STS Portal – Preparation

Coaching to Develop Skills

  • This program is focused on Skill development. This is not done by just running drills.  It is done by correctly running drills, error correcting the players and having fun.
  • The first thing to do is know the drill that you are running intimately.  Watch the videos and understand both how the drill is supposed to be set up and all of the teaching points.  Form is incredibly important.
  • It is also important for coaches to correct on the fly.  Keep the drill going, but make each player aware of a mistake, remind them of the right way to do it, and move on.  Get them back in line as quickly as possible to get the next rep.
  • The Coaches presence is instrumental in running a successful practice.Your voice can control the tempo of the practice.  Long periods of silence is not a good thing.  Keep it upbeat and moving, and using buzz words like “threat”, “mirror” and “wind-up” will allow players to understand and perform the concepts we are trying to illicit from them.


  • Progressions are very important in skill development. The basic idea of a progression is the idea that you teach a skill and have the players perform that skill in 3 different ways:
  • Stationary (Static)
  • Moving (Dynamic)
  • Under Pressure (in competition)
  • We also use progressions during our planning and make sure that we teach skills in an order where we rep a skill and then add another step forward to that skill. Often, I have seen coaches skip right to the end of a practice plan and run the most involved drill without doing all of the parts that lead up to it.  This inhibits development.  A perfect example of this is our Cut and Pop Progression.  We start with the Cut and Pop – T&R (Time and Room) wherein a player cuts towards the feeder, then quickly pops away from his defender in a ready position prepared to catch the ball, straight into a wind up position, and then step into a shot.  We then move to the Cut and Pop Face Dodge.  Same cut, same pop, same catch, same wind up, but this time instead of shooting, the player explodes into a face dodge, an offside carry and a shot.  After they get that down we go to the Cut and Pop – H&G (Hitch and Go).  Same cut, same pop, same catch, same wind up, but this time we plant our back foot and drive over the top.  There are 5 total options to this drill.
  • The first progression we spoke of is purely a skill development progression. The second progression that we spoke of is both mental and physical. The result of running the Cut and Pop progression is that with the same 4 step build up, the player has 5 different options/skills to choose from.  Once they get the opportunity to do these reps in a competitive environment, they will learn to read the field (his defender, the other defenders and his teammates) and quickly decide which option he is going to use in that particular situation. We call this our Skill to Concept Philosophy and is developed through the use of these progressions.

Practice Preparation

  • It is imperative that each coach on the field knows the practice plan and is familiar with the drills.
  • During each drill, there needs to be 4 areas covered. Depending on the number of coaches available, you may need to combine areas.  These areas are:
  • Drill Leader – This person is the main voice during the drill. The Drill Leader will first explain the drill and all of its teaching points.  This is also a good time to reinforce any previous skills you have worked on that are used in this drill.  The Drill leader is also the first point of error correction.  Pointing out an error as it happens to make the player aware of it.  For instance “Johnny, get to that threat position.”.
  • Starter – This is the person that is responsible for making sure the next rep is ready to go. Balls in the right place, player or players ready to go the field is clear to start the next rep.
  • Secondary error corrector – This is the coach that reiterates the Drill Leaders corrections to not only the player that made the error, but to all of the other players as a reminder. This coach has an opportunity to quickly interact with the player and give some one on one reinforcement.
  • Cat Herder – This is a luxury if we can have a coach for it, but most likely it will be a shared responsibility. This is exactly as it seems.  Make sure the players that are not involved in the current rep of the drill are still engaged.  They are easily distracted with other players, birds, squirrels…..anything.
  • Plan out your drill sequence keeping a few things in mind:
  • Current skill level of your players
  • Skills you have already introduced and repped
  • Next step in the current progression
  • Each practice should be made up of mainly drills working on their skills. However, without some sort of competitive play, players will lose interest.  At the lower levels and at the beginning of the season, this may include small little games like:

Sharks and Minnows
Musical Ground Balls

  • We also do need to introduce some simple team development skills that allow the players to play the games correctly on Saturdays. These can be found on the Game Prep page.