Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Simple shooting set up… goals from everywhere

Diamonds Add Sparkle

By David Clarke

If you want your players to score long range goals like Frank Lampard does from midfield, try this fun game that rewards anyone shooting from distance.

WHY USE IT

Shots from outside the penalty area are very effective at all age groups. They can go straight into the net past a bemused keeper or bounce back from a defender or keeper to give easy rebounds. It’s a great way to get your team scoring.

SET UP

The pitch is diamond shaped to help draw the players towards goal. The number of players you use will determine the size of the pitch. We’ve used 12 players including keepers in a 40×30 yards area. You need cones, balls and a goal.

HOW TO PLAY

Play two attackers and three defenders in each of the two separate areas of the pitch. Players must stick to their areas as much as possible. The attackers are there for rebounds or shots from close range.

SCORING

Players get points depending on how they score. The points system encourages players to shoot from their own half because the rewards are much greater: goals scored from a player’s own half are worth 5pts; from a rebound 3pts; scored in opposition half using a first-time shot 2pts; and any other goal 1pt.

This session came from Soccer Coach Weekly.

Interested in more exercises? Try these links:

1. Pressing in key areas – Steve Kean

2. Defending when outnumbered

3. Tomb raiders



Creating intelligent players

davidscwnew

Intelligence on the pitch isn’t something that comes naturally to all players. Many will make good passes or strong tackles but won’t think about what follows. Smart players are those who learn there is more than one part to a move – they must link, support and anticipate.

It is through exercises such as this one that a player’s footballing intelligence can be enhanced – not just so they replicate moves well, but so they realise too that when they’ve made their contribution, the sequence continues to build.

How to set it up:

  • Set up as shown in the diagram, with two players by the first cone (A). Five yards on, place another cone (B), then at right and left diagonals, place two more cones (C and D) 10 yards away.

Getting started:

  • This part of the exercise is run without a ball.

  • Setting off side by side, players sprint from A to B. They touch the cone at B and sprint to the diagonal cone on their side, touch that cone, then race back to the start.

  • As soon as the outgoing player touches cone B, the next man in line begins his run.

Developing the session:

  • For the second part, a ball is added.

  • Two servers are placed two yards either side of cone B.

  • Now, one player advances to cone A, passes to either of the servers, then sprints past B, where he receives the ball back in his stride.

  • This working player dribbles to C or D before returning to the start.

  • Swap the servers so each player has a go at both roles, and encourage working players to change the direction they take around the circuit each time.

Further progression:

  • This time, we place a player on A and two on B, plus two men on C and D.

  • The player at A passes to B, follows his pass and stops at the cone.

  • The player at B turns to his right with the ball, dribbles for a short distance then passes to the player at C.

  • This man receives the pass, dribbles to cone A, and begins the move again from the start.

  • The player at B this time turns in the other direction and heads for D.

Why this works:

Research from Sport England has shown that the average number of times a youth player sprints during a match is 19. The average distance is 10 yards and the run is not in a straight line.

What is replicated in this exercise is passing and receiving, taking into account those sprint statistics for youth matches.

The formation of the exercise also mimics the attacking angles players will practise in matches. And the alternating between cones C and D ensures that players use both feet.



Chaos in the last few minutes – letting in late goals

By David Clarke

davidscwnewEarly last season I was frustrated with my players because they were throwing away matches by defending too deep in the last few minutes. We were playing 25 minutes each way and, for every minute except the last 10, we were the better team. Looking at my notes at the time, I was having trouble keeping my players focused on their formation for the whole match. Instead, as they neared the end, the team began to just clear their lines.

Lone attacker too deep

My lone attacker in the 2-3-1 formation we played was so deep, he was playing in our penalty area. So, when we won the ball, there was no outlet and it kept coming back until we eventually buckled under the pressure.

This is a common problem you see all the time, even at the top level of the game. If you are winning 1-0, why not just stop the other team scoring? It’s something the Italian clubs and national team have always been famous for.

However, to do this, you need to play a different formation. I found it difficult during the game to persuade my attacker to leave his deep position and take opposition players away from our goal by staying near the halfway line. In his young mind, he was helping the team win the game.

Makes sense to play the same way

There was no point in shouting at him during the game. I had to wait until training and explain it to him. Eventually, over the course of a few weeks he, and the team, realised that if we were winning 1-0 by playing a certain way, then it made sense to play that way until the final whistle.

