Small group and private coaching sessions are a great way to help build a players confidence and skill set. Delivered well they are a great tool to aid development. 

The players and families signing up are placing on us a trust to ensure a progressive and challenging learning environment.  We tend to be working with players who are highly motivated, I would recommend frank conversation with parents prior to a player joining sessions to communicate that practice between sessions (as assigned weekly) is imperative and that these sessions are for serious players – while players may be of different ability and age, they must have a positive attitude towards building their skills. 

You are looking looking to set activities that are right on the edge of players capabilities, pushing them to listen, observe others, practice and progress. It is of course imperative that the coach puts plenty of thought into session design to achieve these goals. The majority of skill introduction will begin early with communication starting off quite generic in respect to the technical pointers to be targeted. Instruction should gradually get more specific to the player and how they are performing the technique thru the session. The debrief at the end of the session will allow an interactive discussion with players as to the technical points required for the skill, with review between the player and coach as to an individuals strengths and areas for focus. 

It is key that the instructor looks to be bold and purposeful in regard to the day’s theme being taught. It is better for players to master one or two specific development targets than moderately work on 4 or 5. The coach should be driven to ensure the player leaves with a very clear understanding and ability to perform a technique. 

The design of a quality session with multiple progressions is key to a high level provision in this area. Sessions must be flexible to match the number of players you have arrive on the day and in some cases the coach may need to join in to be the one to apply pressure or competition. The benefit of small group sessions is that players will either have: a player or three to compete against, players of similar age and ability; and players they can teach something to (a great way to reinforce learning) or look up to and emulate. When bringing players in to sessions the coach should consider the age and ability of an incoming player and of course evaluate for safety.

Summary Suggestions 

  • Be over-prepared.
  • Have a quality session plan and have various backup activities drawn up in case you decide they are needed. 
  • Bring the energy.
  • Work hard and push your players hard – these sessions are clearly advertised as for players who want to get better. Hold them to account. 
  • Be a quality role model.
  • Build confidence, the chance to provide regular specific guidance to a player is precious – do so appropriately and build your players up.

Mark Stone - 14th September 2015