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If there’s one course you should go on…

davidscwnewI firmly believe that if you want to develop the skills of individual players you need to start young and you need to do so at grassroots level. So this summer I decided to attend a number of courses based on skills coaching and individual excellence that would add to my knowledge of youth coaching. And this was the pick of the bunch.

Coerver Coaching’s Alf Galustian was the star skills educator at his Play Like Spain course at the London Soccer Dome – and it was like being in Spain on one of the hottest weekends of the year.

DCAlfWillie+spanish players1

Coerver’s course is based on the Spain national side and the success they have had playing with Spanish style and the phases of play that make up that style. Alf coached sessions where the emphasis was on individual ball mastery and how the development of the individual creates a winning team.

Alf said: “I have worked in Spain as a coach educator several times throughout my career. It is common knowledge that Spain are the current leading developers of football talent and they have implemented a style of play that is the envy of world football”.

I found it very interesting because last year I spent a lot of time  working on the phases of play used by Barcelona and why they have had so much success in the last few years with their style of possession play – I broke Barcelona style down to Possession/Patience/Penetration and did a presentation for the NSCAA on the Barcelona phases of play.

Alf broke down the Spain style into four phases of play

Protecting

Protecting the ball individually by coaching shielding techniques and as a group moving the ball quickly to keep it away from opponents.

Pressing

Individually and as a team. This is the Spanish way, lose the ball win it back by pressing high up the pitch giving teams no time to settle on the ball.

Probing

Running with the ball into space or finding the killer pass, with drills to develop individual and team skills

Penetration

The creative end product from the combination of the other three parts of the course – ­including creativity in the final third (the one thing English players find hard to do).

Coerver have been over in Spain recently and Scott Wright the UK director of Coerver told me: “We have had coaches from all levels attend our courses in Spain including La Liga clubs Real Madrid, Getafe, Real Mallorca and Rayo Vallacano as well as other coaches and ex-players from across Spain and Europe.”

Dave Clarke with Manuel Ojalvo

Dave Clarke with Manuel Ojalvo

So I felt I was in good company on the course and that there was a real Spanish aspect to the sessions. Added to that Coerver had brought former Athletico Madrid youngster Manuel Ojalvo, and former professional Diego Camacho, who has amassed more than 400 appearances in La Liga.

Manuel has a background in youth coaching and gave some great insights into what it was like to be a youth player in Spain. Diego doesn’t have the command of the English language that Manuel has but he managed to get across the frustrations of being coached in one position for all his time in youth football – defensive midfield. He has played against the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi, asked how he stopped Messi he shrugged and gave a chopping motion… it was fascinating stuff.

Both players are convinced the Coerver system can help grassroots in Spain – and of course in England.

Diego said (with Manuel acting as interpreter): “Every ex-professional player, no matter the level, who is thinking about moving into coaching should definitely study the Coerver System; I wish it had been available to me when I was a young, it would have made me a better player”.

Dave Clarke and Diego Camacho

Dave Clarke and Diego Camacho

Alf also introduced former ManchesterCity and Scotland defender Willie Donachie who is now development coach at Newcastle United. Again the advice was very interesting because Coerver are very much an attack minded in their tactics. Willie talks defence and used the example of Ian Rush the former Liverpool and Wales striker as an example of a forward whose first thought on losing the ball was to win it back. Alf too had praise for an attacker who likes to win the ball back – Lionel Messi “he is the best defender in the world”, said Alf.

Dave Clarke and Willie Donachie

Dave Clarke and Willie Donachie

Some great course material to take away in the form of a book that included the sessions Alf had put on during the weekend added to the overall success of the course.

It was a great way to spend a weekend in the summer and a very valuable one for my own personal development adding to my knowledge of Spanish football, giving me lots to take back to the teams that I coach. I suggest if you get the chance you should go on the course – it is a great learning experience.



