Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Get The Better Of Cheats In Six Steps

BY Alistair Phillips GUEST BLOGGER

Despite the best efforts of football’s governing bodies, some teams bend or even break the rules to give themselves an advantage. Here are some handy hints to help you get
the better of match day cheats…

STEP 1 RUN A CLEAN TEAM

Make sure your own team is squeaky clean and that all players understand the rules of the game and the expectations of players as stipulated in your FA’s Code of Conduct. If you have to take any form of action against a team that does turn out to be cheating, it will be taken much more seriously if you and your own players have a reputation for fair play.

STEP 2 STICK BY THE RULES

Prior to kick off present the opposing coach with your list of your registered players. By doing this you should encourage them to do the same thing and you will be able to check they are using only properly registered players. It also sets out your stall as a stickler for doing things the right way and as someone who holds the rules of the game in high esteem.

STEP 3 REMAIN DISCIPLINED

If a team you are due to face has a bit of a reputation or you have experienced problems when playing them in the past, remind your players of the need to remain disciplined at all times. Tell them not react to any heavy challenges or verbal provocation during the game but to inform you of any problems they have at half-time and at the end of the game.

STEP 4 CHECK WITH THE REF

When the referee arrives, make sure you introduce yourself and go through a few points briefly before the game. Ask that he punishes bad behaviour and foul play, perhaps letting slip you have had some problems with this in previous games. Then go to your opposing coach and relay the contents of your chat, making sure they are happy with this in advance.

STEP 5 DON’T INFLAME THINGS

Be vocal if you see any cheating during a game but in a way that will not inflame the situation. Remind your team to play to the whistle if a decision goes against you and try and establish eye contact with the referee when you do this. If things have got really bad, speak to the ref at half-time but remember to invite your opposite number into the conversation if you do so.

STEP 6 ALWAYS SHAKE HANDS

At the end of the game make sure your players shake hands with all opposing players. Listen out for any ‘under-thebreath’ remarks and, if you hear any, act on it by reporting what you hear to your opposing coach first. The match may be over but your opponents will remember this before you play them next time. Remember to congratulate your team for playing by the rules.



Discover your club captain with this game

davidscwnew

Communication is the buzzword here, and you may well discover your next club captain through this simple game!

For the sweeper, it is a game of nerve and control. Defenders are always listening for instructions from behind.

Meanwhile opposition strikers sense the need to build attacks in space – invariably towards the wings – because they know simple balls through the middle can be cut out by the sweeper.

And encourage imaginative play when 1v1 scenarios do present themselves.

How to set it up:

  • Create a playing area measuring 50×30 yards.

  • Play a five-a-side game.

  • Create a 15-yard zone in front of each goal. This leaves the middle area of 20 yards in length.

  • Place a goal at each end.

  • You will need a good supply of balls.

  • One player on each team is nominated as the defensive "conductor". This player remains in his team’s defensive end zone and must communicate to his three team mates in front of him.

  • Each team aims to score in its opponent’s goal.

Getting started:

  • The game begins with the coach passing to one of the two teams.

  • The conductor provides verbal support and tactical encouragement to his team mates. He should be shouting instructions such as "get tight", "someone support", "cover", "get goal-side" and "show inside".

  • If the attacking team gets past the opponent’s defence, the conductor acts as a sweeper, effectively acting as the last defensive line. He must do his best to prevent a shot at goal.

  • Rotate players so that each man acts as the conductor.

  • At the end of each move – whether it ends in a goal or a defensive clearance – the ball is returned to you and play restarts with the last team out of possession.

  • Each team has 10 attacks. The team with the most goals at the end is the winner.



Communicate with your players through challenges

davidscwnewHow do you get and keep your players’ attention in training? One way to ensure this is to ask questions of your players to check they are listening. 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.

Why challenge?
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 situation
Before 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?



Spot signs of bullying

David ClarkeThere is no place for bullying anywhere in life. If you are aware of bullying in your team you must address it immediately because of the wide ranging consequences for the individual and the team.

  • You should have a bullying policy at your club, but it is even better to deal with the problem before it starts.
  • Be aware that bullying can have small beginnings, so stamp out any minor indiscretions immediately.
  • Be a presence in places where groups can gather. Listen as you walk around.
  • Reassurance from a child can be quick, but don’t take a simple answer that the player is okay to mean that he is not under pressure.
  • Victims of bullying are often “easy” targets. In other words they have weaknesses which can be easily exploited, such as weight, lack of skills or communication problems. Don’t put them in compromising positions in training.

Recognise the signs

A bullied player’s behaviour changes especially if they become withdrawn or reluctant. They might stop coming to training for no reason or start making excuses not to train or play.

You might notice that they have stopped taking part in the banter with other players or has become the butt of their jokes. It might just be that they are left out and not passed the ball during games and exercises.

Don’t brush it to one side, it could be your child it is happening to. If you do recognise the signs make sure you either inform your club’s welfare officer or deal with it yourself by talking to the team as a whole rather than identifying individuals that may make the bullying worse.



Communicate with your players through challenges

davidscwnewHow do you get and keep your players’ attention in training? One way to ensure this is to ask questions of your players to check they are listening.

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.

Thus:

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?



Why heroes can inspire your players

davidscwnewIsn’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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Talking to a group of players and getting them to listen

By David Clarke

davidscwnewTalking to a group of children can be a huge challenge for many coaches, especially those who are used to working with groups of adults.

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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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.



Do your players UNDERSTAND?

David ClarkeYou can be as clever as you like with tactical planning and technical instructions, but players must be able to understand what you want them to do.

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:

  •  Visually
  •  Verbally
  •  Physically

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.



What does it feel like to be coached by you?

DCAS 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:




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