Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Goalkeepers can counter attack

davidscwnew

Goalkeepers like nothing better than having the ball in their hands, running to the edge of their area, then blasting it into the sky.

But throw-outs can be better, not to mention more valuable, because the ability to throw the ball quickly and accurately is becoming an increasingly important skill for goalkeepers in the modern game.

Many of the world’s top keepers can throw the ball more than half the length of the pitch, and the distance and accuracy they can achieve is a big counter-attacking weapon for the team.

The overarm throw allows your goalkeeper to clear the ball over a long distance and at a great height. And it can be more accurate than kicking the ball.

Here’s my seven-step guide for goalkeepers looking to master the art of the long throw:

  1. Tell your goalkeeper to adopt a side-on position and put their weight on the back foot.
  2. Your goalkeeper’s throwing hand needs to be positioned under the ball, and their throwing arm kept straight.
  3. The non-throwing arm must point in the direction of the target.
  4. The goalkeeper can then bring this arm down as the throwing arm comes through in an arc over the top of their shoulder.
  5. The goalkeeper’s weight should be transferred forward as the ball is released.
  6. It is similar to a bowler’s action in cricket.
  7. Over long distances, get your player to concentrate on powering the arm downwards on the same line as the target spot. This will help with his accuracy.


Give your players targets like Barcelona

davidscwnewEven Barcelona give their players targets. Sergi Roberto spoke last season about how he stepped into Lionel Messi’s shoes in the first-team, all part of the club’s policy of giving youth players the chance to prove their worth whenever possible.

Now 21, he has spent a third of his life at Barça, having made his first team debut it 2010 and now in 2013/2014 he has finally been made an official member of the first team squad and is closer than ever to a regular spot in the first eleven.

Following Thiago Alcántara’s departure for Bayern Munich, FCB director of football Andoni Zubizarreta, sadi: “Thiago having gone, our choice is Sergi Roberto,” he said. Yet another example of the club’s philosophy of promoting local talent.

Roberto said: “It’s good that so many Barca B players are getting chances because it shows things are being done right, and that the first-team coaches have faith in the young players.

“We always go out with a special attitude when we play for the first-team – that’s why we try to do our very best for the whole match.”

They may be some of the best youth players in the world to but to get better even Barca’s players need to have their own targets. In my own teams I give targets. A target might be something as major as moving into a team at a higher level, but often they are much simpler – crossing, dribbling, heading – and every single player has his own.

I was explaining my ‘youth’ policy at a dinner party last week when one of the other guests on my table said, “But is it necessary? After all, the players are all the same age – why not just coach the same principles?

”What this guest didn’t understand was that within an age bracket there can be up to a year difference between some of the players.

And that makes a huge difference in youth teams. Some players will grow quicker than others – they might be taller, struggling to cope with coordination; or smaller, finding they are brushed off the ball easily. So treating them like individuals rather than a group of 10-year-olds is actually really important.

You should try to give each of your players targets to meet during the season. By helping them to develop in different ways and try out new things, you may just find a gem you didn’t realise you had. So this week, why not try specific targets, such as “Anthony will try to head every ball that comes to him at head height”, or “instead of dribbling into the box every time, Simon will cross the ball”.

Get your players changing their natural approach to a situation and you may just be surprised how much quicker they develop!

Watch the video clip below of Sergi Roberto at Barcelona:



Why warm-ups are a good habit

Driving to a match at the beginning of the season I got stuck in some roadworks that made the journey take twice the time it usually does. I made it to the game just in time for a quick chat with the players before they went on.

There are two or three different ways to get to our home ground from where I live, and for years I’d gone the same way. But those roadworks were going nowhere fast – it would be months of holdups unless I changed the way I went.

So I started taking a new route to the ground. Yes, one week I forgot and went the old way and got snarled up in traffic, but gradually I got used to the new route.

I had a laugh to myself last weekend then when, even though the roadworks have gone, I set off the ‘new’ route, because I have become so used to going that way, and I trust it will deliver me to the ground on time.

Now there’s a thing – I’ve changed a habit. It’s something most people tell me is hard to do but I’ve done it. And when I think about why I want to get to the ground on time, it’s because of another habit I changed…

When I first started coaching, I had no time for warm-ups or doing the right things before a game. I arrived seconds before kick-off and regarded warm-ups as being for wimps – my team didn’t need them!

