Pre-season Checklist

Coaching Team, Pre-Season Checklist

Things to be done from now to the start of pre-season:

  • Managers for teams and assistants.
  • Team selections.
  • Squads/Numbers how many?
  • Registration of players (before pre-season).
  • Pre-season Training (when to start and what to be doing).
  • Training structure for year (What needs to be accomplished?).
  • Training times and days (1 or 2 Nights?).
  • Training sessions Planners, Attendance Records, Player Evaluations.
  • Coaching assessments or evaluation.
  • Training Sessions
  • Match day.


A. Team Managers and Assistants.

Must have at least a Kick Start 1&2

Have a good knowledge of the game

Have Commitment to the Team and the Club

To attend meetings involving football matters

Available to attend advanced coaching courses and workshops

Available to coach other teams in the club if needed

Good rapport with other coaches in the club


B. Team Selections.

To be completed by mid-July.

Participation by Managers and the Coaching Team.

Developed players must be moved up where possible in 11 aside teams.

Un-developing Players may need to be moved down a grade.


C. Squads/Numbers how many?

7 aside squads need to 10 Players.

11 aside squads need 16 to 18 Players.

Less developed teams need to balance their numbers with other teams of the same grade.

Communication between managers’s to spread numbers where possible.

Teams to develop players they have rather than moving players around unless it’s deemed necessary.


D. Registration of players (before pre-season).

To be done by all Managers.

To be completed by the middle of July.

Coaching Team must be informed of any player not re-registering or not being re-registered by a manager.

Communication between Managers in relation to player’s development and possible grading.

Coaching Team must be informed of all players that are being up-graded or moved down a grade.


E Pre-season Training (when to start and what to be doing)

All teams must organise their own pre-season for their teams and inform the Coaching Committee.

All teams of the same age groups try do pre-season at the same times where possible (mainly 7 aside teams).

A pre-season planner or structure must be prepared by all managers and given to the Coaching Team. 

A fitness testing program will be prepared for teams if needed and continued throughout the season.


F. Training structure for year (What needs to be accomplished?).

A training structure must be set in place by all teams.

Players or individual player development, and team progression.

Approach to training, coaching.

The Development of knowledge and coaching skills.

Watching other coaches and sharing ideas.

Communication between coaches in relation to training sessions.

Different techniques in coaching.

Training sessions Planners of all sessions.

Attendance Records, for training and matches.

Player Evaluations throughout the year.


G. Training Times and Days (1 or 2 Nights?).

Needs to maximise training times and area.

7/8/9 aside teams of the same age train together or at the same time.

Rotation of the all-weather pitch.


H. Coaching assessments or Evaluation.

Coaches and managers throughout the year.


I. Training sessions.

Evaluations, weekly or monthly where needed.

Coaches assessing other coaches.

Personal assessments.


J. Training sessions.

Time keeping.

Maximising of training area and time allotted.

Proper use of gear available.

Players and coaches.

Fundamental, Age specific, topic, maximum player




K. Match Day.

Time keeping.

Pre-match set up ready (team picked, subs, team talk)

Game information (tactical calls, constructive info, encouragement)

Structure of play (training related)

Post-match set up (warm down, about the game)

Match reports to be filled out for all games.



6 Phases of Long Term Player Development



Ages: 6-9 boys’ 6-8 girls

The main objective of this phase is to learn all the fundamental movement skills using a well-structured, positive and fun approach. Soccer skills should be introduced, with an emphasis on fun, skill development and small sided games. Appropriate and correct running, jumping and throwing techniques are taught using the ABC’s of athletics. Participation in as many sports as possible is encouraged. The development of these fundamental movement skills will contribute significantly to future at achievements.



  • Involvement in multi-sports
  • Learn aspects of safety in relation to the game



  • Enjoyment/Fun
  • Fair Play
  • Positive Attitude
  • Teamwork/Interaction skills
  • Self esteem/confidence



  • Basic motor skills: proper running, jumping and throwing technique
  • Modified skills of different sports
  • Knowledge of the basics of equipment
  • Use of appropriate footwear and clothing
  • Introduction to basic soccer skills with the ball.



  • Know the basic rules and ethics of the sport
  • Display basic game and movement concepts
  • Play in Small Sided Games (SSG) – Basic 3v3; 5v5 in a defined area
  • Implement basic attack and defence principles



  • General overall development and mobility
  • Running, jumping, throwing
  • Agility, Balance, Coordination, Speed (ABCs)
  • Develop speed, power and endurance through FUN games
  • Develop linear, lateral and multi-directional speed
  • Medicine ball, swiss ball and own-body exercises for strength
  • Basic body awareness – Stage 1
  • Flexibility/Mobility



  • Positive attitude to sport
  • Confidence
  • Concentration
  • Achieve success and receive positive reinforcement
  • Enjoy the game
  • Be part of the group



Age: 9-12 boys’ 8-11 girls

The main objective of this phase is to learn the specific soccer skills in conjunction with FUNdamental skills from a range of other sports. These skills form the cornerstone of all player development. An emphasis on technical development should be a key part of this phase, with the 7 v 7 game being introduced, progressing to 9 v 9.



