Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Shape up your team

davidscwnew

Changing team shapes by changing the number of players during a game is a fantastic way to get your players to keep their concentration and adapt the team shape and tactics to suit the situation.

I have used this exercise with my players for the past two training sessions because it gives me lots of coaching points that I can get across to my players as the game progresses.

How to play it

  • Set up as shown in the first picture, with four teams of two players (blacks, whites, grey shirt/grey shorts and grey shirts/grey shorts), plus two neutral keepers.

  • Start the game with four teams of two playing with one ball.

  • Players can score in either goal. If the ball leaves play, pass a new one in immediately.

  • On your call, two teams immediately join together (for instance, “blacks and whites”) and the game continues in a 4v4 situation. Both these teams now join forces to play against grey/whites and grey/greys.

  • Play for 10 minutes changing player combinations at regular intervals.

Technique and tactics

  • Keep the game moving fast.

  • Players should mix passes by either playing them to feet or into space.

How to develop it

  • You can overload the game against one team – for example, “whites, grey/ whites and grey/greys” would play against the black duo.


Quick, easy centre circle warm-up

David Clarke

There are times when I have turned up to find the equipment not where I would expect it and all I am left with is a ball and a pitch. So while I wait for the cones, balls and bibs to turn up I play a game that uses a ball and the centre circle.

How to play it

  • Set up as shown in the diagram with players split into pairs. Two pairs start in the middle of the centre circle with others spread around the outside.
  • In the middle, one team is nominated as attackers and the other pair defenders.
  • The attacking pair must keep possession for 30 seconds in order to score a point. To help them do so, they can use players around the outside for one-twos.
  •  If the possession is lost, the other pair now attempts to retain the ball for 30 seconds.
  •  Rotate the pairs every 90 seconds.

CentreCircleWarmUp
Technique and tactics

  •  The central players need to work hard at all times – either in moving to support, or closing down opponents in possession.
  •  Outside players must be alert and ready to receive the ball at all times.


Ghost attackers can be the real deal

David Clarke

Young players often stand and wait for the ball to be passed to them, then wonder why they are either second to it or have nowhere to go once they have it.

I like to get my attackers moving around and thinking about where they can go to make it easier to receive a pass. In this tight 2v2 game tell them to behave like a ghost, appearing in a defender’s line of sight one second, then gone the next. It will give the defenders nightmares.

Use this exercise so your forwards ask questions of the defence. I like to make my practise sessions as game-like as possible so there is some form of soccer realism created.

Get your attackers to try and prise openings around the penalty area while your defenders are keenly marking and watching out for players dropping off and moving, creating 1v1, 2v1 and 3v2 situations.

Set up on the edge of your penalty area as in the diagram above. You need three attackers, two defenders, a goalkeeper and a few balls.

The middle attacker acts as server and plays the ball to attacker 1 who is marked by defender 1. Attacker 1 must break away from defender 1 and get the ball under control. He will be supported by the server, who is close by, and attacker 2 on the far side, who must try to lose his marker – defender 2.

The defenders must be aware of the attack building up around them. Defender 1 has two players to worry about – the server and attacker 1 – while defender 2 must stay with attacker 2 and not be drawn to the action.

There are a lot of situations developing here in a short space of time. The attackers need to move quickly to first take advantage of the developing 2v1 situation and then the 3v2 situation.

When you are coaching this, try to get attacker 2 to move inside defender 2 and not go wide. If he does go wide, it will create a difficult angle and allow defender 2 to get between him and the ball.

In the second diagram, both attackers must move quickly to the areas marked B and C to put distance between themselves and the defenders.

The server must quickly decide who to pass to – whichever attacker moves fastest – and then play develops from there. You want to see attackers moving quickly to areas B and C and away again, putting the defenders on the back foot.



Sometimes simple is best – try 2v2

David ClarkeI often set up a number of simple 2v2 games for my players to give them plenty touches of the ball and force them to think tactically and make decisions about when to drop when to tackle when to intercept or when to dribble or pass. There’s a whole lot of coaching going on in this one.

What I look for: quick defenders who move the ball quickly when they win it; good defensive positions – individual and pairs; awareness of space.

Key points

  1. Speed – keep passes and touches to a minimum and be ready to spring into action.
  2.  Move directly towards the goal/target.
  3.  Sometimes, the fast break is not possible. It is important in these circumstances for defenders to keep possession and wait for the chance to play a forward pass.

 

How to set it up

Play 2v2 in a 20 yards by 10 yards area, split in two halves.

How to play it

  • Each team lines up on its goal line.
  • Play a 2v2 with the defending team restricted to its half.
  • To score a point, an attacker must dribble the ball across the defenders’ goal line.
  • If the defenders win the ball, they can launch an immediate counter attack.
  • The attackers then have to get back to defend as quickly as possible.
  • Once either team scores a point, or the ball goes out of play, possession is handed back to the original attacking team.
  • Play for, say 2 minutes, then swap team roles.

How to develop it

  • This time, if the defenders win the ball, only one can enter the opposition’s half.
  • The defender in possession can either dribble towards the goal line or pass to their partner, who breaks quickly into the other half.
  • If the counter attack isn’t possible, the only way a player can release their team mate into the opponent’s half is by crossing back into their own half with the ball.


