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Get your players to shoot

davidscwnew

How often do you watch your striker reach great attacking positions only to then delay his shot, offering enough time for defenders to get back and put in a tackle? It’s a frustrating part of the game and something that’s certainly not exclusive to youth football!

It’s important to give players the confidence to shoot from anywhere on the pitch, rather than them trying to walk the ball into the net. So below I’ve put together a great practice that, quite simply, encourages players to shoot at the earliest opportunity from all areas.

How to set it up:

  • You will need six target cones and seven balls, plus additional cones to mark out a pitch. You will also require bibs and a goal.

  • Create a pitch measuring 35×25 yards.

  • Three yards in from each end touchline, and halfway up the area, place three cones in a triangular shape.

  • Each cone has a ball placed on top of it.

  • The game can be played either 3v3 or 4v4.

Getting started:

  • Each team defends its set of cones.

  • Players must try to knock the balls off the cones at their opponent’s end of the pitch while ensuring their own cones do not come under threat.

  • If a player shoots and gets a "strike" (knocks all three balls off with one shot) the team gets six points, otherwise it’s one point scored for each ball.

  • Should all three be dislodged, the balls are set up again before resuming.

  • Play for three games of six minutes, ensuring players are ambitious in their attacking play and do not hang back crowding around their cones as a defensive tactic.

Developing the session:

If you have three or four teams, play so the team that knock three balls off, then faces a different team. Teams waiting on the sidelines act as ball boys.

Note which teams are the best at winning a strike – undoubtedly this will be because of the frequency of shots and from all distances – and point out to the other teams why they are so successful.

How to advance it:

  • Put a goal and a keeper at one end and set up a bowling alley-style group of six cones with balls on at the other end.

  • This is a straight knockout, with one team trying to knock all the balls off the cones and the other trying to score three times past the keeper. Which team will fulfil its task first?

Why this works:

The initial practice encourages players to shoot at targets from all areas of the pitch. Teams defending cones will also be pushing forward trying to attack, so the scoring options should be plentiful.

Direction and power are, of course, vital to a team’s success, while the set-up ensures players are aware of the need to shoot quickly and positively. Should they not, a tackle could see the other team attack and complete their task first.



Preparing for the conditions is vital for young players

davidscwnewOne thing’s for sure, it hasn’t been great weather for goalkeepers this winter. Changing weather conditions can cause problems. How will the ball bounce? Will it skid through or stop? What kit to wear? Rain is bad enough but I always feel sorry for my keeper when it’s really cold.

wetweatherplay

The ball is more slippery, and cold arms and legs make catching and kicking much more difficult.  Because a young keeper is standing  around for long spells it is much  harder to keep warm – just last month,  right at the start of the match my  U12s goalkeeper dived full length  and ended up soaking wet. The temperature was very cold and we had to get him a change of clothing pretty sharpish.

The opposition manager wasn’t happy that we asked for the game to be stopped, but it was face him or let my keeper freeze to death. His mum was worried but we had a change of kit and she had a clean base layer for him and he was soon back out there.  So what can keepers do in the worst kinds of winter weather?

For the prevention of injury on cold days, a warm up is essential and it gives your keeper a good opportunity to see how the pitch is going to play. And when they warm up, they should wear at least a waterproof jacket so they don’t get wet and cold before the game.

Also, carry a spare towel so the keeper can wipe his gloves or dry his face if it’s raining. The most important thing is to try and get your keeper to remain focused for the whole game, so work out a little routine that he can do when the ball is at the other end of the pitch – something like jogging to the edge of the penalty box and then backwards to the goal line, but make sure he is keeping a close eye on where the ball is.

Any routine is a good way to help focus and concentration on cold or wet days. The other side of play that can be hit by changing weather conditions is close control and dribbling. Running with the ball is hard if the ground is very wet so I always get my players to do some running around to get used to the conditions. If the ball is sticking in the soft ground they need to use more power with their control.

However, on some pitches the ball will be much faster if the grass is wet. When the weather is unpredictable, my advice to you is to make sure your players are both physically and mentally prepared and that they have the right kit on for the conditions.



Get your players to look up and look around

davidscwnewI run this session to get my players looking around when they have the ball. It means they’re aware of where their team mates are and where there’s space on the pitch that can be exploited.

For the session to really work, players that are not in possession need to look to see where opposition players are so they can see where they are able to receive a pass.

I usually run a handball session first so players get a feel for the positional elements without worrying about ball control with their feet.

Handball

  • Set up a 25×15 yards area as shown in the top picture, with flags (or bibs) of the same colour on the corner poles.
  • The game is 6v6, with players in a 2-3-1 formation.
  • When a player passes the ball, he must shout out the flag colour. The team gains a point after making five consecutive passes. Passes must be from the chest and cannot go above head height.
  • If a player is tagged with the ball in his hands, or a pass is misplaced, the other team takes possession.
  • Make sure players stay on the move and are at match pace, and change the flag colour throughout the game.
  • Play for five minutes.

