Practice Breaker – Lines


Perhaps the most common practice breaker I see is lines. I was watching a soccer practice recently where 18 players were doing a shooting drill; there were two lines of nine with two balls. Do the math how many times did each player get to practice a shot in a five-minute period? Answer: not enough to be meaningful, not to mention the lack of instruction. Lets be clear lines are important for organization and efficiency, but learn to use lines to be effective. If the drill demands speed and high quality work then make it a line of five – One athlete executing the drill, the second person in line coaching the drill, third person rehearing, fourth person observing and fifth person recovering. Everyone should be actively involved in the drill to optimize practice time. If the objective of the drill is more game fitness or speed endurance oriented then divide the group into lines of three with one athlete executing the drill, one coaching and one recovering. I stress the important of peer coaching to take advantage of the Mirror Neuron Phenomenon. The brain of the athlete coaching the drill perceives that that are doing the drill, hence it is an opportunity to get better faster – in essence the athlete coaching gets another quality repetition. This also insures that everyone is fully engaged in the practice. Lines can be effective but it demands thorough practice planning to make the lines or formations fit the objectives of the practice.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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