Today, the emphasis in almost all education is on change – making things different, so that students don’t get bored. But, in football, it’s important that coaches are not swayed by the belief that every session needs to be different. For how can you master a topic in one week? Long term learning, and ingrained skills, are not established overnight.
Repetition is important for several reasons. First, each skills layer must be completed before moving on – it’s essential that the next layer is not added to early. Next, we need as coaches to make sure that we stress individual/team challenges, so that we push and motivate players. Finally, repetition is essential to ensure that coaches messages are said often enough so that the players can finish their sentence – only then will a game style emerge that everyone understands.
But even if we agree that repetition is important, does this mean that everything has to be dull and boring? No. Subtle changes can be made to a session to create the illusion of something different, even though the aim (the learning effect) is the same. The question is: how?