In business, aside from sporadic periods of upskilling and refreshment, time spent training is short compared to that spent delivering the goods. In football, it makes up the majority of the players’ and manager’s time. How, then, can it be made enjoyable, motivational and targeted? We asked current Molde and former Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer how he goes about structuring his sessions.
I want my sessions to be enjoyable, challenging and competitive and to relate to how I want the team to play in the next match or period ahead. I work closely with my coaches to plan our sessions and their content will vary according to where we are in the season.
During pre-season and at the start of the season, for example, most of our work in training will be based around getting players physically fit. Then, as the season progresses and points start to matter more and more, training gears towards preparing as well as we can for each match.
It’s important to strike a balance between playing your own style of football and adapting your play to challenge specific opponents. You also have to be able to adapt your training plans, because suspensions, injuries and other problems can all put spanners in the works.
My overall playing philosophy determines how my sessions look, but players also need to be stimulated in the right way, so it’s important to keep it varied.
Your presence (as a coach, on the training ground) is vital to the outcome of training sessions and you dictate the mood. Some players might want to impress you while others need you around to be completely focused.
And of course, training is an important part of team building, but ultimately the success of the team is the product of individual players’ performances. You therefore have to make sure they can fulfil their individual roles as effectively as possible.
I always make sure that everyone gets to work on their job within the team and I’ll get them to repeat some set patterns of build-up play until they become second nature. I also like to allow talented players to make their own decisions, because it is important to allow them their freedom of choice.