Training analysis: Markus Gisdol’s time in Hamburg

The time between two seasons always offers a great chance to reflect on the past and to ideally learn something from it for the near future – especially if the result of the past was relegation, like in the case of Hamburger SV (HSV). There’s no better, and thus painful starting point to create positive change.

While the newly formed team under coach Christian Titz plays the club’s first ever season in Bundesliga 2, I will take a step (and look) back in quite an unusual way. Firstly, Markus Gisdol hasn’t been Hamburg’s coach since January. Secondly, one rarely finds actual analysis on what happens in training – mostly due to lack of footage.

In Germany it’s normal for clubs to have a lot of public training sessions, although I can’t personally attend many sessions of a single club throughout a longer time period. Whenever you get insights from inside an organization, on the other hand, you have to keep those secret in respect to the club that offered this opportunity. Thanks to German HSV fan blog “”, there’s a lot of video clips available on Markus Gisdol’s time in Hamburg, though. They liberally allowed me to use it for this analysis which I can’t thank Markus Scholz and his team enough for.

Of course, this article will be about critically evaluating Markus Gisdol’s work but it’s also about how professional coaches structure their training sessions, which ideas are actually behind what they do and what the execution of it looks like. You can also use the following explanations as kind of a drill collection. But throughout the article it should become clear that this is quite a useless thing to do in regard to your own work as a coach.

For the same reason, it’s not always absolutely necessary to present every training drill with all its rules and in all its facets. This is simply impossible when you are not directly involved in planning and on-field coaching. Certain rules (e.g. extra points for a certain number of passes, touch restrictions) are often touched on when the coaching staff explains the exercise beforehand. These rules mostly don’t depend on a certain training design. At the same time, we also can’t touch on the aspects of training load and periodization within the scope of this articles

Instead of looking at single training sessions in isolation, I have divided different training exercises by their type. The structure of the paragraphs is based on when you would do a certain drill within a session but also on their complexity. Needless to say, that there will always be some overlaps using this approach.

  • Positional games as warm-up
  • 1 versus 1 and 2 versus 2 as base
  • Over-/underloads for group tactical patterns
  • Extension to sequential game situations
  • Game forms in a tight space
  • Enhanced game forms with zones and provocation rules
  • Game forms in cut out fields