Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: co-ordination, communcation, fun, games, young players
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.
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.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: cross, crossing, running cross, running with the ball
This session emphasises the importance of delivering accurate crosses from wide areas to create good attacking moves. The more accurate your players become, the more effective your team will be when attacking.
Ball carriers have to think about where their team mates are, and where is the best place to play the ball to maximise their attacking options.
The best place for a wide player to aim for is the space between the six yard box and the penalty spot. If your attackers know this is the area where the ball is going to be crossed, they can attack it to meet the ball.
The wide player must try to keep the cross away from the goalkeeper.
When the cross is played, the player must turn their upper body in the direction of the ball and think about the height, weight and timing.
How to play it
Using half a pitch, you need a goal and a goalkeeper. Have a goal at either end when you develop it into a game.
Split players into two groups. The first lines up between the penalty area and the touch line, while the second lines up centrally outside the penalty area. Both groups start 25 yards to 30 yards from goal, although this can vary depending on the age and ability of the players.
The players from the first group take it in turns to run with a ball until they pass a marker, and cross to a player from the second group who has made a run into the penalty area.
Players receiving the cross attempt to score with a first time shot. Make the two groups switch roles, and also get players to cross from the other side of the pitch.
How to develop it
Introduce a third line of players who attack the cross from the far post area. Now the wide players have to make a decision on where to cross the ball. Add a defender in the penalty area who actively competes for the ball.
Play it in a game
Set up a pitch that’s wider than normal and play a small-sided game with two goals and goalkeepers. Play normal football, but make goals scored from crosses count double.
Tony Carr is the Academy Director of West Ham United in the English Premier League
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: beckham, free-kicks, how to, luiz, oscar, Ronaldo, technique
Every team needs to be able to score from a dead-ball situation, so get your players to try this game to develop the perfect free-kick
WHY USE IT
Every game seems to involve a goal scored from a set piece. This shows how important free-kicks are to the final outcome of matches. Therefore it’s vital that your players spend adequate time developing an unstoppable free-kick in their training sessions.
SET UP Mark out an area 40×30 yards with a goal at each end. Select two even teams. You need balls, bibs, cones and goals.
HOW TO PLAY
Play a small-sided game. While the game is being played you should carry a second ball under your arm. On your call place the ball and award a free-kick to a team of your choice. Immediately the players must react to this situation. You can place the ball in different areas for players to practice angled kicks and straight ones.
Practice is crucial. It’s not just about mastering technique; it gives you confidence. This session gives plenty of realistic match situations for practising free-kicks around the penalty area. Players should also be practising at home. Every player needs to be alert during this game. It is a good idea to give the free-kick a name that can be called out so everyone moves. The kicker could shout ‘Usain Bolt’ so your players know it’s a quick free-kick.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Captain, coaching, how to coach, problems
A couple of seasons ago I was asked to take over a team that the club said were underachieving – they wanted the side to get more success than they were having. So I went along to watch them. It seemed that for the first half of matches they were very successful and were often winning at half-time, but they always seemed to capitulate in the second half. I found it slightly puzzling that it happened so often, but I soon realised exactly why.
The team had a player who was an outstanding defender. He read the game well and was the type of footballer anyone would want in their team – commanding, fearless, always in the right place at the right time and joined in with attacks.
But this last point was the reason for the team’s second-half horrors. It transpired this young man had come to a deal with the old manager to play in defence for one half but attack for the second. With the player gone from defence the team were soon in trouble – and I cant for the life of me think why he wanted to play up front. He rarely saw the ball, and when he did it was usually from a panic clearance that he struggled to control. As his frustrations got the better of him, the coach took him off to calm him down.
I’m all for players moving around in different positions, but this just wasn’t working and the team were throwing away excellent first-half performances to accommodate this deal. I spoke to the player and his parents and I gave them an idea about what I wanted. I saw him as a fantastic centre half running the game from defence, but I also accepted that he should get the chance to play in attack.
However, rather than change at half-time, I explained that I would target games when he was most needed in defence, and for other games he could move up the pitch, allowing his team-mates to gain valuable experience at the back. As a result, he was still getting to play up front but we were getting full games out of him playing in defence.
I also made him captain, which gave him a huge boost. Having him at the back for full games made a huge difference to the next few games and the team began to be much more successful, built on the shoulders of a great player who excelled at the fundamentals of defending.
The manager had been doing the right things but he needed to think more about the problems he was having and come up with a solution like mine. Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes to see where a coach is falling down and a simple solution will often fix it.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 1v1, attacker, dribbling, passing, pressing, running with the ball, striker
Although this game is heavily weighted in favour of the passing team, the
need to make 10 consecutive passes puts pressure on the players in a
If the defender does manage to force a mistake, he needs to show stamina
and composure to make his efforts count by scoring a goal. Collective pressure and individual responsibility are key elements of what
makes players and teams successful.
