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Adapting activities to your team – introduction

During my coaching journey, I’ve purchased an extensive collection of books, videos, e-magazines, and other content. I believed that the more material I could digest and analyze, the better I would understand and coach the game. In one respect, I’ve gained a perspective on the different ways that the game can be viewed and taught. However, the wide range of philosophies that were involved in the creation of the content, and the differing interpretations of the game, left me confused. I often found myself drawn to whoever I had heard last. I think this is a common experience for many coaches.

This is the first of a series of articles on adapting activities to your team.

205 Sports has published a variety of session plans and session activities over the last few years through our Twitter account and website. Generally speaking, the activities reflect my philosophy on teaching and playing the game and my style of running training sessions.

In one respect, the content published by 205 adds to the volume of material out there that coaches can consume. Hopefully, this series will provide context for coaches to determine whether our material applies to their environment and the steps a coach could use to adapt activities appropriately. It is fair to say that one size activity does not fit all.

I would like to credit the Ohio University Master’s degree program and Todd Beane (founder and principal of the TOVO Institute) for providing me the background, tools, and vocabulary to help me clarify my approach to teaching and coaching. Although I had held advanced licenses and diplomas, I had only a vague sense of the theory that supported the methods that I had learned. This left me vulnerable to questioning my principles – and lacking the ability to articulate what my principles were. Both the Ohio program (a 2-year academic degree) and the TOVO V1 program (an online course) were instrumental in developing a deeper understanding of the “why” that accompanied the “how”.

And I think this is an important point. To teach something, we need to know some things first:

  • Why are we teaching this?
  • What do we believe about what we are teaching?
  • What outcomes are we working toward and why?
  • How does what I’m teaching relate to those outcomes?
  • Who are my learners?
  • What are their abilities and challenges – as individuals and as a team?
  • How do my learners learn?
  • What is the model of interaction with the learners?
  • If performed correctly by the learners, how will it look?
  • What are some common mistakes that learners might make, and what modifications or corrections will I use?

As part of this series, I will walk through an activity that we published earlier this year and put on the field with our UC Premier 2010 boys (U11) team. The activity is ideally a 3v1 rondo with social distancing zones.

Here is a video of the activity as initially designed.

In the next article, I’ll discuss the theory behind this activity and how it supports our club’s principles and game model. I’ll also attempt to answer some of the questions I’ve raised in the context of executing the activity with players.