Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


How Oscar and Hazard fool recovering defenders

davidscwnewWhen Oscar or Eden Hazard are running with the ball watch how often they do a skill which fools the chasing player. They change direction or pace with simple movements like this reverse pass.

It is the speed of the initial reaction which makes all the difference when players lose the ball and the opposition counter-attacks. Running in counter attacking situations often means players are being chased by defenders. I get my players to prepare by playing this game. Not only does it get players to react quickly to a change in possession but it also involves a skill and a technique.

The skill is a reverse pass, followed by pressing the player on the ball – and the technique is both with and without pressure.

How to play it

  • Put down two cones 20 yards apart – further/closer depending on the physical fitness of your players.

  • You need players at each end of the exercise.

  • Play starts at one end with a player running with the ball.

  • When he reaches the far end, he passes to the player at that end with a reverse pass – he runs past the first player in the queue and use a backheel pass across the standing leg.

  • The receiving player starts running to the opposite end, the player who has made the reverse pass must turn and give chase.

  • When players get to the far end, the player with the ball reverse passes to a player at that end then turns and gives chase.

  • The original chasing player joins the back of the queue.

Key coaching points

  • When running with the ball, players should use the laces for each touch, making sure they run in a straight line.

  • Players run as fast as they can, complete the skill and turn to give chase.

  • Make sure your players put maximum effort into this exercise so they get all the benefits of fitness and skills.

Change the pass

  • If your players are having trouble with the reverse pass across the front of the standing leg get them to try a normal backheel (without crossing the legs). Even this may be hard with some young players, but keep pushing this skill – they will get it with practice.


How Lampard destroys the opposition

davidscwnew

Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard has built his whole game on the ability to thread a pass. His trademark long balls can split defences wide open and create space for an attacker to work in.

But he is equally good at playing the short game, using the ball to take out defenders or to put an overlapping winger in behind the defence.

If every team got its players to use passes with purpose they would be much more successful in creating goalscoring opportunities. And by the same token, nothing will destroy a team more than inaccurate passing.

So here’s a move that will help players practise passing so that it comes to them naturally during a match.

How to set it up:

  • Mark out an area 30 yards long by 10 yards wide using cones.

  • Place four players around the area, one on each side.

  • Use only one ball.

Getting started:

  • The players on the short ends pass long and short.

  • The players on the long sides must move to receive but can only pass short.

  • Get the players moving the ball around in triangles, anticipating where the next player will run to.

  • Mark out zones so the players on the longer sides are given some guidance of where to move to when they receive the ball.

  • If it is a short pass, they run into the end zone nearest the passing player.

  • For a long pass they are in the zone furthest from the passing player.

Why this works:

The way to familiarise your players in passing with purpose is to get them passing long and short. Players need to learn not only how to pass well, but to move into space so it is easier for the player on the ball to find them. The passing must be very accurate or the exercise breaks down.

In a match situation, coaches will often stand on the side of the pitch and see situations where a simple pass, long or short, could open up the opposition defence, but the opportunity is missed.

Practising the basics in a quick-moving scenario such as this will perfect technique as well as decision-making ability, so get your players doing this exercise to make them into mini Frank Lampards.

You can set up a few areas like this so the whole team is passing and moving at the same time.

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Red Card Roy – insight into the pressures facing young players

Red Card Roy, the autobiography of Roy McDonough … A must read… put this on your Christmas reading list.

David ClarkeIt’s such a glamorous life being a professional footballer… every young player’s dream to be given a contract to play football every day of your life. Just like Balotelli or Beckham or Torres or van Persie…

… but not like Roy McDonough.

Because the hero of Red Card Roy collected his first red card at 16 for trying to strangle the referee in a schools cup final and went on to clock up a British record of 22 red cards.
And yet he could have lived the dream – Roy could have been a hero at Chelsea.
Roy’s autobiography is full of insights into the pressures facing today’s young players – from the heartbreak of release from Birmingham as a youngster to a desperately lonely spell at the famous King’s Road club.

I get a lot of emails from readers of my youth coaching publications who ask me for advice on how to get their young players signed up by the big boys… here’s a reason to keep them away.

This is a tale straight out of Chaucer… The footballer’s tale.

Booze, birds and football… what more could a young man wish for? But the pressures he faces day in, day out, culminating in the suicide of his strike partner at Colchester, John Lyons, show the other side of the coin that players face as they struggle to become a David Beckham or a Clint Dempsey. Anger and loneliness are no strangers to Roy McDonough.

A book that is compulsive reading on many levels.

There are some great footballing tales. McDonough was brave enough to dump legendary Liverpool hard man Tommy Smith over the touchline into a pile of snow and vengeful enough to get sent off after seven minutes of an FA Cup tie for planting a kung-fu kick in Stoke manager Tony Pulis’s ribs.

