Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: control, first touch, movement, overloads, passing, shooting
It can be difficult at times to find a good workout for your players that replicates the vital first touch, good movement and quick passing of typical match day situations.
Players are generally relaxed in training – sometimes overly so – and there’s certainly less pressure on them performing a move well.
But with the right set-up, and providing you can instil the notion that a player’s team mates are depending on him (and him only) to perform a specific task, you can get your team working at a high tempo.
This activity, Touch And Go, ensures players remain physically and mentally alert at all times, always aware of the concept of using available space in order to make maximum use of the ball.
It is a fast session that rehearses overloads, shooting, passing and movement in the same manner that your players will encounter in a match – indeed, a shortened version of this is perfect as a pre-match practice, so ensure every player is getting the ball and thinking about moving to the pass.
How to set it up:
- Alter the size of the playing area depending on the ages of your players. For U9s, use the centre circle of an adult (11-a-side) pitch, or a circle 20 yards in diameter. For U10s and older, mark out a 30-yard circle as a playing area.
- You will need to create three small goals using cones at equal points around the playing area. These will each be two yards wide. There are six players on one team and three on the other, though you can alter the number of players and the size of the playing area depending on your squad size, providing one team has twice as many players as the other.
One player on the team of six starts with the ball at his feet.
He must release the ball to a team mate. His team aims to complete six consecutive passes.
The team with three players must attempt to overturn possession. If it does, it tries to score in one of the small goals.
Play this for 10 minutes.
The main move
Now they have warmed up, prepare your players to restart with the same 6v3 set-up.
This time though, the team of six must arrange themselves so that three players begin inside the circle and three outside.
The three inside must keep possession, always attempting to switch with players on the outside of the circle by passing the ball to them. When they do this, they swap places with their team mate.
They gain a point for each successful pass out and player switch.
As before, the team of three gain a point by winning the ball and scoring in one of the three goals.
Play for 10 minutes then rotate players.
Why this works:
This is a great overload game that never allows players to relax. Because it is performed in a playing area that most aren’t accustomed to, they should be constantly aware of situations developing around them.
In the second exercise, the playing numbers are still 6v3, but the overload is not as obvious with players inside the circle feeling as though they are involved in a 3v3 small-sided game.
On each occasion, look for players to adapt their style of play to the way in which they can score points. The team of six should be looking to play a controlled passing game, while the team of three must be bold and ambitious in their attacking play.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, control, drills, exercises, pass, passing
This advanced passing and moving exercise gets players thinking about where they are moving as they control and pass the ball. It helps young players perfect the weight and accuracy of the pass while they are on the move and looking around them for the player to pass to.
How to set it up
- Set up an area 30 yards long by 20 yards, with a cone at each corner. Have a queue of players at the first cone and one player on the next three cones.
- The game is continuous but because there is a lot of passing and movement, it relies on your players to listen and then perform the tasks using good technique, running and passing skills.
What you want to see in your players
Follow the steps in the diagram. Your players will have to concentrate as you talk them through the steps. Read the diagram carefully so you can see how the ball is moving around the cones.
Make sure your players are concentrating on all the aspects of the exercise – passing, controlling, awareness and moving with ease around the cones. Explain to them that the weight of the pass and accuracy of the pass are vital to the exercise.
When you have run the exercise for 10 minutes (or less if you are only using a few players) have a drinks break then tell your players you want to see them do it again at full speed for five minutes. They will either be brilliant at it or have a great deal of fun and laugher trying to be brilliant at it!
End with a small-sided game where you want to see some of the aspects the players have learned in the session.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: atmosphere, behaviour, club rules, coaching style, communicate, control, listen
I work at a number of clubs coaching kids of all ages, as well as running my own team. One of the interesting things that I notice is the differing attitudes shown by head coaches towards the way the players behave. I’m not talking about disruptive behaviour here, it’s more the receptive behaviour.
As an example, let me tell you about an incident last week when I was coaching a team of talented Under-12s for the first time. The head coach and parents were interested to see what I was going to do with the players – I’m sure you’ve experienced the same scrutiny. I ran a session on passing and movement, calling the players over at regular intervals to talk to them about what we were doing and why.
The boys were very on the ball, answered the questions well and really got into the spirit, even if there was a certain ‘we know what we’re doing’ bravado towards what they saw as the new coach. In essence, they were out to impress.
