Releasing responsibility to the young players for them to become more self-sufficient learners

This is part-three in a series of blogs that I will publish on the theme of helping someone become their own learner. You can read part one here and part two here .

I continue to eavesdropped on some fascinating stories and exchanged learning experiences with many great people as I go “Ag Bothantaiocht”.

This is a session I designed at the end of the season and certainly one I really look forward to working with in more depth next year. I present the game here in the 8v8 format but I have also applied the same/similar constraints to a 5v5 and 6v6 game.

Game to develop collective defensive tactical organisation and recognition of pressing triggers

Session performed with 13/14+ over a period of one month


8v8 game with 3 zones

Maximum 3 touches

Red Zone 1: Blues cannot tackle. They can only intercept a pass. (They should focus on influencing direction of play)

Red Zone 2: Blues can only try to win the ball if

  1. A red player receives the ball with his back to the goal that he/she is attacking
  2. A red player is in possession facing the side-line
  3. A red player stops when in possession
  4. Intercept a pass

Red Zone 3: Blues can tackle

Same applies for red team when blues are in possession

My personal observations: One of the aims of this game was to get players used to the idea of recognising pressing triggers in the middle zone (player facing side-line, receiving the ball on the wrong foot, receiving the ball facing their own goal, stopping while in possession). After playing this game a few times over a few sessions the learning took an interesting evolution, one that I had not entirely anticipated. I noticed that the defending team began to self-organise and influence their opponent’s behaviour by forcing the “pressing triggers” to happen.

Evolution of session/learning

  1. Identify pressing triggers
  2. Influence the behaviour of the opponent to create the pressing triggers
  3. Connect the constraints of the session back to the purpose you applied them for by removing the rules and go into free play. For the coach, the real challenging part- Observe and make notes!

Releasing responsibility to the young players for them to become more self-sufficient learners

With the aim of helping our young players to become their own learner we ask ourselves what learning opportunities are on offer in our training environment? What conditions do we create that embrace the adaptive capacity of our young learners? How do we help our players to become perceptually attuned to the dynamics of the game?

We take responsibility for WHAT but the concept of HOW the players must themselves fill with life





3 thoughts on “Releasing responsibility to the young players for them to become more self-sufficient learners

  1. Hi Mark, I really enjoyed your blog. I coach an under 14 team and have a couple of new players, who haven’t played in a team before and are a bit raw when it comes to technique (control/passing). I know you said it’s not about repetitive drills. Do you have any sessions, that I could use to get them up to the standard of the other boys without holding the other boys back?

    • Good question Leo
      Let’s look at it another way. If their passing is not the best at the moment it can also be a challenge for your “better” players to work with their control due to the unpredictable quality of the pass. If you get my meaning.
      I think that you can play 3v1 to begin with. Encourage movement, find a space where they cam receive the ball.
      Also if we look at träning as combing all 4 things in one session at the same time I’ve technique,Tactical, physical, psychological then we see that psychological is the component that changes fastest over time (for better or worse) so you also need to work with that.

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