Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management | Tags: challenges, communication, drills, exercises, games, keep attention, verbal, youth coaching, youth modules
And rather than just do this through verbal means, why not create challenges?
Not only does this reveal to you how well certain elements have been understood, but practical play is a great way of cementing ideas in the minds of the players too.
1. The answer needs some thought from the respondent, allowing the questioner to effectively gauge their level of understanding
2. Asking a player ‘an open question’ helps to reinforce learning, and the learning of the other players around him. A ‘yes/no’ question requires virtually no effort from a player. He’ll brush it off and you’ll be left with nowhere to go!
3. And answers to open questions give you immediate feedback on the player’s understanding of a technique, skill or situationBefore you head to training, think about some of the situations that will crop up. By anticipating what may happen during the session it will help you plan in advance the challenges you want to set and the sort of questions you might ask.
Examples of challenges
- In a counter-attack session, develop a scoring chance within three passes of gaining possession.
- When running with the ball or dribbling, challenge a player to attack and shoot without using his team mates.
- In team sessions, instruct that the player who starts the attack must pass the ball on and receive it back before a goal can be scored.
Examples of questions to follow
- What did you do as an individual (or group) to successfully penetrate the defence with three passes?
- What did you do as an individual to keep the ball and get past your opponents? What did you do if you lost the ball?
- In the team session, what factors influence your choice of action? How can you make sure you are successful?
The answers your players give you will provide you with opportunities to further explore their understanding. You can do this by asking supplementary questions.
And when listening to answers, replicate and use their words as a focus for different questions.
And of course, if a player comes up with a ‘wrong answer’, try saying, “I like your thinking. Can you think of an alternative?”
Great communication can make such a difference to how players take on board information. Why not try it for yourself?
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: aguero, attack, communication, heroes, manchester city, midfield, shoot, team bonding, team spirit
Isn’t it great when you hear players shouting the names of their heroes in the professional game? Twice this week I heard a pro’s name shouted by one of my players when they were bearing down on goal, as I’ll go on to explain…
To put it into context, my Under-11s were playing a really important end-of-season match last week. I was nervous for them, as were the cluster of parents gathered on the touchline, but how refreshing to see the kids just playing the game with so much relaxed spirit. It was a tight first period with relatively few chances, and with the scores level in the second half, a series of passes led the ball to my midfielder Marcus through on goal at an angle.
Before he shot, he shouted “AGUERO!” and tried to emulate the player he had seen in his living room score that fantastic title-winning goal for Manchester City . Needless to say the shot went high and wide – oh well! Even so, that didn’t stop his team mates appreciating at least the fact he had put himself in the right place as we drove forward looking for a goal.
“I heard you shout that!” one of his team mates said with a smile on his face. “That was brilliant!”
Another came over laughing and told him he too had thought of Aguero as the move developed. I find it heartening when I see my players inspired by great and memorable events on the pitch that they want to emulate.
Kids learn by watching and there is no better league for them to learn from than the English Premier League. Their appreciation for the game is a far cry from some people’s perception that kids are sometimes only taken in by some of the more unsavoury aspects of the modern game. I disagree with that notion. At the end of the day they take the positives, and this season has been full of them – great players, great skills, great goals, but also great stories.
And not always on the pitch – look at the reaction to Fabrice Muamba recovering from his heart attack and the draw of affection from the football family, for instance. I have started to realise there’s a lot in football to inspire those of us in the grass roots game. And if ever, as coaches, we’re unsure which of those influences are having an effect, just watch the kids!
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Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: communication, match day, team talk, training
By David Clarke
Before starting to talk you need to consider how to make sure your players are listening. Here are some “dos” of getting and keeping children’s attention.
Make sure you have all the players’ attention before you start talking. Off the cuff questions are a good way to gain attention. Once your players get into the routine and realise you are only going to talk for a short time before they will be off and active again, they will settle more quickly.
Following the ancient Chinese proverb “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”, the more activity and the less talking the better. Also, remember the 30-second rule: you should never spend more than 30 seconds at a time talking to your players during training.
Keep your chats short and sharp. “Little and often” is an excellent motto. Tell the players one or two things at a time between activities. During a 10-minute exercise you might bring the players in for four 30-second chats which repeat variations of the same one or two points.
Whether in rain, wind or bright sunshine, make sure the players are protected from the weather conditions and can see you clearly. If necessary, that may mean you will have to talk to them facing into the weather.
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Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: attacking, communication, defending, direction, drills, exercises, match pace, position
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.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: coaching, coaching style, communication, exercises, physical, player centric, players, verbal, visual
I went to a demonstration this week by a couple of highly respected youth coaches to see examples of the different ways you can coach young players. There were some really good coaching and session ideas that I was privileged to take away from the get together.
However, one thing that was clear to me was that the players were having a hard time understanding exactly what was expected of them.
Both sessions were player- and activity-centric – but, because this was a meet-up designed for coaching knowledge, the players at times were clearly unsure of what they were doing and what was expected of them. In that respect, the experiment failed on all levels, bar one – namely in reminding me that one of the most important things you must do with players is ensure they are ‘with you’ at every step along the path of learning. It’s the whole purpose of what we do, after all.
If you notice that players are not doing what they are supposed to or are looking around to see how others perform the task, either they were not listening or you failed to get instructions across well enough.