David Clarke interviews… OSSIE ARDILES exclusive

davidscwnewAs a young player Ossie Ardiles was smaller than the other boys around him so he wouldn’t pass the ball much – he would just dribble and dribble and dribble. Much like Maradona and Lionel Messi. His brother called him Piton, the snake. In this exclusive interview Soccer Coach Weekly’s David Clarke spoke to him about youth soccer, Argentina legends and Japanese success

ardiles
Most recently Ossie Ardiles was the coach of Machida Zelvia in the second tier of the Japanese J-League, but a 23-year coaching career has taken the Argentinian World Cup winner around the world. As player-manager he introduced a flamboyant style of football to Swindon Town in his first coaching job, achieving promotion to the top flight in 1990 (only for the FA to strip the club of this honour for off-the-field irregularities).

Three years later he took West Brom to Division One and later made headlines in the Premier League with a cavalier Spurs side notable for fielding five forwards. After relocating to Japan he was named J-League Manager Of The Year in 1998 for his work with Shimizu S-Pulse. He won the first stage of the J-League with Yokohama F Marinos in 2000 and the Emperor’s Cup with Tokyo Verdy five years later.

He has also enjoyed spells managing clubs in Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Croatia, Israel and Saudi Arabia, giving him a truly global view of the game – but wherever he has coached, he has always brought a certain Ossie style to the job.

DAVID Having coached four clubs in England, is the Premier League the best in the world?
OSSIE“The Premier League is certainly the most watched and the richest – and it attracts the best players in the world because of these reasons. Yes, I would imagine it’s the best league in the world.”

ardiles2You have enjoyed several stints in Japan. What is it about the Japanese game that attracts you?
“The J-League started in 1993 and I came soon after. I think the J-League is and was the model of how professional football should be marketed for the fans. In Japan I have won the League and The Emperors Cup and I have been told that I also have more victories than any other foreign coach in the league’s history.”

Who have been the coaches that have impressed you the most in Japan?
“There have been some great coaches in Japan: the Brazilian legend Zico, Hans Ooft from Holland, and of course Arsene Wenger. Wenger to me was special – you knew his teams would play football, the beautiful game as Pelé called it. I know his time in Japan influenced him and like me he loved the culture. Since leaving Japan I am not surprised to see he stuck with all his beliefs about the way the game should be played and the way to behave civilly and with respect – the Japanese way.”

Japanese women are world champs and the men are champions of Asia. Why has their game been so successful?
“You need to understand the Japanese culture. Like every aspect of their lives, great attention and care is spent on detail, studying whatever they want to establish and then replicating and improving it. Football was no different. The professional league was marketed to perfection, so the fans supported the game. The Japanese also think long term so youth development was always a priority for the Japanese Football Association. The success of Japanese players and teams today is a result of their youth development programmes.”

As a long-standing champion of youth development and the education of coaches, what programmes have impressed you in Japan?
“In my 17 years here, the programme that has impressed me most, and the one that has dominated nationally, has been the Coerver programme. I remember in the early years they started with a few schools and today they have over 100 schools all over the country. I am a close friend with Alf Galustian, who is a co-founder of the programme and the driving force behind it, so I have always kept a close interest.”

alf2What is so special about the contribution of Alf Galustian and Coerver to football in Japan?
“Alf is without doubt a global pioneer in youth coaching. I am still amazed with the new drills, games and concepts he continually comes up with. His contribution to Japanese football development is without question. “Over these past 20 years he has influenced the way football is taught in Japan and the subsequent success of the game here. “Currently more than 17,000 young players go through the Coerver programme each week, and in the past 20 years over 300 players have gone into J-League clubs and some to the various national teams – that’s an amazing contribution to the game in Japan.”

After winning the 1978 World Cup, was it difficult to adjust to playing your football in England?

“It took me a while. In those days the long ball game – getting the ball into opposition’s third, often bypassing midfield – was strange to me. But at Spurs we had Glenn Hoddle, and Ricky Villa came with me too, so Spurs always tried to play passing football and that suited me.”

Would you say there is an Ossie Ardiles way of playing soccer?

“Yes. I have always believed in the passing game. My style is about possession but also always trying for the forward pass. I have always believed in attacking, as a player and as a manager – I have often been sacked for these beliefs but I will never change. Football is a technical game and that’s where its beauty is.”

messiOssie’s Verdict Maradona or Messi?
“It’s very close and they’re both fellow Argentinians. I think it would be Messi, but I have to qualify that. Maradona was the best player I played with by a mile. I have never seen such a skilled player. He could control the ball on any surface, in any space, and whatever the pressure he was put under. But Messi is playing in an era when there is improved knowledge in sports science about what you eat, drink, and how you prepare. Today the boots and the ball are superior. Today the fields are all unbelievable. So when people speak about comparisons between players like Maradona and Messi, all these factors should be taken into consideration.”