It’s also a fabulous X-rated romp through the different leagues in England. I recommend you read it because I couldn’t put it down as I rollercoastered between sadness and open mouthed astonishment at what went on in Roy McDonough’s world.



Adam Gemili… when two sports collide

By David Clarke

Adam Gemili playing for Dagenham (right)


When Arsene Wenger said speed was one of the first things he looked for in a player he must have missed Adam Gemili.

The 18-year-old found many admirers of his speed at the London Olympics running in the fourth 100m semi-final alongside World Champion Yohan Blake and World Record holder Tyson Gay and came in third.with a time of 10.06 just 0.04 seconds outside qualifying for the final.

His dream growing up was of becoming a professional footballer.

He spent time on the books of Chelsea as a schoolboy and was on the verge of earning a professional deal at League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge.

But a trip to local athletics club Blackheath and Bromley to develop his pace – the one attribute that already set him apart from other aspiring footballers – changed everything.

In his first meeting for the club in April 2011, Gemili astounded everyone by running below 11 seconds – the only athlete to do so at the event. Now he has run in the Olympics. As his football career drifted down the leagues.
His decision to put football on hold for a year came when he was offered his first professional contract by Dagenham and Redbridge in December last year.

“If I signed it, it obviously meant I had to stop athletics because I couldn’t do both, but I wanted to give athletics a go. I’d won the European junior silver in the summer, so I did want to see how far I could take it and how good I could become in athletics.

“I decided to devote the year to athletics and if it didn’t work out, I could still go back to football.”

As the fastest man in Britain I can’t see him returning.
Gemili’s pace is something to think about – should we as coaches be using techniques from athletic clubs to develop the pace of our players?

Other sports can help you coach different aspects of soccer. I often use basketball style coaching to show my players tactics in soccer, it’s a great sport to get players looking up and creating space with movement. Or rugby where players can see the ball, their team mates and the opposition try-line much more easily than when they have their heads down looking at the ball in soccer.

What they said“He’s going to be one of the greatest sprinters of all time.”
Tyson Gay, former 100m world record holder

“What I’ve seen over the last three months is exceptional. I do believe he will run sub-10 very soon.”
Darren Campbell, Olympic 200m silver medallist (2000)

“He always seems to be able to take things in his stride. He is cool, calm and can deal with anything. I can’t see any reason why he can’t run under 10 seconds. He has the world at his feet.”
Pat Calnan, Blackheath and Bromley senior men’s team manager

WATCH ADAM BELOW



The English playmaker

David ClarkeChelsea youth midfielder Billy Clifford has all the attributes to become a classic playmaker. The 19-year-old is agile, quick of body and of mind, patient on the ball and has lot of creative vision.

At the moment he thrives in the atmosphere of Chelsea U21s where he has built up a great understanding with the more famous Josh McEachran. Their appreciation of what each other can do gives them an extra dimension to the quality and skill of play all over the pitch.

His youth team manager, Dermot Drummy is very impressed: “He’s a very good player Billy, an absolutely excellent standard of player for me and he’ll set the way we play; a leader on and off the field. [He’s] a fantastic trainer and he’ll set the standard for us on and off the pitch like that…we want that sort of leadership.
“He’s a player who can play anywhere. He has a footballer’s intelligence, he has everything, and he’s a winner.”

Indeed he is, having played a key role in FA Youth Cup and Premier Reserve League trophy successes in recent times. He also joined Andre Villas-Boas’ first-team squad on tour in Asia in 2011 and has been on the substitutes bench in the UEFA Champions League.

His versatility and ability to also play wide or at full-back will make him an enticing and intriguing prospect for a loan move to a Championship team – in the right team he would be a huge asset.

Hopefully he will progress over the next couple of years because this boy is exactly the type of player England needs.

Watch this video clip of him and see his vision and skills.

See also The Brazilian attacker

See also The German defender



Drogba and Muller are head boys

David ClarkeThis week’s Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich had two goals both headers which used different techniques. Thomas Muller scored with a downward header using the angle of the ball to create an unstoppable bounce which the Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech couldn’t save. Didier Drogba’s equaliser was a fabulous power header which caught the whole Bayern defence napping.

It’s an important attribute for a striker to have, the ability to jump above the opposition and get their head on the ball. When your players head a ball, if they can jump with the right technique, they are likely to get above most defenders in youth matches.

Young players often are not spending enough time at training practicing getting themselves off the floor and their heads on the ball. A header is a very effective way of scoring at all levels of the game but especially youth matches where players shy away from heading.

Coaches need to spend time on the technique and the movement to get into position to attack the ball using the head. Time spend in training will be repaid over and over again in matches.

Watch the Champions League goals below:



My top six penalty misses

David ClarkeIt’ll sson be Euro 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine and that usually heralds a whole load of penalties – here’s my six top penalty misses in all competitions.