At the end of the session we wrapped up and I went over to talk to the head coach. He was suitably pleased with how things had gone but he raised a couple of objections.
“Why didn’t you get the players to sit up straight and focus on you when you gave the talks throughout the session,” he asked? “There was a point when they were all shouting out their ideas – how could that work?” Well I’m not one for enforcing that style of receptive behaviour from my players. I want them to be comfortable; and as I had just run a fairly fast session I allowed them to lay on the grass rather than sit up straight. After all, this wasn’t a maths lesson!
And if players shout out ideas, great. I want them to express themselves; I want them to feel they can say what they want, when they want. I prefer this more casual style of sitting around and discussing the session rather than me being the teacher and them the obedient pupils. I want a relaxed atmosphere where every single player feels comfortable in that situation and wants to speak up about what we are doing.
I have no problem if the head coach would rather see players sitting neatly in rows all cross legged with straight backs – that’s how he gets his ideas across to his players and if that works for him that’s fine. But always remember, if you start with rules about sitting up straight and only speaking when spoken to, you may not get out of your players what they really want to say.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training, Uncategorized | Tags: attention, behaviour, coaching style, concentration, control, discipline, disruptive, order, sessions
By David Clarke
I was speaking this week with Dan Cottrell a rugby coaching guru who often has to deal with disruptions in his coaching sessions. We were discussing how you can recover your session once it has been disrupted by silly behaviour.
He said: "Working with children can fall apart if there is a distraction, like two players fighting, someone burps or there is something significant happening on another pitch. But there are ways to recover the session quickly."
These are the two ways we spoke about.
1. Silent treatment
Get everyone together and don’t speak for 30 seconds.
Don’t even tell anyone to shut up.
Players will become embarrassed by the silence.
Some will tell others to shut up, while some will continue to muck around or laugh. Don’t worry about how they react.
Then, look at your watch, say: “Right, where was I was? Yes, we were working on…” and carry on as if nothing had happened.
2. Peer threes
Split players into groups of three.
Ask them to come up with one key factor for the exercise you are doing between them in 15 seconds.
Ask someone you know will give you a good answer.
Give them lots of praise.
Ask someone else, again who is going to give a good answer.
Praise them and say that you are sure there are lots of other good answers… and move on.
Like above, act as if nothing happened.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: acuracy, control, dribble, one touch, passing, session, soccer games
Many coaches believe that getting children fit to play football is a stealth exercise. Running up and down the pitch and sprint training may be all very well in some sports, but playing games is undoubtedly the best way to keep kids entertained, whilst subtly building fitness at the same time.
Benefits of games
Kids become so absorbed in the game they don’t realise how much running they are doing. And because they are practising technical attributes at the same time, this also allows you to focus on developing other football skills under pressure so you are not wasting precious training time on fitness. For the best fitness results from games follow these guidelines:
• Use small-sided games – players have nowhere to hide and have to be involved all the time. Four- or five-a-side is ideal.
• Take a break – have rest periods in between intense periods of work. Two teams play for three minutes while another team rests. By swapping the teams round, each team works for six of every nine minutes.
• A change is as good as a break – keep football fresh by changing the game or adding new rules. This means players constantly have to adjust mentally whilst still working hard physically.
• Use games like the one below to give players a change from normal exercises and really take their minds off exercise.
Dribbling and close control, passing accuracy and pace, and one touch passing.
Create a 30 yards by 10 yards playing area with cones spread 5 yards apart along the length. Use 16 players split in to four teams of four, with 10 footballs.
Introduce timing so the quickest team to reach the safety zone wins, or stipulate a maximum amount of time. Alternatively, allow the passers an extra touch so they can be more accurate when firing the “laser”.
Keep an eye out for cheating in this game. If an invader’s ball is touched, they’re out. Make sure the passers are only using one touch to begin with.
How to play it
In pairs, players from three of the teams stand on either side of the channel. On your call, they play one touch passing back and forth. This represents the laser to shoot down invaders.
The fourth team – the invaders – has to dribble through the channel, one player per zone at a time, avoiding having their ball hit by the lasers. If an invader’s ball is hit by a laser, they have been destroyed and leave the channel in that zone.
The invaders must aim to reach the safety zone at the end of the channel. The team with the most invaders reaching the safety zone wins.
If no team reaches the safety zone, the team that progress the farthest along the channel wins.
