Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Recover to stop the counter attack

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By David Clarke

Every coach has been in the situation where his team loses the ball, the opposition race towards goal, yet his own players stand and watch the inevitable conclusion unfold.

For younger kids especially, the idea of heading back to mop up the mess is generally taken as being “someone else’s job”, and even the most organised teams’ defenders can find themselves alone at the back with the opposition haring towards them.

So encouraging your players to get back and help defend is hugely valuable. It will add to a player’s game, enhance team spirit and may be worth quite a few points come the end of the season.

How to set it up:

  • Use a standard pitch for a warm-up sprint drill.
  • Mark out an area measuring 35 yards long by 10 yards wide with a goal at one end – this will form the main part of the session.

Getting started:

  • Start first with a sprint drill to teach defenders, who are tracking back, the key areas they should be running to.
  • Players should run as fast as possible and take the shortest route towards the danger area. Players on the wing should take a line back towards the nearest goal post, while those in the centre of the pitch should run towards the penalty spot.
  • Now move to your 35×10 yards area.
  • Three strikers attack against one defender and a goalkeeper.
  • A second defender is 10 yards behind the play. His aim is to make it back to the ball to help prevent a goal.
  • The middle striker is a server and cannot move. He plays the ball to either of the two forwards. As soon as he does, play begins and the recovering defender can move.
  • The lone defender must hold up the strikers until the second defender arrives. The recovering player must make one of four decisions. 1) Challenge for the ball 2) Cover the defender 3) Mark an opponent 4) Mark space between the opponent and goal.
  • When a move comes to an end, play restarts with the serving attacker.

Why this works:

The move combines pace and awareness because players must concentrate on recovering by moving quickly, then supporting the other defenders.

Another crucial part of this is in making sure that once your players have made it back, they don’t turn off mentally and subsequently fail to complete the defending task.

It can be all too easy to get back and think that the job is done, when really it has only just started!



How Celtic beat Barcelona – the counter attack

David ClarkeWhen Celtic beat Barcelona the amount of possession tells a very strange story. Barcelona had 89% of the ball. That gave Celtic very little chance of keeping them at bay let alone scoring two goals.

But they did score two goals, and they used the counter attack to great effect.

In youth football, constructing a good counter-attack often comes down to one team being quicker than the other – a case of who can control the ball and combine before the opposing team has managed to recover its position. The quick counter-attack requires players in a team to react with speed and concentration, and often the most important man will be your striker, who receives the ball under pressure from a defender.

He must control it and either shoot at goal himself, or be aware enough to lay it off into the path of a supporting attacker. Speed is vital because the opposition players will be recovering their positions at pace as, often, a lone defender holds up play. Using this exercise, you can replicate counter-attacks in training, perfecting the process using recognised support and teamwork, rather than just raw pace.

Counter-attacking talent is as much about routine and teamwork as it is the ability to control and pass. By rehearsing this move, attackers become accustomed to knowing the right areas to run into, and when to make their move.

Defenders must also practise getting back at pace, watching all the time the movement of their lone team-mate in order to prevent the attack. Counter-attacking talent is as much about routine and teamwork as it is the ability to control and pass. By rehearsing this move, attackers become accustomed to knowing the right areas to run into, and when to make their move. Defenders must also practise getting back at pace, watching all the time the movement of their lone team-mate in order to prevent the attack.

Practice makes perfect, and although workmanlike in training, the counter-attacking move can prove hugely valuable and visually brilliant when played out in a match situation.

How to set it up:

• Set up a playing area measuring 30×20 yards.

• There is an 8-yard zone at each end of the pitch. At the near end this is marked by cones across the pitch, while at the far end it’s best to use a pitch marking or cones on either side to denote the line.

• There is one goal, with a goalkeeper in place.

• Put two teams of three players in the near end zone – one acts as attacking support, the other as defending support.

• Place a striker in the middle area of the pitch, and a defender in the zone near the goal.

Getting started:

• The coach serves the ball out to the striker.

• As soon as that pass is played, the attacking support can move.

• When the lone attacker controls the ball, the defending support can move, as can the defender in the far end zone.

• Attackers must work together to move the ball forward and finish with a shot on goal.

• Replay the move so that players become comfortable in their roles, but going forward, experiment with different conditions to keep the counter-attacks challenging.

For instance, change the time between defenders and attackers moving by calling out “attack go” and “defence go”. Also try varying the number of players in the near end zone in order to favour either defence or attack. This also means you can involve all members of your squad at once. • Rotate players often so that everyone samples the demands of each role.

 




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