Intentional Training

An extraction from Dan Abrahams methodology regarding intentional training,

To achieve this there are four areas that we must address as coaches:

  1. interesting
  2. intense
  3. internalise
  4. integrated

Quality of practice determines rate of progress 

Dan’s belief is that an intention to train hard and improve, and then act on those intentions with physical intensity, is not nearly enough. To develop permanent new skills, what performers must do is train intentionally.

More than simply giving your all physically, intentional training is when performers practice with purpose, with focus and with intelligence. 

For optimum results, a coach must deliver on all four fronts.

  1. Interest
    ‘From a coaching perspective, you should set up a training or practice regime that, even more than holding your athlete’s attention, is going to captivate and absorb them. This doesn’t mean it is always fun, but it is meaningful to the individual in question. The best way for athletes to become fully engaged and switched on, outside of what their coaches are delivering, is for them to have their own mini-objectives – and these should be stretch objectives that exceed their set goals. For example, taking a risk and saying, “I’m always using my right foot. Today I am going to predominantly practise with my left foot”.’
  2. Intense
    ‘Not just physical hard work but mental hard work. A focused effort. Absorbing yourself in the moment and really paying attention to what you are doing. Intentional training should stretch you and push you out of your comfort zone. It requires an inner voice that energises and shouts “push”.’
  3. Internalise
    ‘From an athlete perspective, there has to be some self-reflection in the moment. This is key to active learning and how you change the wiring in your brain. Players can’t have the attitude that they will automatically get better through training. They should be constantly asking questions and examining the process of their practice. Again, relating this to footballers, this means asking: Am I keeping my body shape? Did I get in the right position there? Have I taken more shots than yesterday? Am I timing my jumps from corners correctly? From a coach’s perspective, that internalisation can happen through good questioning, intelligent feedback or through providing key words.’
  4. Integrated
    ‘The need for players to integrate their personal reflections with feedback from their coach. “When I hear some feedback, am I taking that on board? Am I getting it spot on? Do I need to change anything?” Maybe ask the coach directly for feedback to check on the progress of a particular skill or technique, bearing in mind that players can’t actually see themselves perform in the moment.’

What about Grass Roots?

When you are a coach you are involved in the three Ps: participation, progression and performance. At elite level it is less about participation, and at grass-roots it is more about participation. But the middle ‘p’ is relevant to both, no matter the age. So intentional training is relevant to all because it is all about progressive learning.

You have to train long, but you also have to train smart, which means engaging in the right kind of practice.

Quality of practice is key and it is not sufficient to simply accumulate hour upon hour, upon hour.

Dan Abrahams has a website and a podcast