The freeze-replay is one of many effective tools coaches can use to intervene during a practice. It involves:

  • The coach identifying a moment they want to teach
  • Freezing the players in the moment
  • Providing information and feedback to the players
  • Resuming the game

Like all intervention methods, the freeze-replay has strengths and weaknesses. The strengths are that it allows the coach to draw the players attention towards key moments in the game, and identify relevant cues. It also allows the coach to provide immediate feedback to players. Conversely, however, if not managed effectively, freezes can become too long, thus breaking the flow of training and affect player motivation.

The following process is useful for effective freeze-replay interventions:

  • Anticipate the moment you want to freeze (this should be based on your session objective) and use a clear word to vocalise (such as “FREEZE!” or “STOP!”
    • Tip: if you find players don’t freeze effectively, explain them at the start of training that when you say the word, you want them to freeze exactly where they are, so you can teach them more effectively. A whistle is also very effective for this purpose. Doing this helps players understand why you are doing it, and thus how it helps them get better!
  • Explain the moment you have frozen. Identify the situation to the players so they are clear what you want them to pay attention to and learn (for example, “here we have a player on the ball trying to find a forward pass, but they are under pressure…”
    • Tip: remember, this can be a positive moment – something they have done well that you want to recreate!
  • Teach your coaching points by using both words and pictures. This includes getting the ball rolling so the players can rehearse the movement, or technical action, you may be teaching. Let them try what you are teaching them!
    • Tip: using players as models for these demonstrations is a powerful way to motivate – especially children, who love to impress their coach!
  • Restart the practice from the moment you froze, so they have an immediate opportunity to do what you have coached, and so you can assess their learning. Call the restart by saying something like “we will go live on this players touch”

The overarching goal of this process is to be, like in any coaching intervention, clear, concise and consistent, so the players can see a moment in the game, learn a coaching point, and get back to playing football!