Academy Coach Course

Using Variations In Your Activities

What Is A Variation?

A variation in relation to changing a soccer activity refers to making adjustments or modifications to the existing activity’s variables without altering its primary purpose or objective. The main goal of the activity remains the same, but the circumstances, rules, or constraints are adjusted to create a slightly different experience for the players.

For example, in a dribbling activity, the primary focus is on improving players’ dribbling skills. Adding a variation, such as introducing obstacles or limiting the number of touches allowed, would still maintain the focus on dribbling while presenting new challenges or emphasizing specific aspects of the skill.

Advantages Of Using Variations

There are several advantages to using variations rather than introducing a completely new activity:

Maintains Consistency

Using variations allows coaches to maintain consistency in their training sessions while still keeping the players engaged. This enables players to develop a deeper understanding of the primary objective and build a strong foundation in the specific skill or tactic being practiced.

More Efficient Use Of Time

Introducing variations rather than completely new activities saves time by minimizing the need for additional setup or lengthy explanations of new rules. This ensures that more time is spent on actual skill development and practice, maximizing the efficiency of the training session.

Encourages Adaptability

Variations challenge players to adapt to new situations and constraints within the context of the primary activity. This promotes problem-solving, decision-making, and creativity, helping players become more versatile and capable of applying their skills in diverse game scenarios.

How Many Variations Should You Use?

The number of variations you use will depend largely on the age and stage of the players in the group you are coaching below are some general guidelines based on ages of players.

Intermediate Players

Intermediate players require fewer variations, as their activities become more complex and their focus improves. Introducing variations less frequently allows them to concentrate on mastering specific skills and tactical concepts while still maintaining interest.

Example Of Variations

In the activity below players are put into partners or teams and they are assigned a Home Zone this is where they must go when they have the ball and must remain to score a point. The objective of the exercise is for the players to have a ball in their HOME ZONE at the end of the activity. Every player that has a ball in their HOME ZONE wins a point for themselves or for their team, the team with the most points wins. Each of the diagrams shows a different variation, the basic activity remains the same but by changing the set up slightly it creates new variations with different challenges.

Variation 1

Players can only return to their Home Zone by dribbling through one side or half of the pitch.

Variation 2

Add two wide gates when a player wins the ball they must go through either wide gate to get back to their Home zone

Variation 3

Add one central gates when a player wins the ball they must go through the central gate to get to their Home zone

When To Introduce A Variation

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