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:
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.
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.
For younger and less skilled players, introducing more variations can help maintain their interest and engagement in the activity. Their activities are generally simpler, making it easier to incorporate variations without overwhelming them. Introducing variations more frequently also supports their cognitive development and ability to adapt to new situations.
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.
Older and more skilled players can benefit from even fewer variations, as their activities are more complex and require deeper focus and understanding. Introducing variations less frequently enables them to refine their skills and decision-making in various game scenarios while still providing enough novelty to keep them engaged.
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.
Players can only return to their Home Zone by dribbling through one side or half of the pitch.
Add two wide gates when a player wins the ball they must go through either wide gate to get back to their Home zone
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
Lack Of Interest
- If players are losing interest in the activity or becoming disengaged, introducing a new variation can help rekindle their enthusiasm and maintain their focus during the training session.
- If players are finding the current activity too easy or they are consistently achieving the desired objectives, introducing a new variation can increase the difficulty level, ensuring that they continue to develop their skills and challenge themselves.
- In situations where the coach plans to use multiple variations during a 20-minute activity, setting a predetermined schedule for introducing the changes can help maintain structure and organization. For example, if the coach intends to use four variations, they might time it so that a new variation is introduced every 5 minutes. This approach ensures that players experience each variation, promoting a well-rounded skill development and keeping them engaged throughout the activity.