Monthly Tip - May 2013

Repetition is the key?

“He found it a bit boring to be honest.“

Every now and then this comes from a parent or a player, with the implied criticism that the coach is putting together less than inspiring training sessions. Of course there may be some less than able coaches out there, but the pressure to provide endlessly variable and inspiring training is a feature of modern day life.

This is what Sir Alex Ferguson had to say on the subject of training:

"Every one of the twenty-five years I have spent as a club manager has been a learning experience but some of the principles I brought to the job as a raw, thirty-two-year-old recruit are as important to me now as they were on my first day in charge of East Stirlingshire in July 1974. Prominent in that category is the certainty that good coaching relies on repetition. Forget all the nonsense about altering training programmes to keep players happy. The argument that they must be stimulated by constant variety may come across as progressive and enlightened but it is a dangerous evasion of priorities. In any physical activity, effective practice requires repeated execution of the skill involved. Why do you think the greatest golfers who ever lived have devoted endless hours to striking the same shots over and over again? Yes, I know golf, where the ball always sits still to be struck, is so different from football that technical comparisons are foolish. But the link is the need to concentrate on refining technique to the point where difficult skills become a matter of habit. When footballers complain about the dullness of repetitive passing exercises it is usually not monotony they resent but hard work. David Beckham is Britain’s finest striker of a football not because of God-given talent but because he practises with a relentless application that the vast majority of less gifted players wouldn’t contemplate. Practice may not make you perfect but it will definitely make you better and any player working with me on the training ground will hear me preach the virtues of repetition – repeatedly."

And this was Gary Neville talking about David Beckham after his recent retirement:

"That perfection of technique reflects the sheer repetition of striking a ball time and time again on a training ground to get it right."

So the challenge would seem to be, how do you make repetition interesting or, for those players who will be successful, does it need to be? Perhaps for them the challenge itself is stimulating enough whilst for those who are destined to fail almost any practice quickly becomes boring.

If you have thoughts on this, send them in!!!!!