by Erik Imler

It’s rare that I find myself with opportunities to talk ‘shop’ for extended periods of time. When I say extended periods of time, I mean hours and hours on end over the course of consecutive days. In fact, I don’t think it has ever happened….until last week.

I was fortunate to spend time with a few folks who challenged my approach to coaching…and more importantly, how young players learn to play a game. I have always believed skill acquisition to be the most important component to the learning process. I have been deep-rooted in the ideas that without skill at the base, not much else can be accomplished. The title of this blog is a shining example.

While I continue to believe that technique and skill are vital, problem solving is equally important to equation. This I know.  This I have always known. The question has now become…

Does my training environment equally develop both technique and soccer IQ?

I have spent considerable time over the years questioning the environment I create in training. What do coaching courses ask me to prioritize in a training session? What pitfalls do I need to avoid when working with a group of young players? Are they engaged and excited to play? Do the players leave the training session eager to come back the next time? And ultimately, are the players showing signs of growth in their technical and tactical development?

Driven by my eagerness to “help produce” a group of quality players at a given age bracket, I ‘tinker’ with different ideas season after season. Rarely do I look back on a season of coaching and feel as though I have stunted a player’s developmental growth. But I always wonder if a different approach may produce accelerated results.

Perhaps placing less of a focus on repetitive ‘skill work’ and more emphasis on soccer intelligence and problem solving makes more sense to the overall development of a young soccer player. This, as I experienced last week, makes for interesting conversation.

Trevor Ragan at Train has produced a video that’s worth a look.

As a coach, do you create an environment that is dominated by ‘Block Practice?’

Are you pleased with overall the development of your players IF ‘Block Practice’ dominates your training environment?

Is there a better way?