Private Training - Is It Really Working?

I don't think so. Let me explain why..... If you walk around your local fields, you won't have to look far to find a player doing an individual training session or better known as private training.

In America, parents will do almost anything to help their kids be better. This usually means paying for extra training sessions.

If you have read my previous blog posts, you will know we live in a time where kids rarely play unless it's in a structured environment, which has created this obsession with 'private training.' So parents paying for additional training is understandable. Parents are just doing what they believe is best for their child. Parents aren't wrong in having their children do extra practice. It's true, the more practice, the better my child will become. The problem lies in what is happening in these private training sessions. The majority of coaches running private sessions are running them for one reason, and one reason only... Money!

The majority of sessions involve a coach turning up the field with a bag of balls, and fancy toys making up some speed and agility exercises by running through ladders and jumping over hurdles, and then taking multiple shots at a goal.

Here is where the problem lies..... THIS IS NOT WHAT YOUR CHILD NEEDS!

This style of training is not specific to your child or his/her position. Individual training should be tailored to individual needs.

It doesn't benefit a Center Defender in running 50-yard sprints and doing 60 minutes of finishing when most of their movement in a game is laterally, and they average 0.5 shots per game.

Every player is different, and in this post, I am going to show you what you should expect from an individual trainer who really has your child's development in mind.

Goal Setting

Before you step on the field with a private trainer, I believe there should be a screening process. This means the coach should fully understand what the player is hoping to achieve from the sessions, and the coach should be able to help create short, medium, and long term goals for the player. The coach then has a responsibility to go on a journey with the player and help him/her reach the desired goals. I believe there should be weekly calls or conversations about the progress of the player. The player must take responsibility for his/her development, but the coach is the one who should be setting the environment. Something that I do is create an individual development plan with every player. See the example below. I think this is key for every player to have so they understand where they are, where they are going, and how they are going to get there.

Technical Sessions

When working with an individual trainer, this is the perfect opportunity to work on technical skills specific to your needs. This can be based on a player's developmental needs and positional needs. For example, if you have a striker who wants to play at the highest level and is looking to improve their goal scoring, we can do this by first analyzing what is happening at the highest level. Mo Salah has won the Golden Boot in two of the past three seasons in the Premier League. In my previous post, I analyzed his goal scoring in more detail. We looked at HOW he scored his goals, and WHERE he scored his goals. Based upon this, you can then create a plan for a player who plays a similar role or position to him. This is now the beginning of creating an individual plan.

Below you will see Mo Salah's Goalscoring analysis from the 2018/19 season.

So now I have this information, Rather than me setting up sessions where my striker gets to receive the ball dribble in and out of six cones and then shoot at an open goal from outside the 18-yard box. By doing my research, I understand this isn't really beneficial as most goals scored at the top level are scored with one touch and from inside the area.

Video Analysis

For those of you already doing private training, answer these questions... Has your individual coach ever been to watch you play a game? Has your individual coach ever asked for footage from your game? Has your individual coach ever reached out and spoken to your club coach about your team/club's style of play?

There's a good chance the answer to all these questions is NO! So, how on earth is this training individualized to your needs? Or are you just doing generic training sessions that create generic players?

In my opinion, coaches should be asking for videos to break down from your game to see where they can improve your strengths and weaknesses.

The individual session could also be recorded to help the player in the moment by watching themselves back.

Nutrition & Hydration

if I offered you the opportunity to be 3% better than your opponent, would you take it? Of course, you would. This is where your diet comes into play. We live in one of the world's most obese nations, and this generation is the first generation that is not expected to outlive their parents due to lifestyle and diet.

So if the fuel that you put in your body is so crucial to performance, why hasn't your coach give you a plan?

The likely answer is because your coach is not an expert or qualified in this area of development. Most coaches 'specialize' (I'll use that term loosely) in the technical and tactical areas of player development.

I studied Fitness and Health at college but by no means class myself as an expert when it comes to nutrition and Hydration. That is why with my clients, nutrition is outsourced to top professionals who understand the area in much more detail. If we are considering the whole player, nutrition and Hydration should absolutely be a part of your development plan.

Strength & Conditioning (and Injury Prevention)

Training around the world is evolving due to an increase in knowledge and sport science. However, seeing it first hand in America, you will still see coaches make players run laps, do sprints, push-ups, and sit-ups so players can get fit and strong. This is an old school mentality, but there is a place for strength and conditioning. Again, coaches will likely do what they have always done and do the best they can with their limited knowledge. Likely, your coach isn't a strength and conditioning expert. I have always wanted to gain as much understanding as possible in every coaching area, so I went and got certified as a strength and conditioning coach. Before I began coaching soccer full time, I worked for one of the largest gyms in the US as a personal trainer in strength and conditioning.

Many coaches don't understand what is happening to each player's body at different developmental periods. Based on a player's biological age, weight, height, and many other factors will determine what type of training a player will need so their body can function at its maximum potential.

So parents, before you decide to step on the field this week with your personal trainer, I would strongly suggest asking your coach, why doesn't my child have the above, or are you happy with your generic training sessions that everyone else is doing?

This isn't a knock on individual trainers. I know a lot of coaches who do personal training and do a great job. These are my beliefs on what I would expect from a trainer, and based upon my work with Premier League academies, this is what the European players are getting in their environments.

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Hope you enjoyed this read and I hope it helps with your development needs


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