Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Making the complete player… the 4Rs of coaching

In my last blog I wrote about how Ronaldinho was once again looking the complete player and how he created space for himself and the team.

What it means to be a player like that is a lot of hard work! However much skill a player has and however good their positional sense is, you can be sure these players work hard at every exercise they do.

At the Nike Academy, coach Dean Smith refers to it coaching the four Rs. Receiving the ball, Releasing the ball, Retaining the ball and Running with the ball.

You have to make sure you are coaching your players in each of these disciplines. In my coaching publications I make sure I cover each of these with exercises designed to give you the tools to get your players to practice each of them,

Watch Dean coaching his Nike team

 Soccer Skills and Drills



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How Ronaldinho creates space for AC Milan

Ronaldinho gave a timely reminder to the Brazil coach Dunga that he is back on form. In the recent Champions league match playing for AC Milan against Olympic Marseille.

There’s been a lot written about how poor Ronaldinho’s form has been over the last couple of seasons but seeing that game is a pretty mouthwatering preview of what we can expect in the World Cup, if he gets picked by his international coach, but if he keeps this form up I can’t see him being left out.

How his team mates didn’t score from some of the passes he made I don’t know. What I lke is the way he creates space by skillful turns and skillful passes. When I write about passing the ball into space for players to run on to it is sometimes hard to get the point across, Ronaldinho does it for me in this game.

Show your players how Ronaldinho uses skill to create space for himself and then he plays the ball cleverly into space for players to run on to rather than to the player. He will often target an area to pass into where there are no players but where one of his team mates can be first to the ball.

It’s a masterclass in how a player can make a team play exciting attacking soccer. Watch this clip of him in the game:

 Soccer Skills and Drills



Movement off the ball creates the space to score goals – Nasri’s goal v Manchester Utd

This is a goal that I have to put among my favourites because of the build up and movement all over the pitch and the run off the ball by Theo Walcott to create the space for the goal.

There are so many coaching points in this clip it is worth showing your players.

Watch Walcott’s movement at the end of the move which drags Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, two of the world’s most experienced defenders, to create the space that allows Samir Nasri to score this goal.

It is the perfect example for any young player to watch, Walcott does not touch the ball yet has a big hand in creating the goal and Nasri explodes into the space to score.

Also look out for a great hook turn from Cesc Fabregas. The movement all over the pitch is very good.

 Soccer Skills and Drills



Soccer stars and their cars

Further to my blog on Stephen Ireland and his cars I there might be a few of you out there interested in these stars and the cars they drive.

On this clip you can see the cars of Alonso, Ballack, Beckham, Campbell, Crouch, Del Pierrro, Drogba, Essien, Gerrard, Giggs, Henry, Ibrahimovic, van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Ronaldo, Shevchenko, Torres.



Playing in windy conditions

It was pretty horrible playing in the wind this weekend and you have to think about your tactics because goalkicks, long through balls and clearances will all be affected depending on whether you are playing into the wind or not.

I have a load of tips for playing into the wind on my Better Soccer Coaching website.

Whether your players are kicking into the wind, or with the wind, follow these tips to keep youngsters’ shots, passes and goal kicks accurate.

Playing into the wind tips

Tell your players to keep it tight — short passing skills are needed into the wind. Any long balls will be held up by the wind and you will soon find you’re up against a fast breakaway attack.

In training drills practise holding the ball up — get your players to play balls into the attacker with his back to goal, creating opportunities for your midfielders to run with the ball.

At goalkicks, tell your goalkeeper to play out to the sides — a long kick down the middle would be suicide.

Playing with the wind tips
Tell your players to resist the temptation to blast long balls into the opposition half — your forwards will soon get tired of the ball going straight out of play.

But do let your goalkeeper unleash some long balls – get your forwards to cause chaos with the bouncing goalkicks by heading them towards goal.

Tell your forwards to test your opponents’ goalkeeper with high accurate shots.

Watch the highlights of this 2002 World cup qualifier between the Faroe Islands and Luxembourg. Wet and windy conditions provide some great moments!

And watch this tornado during a youth match



Goalkeepers need to be good with their feet too – simple warm up

It was raining this weekend, it was muddy it was windy. Who in their right mind would be a goakeeper on days like this?