Ossie’s Coaching Career
1989–91: Swindon Town (England)
1991–92: Newcastle United (England)
1992–93: West Brom (England)
1993–94: Tottenham Hotspur (England)
1995: Guadalajara (Mexico)
1996–98: Shimizu S-Pulse (Japan)
1999: Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)
2000–01: Yokohama F Marinos (Japan)
2001: Al-Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)
2002–03: Racing Club (Argentina)
2003–05: Tokyo Verdy (Japan)
2006–07: Beitar Jerusalem (Israel)
2007: Huracán (Argentina)
2008: Cerro Porteño (Paraguay)
2012: Machida Zelvia (Japan)



Skills session: coach players to turn with the ball

davidscwnewGreat way to coach turning with this simple session you can use to coach your players – it also makes a good warm up.

skillsblog

How to play it

Set up an area measuring 20×5 yards, as shown, with two cones marking the midway length point.

The player in the middle receives a pass from the front player in the top line – this man then follows his pass.

The middle player must make a turn, pass out, then follow his pass to join the group at the bottom.

The player who originally passed from the top line now becomes the new middle player.

For the next part, a pass is fed in from the bottom line.

The process continues with the player in the middle receiving the pass, but his ‘turn and move’ must be different to the one used by the player before him.

There are many ‘turn and move’ choices, including:

  1. An open body turn
  2. Opening legs and flicking the ball in between
  3. Open legs and dummying Making a Cruyff turn

The practice continues until all players are suitably warmed up in passing, controlling, turning and moving on.

Technique and tactics

Players must be on their toes at all times.

You’re looking for imagination in terms of how they turn.

The quality of passing to and from the middle man is essential if this warm-up is to maintain its momentum.



David Clarke interviews… ALF GALUSTIAN

David ClarkeAlf Galustian is a modern-day football coaching legend. He has worked with the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann, Vincente del Bosque, Gerard Houllier and Ossie Ardiles and is now the skills coach to the Premier League.

When he co-founded the Coerver Coaching programme in 1984 alongside former Chelsea and Scotland star Charlie Cooke, the principle was quite simply in focusing on and developing an individual player’s core skills.

The success of the philosophy led to a clamour for his expertise, and to this day, he has worked at AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Stoke City, Newcastle United and Arsenal, amongst others.

DC: A lot of coaches just starting out might not understand what core skills are. Can you define the term please?
AG: For us in Coerver Coaching, we define core skills as:
• Running with the ball
• 1v1
• First touch
• Passing/shooting
The foundation for all these core skills is Coerver Ball Mastery.

DC: How should grassroots coaches begin their season – what should they be focusing on for the first three months of the campaign?
AG: Players return to pre-season having not played for months and we recommend that coaches focus most of the early sessions on drills, helping their lads regain a feel for ball.
And we would suggest that at least 20% of the session is devoted to repetition exercises with the ball. Repetition can be boring so disguise it by incorporating the principles into competition scenarios between players and/or groups. The rest of the session should be a mix of passing and receiving drills, and small-sided games.

DC: How should this move on as the season advances, to ensure grassroots players are developing?
AG:
The goal of each session is fun and progress, not only as a team but as individuals. The Coerver method of improving players is what we call ‘step-by-step teaching’. We break down the core skills and then teach through repetition, before increasing difficulty. Finally, we look for the use of those skills in game situations.

DC: Most coaches at grassroots level will have players of wildly differing abilities – how would you cope with that?
AG:
This is a really good question and one that we have been asked a lot over Coerver Coaching’s 30-year history. Firstly, all players should do the same drills. A good tip is to split the group into threes and fours, putting players of similar abilities together. The only difference is that for the more skilled players, you make the conditions different (e.g. altering the number of touches, the distance or the speed). The players feel equal since the drill is exactly the same. Once you get to the small-sided games, pool your squad, making sure that no one team has all the best players.