David Clarke Interviews… KRISTINE LILLY exclusive

David ClarkeMy series of interviews on influential figures in the world of coaching continues with this exclusive interview with Kristine Lilly. Kristine was a member of the United States women’s national soccer team for 24 years. She is the most capped men’s or women’s soccer player in the history of the sport, gaining her 352nd and final cap against Mexico in a World Cup qualifier in November 2010. Kristine played in five World Cup Finals, winning two World Cups to add to her numerous other awards and honours.

Kristine LillyShe is now tasked with developing the next generation of female players and coaches in the USA. I caught up with her as she launched a skills partnership with Coerver coaching.

1. Can you give me a brief outline of what you will be doing in your link up with Coerver Coaching?
I have joined a partnership with Coerver Coaching to continue to make a difference in the game. We hope to promote and improve the Women’s game globally. We have an inspiring curriculum that really works; improving the player on the field and the person off it.

2. Why Coerver?
Well I have used the Coerver method throughout my career, and ever since I was a young girl. I believe in the Coerver system, the philosophy and the benefits it brings to players, coaches of any ability.
I am also hugely impressed at how the Coerver System and Brand has evolved and expanded globally, since Charlie Cooke and Alf Galustian (pictured) first started it almost 30 years ago.
Lastly Coerver works, players that go through this method improve, become better players and especially feel confident and comfortable on the ball.

3. The women’s game is huge in USA, what do you think players lack in terms of technique that your link up with Coerver can help players to step up a level?
I think US players are great athletes, wonderful competitors and have a winning mentality. However, I think we can be better with the ball; especially when and where we use it; make quicker decisions, but have the confidence if there are no passing options to keep the ball under pressure.

Also we can be more consistent, technique usually breaks down, as players get tired, so we need to continually work on improving our skills, which also has the added benefit of improving confidence. I am sure if you speak to top coaches and players they will put confidence (building) as a main priority. In a way Coerver does that by Mastery of Skills through repetition.

4. Having spent part of your career in Sweden do you think the women’s game in Europe can catch up with the USA? Are the skills/technique levels the same?
I think the level of play has advanced all over the world. I think the Europeans are improving quickly. I think they have become more technical than us in the past decade. I think the one thing that the USA has is a fighting mentality that edges out teams. However the technical side of the game has to be there to make that happen as well.

5. With regards to youth soccer in terms of both girls and boys I think repetition is one of the most vital coaching tools. But players can find doing the same old thing boring. How do you hide repetition when coaching?
As a young player I spent many hours kicking a ball against a wall practicing my shooting technique and passing. Yes I would agree doing this alone could get boring, but once you see improvement in your game all the practice, hard work makes sense; boring or not.

Also that is what is so great about the Coerver programme, you do basic drills that address the technical side of the game and then add pressure, and then make it a competitive atmosphere and it’s always challenging, progressively competitive and always fun!!!

6. You played in youth teams in the early 90s, which one factor would you say is the most important change in the way kids are coached today?
As in all countries there are excellent coaches who continually look for new, innovative ways of teaching and others who really don’t want to change from what they are used to. This is not a criticism, since in Grassroots Soccer all the coaches who give their time and effort mostly for free, need to be praised.

My main worry is that some Coaches are only interested in winning teams; winning is important, but in the formative ages Coerver and I believe the focus should be on development. If you are a young player, yes you want to win but at the same time you dream of improving to where one day you can a real difference!

We don’t have, in my opinion enough players like this. Abby Wambach (USA Women), Marta (Brazil Women, pictured), Messi (Argentina), Xavi (Spain) of course, but Soccer needs more of these Special Players. That’s another thing I learned from Alf and Coerver about teaching based on models of Great Players. It’s a great way to teach and motivate.

7. What are you coaching in your next session and how?
I like the Coerver theme sessions that Alf showed me at our last practice session together. Theme is Creating more Goal Chances individually; a session where you teach players how to can create goal chances (showing them different 1 v 1′s to create space either side of opponents to shoot, Improving Strikers first touch in the penalty box, so they have more time to shoot, Improving reaction speed for strikers.)

I pick games and drills that teach these topics.

How I would teach this or any other theme is by starting with a Coerver Ball Mastery exercise (as many touches of the ball both right and left foot. Lots of touches in 60 second bursts. I would then teach the 1 v 1 /First Touch technique in a group drill. No defenders, but just getting the technique correct, and finally I would finish with full pressure, defenders trying to win the ball

8. Can you explain one specific exercise you will coach that uses Coerver skills?
There is one drill I like a lot right now. Here is the diagram and action. This drill not only improves attackers but also defenders, defenders try and win the ball then they go for Goal; a great lesson for all defenders that once you win the ball you need to use it constructively.

Kristine pictured here with
Coerver’s Charlie Cooke.

PURPOSE: To Improve 1 v 1 & 2 v 2 under full pressure

HOW TO SET IT UP

  • Two small goals facing in opposite directions 18 yards apart.
  • Two teams one with a ball to each player facing the other across a 15 yard grid.


HOW TO PLAY IT

  • The Black Defender passes across the grid to the opponent and they play 1v1 to score on either small goal.
  • If the Defender wins the ball he can score.
  • Either player can only score from a shooting zone 4 yards from goal.

HOW TO ADVANCE IT

  • Play 2 v 2.
  • The receiver must pass 1st touch to his partner and overlap behind him to start the action.
  • Same scoring rules apply. Defenders can score if they win possession.

KRISTINE’S TIP
Match players evenly. Switch roles after each contest

MY TIP
First touch is crucial… players must go and meet the ball – don’t wait for it





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