Creating a high level of intensity in training situations is arguably the most essential component of coaching the game, that is developing the players. The team must practice like they play, or the only time they will be fully pushed and stretched (and thus improving) will be in the games. In this poor training situation, the practices are at best relaxed dress rehearsals and at worst dulling exercises that slow down development.
The best coaches can motivate and organize the players in the training environment to simulate the high levels of match-like intensity on the physical, tactical, technical, and psychological levels.
Intensity – What is it?
Every player has varying degrees of the willingness to compete and to do what it takes to win, also known as intensity. What sets players apart is the burning desire to do as good a job and give as good a performance as they can, whether it be in a practice or in a match.
Ideally, the player will need no motivation to always be intense, that is to be on his/her toes and find the way to win, whatever it takes.
But not only will the team as a whole need to be encouraged and reminded to keep the group intensity at a premium, each player will need to be driven to stay on top and not be satisfied with anything less.
Intensity – Why does it help?
Rather than “Practice makes perfect” it should be
“Perfect practice makes it perfect”. Just practicing for practicing sakes will get the team no where. The key is to get better each and every training session and the only way to do that is to equal the intensity of a match in your training session.
By doing this the players will be at the edge of their abilities just like they are in tough matches. They need to be put in situations in practices that, like matches, challenge them to raise their level beyond the normal and beyond the expected. They need to feel a bit uncomfortable in the practices and forced to react physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Intensity – With Struggle, Comes Progress
To fully stretch the players in the training sessions will lead to improvement. Getting to the “uncomfortable zone” will leave the player with two options – fall back or rise above it. It’s at the point when the players are successfully pushed to the extreme in practices that the coach needs to help them get past it and move on to a higher level of performance. This takes shape in encouragement and positive reinforcement from a verbal angle and from appropriate and challenging exercises from a tactical angle.
Remember that every player can always improve.
Sometimes it may seem that players may reach a limit of ability and threshold of coachability. Not true. It just takes a bit more intensity from the player and a bit more smartness from the coach.
Push yourselves as coaches, teachers, motivators to expand your ability to develop the players each and every training session. The players need to be driven to get to the next level and the game deserves your positive intensity as an example for the players.