How to set it up:
This game uses two teams of four players.
One works as the passing team. The other works as defenders, though only one player works at a time.
Create a playing area measuring 40×25 yards.
At one end, place a goal and goalkeeper.
At the other, mark out a 10-yard square centred on the far touchline.
The passing team of four players works in the 10-yard square, passing
the ball around and attempting to retain possession.
One at a time, each player in the defending team must enter the area
and attempts to win possession from the passers.
If the defending player manages to force a mistake or win possession,
he leaves the ball where it is and runs towards the other goal. Receiving a pass from you, he tries to score past the keeper.
The defending team gains a point for each goal scored.
The passing team scores a point for each set of 10 consecutive passes.
When the passing team manages to make 10 consecutive passes, the
defender is replaced.
Each defender has two attempts at winning the ball in the 10-yard
square during each game.
Swap teams and repeat the game so players experience both roles.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: coaching, equipment, fun, grassroots, referee, st georges park
One of the positives to have come out of the opening of St George’s Park in England is the recognition being given to the thousands of coaches up and down the country that make grassroots football tick. St Georges will hopefully be putting coaches at the forefront of football in England, much like the situation is in Europe and America.
Without coaches there wouldn’t be matches taking place every weekend. The hours you coaches spend getting the right advice and the right sessions not only helps to create a development culture at your club but is also vitally important to the children you coach.
I know how hard it is for all of you because I’ve started clubs too, and have stood in front of parents wondering how on earth I was going to fulfil their wishes. Like you, I’ve stood at the end of a game when my team has lost, wondering if we would ever win again. Yes, it can be hard sometimes, but coaching is also a wonderful experience, with some amazing highs.
I spoke to a coach this week who has set up his own team because the side his son played for no longer saw the boy as part of their future. His son sat on the bench most matches and when he was allowed on, he was screamed at and told what to do. That’s not being a coach – coaches make football fun.
To rescue his son he created a team and set about learning what he should be coaching and how to manage. He hadn’t realised all the things he would have to do: the amount of emails to players, the collection of subs, the payment of referees, coping with training, getting a kit and buying the right equipment.
But I went to one of his matches and it was great to see him doing everything the right way, encouraging his players and making sure they all got a game. And at the end, when his team had won, he was bubbling over with delight. By doing it all himself he is learning the hard way that coaching is a huge responsibility.
As Head Coach of Soccer Coach Weekly I want to recognise all the hard work that goes into the role of the coach by shining a light on some of you who do the job. In our Coach Of The Month feature, the magazine recognises grassroots coaches with all kinds of experience, whether it be for putting so much into the game every week or maybe just for making the kids happy.
If you want to nominate someone, or even yourself, to be Coach Of The Month, please tell us why and you could be featured in the magazine. Email your nominations to email@example.com
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training
The importance of free-kicks cannot be underestimated in youth football. As a statement you may dismiss it, you may disagree with it, or you may actually agree but think that practising free-kicks is pointless. However, it’s a statement worth thinking about.
At the end of last season my U11s had been in the top three for almost the whole season. With one game to go we were three points behind the team in second place, who were also our opponents for that final fixture. A poor performance in their penultimate game meant that their goal difference was nowhere near as good as ours, so we just needed a win to snatch second place.
It was a good game and my team played some lovely passing moves but at the interval it was still 0-0. I didn’t need to inspire my players at half-time, they did it themselves as I gave them the floor to talk about the game and how well they were playing.
We scored early in the second half and the opposition looked out of it until, with five minutes remaining, they got a free-kick just outside our penalty area. We set up a wall and had players on the posts but it was a great free-kick, looping high into the top corner and miles from my keeper’s hands. I doubt even Joe Hart would have got near it.
I had to admire the quality of the kick. One like that doesn’t happen without a lot of patience and a lot of practice. But then we have specialists too and on the stroke of fulltime we won a free-kick ourselves, just outside the area.
It was some way out but one of my players practises kicking for both rugby and football and there was no way anyone else was taking it. He picked up the ball and lined up his shot. The well organised opposition weren’t going to make it easy for him, but he focused, took a few paces back and hit it.
It was a beauty of a shot. Skimming the heads of the players in the wall, it beat the keeper and took the player on the line into the net with it! Then the referee blew for fulltime. We had won. Had the ball been played into the box as a cross then I doubt the opposition would have given a goal away, but there was nothing they could do about that unstoppable free-kick.
So when I talk to other coaches I tell them the importance of getting players to practise kicking because you never know when you are going to need that special something to give you the edge in matches.