However, we had a few tears along the way. My centre back took my instructions literally that we should be attacking in the last 10 minutes.

With a couple of minutes to go in one game, he charged up the wing with the ball and went past one, past two, past three… then he lost ball and the counter attack caught us out!



Stop attackers turning

By David Clarke davidscwnew

This session is all about stopping the opposition players with their backs to goal turning with the ball, so they won’t be able to pass or dribble into the space behind your defence.

The idea of the session is to:

  • Stop forward or through passes.

  • Stop good dribblers from turning and attacking your defenders.

  • Force opponents away from goal.

What players need to think about

  • Make up ground to within touching distance of the attacker while the ball is passed from the server.

  • Position body between attacker and target player.

  • Stand slightly sideways on ready to move quickly in any direction.

  • Get a clear view of ball.

  • Tackle when attacker is half-turned and not screening the ball.

How to play it

Use the centre circle for this session or an area 20 yards in diameter.

2 players – 1 attacker and 1 defender – start inside the playing area, with the defender initially giving the attacker some space.

1 server and 1 target player start on the edge of the circle in one half, with the other server and target player on the edge of the other half. All 4 players on the outside of the circle should be spaced apart equally.

The attacker receives the ball from a server and must attempt to turn and pass the ball to the target player on edge of the other half of the circle.

Whatever the outcome, the drill is repeated with the attacker next receiving a pass from the server in the other half. Rotate players so they all have a go at being the defender.

How to develop it

The unused server becomes a target player. The defender now has to cut off two options for the attacker.

Increase the size of the circle.

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Play sat nav football – so players know where they are on the pitch

davidscwnew

When young players are involved in fast, action-packed matches they often lose their position and don’t realise what is going on around them. You find that the pace of some matches they play in will be just that bit too fast for them and they lose their soccer sense.

What I do with my teams is to play a fast, constantly moving game where players must think about position, action and direction.

How to set up and coach it

You need a 30 yard x 20 yard pitch. Use two teams of four players, and four mini goals. Create a triangle in the centre. One team defends the triangle the other team defends the four mini goals.

The team defending the triangle goal must nominate a goalkeeper whilst the other three players try to pressure and win the ball.

Play for 15 minutes then reverse the roles.



When my players win the ball they can’t launch quick counter attacks

David Clarke

By David Clarke

Changing the dimensions of the field is a quick fix to a lot of problems.

  • Making the field larger gives the attackers and midfielders more space to show off their skills.

  • If a team is not scoring, increase the size of the pitch until they learn how to pass, shoot and score. Gradually reduce the pitch to the normal size and they will have learned what they have to do to score.

  • Making the field smaller helps the defending team by reducing the amount of space they have to cover.

The problem: Your team is not taking advantage when they win the ball to turn defence into attack.

The solution: Use a long narrow layout with small goals to force players into fast, direct attacks through the middle of the pitch. Attacking small goals needs swift passing to break the defence down and create opportunities to score. The shape of the pitch will force play to be quick and direct.

Set up a pitch that is 50 yards long x 10 yards wide, to create a tunnel effect where the players’ focus is narrowed like a racehorse wearing blinkers. Play games of 3v3 with small goals. No goalkeepers. Restart with a dribble or pass from in front of the team’s own goal.



Why unopposed exercises work

David ClarkeI will often run an unopposed session to encourage my players to move the ball and support each other without the added distraction of defenders.However, to make the session more realistic to the game I will add defenders at the end to reinforce player learning.

Unopposed sessions allow your attackers to be more confident in receiving the ball because they get the success they require from doing it.

Using unopposed exercises for build up and combination play in attack is a good way of coaching your players to move the ball, and encourages movement to support the ball as play moves around the pitch.

In this session, strikers and midfielders combine with a neat lay off and a precise threaded ball to set up a shot across the goalkeeper.

Set up a 40 yards by 30 yards playing area with four mannequins (poles or cones will do), two cones and two goals. You need eight outfield players and two goalkeepers.

How to play it

  1. The forwards move away from the mannequin to receive a pass.
  2. The forwards set the pass back to the supporting midfielders.
  3. The midfielders return the pass into space for the forwards to spin and run after. The forwards now shoot across the goal.

Rotation

The midfielder becomes the forward for the next turn.



