands you are requiring of the players and you are willing to carry them out each and every day. Simply by implementing this type of culture, you will see a dramatic change in the individuals and the team collective within a short period of time. If you convey the message appropriately of why you are demanding this culture, to create positive long term development for the players both on and off the field, the players will rise to meet these demands.
As Sir Alex Ferguson suggested, you have now started with the foundation! Your team philosophy is outlined and ready to be implemented. You have committed to create an environment that demands the highest levels of intensity and quality from the team. We have built our foundation firmly and it’s time to get to work!
Your players and parents are excited for these upcoming changes; now let’s change these players’ lives!