Being organised and following a session plan are fundamental to good coaching.

Knowing how to efficiently set up your session can save you time, increase ball-rolling time for the players, and minimise stress when you first arrive.

In our Introduction to Soccer Coaching online course, Rob Sherman (Current Fiji Men’s National Team Coach and Former Technical Director of Football Australia) shares his system for ensuring you’ve got everything covered when you turn up to training. 

Rob’s N.E.A.T system helps to ensure the players spend their time learning to solve football problems, not waiting for the coach to set up or talk…  Here’s the breakdown.


We all want certainty around how many players are attending, and even numbers can make activities easier. But in reality, players won’t turn up, could run late or can get injured within a session – so we need to be adaptable

So how can you deal with odd numbers? Plan for different scenarios and utilise neutral or common players who can play for both teams, set up 3 team activities, or play overload games (e.g. 5v4) and set a challenge for the 4 who are outnumbered.


Essential equipment could include…

  • Cones
  • Bibs
  • Balls (1 for each player if possible)
  • Goals (or mini-goals)
  • First aid kit
  • Ball pump
  • List of contact details for parents
  • Emergency protocols


Checking the safety of the pitch can be something that’s easily neglected. Are there goals or objects around that could cause injury? If the pitch has potholes, perhaps set up in another area and if that’s not possible, ensure they are marked clearly for players to avoid. 

When marking out the areas, we recommend starting from the outside in. For example, you might have a plan to finish with a large-sided game such as an 8v8. If this is the case, mark that area first and then set up additional activities within that space. 

In the video below, Rob walks you through how to set up a session. The video is taken from our best-selling online coaching course, Introduction to Soccer Coaching.


Maximise every minute. If you have 60 minutes, you might plan 3x activities of 20 minutes. You also need to be aware of how long your interventions are. Are you talking for 2-3 minutes when it could be 30 seconds? If you have a 60-minute practice, try and get the ball rolling for 75% of the time as a target. This gives you 15 minutes to instruct, explain, allocate drinks breaks and move between activities.

Considerations for clubs

  • Do you have safety protocols in place at your club to ensure injuries can be dealt with?
  • What fundamentals do you support coaches with to ensure a good session is delivered?

What could you do at your next session?

Time your own interventions and work out how much the players play within the session. This can be a powerful tool in reflecting on your approach. We all want to support our players, but sometimes talking too much can disrupt the flow of the players and take away from their learning, despite our best intentions.

Want to know more?

To dive deeper on the fundamentals of coaching, and to be guided step-by-step by world-class coach educator, Rob Sherman, check out our online coaching course Introduction to Soccer Coaching. Plus, when you enrol in the course you will receive over 50 practices, with guiding videos, that you can use right away.

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