Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Congratulations to AFC ‘C’ license coach

Swapan kumar paul’s U14s team were runners-up in the latest tournament run by the Indian Football Association.

Well done boys!

Watching videos of Barcelona can help your tactics

dave clarkeThe England team watched videos of Barcelona in action to help them with their game plan for the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier with Wales in Cardiff.

Jack Wilshere, part of the Arsenal side defeated by Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, was instrumental in making that work for England. The 19-year-old said: “We watched some videos of Barcelona and the way they pressed. We tried to do it like them against Wales. We pressed high and the idea was to get some early goals and we got them. We made it comfortable for ourselves.

“We watched the videos a couple of days before the game. We want to press like them. They are the best at it in the world and we have to learn from teams like that. At my age I am always learning and I can learn from players like that in their side.”

It’s not a bad idea to watch videos of teams like Barcelona. You may not think your players could ever play like that but they can use the simple examples of pressing, supporting and making simple short passes that Barcelona excel in.

I try to get my players to make this style of play become the natural way they play when they get out on the pitch.

Why not take your laptop along to the next training session and point out the way Barcelona press the ball high up the pitch.

Start with this video of them pressing Arsenal in the Champions League.

A poorly built wall blew £90m

By David Clarke

One of the most lucrative matches in world soccer is just around the corner… the play-off match between the English Championship teams hoping to get the last promotion place into the English Premier League.

Last season saw Blackpool beat Cardiff to win promotion and an estimated £90m in revenue this season. It is a huge boost to any team so they have to make the most of it when they get there.

In that game star player Charlie Adam for Blackpool scored a great free-kick that highlights the importance of player positions in the defensive wall – had the wall and the goalkeeper been more coordinated maybe that £90m would have been heading for Cardiff rather than the seaside.

Watch it below and leave me a comment about the organisation of the free kick.

Are you as good as Jose Mourinho?

It is difficult evaluating your team and what you are achieving with your players. One way to do this is to see if your coaching has any affect on match days and on how individuals play – but how do you find out whether your training sessions are achieving what you hope?

When I think up coaching drills to be published in Better Soccer Coaching I’m constantly making sure they can relate to match days. If you cannot see a benefit during a match from using exercises in training, either in the individual or in the team, then they are not much use.

So here are my top ten things I look for during a match in each individual player:

1. Making forward passes through the opposition defence
2. Taking chances in the attacking third 3. Passing the ball and moving in support
4. Working hard to win the ball back
5. Communication – calling out names; asking for the ball
6. Making runs off the ball
7. Forgetting mistakes and getting on with the game – keeping their heads up
8. Enjoying the game; having fun
9. Playing until the final whistle – winning or losing
10. Knowing their position on the field (especially for defenders) so they can recover quickly if the team lose the ball

Watch a Real Madrid interview with Mourinho below:

It’s easy to say but ‘dont blame the goalkeeper!’

By David Clarke

Rob Green knows all about errors after he made one in the World Cup for England against the USA. Then there’s Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczęsny, whose mix-up with Laurent Koscielny gave Birmingham City’s Obefami Martins the ball to score and win the Carling Cup.

“Unfortunately, that’s the life of a goalkeeper,” said the Birmingham City goalie Ben Foster. “You can make a few good saves and then when you let one in at the last minute you’re the villain. But you can see that he’s brimming with confidence and has all the ability in the world. He just needs to put this behind him and move on – he’s got a great career ahead of him.”

Confidence is the important word in the goalkeeping world.

Last season one of my youth teams was drawn away to one of the more famous U12 teams in the UK. We were under no illusions that it would be a hard match, but we spoke about how we would just treat it the same as any other game.

The boys were excited about playing at a ground with a stand and advertising hoardings around the pitch. Half way through the first half we were playing well, and had created a few chances.

The opposition were getting rattled and had put some heavy challenges on my striker. Our opponents tried a long range shot which was trundling towards my goalkeeper. Safe in the knowledge it was an easy shot for him pick up, I called my striker over to talk to him about the heavy challenges he was taking.

I didn’t want him to react to them, and was telling him so when the opposition team suddenly started cheering and shouting. I looked up to see my goalkeeper with his head in his hands and the ball in the back of the net. One of my defenders was shouting at him, and the rest of the team had a look of disbelief on their faces.

“What happened?” asked my striker. I didn’t know. Apparently he had bent down to pick the ball up and taken his eye off it and somehow he missed the ball which rolled through his legs into the net.

One of my players was giving him some stick so I took the player dishing out the abuse off the pitch and put a substitute on. We spoke at half time about how easy it is to make a mistake and the rest of the team gave their support to our goalkeeper.

We joked about it at training, and we never referred to it as the mistake that lost us the game. A young player’s confidence can so easily be broken by incidents like this.

Do your U9s have trouble getting their bibs on?… so does Balotelli

Mario Balotelli warming up for Manchester City before he missed from 2 yards and then got sent off as City went out of Europe.

Make a trickster part of your team

Rodney Marsh, Stanley Bowles, Gerry Francis, Tony Currie,Trevor Francis and Roy Wegerle and now Adel Taarabt – the English Championship club Queens Park Rangers has had its fair share of flair players.

