If you haven’t done private coaching before, it can be a bit of a daunting task.  We all get taught how to coach, but we only ever get taught how to coach in a team situation.  No one has ever run a training course for private coaches – what to do before the session; what to do during the session; and what to do after the session.

So how do you do these 1 on 1 and small group sessions?

Private coaching (1 on 1 or small group coaching) is a completely different beast to team coaching!  I have about 11 years of team coaching experience and it was only when I moved to the U S of A in December of 2015, that I started private coaching.

Now, with over 150 private sessions under my belt over the past few months, with a variety of different ages, genders and skill levels, I feel in a position to help others get their private coaching up to scratch.

How To Prepare For Your Session:

1.  Ring the client as soon as possible after they have booked you.

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The sooner you can call (yes call – not text or email), the better!  From the time they have booked you, to the time you call them, they’ll be thinking ‘When is this coach going to call me?  Have I made the right move?  Should I have spent my money on this coach? Is this coach legit?  Is this coach going to turn up?’.  Do them a favour – ease their mind.

Until you make that phone call these are the thoughts that will be going through their head.  Put their mind at ease, call them and ask these questions:

  • What are the objectives for the athlete?
  • What is their personality like?
  • What motivates them (Should you use a stick or a carrot)?
  • What level are they performing at?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?

Asking these questions not only allows you to plan a very specific plan for your client, but it lets the client know that you know what you’re talking about.

2.  Keep note of all the information you get from the phone call.

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Whatever your system maybe – excel, word, paper and pen, notebook, keep all this information in a very safe place.  You may be able to remember this information for the next five minutes, or even enough time to make a session plan, but NO-ONE can remember this information 6 months down the line, when the client calls you up again during try-out season and wants more sessions.  You’re the professional after all – get organised.

3.  Get the right location

If you can, find a location that has restrooms, nets for goals, doesn’t have dog-poop on the ground, has easy parking and is rarely used by other people.

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On a couple of occasions I’ve turned up to sessions and a team is using the field because it’s now season time.  Try to find out from them what their schedule is so you can work around them.

Don’t ever be rude to someone trying to take your spot!  The nicer you are, the more likely you’ll get what you want.

I once coached at a place that had an outdoor swimming pool right next to it.  I think my 9 year old athlete was more interested in jumping in the pool and playing with all the other kids rather than refining her passing skills!  Be careful to n0t have too many distractions in close proximity to your sessions- kids are very susceptible to a bit of FOMO!

4.  Plan fun, dynamic, organised and varied sessions that are based around the athlete’s objectives.

One of the reasons private coaching is tough, quite honestly, is because when there’s just you and the one athlete, there are only so many ways to practice dribbling, first touch, volleys, passing etc.  It is most likely the drills will be lots of variations of the same sort of activity.

Making it fun is the most important part of the session.  I like to finish off with variations of 1 v 1’s as it’s competitive, exhausting and often allows the athlete to apply what they have learnt to a real playing situation.

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Have a plan that nicely progresses from one drill to another.  Stations in a circuit work really well and are a great way to make the time fly, whilst being uber-productive.

Finishing off in some sort of control, pass and shooting exercise works well as it brings all the elements together that you might have worked on in a session.  Making the drills as game-like as possible is really important.

Try to mix up your repertoire of drills. Keep your ideas fresh from different sources on the internet.  For soccer, add these to your facebook timeline to keep your creative juices flowing with zero effort!

5.  Share your plan with the athlete at the start of the session.

This is where you need to make the athlete feel special.  If you turn up and just get straight into the session without explaining the objectives or showing them the plan, the parent, the athlete and possibly even yourself will be thinking – did they just make this up as they’re going along?!

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I love showing each and every athlete the plan I have for every session.  It makes them feel special, it makes the parent think that you know what you’re doing.  It makes them both think that you’ve put some time and thought into the athlete’s development – which you have!

This is the sort of stuff that is going to make them come back for more and get them to tell all their friends about you.  The amount of recommendations and leads you get whilst coaching may be one of your biggest sources of revenue.

6.  Organise the right equipment for the session.

At some point or another you’re going to have to bite the bullet and go out and buy some stash(equipment).

The quality of your equipment is (rightly or wrongly) a reflection of yourself and your own standards.  Paying that bit extra for a higher quality ball is well worth the investment.  The players love playing with them so much more than the cheap stuff and it lasts a lot longer too.

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Get a variety of sizes – you never know what age your next athlete maybe.  Even going down to the smallest of sizes can bring a new dimension to training when players are used to the standard issue size ball.  Heck, even throw in a tennis ball for a bit of fun!

Items like oversized cones, ladders, gates, poles, rebound nets, speed chutes and hurdles all add so much fun and variety to your session that your athlete will love you for it.  The equipment really does open up your planning and creative possibilities.

Check out SKLZ for the best equipment out there.

 

Following these tips will definitely increase your chances of having an awesome session. The time will fly by in a heartbeat and the athlete (and parent) will be loving the session.  Then just wait for the repeat bookings and recommendations to start filling your schedule!

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