How to design a good practice

How to design a good practice

1 – Define your session objective

Either a skill focus, or game moment.

2 – Design the practices

If you had to describe ‘football’ to someone who has never seen the game how would you describe it?

When designing a practice it is important to make it look like football, which means that a practice should have all of these elements.

A good practice design will keep your players engaged at training and will also help them to develop their skills for the game on the weekend.

Football is a game

Players at all levels enjoy playing games. Whether they are ‘fun’ discovery games or ‘competitive’ small sided games.

between two teams

Players thrive on a challenge, and competing against someone else.

who score goals

Players enjoy scoring goals the most. Can you incorporate this into your practice?

with a round ball, using their feet

Players want to kick a ball, not run laps or do push ups.


The age and ability of your players will have the biggest impact on how you plan your session. Plan your session around the players needs.

1. Turn it into a game

Use direction – In order to score goals, both teams need to pass the ball forward down the field. Try to incorporate this in your practice.

Give a challenge –  All games have a challenge, ‘score the most goals’, ‘count the most passes’, ‘dribble the most balls’.

Decision making – We should be developing our players skills and decision making at the same time.

This doesn’t always mean playing with two teams and two goals, it means implementing ‘game elements’ into your practice, so it resembles a game situation as much as possible.

2. Have teams

Use bibs – The most boring ‘drill’ can become more interesting when it’s a competition between two teams.

Team tasks – Both teams should have a task. If the defenders win the ball they shouldn’t just give the ball back to the attacking team.

Competition – keep score, reset to make a new game or challenge, give bonus points etc.

Team A vs Team B, who can complete the most passes or juggles?

3. Use goals

What’s the first thing that players do when they get to training early and are unoccupied? They kick a ball at the GOOOOOOOALS!

No matter what your practice looks like, think about how you can incorporate goals into it. Even if they are pop up goals. Ask your club if you can borrow some goals for training.

A simple passing practice can become exciting if players get to ‘pass’ the ball into the bottom corner of a goal.

4. high engagement

If your players are going longer than 30 seconds without touching the ball they will become bored. A good practice increases the number of touches on the ball.

If your players are having lots of opportunities to execute a skill of decision they will be more likely to improve.

How can you design a practice to increase the number of touches for you players? Avoid having more than 4 players standing in line, use multiple goals

Here are some tips on how to change your practice.

– Create more lines if players are waiting too long.

– Make the area smaller if players are too bored (Step up)

– Make the area bigger if it is too difficult (Step down)

– Set a challenge. 2 points for a goal!

– Set a time limit. Only 30 seconds left!

Click here for more ideas.

change it

Do you have a question for our coaching staff? Submit your question with our on-line help desk.


View coaching courses. 

Senior Certificate Button