Remember, players understand things in three different ways:
It is important that for each demonstration a coach must:
- Perform and show the technique that is being learnt, or recreate the scenario for tactical feedback (the visual part).
- Use explanations and key coaching points through the stages of the demonstration (the verbal part).
- Let the players perform the technique or replay the situation (the physical part).
This way, you can be sure your players know what they are doing. And it will ensure you make the most of every session you take.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: communication, control, fun, how to coach, skill, understanding
AS a coach you have lot of responsibilities, so how you coach and how you get your points across as a coach are vital to your players’ progression. It is not just on the pitch either – players learn from you how to achieve their goals in life.
What do you think it feels like to be coached by you? When your players turn up for training and matches what goes through their mind when they see you? Do you inspire them? Are they afraid of you?
An inspirational coach will find players respond better to them, and that it is easier to be understood when explaining what you want them to do in a particular exercise. A coach that breathes fire should realise players are just doing what they have to because they are frightened. So a coach needs to thnk about how they coach and what they want to get out of their coaching.
When I think about my coaching I want to base it on best practice rather than just controlling a group of kids. Best practice comes from the exercises I use and how I use them and the enjoyment the group gets from them. At a recent soccer coaching exhibition I went to one of the better coaches moaned that his session didn’t work because the players were not up to the standard he demanded.A coach should recognise the players level is not as expected and quickly change the exercise so the players understand it and can work with it.
So best practice… You need to coach fundamental skills – touch, passing, receiving communication and heading, and you need to coach the game – rules, tactics, sportsmanship. And you have to make it fun! There is a lot there, but if you start with yourself and how you coach and how players receive you, you will build a solid foundation and with that an understanding between you and your players.
Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal, has a track record of producing great players. How does he do it? Watch this video and pick up a few tips:
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: communication, gareth southgate, leadership, match day tactics
You should encourage these players to come to the fore during matches because if they can talk to each other and encourage each other they will help the team to get through difficult periods in games and to give 100% effort and skill.
Gareth Southgate the former English international footballer and manager of Middlesborough, now is the English FA head of elite development, believes leadership and strong communication are vital at the top level of youth football. Listen to what he has to say to a group of young players in the video clip below.
Filed under: Dwyer Scullion, Soccer Coaching, Soccer News, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: coaching, communication, grassroots coach, Kevin Keegan, knowledge, listening, motivation, Newcastle United, organisation, Premier League level, Soccer, Soccer Skills, youth coach
I’ve been thinking about what it is that makes a great soccer coach. What is the essence of coaching? What are the core
skills that a coach needs to have in order to fulfil his role?
I guess the answer depends on what the role is, and there are a number of different ways to look at that. For example, a great youth coach might have different characteristics to a great adult coach. Similarly, a great grassroots coach might need different skills to that of a professional coach.
For the sake of argument, I’m going to lump them all in together and take the broadest view possible. Here are my five criteria for what makes a great coach:
Communication: a great coach should be able to communicate with his players on their level. The communication should be supportive and encouraging and should include everyone in the team.
Coaches should generally avoid using the word “don’t” and should try to be nurturing as opposed to bullying. And it’s important that no one is allowed to slip through the cracks – a loner in a soccer team is a potential problem and communication has to be consistent.
Listening: a great coach needs to be able to listen to his players and everyone else with a stake in his team’s success.
Players need to feel that they can talk to their coach about their game, and a good coach is able to respond to that in a positive way. I’m not saying that we should let players dictate where or how they play, but I think that a good coach can establish an effective two-way relationship with his players.
We also need to be able to take advice and guidance from other coaches and assistants. All the world’s great coaches recognise that they are part of a team and I doubt there are many successful coaches who dictate everything at their club. I know some coaches who are uncomfortable when a peer suggests a different approach. They need to be able to tell the difference between helpful advice and criticism. For me, the more ideas and viewpoints the better. I’ll still make my own decisions, but I’ll do that with the benefit of the views of the people whose judgment I trust.
Motivation: a coach has to arm his players with the tools to be better individuals and a better team. Chief amongst those tools is the motivation to succeed. Many people would say that this is the key factor – the magic ingredient – that every great coach must have.
Organisation: an effective coach must be organised. Everyone’s time is wasted if no-one knows what they are supposed to be doing, if the equipment isn’t in place, and if arrangements haven’t been made. Some coaches are terrible organisers but the trick is to recognise that and find an assistant who is a good organiser.
Have the knowledge: a coach can have all of the skills and characteristics described above, but it won’t count for much unless they have the technical knowledge to back it up. At youth level that might mean knowing how to coach players to pass over distance or perform a stop turn. At senior level that might mean knowing how to coach a team to change shape when moving from possession to defence. Either way, the coach has to have the knowledge, and whether they get it from the internet, a bookshop or a training course, a great coach has to know the nuts and bolts of the game.
I found it very strange that Newcastle United appointed Kevin Keegan as their new manager. Keegan is no doubt a great motivator and is known for his strong bond with his players. But it’s also true that he has tactical and technical shortcomings. I know that he will have people on his team who take care of that, but for me a truly great coach shouldn’t have to ask someone else to work out his team’s tactics.
Motivation alone is not enough, at grassroots or Premier League level. A great coach will invest the time to know and understand the principles and techniques that underpin the game.
So that’s five for now. As soon as I post this blog I will no doubt think of another half dozen so I’ll post those in due course. In the meantime, please feel free to get in touch and tell me what you think makes a great coach.