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Posted in: Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Pen to paper, Preparing,planning, performance

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  • pippaglen

    Thanks all your support in my last post, it made me think how many coaches out there still don't plan sessions, review and do or attend personal development days are coaching centered coaches or just can't be bothered I have it all in my head. Ummm that leads me to ask myself are those session's good, what did that athletes get from the unprepared sessions,  was it fun, exciting. How did they review. 


    On Saturday after my assessment I was praised for the amount of information on my session plan and that newely qualified coaches always put lots of information on sessions plans when the more experienced coaches write as little information as possible.   A little shocked at this and as I have been writing session plans for the past 8 years I didn't want to be one of those coaches that fall into the trap of not writing a good informative plan. 

    What happens when your I'll or away for weeks at a time and another coach takes your session with a badly written session plan you have written,  how bad is that coach going to feel. 


    Do you write session plans?

    Is there enough information on your session plans for another coach to understand if your away?


    It's time you owned up come on coaches be the first to write why you didn't or still don't write session plans? 


    If you didn't write them and now you do. What changed this?



  • One day i will be one of those amazing coaches who doesn't plan but for the next twenty years i think i'll stick to written session plans.

    This is a bit of a bugbear for me. I've heard many times that the day you rip up a plan 5 minutes into a session is the day you become a real teacher/coach. I agree but i am afraid that this gives new coaches the idea that planning isn't too important. The problem is that you need a plan before you can rip it up!

    There are many reasons to plan but these are mine:

    • i am not a native speaker so i need to think about what i am going to say to keep it short and sweet
    • One of the teams i coach is U5&U6 rugby. I sometimes have 6 coaches and assistant coaches working with me so everybody needs to sing from the same hymn sheet.
    • We only have 1 hour per week so we don't want to waste time discussing WHAT our next game/activity will be. Now we only need a quick word to tweak the activity to make it appropriate for the group.
    • Part of the job is convincing parents to step over the fence and become assistants/coaches themselves. It works wonders if you can give them a detailed plan of the session. Entertaining 30 5-year-olds is very daunting!
    • We want to encourage the parents to grow as coaches and take ownership of the sessions so we involve them in the planning along the way.
    • We have now done this for a whole season and have some sort of "legacy" to pass on to the people who start coaching after us. (Legacy between quotes because the quality of the later sessions is a lot better than the early ones!)

    To make collaboration easier we use a shared google spreadsheet. Some sections can be copy/pasted from previous plans, some are new. It's easy to export to pdf to print or email around. 

    So yeah, in short: i plan and i will do so for the foreseeable future!


  • AndyP

    I think it sounds like you are on the right path. Whilst there is definitely a need to be flexible with a plan, there has to be one in the first place to provide direction. Sessions shouldn't exist in isolation, they must fit into what is going on in other sessions - planning is crucial to make sure this happens. In my mind there is a distinction between training and exercising - training is for a particular purpose, wheras exercise is its own purpose. Individual sessions, made up on the spot with no interaction with other sessions falls into the "exercise" category as far as I'm concerned. More people doing exercise in society is definitely a good thing and I don't want to detract from that, but it's not what I'm there to deliver.

    As athletics is an individual sport, I have a bit more flexibility than those doing team sports, but I think the lessons apply generally.

    I start the year with a very general plan - what systems I want to work, qualities I want to develop, skills I want to improve etc over a training block. Those blocks are generally about 8 weeks although it flexes a bit due to competitions, holidays etc.

    Within that block for each week I'll divide those up - for example at the moment for my 100m sprinters it'll be acceleration work and speed endurance.

    Then within each week it will be down to specific sessions.

    Now if one of my athlete turns up and tells me they got roped into a race at school, has a bit of a niggle or just generally doesn't look like they are firing on all cylinders in warm up, I'll probably change the session for that athlete. Rigidly sticking to the plan would be daft - at best they aren't going to get much out of the session, at worst they could end up injured.

    Even once the session starts, I'm considering whether it needs to change. I have 2 lads, one of which is a fair bit quicker than the other (both ranked top 30, just different ages - if they both continue into adulthood I suspect they'll be similar speeds). The quicker one is able to push himself a hell of a lot harder and as a result gets himself a lot more fatigued in a session, so despite him being older and more experienced, there is a good chance I'm going to pull him out of a session before the other lad. Say I have him running flat out 80m reps off full recovery - after 3 the chances of him managing a quality 4th rep are low, so what's the point as he's not going to get near enough his top end to make it worthwhile. Chances are his mechanics wouldn't be great on that last one either. The younger one on the other hand, no problem.

    That's my thought process anyway - hope it's of some interest and not just a self indulgent ramble!

  • BarbAugustin

    When I did my various coaching certifications the pro-forma session plans we had to fill in always included lots of information, usually a variation of this:


    Target Group: 


    Session aims:



    03:00    3:00


    11:00    14:00


    Warm up:


    7:00      21:00





    30:00    51:00


    Session activities:





    4:00      55:00

    Warm down:



    Do I still fill these in? No! I don't need to write down who the target group is or the duration because these don't change. I don't write down the session aims or the equipment required because I have that in my head.

    However, like some of the others who have responded, I do plan a whole season, then each phase, then each week and then each session. I go to training with my planned workout for the day (eg 10x200 @ 1k pace) written in only as much detail as needed for me to remember. I also have a couple of alternatives (standard workouts for various objectives) that I can use if the athletes are injured/tired or if we can't get use of the athletics track or...

    I agree wholeheartedly that you're not a coach until you have the confidence to throw away your plan if it's not suitable. What's important is the athlete in front of you, not the piece of paper!

  • pippaglen

    Thanks for your comment.  I do agree, I will write a session plan for every session like you say doesn't always go to plan.  I always play about if I find things don't fit.  I'm always looking at what works and what doesn't work to help me plan for my next session. I find writing session plans also keeps my brain active I'm always thinking of new ideas to use. Yes some coaches can reel off coaching session but are these new sessions or are these just sessions that have been performed a number of times being repetitious .  For me keeping my mind open to new and exciting ideas is a must. 

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