Progressions and regression's should be a key component for any coach putting together a session plan. Being able to move your session along or take a step back can be the difference between the session challenging the players or failing to do so. Here a few ways to think about progressions within your sessions:
Within the Activity
The simplest way to progress the session along is to go from unopposed to semi-opposed to fully opposed pressure within the same activity. In the activity below, the session starts out unopposed with the players doing developmental repetitions of a stop start. They then progress to an end zone game where they must stop the ball in the end zone without the defending keeping up alongside them (semi opposed as the defender cannot tackle). Finally, the game becomes fully opposed where the defender is live after the first touch.
Non-Competitive to Competitive
One way to add pressure and progress a session is to make it more competitive. By making it into a competition, you can increase the realism and tempo of most activities. In the same setup as before, the winner (player who scores the most points) in the Championship gets promoted to the Premier League. The player with the least points in the Premier League is relegated to the Championship.
Though a minor progression and tweak to the session, the competitiveness and result of each game begins to matter that little bit more to the players within it. (NOTE: consider which players you start in which division and why).
Moving from One Activity to Another
The final progression we're going to look at is how to move from one activity to another in order to meet different learning outcomes. In the example below, the new activity illustrates where on the field you might use the stop start and gives the players visual cues and concrete examples of where, when and why they might use the move to beat a defender.
While the move stays the same (stop start) the attacker also has other options (e.g. the takeover/overlap). Therefore, decision making becomes a new component of the practice as there is a second attacker that can be utilized as a decoy or someone to combine with. The progression to a new activity now hits all 5 W's (Who, What, Where, When, Why - read more here).
There are a ridiculous number of ways in which you can progress and adapt a session, including all of those above. Off the top of my head; touch limits, rules of the game and field dimensions are just a few that can be be used to challenge players and move the session along to aid a players learning and development on a given topic.
What progressions do you use within sessions? Do you skip semi-opposed pressure with younger players? Do you progress things for some players/groups whilst keeping it the same for others? I'd love to hear how others approach progressions, feel free to leave comments below or give me a shout on twitter (@deanatk).