I always like to warm my goalkeeper up so they are ready when the match starts, on days like this weekend it is more than vital to do so. And you want to warm up the use of their feet because in these conditions it is the footwork that will often be the deciding factor when the ball is played in with the rain, wind and mud making handling treacherous.

I use this warm up all the time in the winter – and often during good weather as well! It’s so easy to set up and you can get a couple of dads to help out while you take the rest of the boy for other warm ups.

It’s one I got from Mike Toshack the goalkeeper coach for the Houston Dynamo. All you need is a goal and two cones with a couple of dads and balls.

Set it up like this:
Put two cones 5 yards in front of a goal in the centre, 4 yards apart creating three ‘goals’
You need a goalkeeper and two players or helpers
First helper passes to goalkeeper in the middle goal, who must pass firmly back with their right foot.
The goalkeeper then moves to the ‘goal’ on their right to save a shot from the second helper.
The goalkeeper then moves back to the centre goal to play a pass with their fet and sd so on. After 5 shots to the right the goalkeeper must then move to the goal area on their left.

You want to see the goalkeeper moving quickly between the goals.
Keep their hands and head steady.
Be on their toes ready to react to the ball.

Watch this clip of Mike Toshack the goalkeeper coach for the Houston Dynamo putting his players through the drill.



Becks and the US troops
November 20, 2009, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer News | Tags: , , ,

David Beckham’s rehabilitation with the LA Galaxy fans will be completed when he goes with the team to join US soldiers on a morale-boosting trip to show their support for the ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan. They’re back in love with him anyway after he took them to the weekend’s MLS Cup Final.

They’ll be there on Thanksgiving Day an emotional experience for all.

Call me a cynic, but when I read of the hardship he was going to endure in a US army barracks I did think it was going to be in Afghanistan, but it’s actually in Germany.

On the evening of Thanksgiving Beckham and his team-mates will play Kaiserslautern FC – currently in the second tier of German football – in a friendly match at their 48-500 capacity Fritz Walter Stadium. Up to 25,000 tickets for the game are being made available to US servicemen, their families and US Defence Department staff.

Watch the highlights of LA Galaxy v Houston in the Western Conference:



USA captain Steve Cherundolo says this warm down is fun

David Clarke2I always like to end my coaching sessions with a competition of some sorts that the players look forward too and lets them take their minds off the technical side of our sport and allow the fun side to envelope them for 10 minutes.

It ends the session on a high and all the players usually want more of the same. I know it makes them want to come back for the next session which is great news when you’re the coach.

So I use games like this end of training finishing drill which the US National Team use with their players.

It’s a simple miss and you’re out, score and you get another turn exercise. You are also getting players thinking without realizing it. Should they place it or go for power. Which technique will they use. They will all want to win so they will concentrate.

Watch this clip of the US team playing the exercise at the end of training.

Defender Steve Cherundolo is captain of the US team and plays for Hannover 96 in the German Bundesliga. He said: “When it matters I try and concentrate a bit more and score a few goals. It was fun.”

The winner of the drill this time was forward Jozy Altidore. He said (with a big grin): “I always want to be number one!”

Watch it here:

 Soccer Skills and Drills



How to run and volley the Dutch way
November 12, 2009, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Skills | Tags: , , , ,

DavidClarke1I have a lot of volleying practice sessions, but few of them are just for one player. Running and volleying usually means there needs to be a server who throws or crosses the ball to the volleying player, and that often means a lot of wasted time with overhit crosses or balls at the wrong height.

It takes hours of training to perfect the volley and you don’t want to spend too much time on it at your coaching sessions but this is something the players can do on their own.

In this exercise it is down to the player to flick the ball up then volley it. It’s a great game to give your players for homework that they can do in the back yard or down at the park.

Set up two goals 60 yards apart. 10 yards from each goal put a couple of cones, players run at jogging pace from one set of cones to the next, flick the ball up at the cones then volley it into the goal. Turn around then repeat the drill.

If you’re not sure of the technique check out my coaching publication Soccer Coach Weekly where I explain techniques in my Skills School column.

Watch the Dutch striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar doing the exercise in the clip below:

 Soccer Skills and Drills




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