The final piece of my periodization process is to get down to the daily session level, discussing with the technical staff the various details of the training session. The head coach and high-performance director tend to lead this step as we assess all the training variables and deliver the most optimal session for that day. For example, I will utilize the TUESDAY session outlined in my last blog, “The Technical & Tactical Document.”
Below, I will break down some of the most common variables to discuss, but keep in mind that in every setting, a team and staff will have different variables to consider.
- Session Overview: Confirming the overall outline of the day, total number of segments in the planned training, and total time based on the expected length of each drill and breaks in between. In this case, we have four total segments: a warm-up plus three training segments for a total of 60 minutes. Here, we are also locking in the team meeting timing, the low-minute players’ extra work, the team lift, and any other logistics affecting the staff and players.
- Session Focus and Loading: Finalizing physical targets for the day. In this case, we aim for a strength session – characterized by small to medium grids, greater player density within drills, and high but short bouts of intensity over smaller spaces. It is not necessary, but perhaps helpful, to set some loading targets to serve as a guide for each session. We may use total distance metrics if GPS is available, but if not, utilizing session RPE and total time can help us track and re-assess our session. In this case, we aim for an average team RPE of around 5/10.
- Drill Size: An important variable to discuss, as it will set the framework for what loading the players are going to feel – but also how the drill is going to play out. Close collaboration with the technical staff is key to getting this right, but the re-assessment post-session is even more critical, as the staff learns from each drill throughout the season.
- Drill Reps and Work/Rest: Finally, we finalize how many repetitions or rounds we will complete for a given drill. How long is each rep, and how long is the rest between reps? A lot of this is determined by the periodization document and where we are in the season and within our work block. For this example, the 4v4+2 could be achieved with two sets of three reps at 60s with 60s rest in a late pre-season block, or it could be a single set of six reps at 90s with 60s rest within a block four months into the season. These variables are very often driven by a “feel” within the staff and the needs of the team. Player rotation is also something to consider when thinking through the drill.
- Goal Keepers and Injuries: These are critical pieces to consider within the training session and are often forgotten about. Make sure to consider their GKs, their warm-up length, their GKs-specific training time, and when the team needs them ready. The rehab players might be limited in the session – or perhaps just returned to full training. What are their limitations, does the session allow for their involvement, and who monitors them?
All this information is gathered from a daily session sheet, which is passed on through the staff to keep everyone informed and on the same page during the session. The idea is to be fully prepared and deliver a fluid session to the team with minimal issues and confusion. The smoother the operations and delivery, the better focus we hope to get from the players to optimize learning.