Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: defending, parents, player development, small-sided games, tournaments
During the off season I spend a lot of my time at tournaments and I often look around for new players who, for whatever reason, have not fitted in with their clubs and face a season out in the cold.
Last year my club had been offered a number of players from rivals that were closing down. Three of these players were in an age group I was coaching and I was asked if I could fit them into my team. This was fine as I had a number of tournaments ahead and was looking for players to come along for a bit of fun and show me that they were up for playing in my team.
The next tournament was a six-aside affair and so the three new players would have a great deal of influence on the game and could let me see how interested they really were in playing for the club. I didn’t have any idea where they played on the pitch but because of the small-sided games, they would have to play in every position – again an ideal scenario because all my players swap positions during a season.
Of course, they all told me they play up front. The team performed really well but one of the parents did take it upon himself to voice his disapproval. “He doesn’t play in defence, hasn’t anyone told the coach?”
The player in question played very well during the first half but the parent kept up his banter.
“You don’t play in defence but you’ll just have to get on with it and do your best,” he said in his best stage whisper. The player looked across at me and we laughed.
“Is it right you’ve never played in defence?” I asked him at halftime.
“No,” he smiled, “I’ve played there plenty of times – I like playing there.”
So the second half started. “In defence again, that’s crazy!” shouted the parent. Eventually I did move him into midfield much to the parent’s delight and he played well there too, so it was a great game for me to watch him and to see that he was already able to play in more than one position.
His dad was wrong in wanting his son to play up the pitch to have the glory of scoring goals – just ask defenders like Dani Alves at Barcelona or Nathaniel Clyne at Liverpool if they hate being stuck in defence. There are all sorts of pressures heaped on young players and dads should try to support children wherever they are on the pitch. They should help them to learn all the positions because it helps with their development.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Goalkeeping, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coach Weekly, soccer drills
Today’s issue features Fastest players in the Premier League led by Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy… no wonder they are third in the league.
Three sessions to speed up play for your team – score within 10 seconds of losing the ball – plus making your words work with youth players, touchline tales, and winning the 1v1s.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: aggressive, coaching style, problems, Soccer
I think all of us have a dark side that turns us into critics. Some people can be more critical than others, but if you’re on the receiving end you have to close your ears to the comments and just let the critics get on
I was at a coaching session last week and all around me coaches were being critical. Rather than write the session down and create something new from it, they just wanted an excuse to say “I’m better than you”.
But it’s not just true of coaches. Working with grassroots teams I tend to hear criticism constantly and a lot of it comes from the parents at the side of the pitch. If their son or daughter has not played well, they think the coach hasn’t been doing his job properly. If their son or daughter is substituted, the coach hasn’t a clue what he’s doing.
And on it goes. Remember, criticism is easy to make but your achievements are not. And it’s easier to deal with criticism when you realise the reasons behind it. Criticism from parents is often a tool to defend their children and to defend themselves in the face of other parents with higher achieving kids – it’s not an attack on you as such but it can be hard to ignore.
You are doing a great job so don’t let them put you off. It is because you have given up your time and taken on the role of coach that you have been thrust into the limelight and unfortunately a lot of people will resent your position of importance.
When I first started coaching I remember that one of my teams went through a sticky patch in the middle of the season, having started out with four straight wins. After one game a parent came up to me and told me that he had spoken to a few of the other dads and they had decided my tactics were wrong.
I was taken aback and rushed home to go through my notes and think about what they had said. My tactics hadn’t changed but the players were on a steep learning curve and some aspects of their play were just beginning to come through. At that time I felt quite nervous about the score in games – not like now, when I look at how well the team played before I even think about the score.
In attacking me the dads had come up with reasons why their kids hadn’t won the game, but it was their problem, not mine. Now that I understand why people criticise, I no longer feel nervous about what parents think of me. Once you realise why people criticise you’ll deal with it much better too.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: alex ferguson, coaching sessions, coaching style, Manchester United, perservere, wales
My coaching word for this week is perseverance. I heard Sir Alex Ferguson the former manager of Manchester United in the English Premier League talking about the attributes that make a good coach and his first one was perseverance.