  • Involvement in multi-sports
  • Inclusion of sport in lifestyle
  • Participation in complementary sports



  • Understand the changes puberty will bring
  • Accept discipline and structure
  • Understand the relationship between effort and outcome
  • Teamwork/interaction skills
  • Parental support
  • Motivation to participate



  • Fundamental skills progressively refined, combined & elaborated upon to more sport specific skills
  • Willingness and knowledge of how to practise skills
  • Soccer specific skills: dribbling, shooting, passing, controlling
  • Combination of skills in game related activities



  • Play modified and small-sided games
  • Implement key game principles
  • Play SSG: 9v9, 7v7, 5v5, 3v3 etc (spatial awareness: pass and move)
  • Implement defence and attack principles in SSG
  • Introduction to positional awareness in a variety of positions
  • Perform basic set pieces e.g. foul throw, free kicks
  • Know rules in relation to free kicks and offside


  • Continue to develop ABCs
  • Continue to develop speed, power and endurance through fun games
  • Medicine ball, swiss ball and own-body exercises for strength as well as hopping and bounding exercises
  • Basic flexibility exercises
  • Warm-up and stretching
  • Basic body awareness – Stage 2
  • Shoulder, elbow, core, spine and ankle stability



  • Introduction to mental preparation
  • Understanding of the role of practice
  • Perseverance
  • Confidence
  • Concentration
  • Achieve success and receive positive reinforcement
  • Goal setting (short term)



Age: 12 – 16 boys’ 11 – 15 girls

The main objective of this phase is to consolidate basic soccer skills, introduce the basic elements of tactics and to address the two critical periods of physical development namely the aerobic base and strength of players. It should be noted that both aerobic and strength trainability is dependent on maturation levels and not solely chronological age.



  • Employ correct nutrition/hydration practices
  • Training and performance diary/log
  • Time management
  • Introduction to planning and periodisation
  • Rest and recovery
  • Balance playing with social and school
  • Dealing with social problems e.g. alcohol culture, peer pressure, school, jobs etc
  • Prepare for transition if going to UK



  • Interpersonal skills and learning to work in team environment
  • Positive communication
  • Discipline and personal responsibility
  • Awareness of Peak Height Velocity and windows of trainability
  • Creative thinking
  • Commitment to improve/achieve goals
  • Personal responsibility


  • Individualisation of skills training to address strengths and weaknesses
  • Consistency in performing skills/techniques: passing, dribbling, controlling
  • Perform skills under competitive conditions
  • Develop techniques through tactical links
  • Positional awareness in relation to ball and opposition
  • Passing/Possession, higher levels of ball control
  • 1v1 dribbling technique


  • Undergo the early stages of tactical preparation
  • Implement basic team principles and positions: team shape
  • Support, showing for the ball, movement off the ball, timing of runs and angles of receiving: ‘Show-Pass- Control’
  • Play effectively in SSG: 4v4, 5v5, 6v6, 7v7 games (in training)
  • Play the full 11v11 game
  • Implement more advanced concepts of attack/defence
  • Play in different positions
  • Understand the rules of the game
  • Use of space/run into space effectively
  • Read and understand the game
  • Display an awareness of opposition
  • Implement concepts of width and depth


  • Emphasis on general and balanced physical conditioning
  • Aerobic training prioritised after the onset of Peak Height Velocity (PHV)
  • Strength training prioritised in females after PHV and with the onset of menarche
  • Strength training prioritised in males 12-18 months after PHV
  • Shoulder, elbow, core, spine and ankle stability
  • Flexibility training
  • Frequent musculoskeletal evaluations during PHV
  • Good body posture
  • Soccer specific physical conditioning e.g. stamina, speed, strength, suppleness, skill
  • Knows how to train different components of fitness


  • Goal setting (short and medium term)
  • Imagery (practicing and improving technique and self confidence)
  • Relaxation (deep breathing)
  • Patience and control
  • Concentration
  • Continued positive reinforcement
  • Basic anxiety control
  • Focusing, self-talk and verbal cues
  • Balanced and winning mentality



Ages: 16 – 18 boys’ 15 – 17 girls

The main objective of this phase is to optimise fitness preparation and soccer, individual and position-specific skills as well as performance. More advanced tactical elements of the game are introduced. During this phase, high intensity individual, and position-specific training is provided to players. Soccer specific skills are performed under a variety of competitive conditions during training. Special emphasis is placed on optimum preparation by modelling training and competition.



