Designing tasks that respect the nature of the game and are adapted to the level of each child

The idea behind training is to optimize the players’ skills and therefore allow them to play better. Hence, how logical would it be to train in conditions that in no way resemble the situations players will encounter during competition? Training tasks must respect the nature of the settings in which players will find themselves during competition to help them to adequately respond to stimuli on match day.

It is important to remember that in these early stages training drills must be adapted to the age of the players, as their and an adult’s level of comprehension of the game and how it is played is very different. Hence, if we adapt the game to the particular characteristics of the children, we will be respecting the nature of the game in relation to the children’s characteristics and abilities.

Explaining tasks and drills to our players

In order for the coach to properly organize the information he needs to impart, he will need to go through the following three phases for each training task: the organizing phase, the adjustment phase and the teaching-learning phase. In this section we will focus our attention on the organizing phase: the moment when the coach explains the task and the players begin the drill. The way in which the information on the task is imparted to the players is very important and must include a number of factors so that the players perfectly understand what is expected of them.

We propose that the parts of the task be explained in the following order:

  1. The chosen didactic strategy
  2. The teams
  3. The playing space
  4. The awarding of points

Furthermore, it is also important to take into consideration any elements that might allow players’ concentration to wander. Coaches should make sure their players are positioned in such a way that they can follow the drill at all times and also have the coach in their visual field.

We must create the ideal conditions so that the planned objective and the content we wish to coach during the session occur repeatedly

The objective of training sessions is to improve the players’ abilities. Hence, the coach must work on creating situations in which the ability he wishes to improve arise. It is essential that the coach have the necessary knowledge to be able design training tasks and drills that conform to the objective and where context allows the players to experiment with the content in which they are being coached. In other words, to prepare situations that will force the occurrence of conditions that will allow players to apply the contents and contexts being worked on.

Modifying the elements of the task greatly influences how well the objective is accomplished

When we say coaches need to prepare situations, we are referring to the changes in the elements of the task in order to influence the contexts that will arise during the execution. To make sure that our objective is met, that is, the training of a given aspect of the game, the coach will modify a number of the variables within the task. In the following table we find examples of adjustable elements and how the changes affect the task at hand:

Elements that can be modified Variables How the game is affected
Space – Dimension

– Sub-spaces

– Forbidden zones

– Scoring zones

– Will facilitate or hinder the appearance of certain behaviors.

– Modification in the distribution of the players within the playing field

– Orienting the play towards certain areas

Number of players – Equal number of players

– Numerical superiority when in possession of the ball

– Numerical inferiority when in possession of the ball

– Numerical inferiority when on the defense

– Numerical superiority when on the defense

– Situations that facilitate/hinder attacks/defense

– Ease in finding unmarked players

– Problems to connect with teammates

– Problems to defend a given area

– Ease in defending a given area and in stealing the ball

How points are awarded – Behavior needed to score points – Change in the players’ behavior at the moment of scoring a point
Time – Increase or decrease of the allotted time

– Time allowed to achieve goal

– Influence on different conditional abilities

– Increase/decrease speed of execution

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