Get 24 more games like this in Fun Soccer Games for 5 to 8 Year Olds. But don’t be put off by the title. I used the game above with players as old as 16.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: coaching style, control, fun games, smile, teamwork, youtube
1. They keep coming back!
Absence is the biggest indicator that players are not enjoying training and that it might be time for a change. If players don’t turn up, ask why when you next see them, and reinforce the fact that their team-mates need them back. Don’t be too pushy though, this puts a lot of young players off and you might lose them for good.
2. Players are well behaved at training
Poor behaviour is a good indicator that players are not enjoying training. If your kids are always productively engaged and challenged then there is no time or energy left over to misbehave. Excessive downtime, repetitive exercises or moves that are too challenging will provoke boredom, or worse, frustration.
3. Players smile and laugh at training
A smile is an obvious but important indicator that your players are having fun and enjoying training. Remember, it’s not school, so you can relax and have a few jokes with them too. That said, a lot of young boys can be quite insecure, so it’s always best to start by poking fun at yourself or a fellow coach to show that there is no harm intended.
4. Players are happy to talk to you and feel safe asking questions
A fun environment is a safe environment in a young player’s mind. If they are happy, they are far more likely to take risks, and a young player asking questions in front of their peers can be seen by them as a risk. Make sure you are approachable at all times. You can start your answers with “That’s an excellent question, I’m sure other people are thinking the same thing”. This sets the player’s mind at rest and lets them all know that anything they ask will be taken seriously.
5. Players buy into the ‘team’ and genuinely feel part of the squad
Always be on the lookout for players who are at the periphery of the squad. Often they will be doing their own thing while the others are enjoying themselves before or after training. Make an extra effort to include them in everything you do. Always pick teams yourself rather than letting players do it. This gives you an opportunity to split up cliques and integrate everyone. With that in mind, encourage players to buy into the team by wearing team kit to training and games. It’s the little things that really work in terms of bonding a team together. Players will always be drawn to their mates, but if you can draw the whole team into liking and respecting you, then you have the complete.
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: control, long pass, receive, technique, tired defence
When play is down the centre of the pitch, clubs are often criticized for playing direct long passes to the attackers. However if the pass is a good one it can create quick goal scoring opportunities.
A long pass is different to a long ball and if the opposition defence opens up and the attacker sees the chance to run into space in view of their team mates then they should do it.
Playing long passes doesn’t mean you’ve sold out and are playing the long ball game, they mean just that they are playing a passing game over a greater distance.
Long passes can be counter attacks that catch out the opposition especially when they are getting tired towards half-time or full-time. It does require good skills from the passer and the the player receiving the ball, and may require the receiver to adapt to the bounce of the ball or choice of left and right foot.
It is worth practicing with your players because they can use the long pass as an option in attack when they are finding it difficult to pass the ball up the pitch.
On my blog I have posted a diagram and drill to practice the long pass.
Try this exercise
Use 6 players for this drill to get accurate long passes.
How to set it up
In an area approx 10×40 yards, all the players stand in two lines at opposite ends and take it in turns to hit lofted passes. Switch to weaker foot.
Advance it by putting one player in each of the middle two zones. The player at the end side foots a pass along the ground to the centre of the playing area, where the nearest player returns it on their second touch. The player at the end controls it, then hits a lofted pass to the far side over the heads of both players in the middle. The sequence is repeated at the opposite end.
Watch this long pass from Tottenham’s Tom Huddlestone:
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management | Tags: control, dribbling, skills, teamwork
In most team sports the player with the ball controls the match. Think of the quarterback in American football or the point guard in basketball. They control how the play will develop – in cricket the bowler controls the batter until the ball connects with the bat.
The problem in youth soccer is that the player with the ball is the slowest player on the pitch – not counting players like Christiano Ronaldo who runs just as fast with the ball as without. So the time that the player with the ball is the controlling player is short because they will quickly be caught.
This is because dribbling with the ball is much slower than running without it due to the technical pressure of keeping control.Therefore because the player will be stopped the quickest and often the only way for the team to progress up the field is by passing the ball to a team-mate.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management | Tags: Barcelona, control, iniesta, Manchester United, midfield, passing, shielding, xavi
The midfield is the engine room of the team, everything must pass through it for both attack and defence.
Watch the clip of Barcelona’s Iniesta and Xavi as they hold the ball and pass into space for each other in the 2009 Champions League Final.