Chris McGinn takes strike

Chris McGinn is running some great courses to help coaches understand what they need to coach and how to coach it. I was at his defending course recently which he did at Fulham’s academy and it was very educational.

Any coach struggling to use defensive sessions or struggling to understand positional sense, how to coach positional sense or the words to tell youth players to use when they are defending 1v1, 2v1, 2v2, or when they are outnumbered will get a great deal out of Chris’s courses.

A former coach at Arsenal, Chelsea, Wigan, Fulham, QPR, Gillingham, Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol Rovers & Bristol City, Chris has a vast knowledge that coaches can learn a great deal from.

Chris is now going to do an attacking one-day course and I for one am going to make sure I go on it. It’s always a great day and a great way to meet other coaches and find out what they are coaching and what they hope to gain from going on coaching courses.

Chris told me: “I’m now ready to share my experiences of working with strikers like Nathan Dyer, Scot Sinclair, Bobby Zamora and Sanchez Watt .”

And he tells me that I can’t miss his course because he’s going to reveal his ‘Working with Strikers’
system on the course.

As usual the course fees are very reasonable which is especially good. They usually cost around £40 but he’s always got special offers on so why don’t you check his course out and maybe I’ll see you there!

Check his course out by CLICKING HERE



Control midfield to win the game

David Clarke

By David Clarke

The quality and organisation of a team’s support play is crucial in any match scenario – the midfield must have good control of the ball to create space for a pass into attacking positions. Controlling the ball in midfield and then making sure possession is retained is key to making forward attacking passes.

In this game the onus is on the midfield to win and retain possession and provide quality balls into a target man.

For the attacking team, accuracy of pass from midfield into the target man is one thing, but only the quality of the layoff will offer the chance of a goal – a bouncing ball or one that is too fast or too slow will affect the way the attacker controls the ball. Ideally a one touch shot will be the best option if the quality of pass is there.

For the defending team, there are two key aims – to block off the pass to the target man, then to recognise where the threat of the bombing support player may come from. If the defenders are too late, they may not be able to get back and tackle before a shot has been unleashed.

How to set it up

  •  Pitch size: 30×20 yards (min) up to 40×25 yards (max).
  •  Create two end zones, 10 yards in from each goal-line.
  • You’ll need two teams of four players, plus two keepers.

The rules

  •  Each team selects one player to be the ‘target man’. This player stands in the attacking end zone.
  •  The aim of the game is to make a pass into the target man. A supporting player will then receive his layoff before shooting at goal.
  •  Defenders can track back only when the second supporting man makes his run.
  •  After a shot is made, the shooting player swaps position with the target man.
  •  The game is played for five minutes.
  •  If the ball leaves play, you have a few re-start options:
    1. The coach passes a new ball onto the pitch
    2. The players take a roll in
    3. The players take a throw in
    4. The players make a pass in
    5. The players dribble in
  • There is no offside

Drills and games for midfielders



Young players can learn from watching their heroes

One of the attackers in my U10s team has been having a tough time of it lately. Early on in the season he was getting a lot of the ball and scoring freely, averaging a goal every other game and getting three or four shots on target every week.

In the second half of the season the teams we have already played have marked him tightly. I’ve been trying to get him to move in different directions to lose his markers, but obviously in his young mind he can’t work out why he should when he’s been very successful without doing it in the past.

The problem is, his confidence has been hit. After a game where the defender was practically standing on his toes and he didn’t get a chance in front of goal the whole of the game, he came up and asked me if it was allowed that he was so tightly marked? He complained that the ball was intercepted before it got to him. “Look at my leg,” he remarked, “I’m bruised, I think he was cheating!”

It is difficult to explain to an eight year old that he will have to put up with defending like that for the rest of his career if he plays as well as he can. It was, of course, good defending, but that didn’t hold much water with my attacker.

So when he was around at my house with his parents I got him to watch some highlights of how the Barcelona players move to lose their markers when they are tightly marked. It helped him to realise that by moving the players were creating space for themselves and the markers were having to run quickly to get back and cover.

This is espcially true when the Barcelona team have a corner each player is tightly marked and must lose their marker to give themselves chance to shoot at goal. My attacker was impressed with all the movement and agreed he needed to do more of it. In the next game he was much more successful in front of goal and got his confidence back basking in the glory of being compared to Lionel Messi!

Watch the hightlights of Barcelona’s 5-0 win against Real Madrid last season and see how movement, support and passing took them past tight marking defenders.




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