Everyone loves to watch a player who can do tricks with the ball and mesmerise their opponents – as long as they’re on your team. Taarabt was signed by Martin Jol as a 17-year-old when he was manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

However he initially was not a team player he was all about personal glory and a showboating player cannot afford to neglect the team or their team mates will soon get tired of it. This is especially true in youth teams where showboating individuals can put their team mates off and they stop passing the ball to them.

Harness the talent though and get them playing for you as part of the team and a bit of showboating can go a long way when they play matches. I have a player in my team who can run rings around opposition players but in the past he has run up a blind alley, lost the ball and put his team at risk of counter attacks. But now he doesn’t do that.

A lot of hard work and coaching has seen him become man of the match twice in a week and his team mates are loving playing with him.

Taarabt too has been transformed at QPR where he is now at the heart of the team and wears the captains arm band – but he still showboats and can beat players with audacious skills. This has seen his team top the league since the beginning of the season and should be his ticket back to the English Premier League.

If you have a showboater in your team, don’t stop them doing it just get them to use it at the right time and put the team first.

Watch this clip of his skills:

Defending against the overhead kick – Wes Brown v Vincent Kompany

dave clarkeOnce all the talk of the Wayne Rooney amazing overhead kick against Manchester City had died down I began to take note of other overhead kicks and how to defend against them.

Rooney’s goal at Old Trafford was a spectacular winner, but often in these situations the referee blows the whistle for dangerous play. On the same ground in the FA Cup Manchester United were playing against Blue Square Bet Premiership non-leaguers Crawley Town and the minnows were a goal down when Crawley striker Matt Tubbs almost did the same thing as Rooney.

His spectacular overhead kick just cleared the bar, but this time the referee blew for a free-kick – had the ball gone in the net it wouldn’t have counted.

This would have been very contentious because of the occasion and the scoreline. However, the difference in this case was that the Manchester defender Wes Brown put his head in the way… so it was considered dangerous play. If Vincent Kompany had done the same against Rooney it would probably have been considered dangerous play as well.

In youth matches I’m sure most referee’s would blow the whistle for dangerous play if your players hold their ground and try to win the ball.

Watch the clip below and around 3.40 minutes of it you will see Matt Tubbs’ attempted overhead kick and Wes Brown putting his head in danger.

If only I could go out and buy young players like Manchester United do…

dave clarkeWouldn’t it be great if we could go out like Manchester United have done and buy the best young players for our teams!

Attracting players gets harder and harder as more teams than ever before set up to play the game. Players have a lot of clubs to chose from so coaches need to think about their set up so it is their club which gets the players and not another.

These are the issues you have to think about when you advertise for players.

Quality of coaching
Cost per player
Playing time
Attitude of the club

In the case of my club the important thing that attracts players is the set up of the club and the attitude of all the coaches – players come first – which means fun in a safe environment with all players getting equal rights on the pitch.

This message gets around and parents and players like the idea of joining a club with this philosophy – you will find that they don’t mind paying the fees if the set up is right.

Meanwhile, Adnan Januzaj from Belgium has joined Manchester united academy. He has signed a four-year deal for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, the right winger being brought to Ferguson’s attention after some brilliant displays in Anderlecht’s youth team.

Januzaj will get £120,000 a yearand becomes the highest paid academy player at Old Trafford. Manchester united will have to pay a training and development fee to Anderlecht.

Anderlecht manager Herman Van Holsbeeck said: “Interest in Adnan Januza is a great compliment to the youth of purple and white (Anderlecht). Adnan Januzaj has been at Anderlecht since he was 10 and has not played first team football yet.

Watch this clip of him and think about what he could do for your team!

Why route one doesn’t work as a tactic

Once your players have got used to playing against the route one tactic they should be able to deal easily with it. Route one – where players hoof the ball to a target man up front – can sometimes work for your team but as a tactic it is outdated.

Not only that but route one is probably the most boring tactic of all. One of my teams played against a team that was playing route one, with a fast player up front and long balls played to him all the game. All they succeeded in doing was give the ball back to us and we won easily. I don’t think my goalkeeper had a shot save!

For all the talk of creating chances by getting the ball into the box more often it has to be a good long ball to have any chance of success.

Later that day I saw the match between West Ham and Stoke. Stoke play the long ball tactic with Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross lumping long balls up front towards John Carew. It was boring and above all it didn’t work. Stoke’s threat was minimal.

It was probably West Ham’s easiest game of the season, with Stoke failing to create a single clear-cut chance. Carew was easily shackled while his partner, Jonathan Walters, continued his dismal run of form – how he gets picked ahead of Kenwyne Jones is a mystery.

It will have put a smile on the face of the West Ham Academy Director Tony Carr who’s Smart Sessions regularly feature in my Better Soccer Coaching publication. West Ham are playing some great free-flowing football and not only pleasing the crowds but also winning.

For all those coaches who play route one it’s time to stop – just look at Stoke, they haven’t scored a league goal from open play since Dean Whitehead’s header against Manchester United on 4 January.

You’d think that would make them good at Soccer AM’s crossbar challenge where players have to kick from the half way line and try to hit the bar… but it doesn’t watch the video below.

 Soccer Skills and Drills


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