Unusual training methods: Dark and silent practice

Soccer training in the dark - new methods

No matter if it’s a player who always plays the long ball although the short one would be more effective, or one that always keeps his eyes on the ball. Some situations require unusual training methods. Two examples are “dark” and “silent practice”. In this article, we explain to you what that exactly is.

Every coach has probably already come to a point where he hits a brick wall with his own team. Rather than making further progress, one is plagued with recurring situations: players are making the same tactical mistakes repeatedly or constantly miss important details in the build-up.

In such situations, troubleshooting is not easy. The word choice for error correction seems clear and precise; the structure of the training plan with its exercise sequence seems to make sense. So, what to do? Dismiss your session plan and start again?

That would initially mean a lot of work and should therefore only be considered as an absolute emergency solution. As a first approach, individual influencing factors should be changed initially. Like with a chef who works meticulously on his dish, ingredients and measurements are crucial. So how, exactly, do you change these parameters for the entire training session and individual exercises?

"Suddenly, other approaches must be found to successfully complete the exercise. "

One possibility is the so-called “dark practice”, which is particularly suitable for the darker seasons. With this method, the gym light is simply dimmed or floodlight is partly turned off. However, training should not take place in complete darkness; after all, players and coaches should still see sufficiently to be able to perform the exercise. The restriction of vision has amazing effects on the perception of the players. Suddenly, other approaches must be found to successfully complete the exercise. It especially shows in altered behavior of the players and adjusted tactics. In a game situation where players have always used the long pass, suddenly a short pass combination seems to be the more effective solution. Likewise, a change in communication behavior can be observed – players who previously didn’t pay much attention to their teammates signals, suddenly notice the acoustic signals of their teammates. The new situation shifts the player’s focus to new indicators. “Dark practice” is a good approach to promote new solutions and improve team communication.

"The perception and playing style of the players adapt to the new situation. "

The need to talk is especially great in youth teams. However, conversations are not always limited to tactical and soccer-specific issues, which can greatly influence the players’ attitude toward training. If the communication between players is not only sufficient, but even too much, coaches can draw on the method of the so-called “silent practice”. Here, any form of verbal communication is prohibited. Particularly during game forms, a violation of this rule can be handled with the loss of ball possession. Much like in “dark practice”, the players now focus on their other senses. The perception and playing style of the players adapt to the new situation. Especially players who base their game on verbal stimuli, because their eyes are mainly on the ball, must now look up to make the right decisions. The way players catch their teammate’s attention will also change. Suddenly, better and more obvious positions are taken on the field and tactics are played more efficiently.

The training methods, “dark practice” and “silent practice” originally come from basketball, which proves once again that it occasionally pays off to look outside the box of one’s own sport. With both methods, it is made possible for players to independently arrive at approaches to solutions and to directly experience the possibilities of a certain tactic. Learning through self-knowledge is usually faster than it could be taught by words. Small differences in training methodology can thus help players to better understand tactics and implement them more successfully.

Maybe a “dark” or “silent practice” could improve your player’s learning curve.

Florian Klingner

Florian is a Sports Scientist and graduate from the German Sports University in Cologne. In our Blog he'll share his knowledge with you.

This entry has 1 replies

  1. Coach Janner says:

    Keep these articles coming; I’m enjoying the ideas that are outside of the box.

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>