But gradually I learned more about young players and that they needed to stretch both mind and body in the lead-up to a game. I learned how much better they would perform when they were 100% ready to play. The more I studied the game the more I had to admit I was hindering my players by not doing those other things. So just like forcing myself to drive a new way to the match, I forced myself to change.

Along the way I had setbacks, but over time my players stopped letting in silly early goals and even started scoring early themselves. And there were no pulled muscles or players out of breath after a couple of minutes of running.I forced myself to be a better coach on match days.

And that’s why I hate getting to the ground late, because it reminds me of my old habits. Preparing yourself and your players for a game is so important – make sure you do it.



When more turn up for training than you expect

davidscwnewI had an email this week asking about how I cope when more players turn up at training than expected. It was a timely question as I had just coached a session of 15 players when I expected only nine or 10 to turn up.

We were training indoors for a quick passing session and I had created a plan accordingly. However, with a bit of clever tweaking, I was soon able to put the session into shape to accommodate the increased numbers. The indoor arena was probably only big enough to hold 12 players comfortably but the extra players meant I could go for a session about winning the ball and keeping it in crowded areas of the pitch.

So I split the group into three teams of five players. Rather than have a normal small-sided game I decided to play all three teams at once making the central areas tight and over-crowded. I had yellows defending one goal and oranges defending the other. The other team of five were ‘mavericks’, who could score in either goal.

This gave each team plenty to think about – which team were their true ‘opponents’, for a start.

At first, the set-up caused a lot of confusion as players were trying to work out who was doing what, particularly because this was in such a congested area. My response to this was to stop play after a couple of minutes. I asked each team to take a minute to work out between themselves who should pick up which opposition players when possession was lost.

Once they had a clear idea of a game plan it made matters a lot simpler, and the overcrowded pitch became much less of a consideration.

I was pleased with how the session turned out because the players were encouraged to make a lot of decisions outside of the basic necessity of keeping the ball with numerous opponents around them.

The point here was to show them that even with a huge number of distractions, if each player focused on the key elements that affected his own game, the proposition seemed a lot less complex.

For the final five minutes I went to two teams playing with the other resting. Sure enough, the freedom in this set-up (compared to three sides playing at once) saw players using space and being aware of their marking responsibilities with real clarity, which was a great result.

All in all, a great solution to the problem of an unexpectedly high turnout!



Missing an easy chance isn’t always a bad thing

davidscwnewSometimes you stand and look on aghast as one of your players misses a simple chance in front of goal – and it happened to one of my players at the weekend. Of course you cannot legislate for a player using his right foot and pushing the ball past the post when he should have just used his left. I’ve seen it happen many times in youth soccer and often it can stick with the player for the whole game.

Even though I have drummed it into my team that we don’t blame each other for mistakes it is the easy misses that leave players feeling glum. And you know as well as I do that a depressed player is going to be no good on the pitch.

I always try to give my players examples of professional players who make similar mistakes, yet who recover quickly.

Watching the Capital One Cup game last season between Leeds United and Southampton, I saw a fantastic example of this. Early in the first half, and with the game at 0-0, Leeds’ El Hadji Diouf beat defenders and goalkeeper with a ball across the six-yard box.

The ball came to the back post where Luke Varney was unmarked with a simple tap in. But everyone was left stunned when Varney somehow turned the ball back across the face of the open goal and wide from just a yard out. Look it up on YouTube!

However, Varney didn’t retreat into his shell. Instead, he took responsibility for the miss, dusted himself down, and subsequently ran the game, including setting up a goal. It was a fantastic comeback and a Man of the Match performance on many fronts.

His manager Neil Warnock praised what was a massive contribution in the end. He said: ‘I thought Luke epitomised our performance. He came up with the miss of the century yet was still Man of the Match for me. He wasn’t feeling well and was sick at half-time. I asked him for another 15 minutes and he gave me 40. That’s his attitude through and through.’

And that is the attitude we all need to try to get from our youth players. If you make them afraid of making mistakes you won’t get that Man of the Match performance out of them you so badly desire, because getting the best out of your players means they must be able to find a way past their mistakes, and quickly.




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