Football

  • For the second part, use a 40×30 yards area, as shown in the middle picture, with small goals.
  • In a 2-3-1 formation, players must defend the goal while trying to score in the opponent’s goal, but before they pass the ball, they must call out the two flag colours.
  • Each team must make four passes and call out colours correctly before it can score.
  • Change colours at regular intervals, as shown in the bottom picture, to keep players on their toes.
  • Play for five minutes.

Technique and tactics

  • Players adopting a side-on body position for receiving and moving forward will be able to see both ends of the pitch, and more flags. It’s easier to tell young players they need to see both flags rather than expecting them to understand the technique behind opening their body to play.
  • Players also need to concentrate on good passing and control, in all areas of the pitch.


Great way to switch play

davidscwnewSwitching play (moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other) will allow teams to create significantly more space on a football pitch. And that, in turn, can lead to better goalscoring situations.

Changing this angle of an attack requires intelligence and reasonable passing ability, but get it right and it’s a potent weapon for your team.

Here’s how to do it.

How to set it up:

  • Set up a 45×20 yards playing area.
  • On both long sides, position three goals using poles or cones, each five yards wide. Each team protects three goals.
  • In the area, a 4v3 takes place. The overload is designed to help one team achieve the coaching focus.

Getting started:

  • Teams must maintain possession, use quick switching of play to find space – with both short and long passes – and score in any of the goals.

Progressing the session:

  • After 10 minutes, add two players in sweeper roles behind the goals their team is defending. The opposition cannot score in a goal the sweeper is protecting.
  • Rotate players regularly.

Game situation:

  • Set up a 50×40 yards area with a full-size goal at one end and three small goals at the other. Play 5v4 (including the keeper), use normal rules. The team with the overload attacks the three goals. Here, look for switches from deep and quick breaks forward.

Why this works:

The session encourages forward angled passing, one-twos and through balls, and rehearses offensive as well as defensive principles. Teams that can hold onto the ball and make use of the space will create lots of scoring chances.

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Robben and Ronaldo’s speed shooting

davidscwnew

It must be a close call as to who is the faster player, Bayern Munich’s Dutch star Arjen Robben or Portugal and Real Madrid hero Cristiano Ronaldo. Both can run and change direction at speed, and both possess a potentially devastating end product to boot.

Many people assume that speed is in-built, but it can certainly be taught and improved. Control, meanwhile, is something that even more easily, over time, can be fine-tuned. So here is an exercise that combines both.

How to set it up

  • Make sure your players are warmed up before they try this.
  • You need 10 cones, a ball, a goal, a stopwatch and a timesheet.
  • Create a five-yard square around the penalty spot.
  • You need two gates, each two yards wide, each side of the penalty “D”, and 20 yards from the goal line.
  • Make another gate in the centre of the pitch 24 yards from the goal line, and place the ball here.

Getting started

  • Players initially face the goal. On your whistle, players turn around and sprint towards the ball. Start the clock.
  • They must then dribble it around the course as fast as they can. The choice of direction is yours.
  • When they return to the starting area, they shoot into either corner of the goal.
  • The clock stops when the ball hits the net.

Why this drill works

Fast, focused, and in control. These are the things you want your striker to be. This drill demands the use of both feet and lightning quick movement, agility, co-ordination, the necessity to change direction and, ultimately, the ability to shoot at goal.

Get your young players to train in this way and they will replicate the positive benefits of this in match day situations.



Try this game from Keith Boanas

davidscwnew

In this game, players move at walking pace like the character from the film Robocop – but with a ball. The main objectives are to improve communication, co-ordination and getting a feel for distances.

Set up a 50×30 yards playing area with a coned-off target zone around each goalmouth. Use two teams of six players.

The rules

  • One player stands in each target zone to act as a target for the attacking team. They also serve the ball for the other team to counter attack.

  • The ball is thrown and caught between team mates to reach the target player.

  • Players move with the ball at walking speed. They can pass freely and must pass if tagged by an opponent.

  • Opponents can only win the ball from an intercepted throw or if the ball is dropped.

  • Speed walking is allowed.

  • A point can be scored by reaching the target player from a designated third of the pitch or after a minimum number of passes to encourage team play.

  • Be firm with the no-running rule.

  • Players must take time to be accurate with their throws. Any form of throw is allowed – overarm, underarm or proper throw-in technique.

How to progress it

Allow the ball to be headed rather than caught if this will gain an advantage.

Allow the attacking team to throw or head the ball into the goal rather than pass to the target player. In this instance, the target player becomes the goalkeeper and tries to save.




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