Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


A change of heart over the Carling Cup – how do you beat a top team?

DavidClarkeFunny how a lot of teams in the top division in England have had a change of heart and decided that the Carling Cup is now worth winning.

For years it’s been the stage for trying out players and letting the reserves have the spotlight. Now teams outside the top four in the Premier League fancy their chances of winning it.

This is sadly the realization that only a handful of teams have a chance and only two or three a realistic chance of winning the Premier League.

Watching the scores as the matches were being played in round two this week there seems to be a time during the game when the big teams suddenly wake up and score goals.

Teams from the top divisions can be losing 1-0 for most of the game but the last 10 minutes usually ends with the ‘better’ teams scoring enough goals to win. This is due to a number of reasons.

1. The lower league teams have been playing in top gear for most of the match and mistakes begin to show and tiredness comes in so the higher league teams find the last 10 minutes a lot easier.
2. The lower league teams begin to sit back and try to protect the league by playing deep allowing the higher league teams to attack from much higher up the pitch.
3. The higher league teams bring out the big guns if they are losing for the last 10 minutes – the attackers they have been saving for the league games.

For youth teams I see a very similar trend. During cup games I have taken teams to play matches against opposition from leagues higher than our team. Often we will surprise them by how well we play and pass the ball, and will score a couple of early goals. As the match wears on usually you find yourself pegged back and finally lose the game.

How do you prevent this?

I find substitutions in the last 10 minutes help your team, especially tired players who are finding it hard going. You can also make sure you continue to play the way you have been playing for the rest of the game. Try and get the ball into the opposition half and keep it there. Get your team to put the ball into touch to give them more time to organize themselves. Win the ball back – it sounds simple but if your team has the ball the opposition cannot score.

All these things are fine in theory but you’re going to have to use all your coaching instincts when it happens to you!



Attackers need skill, strength and balance

DavidClarkeWhen attackers are faced with a number of defenders and they are alone running at goal it is often strength and skill that get them past and into goal scoring positions.

Your attackers need balance and strength to go with the skill of ball control. It’s no good running and dribbling only for a defender to nudge you off the ball and you lose all that momentum.

So fitness, strength and balance need to be part of your attackers’ make-up. That means training sessions need to include warm-up fitness and running exercises to practices balance at speed.

Watch this old video of Ronaldo playing for Barcelono in 1996 when the late Sir Bobby Robson was coach and Jose Mourinho was his assistant. The pace and balance is excellent and he also rides the blatant attempts to stop him by the Valencia defenders.

 Soccer Skills and Drills



Making a fool of defenders – the nutmeg
August 24, 2009, 8:22 am
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Skills | Tags: , , , ,

dc1There’s nothing worse as a defender than to have the ball played through your legs leaving you rooted to the spot unable to do anything about it. You’ve been nutmegged.

This sort of skill is the kind of thing you need to arm your players with, so as they grow more confident in games they have the ability to use certain techniques which give them the edge over the opposition.

Watching players use techniques like the nutmeg is exciting to see.

Here’s a clip explaining how to attack a defender and use the nutmeg and a clip of Jose Antonio Reyes playing for Arsenal, performing a nutmeg on Gary Neville on two occasions causing the Manchester Utd defender to do an horrendous foul to hide his embarrassment.

 Soccer Skills and Drills



Why Burnley beating Manchester utd is inspirational

DavidClarkeI can sit for hours and argue that a good coach can mean the difference between winning and losing, and then a good coach makes the headlines by struggling at their new club.

The victory by Burnley over Manchester Utd is important for coaches of youth teams for a number of reasons. First Manchester Utd lost! But seriously I can take this result with me and talk to my players about it at training.

Burnley beat Man Utd… Never! they would have said before the game. Now they can see that you can beat the unbeatable teams at the top of the league. It can help inspire them to great feats over their own unbeatable teams they will face in the coming season.

But it also shows how tactics and good coaching can produce results like this. Pitting your wits against Sir Alex Ferguson is difficult at the best of times but playing him with a less gifted team is a nightmare and yet Owen Coyle the Burnley manager has managed to do it.

He has got Burnley promoted and now they are gracing the Premier League with style and good football. I will watch them with interest over the coming months. And especially when Burnley go to Old Trafford and see what Sir Alex Ferguson has in store for them next time.

 Soccer Skills and Drills



Picking players to take free-kicks

DavidClarkeTaking free-kicks is good practice for getting your attackers used to shooting at goal. If a player can kick a good shot they can usually take a good free-kick.

But you shouldn’t restrict the free-kick takers to attackers. Often your defenders will be the ones that can kick high and long, ideal for free-kicks that are further out from goal. You will probably want to have close range free-kick takers, long range free-kick takers and also remember you may need someone to take free-kicks from wide position where the ball will be crossed rather than shot at goal.

It all comes down to your training sessions and making sure you put some time aside for free-kick taking. Have a competition and pick the winners – but remember young players kicking power will change as they get older, keep an eye out for the ones that are improving and encourage them to try free-kicks.

Here are some clips showing a player practising taking free-kicks from different angles around the penalty area, Steven Gerrard with an unusual way of practising and a compilation of some of the world’s best free-kicks.



The importance of the ball into the box

It’s something you hear shouted at every match you go to, whether it is the local under 8s or a Premier League match – “Get the ball into the box!” or danger area or “Cross it!”… And those shouters have a point.

When youth players get the ball across into the danger areas on a pitch there is a chance something will happen and maybe a goal will be scored.

That ball hit over defenders causes chaos.

If you have players capable of crossing a ball with height and pace get them doing it as often as possible. A stretched defence or retreating defence is going to find it hard to clear the ball and often impossible to get it to a team mate.

It’s a great way to create goal scoring chances.

Watch these two clips from girls matches and see the how often goals are scored from crosses into the penalty area – not always good crosses even. And I have also put up a clip of David Villa scoring a great goal from a superb cross by Joan Capdevila for Spain in the confederation cup earlier this year.



Keeping possession needs a variety of passes

DavidClarkeWhen you are coaching possession games what your players should be doing is using a variety of passes to keep the opposition team guessing about where the ball will be going next.

Passing into to space means the ball can go forwards or backwards, wherever there is less danger of losing the ball – it doesn’t always need to go forwards when you’re keeping possession.

Long passes are also a good thing for a player to be able to do, which can relieve the pressure on a team by switching play to a player on the other side of the pitch who is in space.

And the short pass, quick one, twos. Variety is the key to good possession and to stop your passes being read by the opposition. Watch this a video of a 19-pass sequence by St Mary’s Sweepers soccer team.

 Soccer Skills and Drills




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