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Creating Match Hard Skills

coaching philosophy Aug 05, 2020

By George Vogiatzis

Coaches and players work hard to develop technical, tactical, physical and mental skills that are reliable during competition. It is common practice to break these skills down in a controlled environment, master proper execution, and build good habits… but is that enough for a skill to transfer to a match setting? How can we determine if a skill will hold up under the pressure of an opponent? How can we be confident that a skill is “match hard”?

Discussing any aspect of skill acquisition is a complex task however, for all intents and purposes, we will focus on the conditions under which a skill must remain in tact for competition. If we can create these conditions in our training environments then players will be prepared for anything that comes their way…


  • Fast and powerful 
  • Most points end in errors
  • Time and space determine pressure
  • There is no time limit in match length
  • Players must read and respond to variety of situations

Therefore, once we understand what is required we can then draw the information back to our daily practice and put our athletes to the test. Below is an example of a list of conditions a coach may consider in their developmental planning (please note, each step is a progression from the last).

The “Match Hard” Skills List

  • Can the athlete perform the skill to a high degree of quality? 
  • Can the athlete perform the skill consistently?
  • Can the athlete perform the skill at speed?
  • Can the athlete perform the skill with adaptability and flexibility?
  • Can the athlete perform the skill under pressure?
  • Can the athlete perform the skill under fatigue? 
  • Can the athlete perform the skill over time? 

Using this check list we can create drills, plan practice sessions and chase competition that builds confidence and belief in our athletes and ensure that their game can hold up under the pressure of competition.

What does your list look like?

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