DC: Should coaches continually use one-touch exercises or is that not as relevant as two touches?
AG:
One-touch is quite difficult for most grassroots players. We want our young players to experience success, which then builds up their confidence, interest and concentration. For those reasons we prefer two touch. Once the players improve then we suggest mixing one and two- touch drills.

DC: Most grassroots players might only train and play once a week. Is this enough?
AG:
Simply, no. However, it’s a difficult situation to change. I don’t think we can expect to increase practice times significantly, so we need to be smarter in what and how we teach.

DC: You’re a skills specialist coach and I’ve seen your ability to demonstrate the skill you are coaching. How do grassroots coaches who are not as skilled as you demonstrate difficult techniques to youth players?
AG:
The coach has two options. The first is to practise the skills every day, not as a player but as a teacher, slowly and deliberately. Charlie and I still do this after 30 years. The second option is to pick a player in your group to demonstrate. Just make sure any demonstration is done slowly.

DC: Why is it that players from Spain, Brazil and Argentina are so respected at the moment for the way they play the game?
AG:
I think this explanation would need to be a whole new article! Generally the football culture of these countries has a long tradition of focusing and admiring skills above all else. That culture has pushed coaches and teachers towards allowing young players to express themselves without fear of failure. I suppose Coerver Coaching, in many countries, is a replacement of what players learnt in the old days through street soccer. Times have changed and in relatively affluent societies, street soccer has disappeared.

DC: How much influence do you think the English Premier League has had on grassroots players?
AG:
The Premier League is the most exciting and certainly the most televised league in the world. In that regard, there is no doubt that grassroots players and coaches are influenced. I think the players and teams can be extremely positive influences when it comes to learning the game, fair play, and behavioural role models.



Why Coerver Coaching’s youth module adds up for coaches

David Clarke

By David Clarke

What is fantastic about watching and listening to Alf Galustian about youth coaching is that it all makes perfect sense.

  • Speed + technique + skill = player excellence
  • Safety + competition + fun = coach excellence

For a coach working with youth players the sums add up. It’s all about touch, control, confidence, 1v1s, 2v1s, 4v4s, 1 goal, 2 goals, 6 goals, feinting, beating your partner, keeping the ball, winning the ball back – using the coaching environment to get the best out of your players in a safe, fun atmosphere.

I was watching Alf on his Coerver Coaching Youth Diploma which is aimed at coaches at all levels of the game – professional academy coach, grassroots coach, teacher or parent. It gives coaches a greater understanding of how to plan and execute more effective coaching sessions.

I’m on the course to learn and it doesn’t take long before I’m drawing diagrams and writing down the scenes that unfold before me on the Fulham Academy astro pitch, something which I can pass on to my readers of  Soccer Coach Weekly.

Alf is a co-founder of Coerver Coaching and the list of top clubs he has worked with around the world is as long as your arm. The course was held at Premier League team Fulham’s superb academy training ground and you really feel you are in a pure coaching environment.

The Coerver Coaching concept concentrates on attacking, fast-flowing football and this style has been demonstrated during the past few years by teams such as Barcelona, Spain and those from South America.

In Alf’s own words: “The knowledge you gain on our diploma will help you to plan and deliver effective sessions that are challenging and fun for the young players that you work with and will hopefully provide the pathway to the devlopment of game effective, technical excellence which we are all striving towards.”

The final session of the day is about how to build and deliver a session. It was run by Coerver’s excellent coaching director Scott Wright who coached Fulham U12s for the session. Scott said: “Hopefully this session has helped or changed your outlook on how you will plan & deliver sessions.”

A great session to watch it gives loads of hints and tips about coaching groups of children and helping develop their playing ability.

There is no doubt that this course will make you a better coach so make a mental note to get yourself on the next one, Alf runs them up and down the country.

But if you can’t go on the course then why not invest in the Coerver CD set, there’s lots of material on how to help you plan your sessions.

To order the CD in Europe:
Click Here

To order the CD in the USA:
Click Here

There will be two further Diplomas in the summer, one at Manchester City on the 2nd and 3rd June & the second in Birmingham 9th and 10th June. For more information click here



David Clarke Interviews… PETER BEARDSLEY exclusive

David ClarkeMy series of interviews on influential figures in the world of coaching continues with this exclusive interview with Peter Beardsley.

