Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Preparing for the conditions is vital for young players

davidscwnewOne thing’s for sure, it hasn’t been great weather for goalkeepers this winter. Changing weather conditions can cause problems. How will the ball bounce? Will it skid through or stop? What kit to wear? Rain is bad enough but I always feel sorry for my keeper when it’s really cold.

wetweatherplay

The ball is more slippery, and cold arms and legs make catching and kicking much more difficult.  Because a young keeper is standing  around for long spells it is much  harder to keep warm – just last month,  right at the start of the match my  U12s goalkeeper dived full length  and ended up soaking wet. The temperature was very cold and we had to get him a change of clothing pretty sharpish.

The opposition manager wasn’t happy that we asked for the game to be stopped, but it was face him or let my keeper freeze to death. His mum was worried but we had a change of kit and she had a clean base layer for him and he was soon back out there.  So what can keepers do in the worst kinds of winter weather?

For the prevention of injury on cold days, a warm up is essential and it gives your keeper a good opportunity to see how the pitch is going to play. And when they warm up, they should wear at least a waterproof jacket so they don’t get wet and cold before the game.

Also, carry a spare towel so the keeper can wipe his gloves or dry his face if it’s raining. The most important thing is to try and get your keeper to remain focused for the whole game, so work out a little routine that he can do when the ball is at the other end of the pitch – something like jogging to the edge of the penalty box and then backwards to the goal line, but make sure he is keeping a close eye on where the ball is.

Any routine is a good way to help focus and concentration on cold or wet days. The other side of play that can be hit by changing weather conditions is close control and dribbling. Running with the ball is hard if the ground is very wet so I always get my players to do some running around to get used to the conditions. If the ball is sticking in the soft ground they need to use more power with their control.

However, on some pitches the ball will be much faster if the grass is wet. When the weather is unpredictable, my advice to you is to make sure your players are both physically and mentally prepared and that they have the right kit on for the conditions.



Make use of the cold weather

Wow, the temperature just gets colder and colder. As a result, there was no way our match was going to be played at the weekend.

I very quickly get withdrawal symptoms from not playing matches, particularly when we’ve prepared well.

Take this week for example – I knew we had two tough games approaching, so had been training support play in defence. This is where the players cut down the space in and around the penalty area, all the time being ready to cover if the defence is breached.

So when I heard that our weekend game was off I went to look at the pitch to see if there was any way we could have a kickabout amongst ourselves.

Because only a couple of teams use our pitch – coupled with the fact we have an excellent groundsman – there were no spikes of frozen mud on the playing surface. Those peaks can be especially dangerous to youth players, so always watch out for them. But thankfully the pitch seemed just very flat and hard – a bit like playing on tarmac.

I called around the parents and most of their kids wanted to come along. The masses soon arrived, and I kept the players warm with hot chocolate from the local cafe – which is, by the way, a drink recommended for half time in cold weather.

I double-checked the pitch with three of the dads. The top layer had crusted, which made it fine to play on.

We played 8v8 in order to brush up on the defensive lessons we’d learnt in the previous session. And the conditions really did us a favour…The hardness of surface provided the best reason for the lads to stay on their feet at all times – a lesson that’s always worth re-learning. In addition, the responsiveness of the ground created the need for good passing accuracy from players.

And finally, by the time we’d summed up the session at the end with a biscuit and another hot chocolate, there was a togetherness in the team that we just wouldn’t have had from a normal training session; a camaraderie and joint spirit brought about by having to battle against unusual conditions.

Try to use adverse events as a spur for your side. See how players react – even introduce some artificial obstacles if you think the effect may be really positive. You may be surprised how your team responds to the challenge!



Local rec frozen? Go train in Dubai…

It’s been a frustrating time in England trying to play matches and take training session with deep snow all around the place. It was interesting to hear how difficult lots of professional teams have found it to train this last couple of weeks because most outside pitches have been frozen solid.

It’s not just problems with pitches though it’s also a problem getting to the grounds.

I got my U9s up to training to clear the astro turf pitch we can use. Six turned up. I slipped on ice and could barely walk. The parents faced a gruelling drive home. They won’t do that again in a hurry.

Wycombe Wanderers have found the same problem. Because they were playing Leeds United who have undersoil heating and an army of people to clear snow off the pitch, they had to travel all the way up north to their match.

They haven’t trained all week, whereas Leeds have a plastic training pitch which they can use in conditions like this.

Most clubs have to train indoors if they can find somewhere open.

When you hear that a big club like Manchester United with all their facilities are finding it difficult to train even though they have undersoil heated training pitches you know there is a problem. Your local rec isn’t going to be much use.

Manchester Utd have penciled in a trip to Dubai to train – now there’s a thought. Wonder if my local club would stump up the cash for a little trip like that.

But there are things you can do if you can sort out a flat bit of snow to pass the ball around on. Get everyone to bring flasks of hot drinks and do half an hour of simple passing. As long as its daylight your players should be okay.

I’ve been asking around to see what players have been up to and thought I’d put up a couple of clips for you to see:

And remember in the 70s when games went ahead with an orange ball?

 Soccer Skills and Drills




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