The answer to 3four3’s success is not in their session plans

Like many coaches, professional and grassroots alike,  I admire the play of teams coached by Brian and Gary Kleiban of 3four3.com. Ever since they started sharing videos like the one below coaches from around the world have been keen to find their secret – to get hold of their coaching plans and make their teams play the same way.

Stop looking for the answers and start listening and understanding what they say, because I believe that is where the answers you’re looking for are. They are not in a set of coaching plans that you can pick up and take to your sessions, that suddenly make you a top ranked team in your area. In the same way the supposed bible of Jose Mourinhos drills didn’t suddenly produce amazing football players or world-class coaches.

I have spent some time reading their blog, following the twitter feed, browsing some of the posts on their coaching forum that are available to read and I keep getting a consistent theme and a consistent message to those who are looking for their secret. I cant guarantee that you can reproduce their success, but I have certainly gained more clarity in my coaching by using the ideas that they reveal in their material. They often suggest  that the secret isn’t in the session plans.

The first thing I have done is to establish a consistent philosophy, one that underpins every training session I write and is basis for formation we play on match day. Their philosophy is Playing possession-based, attacking, attractive and winning football. Watch the video again or any of those on their youtube channel with this philosophy in mind, you can see it embedded in the players actions. What is your philosophy? Write it done get it on paper, make it specific, mine is the front page in my coaching folder, whenever I open up the folder I’m reminded of the philosophy.

Preparation comes next, writing training sessions that match the desired outcome and that cover both the technical and tactical aspects of what I am aiming to achieve. I now have a set of technical and tactical elements that I have been using that still make the sessions stimulating for the young players I coach, but all fulfil the long-term objective. If your philosophy is to use long balls to bypass the midfield in order to get the ball to the strikers quickly, would they benefit from be a training session on playing through the thirds. Especially if they players haven’t mastered the long ball game.

Which brings me nicely onto the third point, repetition! Sessions need to give players the opportunity to continually experience the decisions they need to take in a game to reproduce the end product – both technical and tactical. To me that doesn’t necessarily mean running the same session monotonously week after week, but it does mean running sessions where the themes fit with your philosophy and long-term objective.

The final part is the interaction,  the one thing you can’t copy. It will be different for each set of players, but none the less something you have to get right if your approach is to be a success.  You need to communicate your philosophy clearly to the team your working with and your coaching skills to get them to buy into the philosophy. No point having a philosophy to play possession football from the back if every time you right back gets the ball  their preferred choice is to smash it into the opposition half.

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