Creating competition in training

Training can be designed in a way that encourages natural competition for players. This can help enhance their ability to be relentless, work hard and strive for success.

Some ways to incorporate competition within your environment include:

  • Keeping score. This is a simple way to encourage players to focus on ‘scoring goals’ and ‘stopping goals’, which are the starting points for the team tasks in NWSF’s game model. To logistically keep score more easily, consider using cones as a ‘scoreboard’. You may even get an injured player to assist with this.
  • Designing games so that players have to earn the right to attack. A simple rule can be: if you score a goal, you get to restart the game with the ball (for example, from the goalkeeper). Another way to achieve a similar effect is in 1v1 arena, where the team that gets to attack with the ball, is the one who just scored.
  • Use constraints/SO CHANGE IT to reward desired core actions. Examples of these include rewarding poacher goals with double points, or awarding penalties if a team completes a certain number of successful passes (this would encourage more pressing, as an example).
  • A particularly powerful constraint for competition is Time. This is evident, for example, when “last gola wins!” sees an increase in training intensity. Similarly, coaches should consider designing games with shorter periods of play, combined with shorter recovery periods. Keep score in each period, and then reset the score in each rest period.
  • Organising teams so there is an ‘unfair’ advantage for one side (e.g. through creating an overload of numbers). This can encourage the underloaded team to work hard to succeed.
  • Delivering sessions with an energetic tone of voice and enthusiastic body language. Players, especially younger ones, will typically respond positively to coaches ‘driving’ sessions in this manner.

When a team lose the ball in training, you will hear me, Jürgen or Pete screaming: ‘Go! Get it back! Don’t stop!’ It’s so loud they’ll even hear that in Manchester, haha. They have to understand why it’s so important

Pep Ljinders, when assistant coach of Liverpool
  • A further idea is to create a ‘winners list’, wherein after the last game of a training session, each player of the winning team gets one point. Use this to create an individual competition within the team competition. An alternative scoring method can be number of goals scored, to encourage players to develop this X-factor.