I immediately experienced why this is such an important part of your coaching style. In training this week I was trying out a new session which I was writing up for Soccer Coach Weekly – I do it on the premise that if it works with my U10s then it will work for practically all age groups.
It was an exercise that uses movement, coordination, passing, receiving and sprinting. I know sometimes when you are using exercises with young players in front of their parents it can be a bit awkward for you if the players don’t understand immediately what they have to do. Especially so when they have just come out of school and are raring to go – concentration is at a minimum.
I ran the exercise a couple of times and it was not going well. It needed some fine tuning and a lot of demonstrations by me to get the players to understand what I wanted. It was eating into my coaching time but I thought it was worthwhile persevering with it. After 10 minutes they were still struggling but suddenly one of the players shouted “got it, Dave!” and he showed the others how it worked.
And with demonstrations from both of us suddenly the whole squad could do it. We played the exercise for the next 20minutes and I took notes on how to change it to make it more easily understood for my Soccer Coach Weekly readers.
After the session a coach from one of our other teams came up and said “wow what a great session that was!” It had worked in the end but only because I was prepared to persevere with the session and use visual aids and use a player who could help me to show the others how to play it.
Not only that but it has given me another good, different exercise to use with my players as soon as we get to training that they can quickly get going with. And you can be sure that once I’ve used it a couple of times and drawn it out you will be the first coaches to get to play it because it will soon be in Soccer Coach Weekly.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Chelsea, grassroots, jose mourinho, leeds, lufc, match, uwe rosler, win
Getting the momentum is one thing but getting the parents and players right behind you is another, so a good display is important.
Last season our first match was away at a very impressive ground with lots of facilities, including a main pitch with stands and floodlights.
As it was the Under 11s that were playing we were not on the adult A team pitch but we were on a pretty impressive one surrounded by a clubhouse and tennis courts. We had been promoted the previous season so we were not sure how we would cope at this higher level, but I could see my players were not intimidated by the surroundings and were raring to feel the excitement of the kick off.
We were quickly into our warm ups and soon we had shaken hands with the opposition ready for the match. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be Uwe Rosler, the new manager of Leeds United, as he waits for the whistle to blow with the eyes of his trigger happy owner Massimo Cellino upon him. Or Claudio Ranieri at Leicester, back in the Premier League hoping he can have the success he had before.
Kick off came with great relief and my initial fears that the team wouldn’t be good enough were soon banished as we unleashed a flurry of attacks. Twice we were nearly caught out on the counter but our defensive training sessions paid off with some good covering and clearing. However, as half time approached all of our hard work was undone when a clumsy clearance went into our own net.
The boy involved was heartbroken, but at half time we all gathered around him and told him it wasn’t his fault and that we were all pleased with the way the team had played. We ran the game in the second half but failed to score and that one own goal had been the downfall of the team.
However, parents and players alike were in high spirits because we had all seen we could compete at this higher level and I was proud of the way they had all gathered around the player who had scored the own goal.
So a great start to your campaign doesn’t always mean a winning start but momentum comes from playing well and working as a team – we went on to have a great season in a very tough league.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: pass, score, shoot, space, Switch play
By David Clarke
Why use it
It is crucial for young players to know how to switch play so they can exploit space by moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. They can do this either by using a long pass or a series of quick, short passes.
Create a 30×15-yard area split into three 10-yard zones. Mark out three gates along the two lines that create the centre zone – the gates should be one yard wide and evenly spaced along the line. We’re using three teams of four, one in each zone. You will need balls, bibs and cones.
How to play
In their groups of four, get the players to work out how many ways they can get the ball from one side to the other: one long pass; three short; one short, one long etc. After five minutes split the middle team in two – one pair defends the three gates on one side and one pair defends the gates on the other side. The two outside teams must try to pass quickly in order to find a chance to get the ball through one of the gates. Rotate teams every five minutes.
Having three goals and only two defenders means attackers will be keen to hunt out space to score.