The Science of Scheduling

Posted: June 5, 2011 in Coaching Philosophy, Psychology

After watching the USA v. Spain game today I started to think about the science behind scheduling that we as caoches try to manipulate every year.  Will playing the best team in the world help the USMNT take their game to a higher level for the Gold Cup?  Was the warm up match worth the 4-0 result?  What does this do psychologically for the athletes?

I was talking to a peer of mine who has been a college coach for over 20 years and we started to talk about the science of scheduling our seasons.  We both used to subscribe to the philosophy that playing nationally ranked teams will raise the game of our players and prepare them for a hard conference schedule.  But now my friend believes it really doesn’t make a difference to his players who they play, but big losses tend to have a very negative effect.

This upcoming season we have four teams in four weekends who have been to the national tournament, and the last of the four games is against the defending national champions.  My personal belief is this schedule will raise our level of play for the conference schedule and help put us in the right frame of mind. 

Maybe it comes down to our personal coaching philosophy?  Do wins against easy teams give you the confidence to take on good teams, or does losing to nationally ranked teams raise the level of your game to handle lesser competition down the line?  I personally subscribe to the later, but I do see the logic in the first.

The USMNT playing Spain was a brave move by Bob Bradley who seems to feel this game is going to help solidify something in our Gold Cup roster.  The final result (4-0) could be seen as something that would demoralize the team leading into their first round robin game on Tuesday, June 7th, against Canada.  And on the other hand, playing such a quality side like Spain could make the games against Canada, Panama, and Guadeloupe a lot more manageable in comparison.

Either way, we really come back to the coach.  What is their philosophy of scheduling?  Do you schedule tough competition so your team knows how to compete against the best teams in the country and raise their level of play?  Or do you schedule games where you can build confidence in your players and get some consistency in scoring and developing your attack?  With any dynamic of the game there are several factors that need to be considered.  What is the objective of the season?  Are you trying to qualify for the national tournament?  Trying to build a soccer program up that has been on the bottom for a long time?  How many returners and new additions do you have on the team?

I personally like a challenge, and I like to play the best.  I want to test myself, but I also don’t want to completely crush the spirits of my teams.  It has to be a balancing act, and the coach needs to know how much the team can be stretched and challenged.

  1. Stefan says:

    I would also point the fact that they way coach prepares the team for the hard games, and they way they react during the game and how they debrief there players after the game has a lot to do with the way a team takes losing a hard game.

    Personally I like to schedule hard games, and give my team the chance to win a big game, or a visual goal of what we are striving to be

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