Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Recovery – I had to point out to my U11s that they were doing it

David ClarkeI spoke to Charlie at half time in a match this week. He was rather cross that I wouldn’t play him up front. He had been player of the match the previous week playing up front and thought this would be his position for keeps.

He said he was doing nothing playing in central defence and wasn’t sure why he was playing there. I explained to him about how he knew I moved players around the pitch to let them try different positions. But I also pointed out to him that he had twice recovered back and stopped a certain goal by tackling the player before they shot.

Not only that he had also cleared a long ball with his head away from danger. Is that good, he asked? Brilliant – as good as scoring a goal, I told him, and off he went pleased with himself.

I use this session to coach recovery with my players. It combines pace and awareness because players must concentrate on recovering by moving quickly, then supporting the other defenders. Another crucial part of this is in making sure that once your players have made it back they don’t turn off mentally and subsequently fail to complete the defending task. It can be all too easy to get back and think that the job is done, when really it has only just started!

How to set it up:
• Use a standard pitch for a warm-up sprint drill.
• Also set-up an area measuring 35×10 yards with a goal at one end – this will form the main part of the session.

Getting started:
• Start first with a sprint drill to teach defenders tracking back the key areas they should be running into.
• Players should run as fast as possible and take the shortest route towards the danger area. Players on the wing should take a line back towards the nearest goalpost, while those in the centre of the pitch should run towards the penalty spot.
• Now move to your 35×10 yard area.
• Three white strikers attack one defender and a goalkeeper.
• A second defender is 10 yards behind the play. His aim is to make it back to the ball to help prevent a goal.
• The middle striker is a server and cannot move. He plays the ball to either of the two white forwards. As soon as he does, play begins and the recovering defender can move.
• The lone defender must hold up the strikers until the second defender arrives.

The recovering player must make one of four decisions.
1. Challenge for the ball
2. Cover the defender
3. Mark an opponent
4. Mark space between the opponent and goal
• When a move comes to an end, play restarts with the serving attacker.

U11 soccer drills

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