Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. This is the subject of this month’s class with our very own futsal teacher, our Head Coach Sergi Saldana.
For this edition, the topic of discussion is all about the concept of planning, and how imperative it is to look long-term rather than short-term. Saldana focuses on every detail and uncovers all underlying factors that reveals his tactical knowledge into setting a player up, development wise, for a long career in futsal.
Manchester Futsal Club’s bread and butter is all about the youth of today and bringing players through right from the bottom, and Saldana’s coaching ethos goes hand in hand with the club’s philosophy of prioritising youth and looking through the window as opposed to looking outside.
Saldana strongly believes in the idea of player development and is very passionate about the subject. He spoke to ManchesterFutsal.com on his thoughts of how to bring the best out of players using the most sensible coaching methods and ideologies.
Many times, we see clubs who have very good players in all their age groups, but they never end up standing out or getting the desired results.
The key factors that can lead to a club not reaching its maximum potential can be numerous. It could be that the coaches do not have enough knowledge to be able to teach the players the elements that they need; it could be that we deliver one type of session that does not adapt to the characteristics of our players, or that we do not have enough time or coaching material. The scenario also could be that we have teams where the players have a mixed range of skills and learning capability too; or even it could be that the club has formed its objectives based on importance of victories and therefore forgetting the real underlying aim – to develop futsal players.
In context, there is not one factor on its own that can cause a lack of success for a club in their academy teams where the players, in the end, cannot compete in older categories and try to be an important member of the first team. Nonetheless, I think that there is one very common mistake that hinders the correct progression of a futsal player and that is based around the overall planning of a club.
When the club structure is weak, having clear aims that we want to achieve in function of the ages of our players, is when we see players between 20-21 years old with a lot of shortcomings because there has not been planning in their formative stages. Sometimes we take for granted that the players have already learnt most of aspects of futsal, but the reality is, without planning, there is no control of their learning.
It is here where the clubs should focus their efforts. The short, medium and long-term planning in all their categories. What do I mean when I talk about the planning? The most important part of the planning stage is to analyse all aspects of futsal, and from there, decide what we must train and when. If, as a club, we do not establish what technical, tactical and overall aims that the players should learn, then at the end of a formative stage, there is no control and assessment mechanism to understand the growth and development of the player. The outcome is that probably we will forget to train many aspects, that in the long run, will be essential to have complete and intelligent players.
The key of success of a club, at formative level, is not see how many games their academy teams can win. It is to see how those players can grow and progress with coherence; trying to teach what it is correct in relation to their ages.
To understand what I am saying, I am going to give you an example. If when coaching a 10-11 year old player we teach to press and steal the ball in 3/4 and therefore to be able to finalise quicker, maybe he has the necessary skills to do that, but if he has not learnt previously the body orientation, control of the ball, how to pass the ball, creation and occupation of spaces, feints etc, you will be forming a good player at the time to press but you will not be training other previous elements that will be more important in the long run. The problem will appear after a few years. You will compete with other teams that will have trained all these aspects of the game that, for the age of the child should learn first and so, that press that you did won't be as effective at higher levels. But not only that, other teams will press you and you won't have those necessary tools to get out successfully against it. So, what do coaches do in that situation? We will blame the player that he is not doing what we ask for. It is no fault from the player but a lack of planning throughout his time at youth level.
If you want to aspire to have good players with realistic options to be part of the first team in the future, plan as a club what to train in each stage and set aims to work towards them, within the medium and long-term goals. Prioritise those aims and determine what content you must work on in training.
If you analyse all aspects comprising futsal and you set what aims at technical, tactical and the overall level the player must learn when he reaches the end of each stage, only then will you be certain that you are working with logical sense and focusing on the formation of the player where those aims will be more important than winning and losing. In the long run this approach will almost certainly favour the growth of the player and, consequently, you will have good players "at home" without the necessity to look for them outside.
Besides, with the planning by stages, you will know beforehand what elements the player will have trained and you will even be able to talk with the coach about what they worked on and whether it is necessary to improve or strengthen some elements when the player move on in his/her development.
A great player is not formed in the first team, they are formed from all their previous years, working collectively and giving sense to all that you do in training, ensuring a progression in learning and minimising the future shortcomings of his game.
In summary, if you want to have success as a club, the first thing to do is control, analyse and evaluate how our players are progressing; checking and modifying everything that is necessary in function of how fast the boys learn and improve one aspect of the game. By following this approach to planning you will ensure the “controlled” growth of a player. As well as this, it is going to be much better for the coaches as well because they are going to grow and improve as they must think about how to do it, to make sense of everything that they are going to coach.