  • Individualisation of ancillary supports
  • Refined self-monitoring
  • Plan career/sport options
  • Increased knowledge on hydration and nutrition
  • Preparation for different environments e.g. heat/cold/rain/altitude
  • Injury prevention and recovery
  • Understand planning and periodisation
  • Develop a support network
  • Awareness of scholarships and compensation schemes


  • Continued personal development
  • Integration of soccer, career and life goals
  • Economic and independence issues addressed


  • Proficiency in basic soccer skills
  • Soccer-specific technical and playing skills under competitive conditions and at high intensity
  • Individualisation of skills: ‘personal style’
  • Consistency and control
  • Competition-simulation training



  • More advanced team play and principles in the full game
  • Carry out effective set-piece play
  • Implement different attacking styles
  • Individual specific role within team
  • Awareness of new styles/systems/plays
  • Develop a winning mentality and implement ‘winning tactics’
  • Ability to link to players/units of team movement on/off the ball
  • Play in 11v11 format
  • Develop individual strengths within confines of team style
  • Ability to read the game
  • Awareness of opponent’s tactics, strengths and weaknesses
  • Event- and position-specific tactical preparation
  • Principles of attack and defence
  • Ability to plan and assess competition
  • Adaptation to different situations
  • Observe and adapt to opponents
  • Detailed systems of play: strategies
  • Clarity of team shape and role within the team
  • Ability to deal with tactical problems _ Awareness of variations in systems/styles
  • Reading the game (SWOT analysis)
  • Plan and assess competition and prioritise
  • Playing training game: working in SSG up to 11v11


  • Soccer-, position- and individual specific intensive physical conditioning
  • Shoulder, elbow, core, spine and ankle stability
  • Optimum preparation: tapering and peaking
  • Individualisation of physical capacities to address strengths and weaknesses
  • Dealing with environmental influence



  • Personal responsibility and involvement in decision-making
  • Focus and thought control – self talk /verbal cues (dealing with distractions and negative thoughts)
  • Goal setting (long term)
  • Performance routines and precompetition preparation
  • Imagery (competition, different situations/problems, practising strategies)
  • Anxiety control and relaxation (Progressive Muscle Relaxation, hypnosis)
  • Performance routines and precompetition preparation
  • Basic re-focusing



Age: 18 boys 17 girls

This final phase of player preparation aims to maximise fitness preparation and soccer, individual and position-specific skills as well as performance. All of the player’s capacities are now fully established and players are trained to peak for major competitions. Training is characterised by high intensity and relatively high volume with frequent periods of rest.


  • Increased knowledge on all areas
  • Rest and relaxation. Frequent breaks
  • Well developed self monitoring
  • Well developed and integrated support network/structure
  • Career/sport planning sustained


  • Full integration of soccer, career and life goals



  • Complete refinement of soccer specific skills
  • Event-/competition-specific training skills are automatic/second nature
  • Ability to improvise with skills
  • Further development and refinement of soccer specific skills
  • ‘Automatic’ and consistent performance of soccer specific skills


  • Develop effective competition strategies
  • Adapt strategies to situation
  • Model all possible aspects of performance in training
  • Play to strengths, exploit weaknesses of opponents
  • Clarity of team shape and roles within
  • Varying trends in the modern international tournaments
  • Maximise on National and European competition opportunities
  • Adapting to climatic conditions e.g. extreme heat or cold, in both training and playing
  • SWOT analysis (individual and team)
  • Successful tactics and strategies and necessary variation needed to winning ways
  • The importance/ variation/options of set pieces in attack/defence
  • organisation within


  • Maintenance and possible improvement of physical capacities with a view to maximising performance
  • Shoulder, elbow, core, spine and ankle stability
  • All physical fitness aspects individualised
  • Frequent prophylactic (preventative) breaks
  • Maintenance and possible improvement of physical capacities



  • Independent decision-making
  • Capable of teamwork and taking advice
  • Well-developed, refined and individualised mental skills and routines
  • Refocusing plans/coping strategies
  • Will to win/drive
  • Concentration/focus
  • Full range of mental skills (4 C’s)


This phase refers to the activities performed after a player has retired from competition permanently. The aim of this phase is to retain players for coaching, sport administration, officiating or recreational participation in the game. For semi professional and professional players this phase will include career planning and transition.



  • Pursue personal and family goals more strongly
  • Pursue further education/career development
  • Possible engagement in administration, coaching, media/PR
  • Seek transition support, if required



  • Reset goals


  • Retain skills and apply in a recreational context


  • Retain recreational involvement
  • Tactics to enjoy the game



  • Keep active through soccer participation
  • Endurance training
  • Strength training
  • Flexibility training



  • Relaxation
  • Readjustment to non-competitive environment
  • Ability to handle pressure/stress

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