I remember Peter as a very skillful player, slight of build, operating just behind the front strikers at Newcastle, Liverpool and of course England.

His skills have proved devastating for creating and scoring goals, netting over 230 in his career. He was a player with lovely ball skills and fantastic vision, as well as tremendous stamina, enthusiasm and work-rate.

He was also able to score long range shots, or clever placement using timing and dribbling skills.

As a youth player Peter was discovered at the famous Wallsend Boys Club on Tyneside in the 70s – 
the club has a pedigree of bringing through great players including Alan Shearer, Michael Carrick, Lee Clark and Steve Bruce.

He is now football development manager at Newcastle United helping to drive forward the recruitment of talented youngsters for the club’s Academy and Development Squad, so what better person to answer questions on how to coach youth skills.

I caught up with Peter at Newcastle where he was coaching with the world famous coach Alf Galustian and asked him about youth coaching and what a coach learns from watching someone as experienced as Alf.

1. We all have favourite areas of coaching – as a former attacker do you find it easy to coach defending as well as attacking exercises?

I think all coaches need to learn how to coach both topics: the modern player especially as a youth player has to be both attacker and when they lose the ball win it back by pressing deep – defending from the front. Messi is probably the best example.

2. As a skillful striker you must have had a few tricks you used, which were your favourite and how did you practice them.

I learnt mostly by playing – we didn’t have a programme like Alf’s Coerver Coaching, so most of what I did was learnt in games. If I had had a programme like Coerver to follow, I am sure it would have made me a better player, especially for scoring goals!

3. Messi and Ronaldo both use skill in their play but appear to have one or two clever moves that they use a lot. How many skills should a youth player work on to use in match play?

I think young players should learn as many skills can they can so they can use them to beat players in as many different ways as possible; it will help their future game and it’s great fun to learn new skills.

4. 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 you know I have been close to Alf for many years – once I was exposed to Coerver (over 20 years ago) I realised that repetition was crucial for perfecting skills.

I follow Alf’s view that for young players you can hide repetition by playing fun games – for example simple relays where repetition is included.

Watching Alf coach today I can see so many possibilities to coach young players in using skills to win 1v1s and 2v1s where the repetition is hidden by the actual game they play.

5. You played in youth teams at Wallsend Boys in the 70s, which one factor would you say is the most important change in the way kids are coached today?

The quality of facilities and the improvement in coaches knowledge and understanding of what is best for the players and not what is best for the coaches

6 Can you explain one specific exercise you have been using with your team that my coaches can go out and use with their players?

While Alf has been here at Newcastle we have been concentrating on attacking principles. This is one of the sessions I have seen Alf coach and I am now using to help my players in their attacking role.

SESSION: To improve Shooting under pressure

How to set it up

  • 10 players plus a server or the coach
  • A 40x25yd area with a goal and goalkeeper at each end.
  • Two teams of four players and a server
  • Each player has a ball lined up by each goal.
  • Two cones 5 yards either side of the server
  • The coach or a designated player is stationed in the middle of the field as a wall passer.

How to play it

  • The first player in TEAM A passes to the server in the centre, then takes the return pass and after controlling and dribbling the ball shoots on the opposite goal.
  • As he shoots the first player in TEAM B passes to the server and sprints to take a return pass and take at least one touch before shooting.
  • As soon as the TEAM A player shoots he sprints around the cone to try to stop TEAM B from scoring.
  • When TEAM B shoots he must recover around his marker cone to defend again the second player in TEAM A who’s repeats the sequence.

COACH’S TIPS

  • At first the recovering player going around the marker cone will be too far and he will not be able to apply much pressure on the shooter.
  • But gradually move the markers towards the Coach so the distances of recovery is less and less and there’s increasing pressure on the shooters.
  • Eventually allow the recovering players to use the WP as their marker to go around.

PLAYER TIP

  • Be sure the first pass to the server is firm so there’s no lag time waiting for the return pass and the defender to get close.
  • Take your first touch from the server away from the approaching defender to set up your shot.
  • Head up before shooting.
  • Aim low far post the GKs toughest shot.


Skill of the week – heel and toe rolls


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