Don't be a clone!

In this article, written for coaches and people who run training sessions, we take a snapshot look at Decision Training. Why it is important to develop decision makers rather than robotic performers and how to develop your practices to help train decision-makers in your team.

'Decision Training' is an approach to training that increases the opportunities players have to make decisions in game-like settings. Decision Training is a combination of technical, tactical competences with psychological and team training rolled together

A guide to what decisions a player need to make is -

What is happening? Recognise the particular moment e.g. which team has possession or is possession changing from team to team? How does this affect me, the player? Identify the player's responsibility for each specific moment. What should I do? Consider the range of options available and select an option.

An important factor here is, if the player has not been exposed to a range of 'moments', skills and movement patterns they have limited power of choice. Secondly players need to have a few key roles or responsibilities and understand what their objective is. It is key for a coach to have general philosophies, relevant to the level of the team. For example, when we

have possession look long then short, if we lose possession all players behind ball or hunt in pairs, push wide, slow break down etc. Players decisions should be based on your coaching or team philosophy and principles of play.


Questioning players at various points in the coaching session can highlight the player's decisions. This adopts a more Games for Understanding approach to coaching. A variety of questions can be used:

Questions to ask when in attack:

Q Who should I pass to? Options - Free player, Long, Short.

Q What if that player is marked? Options - Look to alternative pass, move ball and change angles.

Q What shall I do if I haven't got the ball? Options - Get into space for an effective pass, support, give options, make space.

Q What do you do after you have passed the ball? Options - Support, create space.

Q What if you can't go forward? Options - Sideways, Backwards.

Questions to ask when in defence:

Q What do we do when the opposition gain possession? Options - Look for some one to mark. Deny the most dangerous ball.

Q Who is most dangerous? Why? Options - Player with the ball.

Q Who do we mark? Options - Nearest opponent.

Q What should I do if I am marking the ball carrier? Options - Slow them down, push them

wide, force them back.

Q How do I stop another player receiving the ball? Options - Intercept, anticipate, threaten

the pass (make the make one more pass or move one more metre.


All players irrespective of level have to recognise and respond to changing circumstances. It is generally accepted that players who demonstrate superior decision-making than others are able to anticipate, prepare and effect the skill with more ease and can be proactive as opposed to reactive to situations in the game.