John Terry, CHELSEA v Manchester Utd (Champions League Final 2008)

After a 1-1 draw on the night, Cristiano Ronaldo missed his spot-kick to put Chelsea within touching distance of the trophy, but his crucial slip sent the ball crashing against the outside of the post, leaving the England international on the floor and in tears.

Lionel Messi, BARCELONA v Chelsea (Champions League Semi-Final 20120)

Barcelona started the second half 2-1 up but Chelsea were down to 10 men. Messi had the chance to gain the psychological advantage but hit the bar and Chelsea went on win the game.

Denis Bergkamp, ARSENAL v Manchester Utd (FA Cup Semi-Final replay 1999)

Bergkamp could have won the game with a last minute penalty. The match was notable for a disallowed Arsenal goal, the sending-off of Manchester Utd’s Roy Keane for a second bookable offence, a last-minute penalty save by Peter Schmeichel, and finally and most memorably a winning goal by Ryan Giggs, intercepting a pass near the half way line, before taking the ball past five Arsenal defenders and scoring past goalkeeper David Seaman.

Ruud van Nistelrooy MANCHESTER UNITED v Arsenal (Premier League 2003/04)

With the scores level at 0-0, United were given a controversial penalty in injury-time after Patrick Vieira had earlier seen red for a kick-out at Van Nistelrooy, but the Dutch striker made it three consecutive misses from the spot after he rattled the underside of the crossbar.

Gareth Southgate, ENGLAND v Germany (Semi-Final Euro’ 96)

After Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle failed at Italia ’90, it fell to Southgate to end the hopes of the Three Lions on home soil six years later, as football ‘came home’ but then swiftly left for Germany on penalties.

Roberto Baggio, Brazil v ITALY (World Cup Final 1994)

The first World Cup final to be decided on penalties, it was a moment that would define Baggio’s career despite some of the great things he achieved for both club and country.



Ramires v Barcelona: My top six goals scored from an angle

David ClarkeBy David Clarke

Champions League Semi-Final 2012: Barcelona v Chelsea

Ramires is the king of technique. His goal for Chelsea against Barcelona when his team was 2-0 down with John Terry sent off was as good as you will see. An impossible situation, but the through ball to him from Frank Lampard just before half time putting him into the penalty area at an angle to the goal was perfect. His finish was sheer class.

Here’s my top six goals scored from tight angles:

Ramires, Barcelona v CHELSEA (2012)

Marco van Basten, HOLLAND v Russia (1988)

Gabriel Batistuta, FIORENTINA V Arsenal (1999)

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, CHELSEA v Manchester United (2001)

Ronaldo, REAL MADRID v LA Galaxy (2011)

Robin van Persie, ARSENAL v Barcelona (2011)



Ashley Cole makes the right decisions

One of the world’s best defenders with or without the ball in 1v1 situations must be England and Chelsea superstar Ashley Cole. Most of the time he makes the right decision when faced with this situation.
Decision making is an important part of any young soccer player’s make-up. Every time they play a match, whether it’s for a team or for fun in the playground, there is a decision to be made when they get the ball.
Often they are faced with situations where there is an easy route where their team keeps the ball – a simple pass or sideways movement into space to slowly build up play – or a more difficult route with more to gain – attempting to dribble past a defender for example.
By playing this game you can help your players to see the results of their decisions. Because they keep the ball when points are scored they could quickly build up points by going to one of the easy cones. Or, if they find they are a lot of points down with only a few minutes left, they must go for the harder cone to quickly score points.
All your players – defenders, midfielders, attackers – should take part in this game. It can be used for any age group.

How to coach it

  • Tell your attackers to keep the ball moving.
  • They need to use moves and turns like stepovers, dragbacks and dummies to lose the defender.
  • Tell them to take every opportunity to score points.
  • The way to do it is to keep the ball close to their body.
  • When a player scores a point they return to the starting cone and try to score another point. They keep possession of the ball until it goes out of play or they lose the ball to the defender.


Running the game without the ball

I am always going on to other coaches about coaching teams to think about how they set up when they haven’t got the ball. I don’t mind the oppposition having the ball as long as my team are in control of the positions they are playing in.

If we can identify a player low on confidence on the opposition team then my players can position themselves so the ball goes to this player. IF that player has the ball they may be forced into an error that will benefit my team.

In the match between Manchester United and Chelsea that decided the Premier League Champions the United manager Sir Alex Ferguson always plays his left winger narrow when Chelsea play Branislav Ivanovic at right-back. Ivanovic was given all ;the time on the ball he wanted because the United coaches were sure he couldn’t harm them when he had the ball.

In this case it was Ji-Sung Park on the left and he created the opening goal after only 40 seconds by sitting narrow and catching Ivanovic off his guard. The pattern of the game was shaped here with Ji-Sung Park staying narrow allowing Ryan Giggs to run at Ivanovic.

It also gave Wayne Rooney space to work in, and the Chelsea midfield were overrun for much of the game.




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