Choosing a training method is fundamental for the organization of the players’ training process. The method will guide us through the soccer teaching-learning process, it will determine the way we will work and it will allow us to be coherent with our established objectives.
It is essential that coaches know which training methods are available to them to help them teach and train soccer. Different methods exist, each one conforming to a greater or lesser degree to our proposed goals. Training in a certain way will affect our players’ development: hence, it is important to know the best way to train them. Coaches must be clear about the criteria they wish to follow in the players’ training process. On the one hand, there are methods where players adjust to their coach’s approach to soccer and they reproduce exactly what their coach demands of them. On the other, there are methods where the coach adapts his teaching to the needs of his players, guiding them through the process, helping them to improve as players but letting the players play a main role in their own training.
The level of comprehension of the game is different when training analytically or globally
The training of soccer has evolved throughout its history and we think it important to point out two working methods. These are the analytical and the global methodologies. Familiarizing oneself with the differences between these two is essential.
When we speak of analytical training, we are referring to a training method based on a behavioral process. In other words, it consists of receiving a stimulus and executing a response.
Conversely, in global training the focus is on mental processes: players will receive a large number of stimuli they will need to process before making a decision. In this sense, and because of the nature of soccer, we believe we must invest in global methodologies when training our players.
Nevertheless, it is important to point out that both working methodologies have their merits and can be used as long as they are used in a coherent way and in accordance with the teaching-learning process of the game. Although, as we mentioned above, we think global methodologies are better adapted for complex team sports such as soccer, it is true that introducing analytical work at specific moments can be of use. Analytical drills allow players to work under no pressure and at a low degree of difficulty: the player may thus be emotionally rewarded. Moreover, if, for any reason, we need to work under conditions that do not resemble a competition scenario – for example, there might be a risk of a player being injured in a real match situation, or one of the players might be overly tired – this method will allow us to work out in a different, yet interesting, way.
We also think it is interesting to remark that it is possible to work on analytical drills that resemble the internal logic of the game: even if the basic structure of the drill is analytical, its internal logic might correspond to a stimulus or a decision-making situation that could arise in a match. For instance, passing the ball to and fro between two teammates without applying any type of concept (Fig. 1) is not the same as a player passing the ball to his or her teammate circumventing an opponent (the cone) on the outside of the “field” in the most efficient way possible (Fig. 2). In this second, analytical, exercise, the players must still consider the trajectory of the pass, the force with which it will be passed, and the position of their teammates in relation to the obstacle that must be surpassed so the ball will reach its goal. While this drill is carried, out some visual stimuli and concepts pertaining to a game situation where easily surpassing an opponent by passing a ball to a teammate will arise. True, a cone does not behave the way an opponent would, but we could use this drill to familiarize our players to certain concepts present in a real match.