Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


How to make stop/start work in your coaching

DCI was running an exercise this week with my players grouped in 3v3s, and one lad in particular stood out. I wanted the rest of the group to watch some of his actions, so I kept stopping play to show them how he was using skill and movement to create space for himself – space that opened up the opposing three players and allowed him to score.

Using a ‘stop and recreate’ method is a great way of showing young players how certain things work during games, and teaches them in slow motion how to prevent a negative situation developing.

If you do stop and recreate play you must do it quickly, always ensuring you get each player back to the positions they were originally in. On this occasion it worked really well with the player involved keen to repeat what he was doing, but after a while the others began to resent being stopped and were getting irritated by my constant recreating of certain situations. So always know the appropriate time to move on and let the game flow again.

If you use ‘stop and recreate’ methods in your coaching you must look out for signs of irritation from players. Another method is to run the exercise or game again without stopping, then at the end talk about what you saw and how you felt they were progressing. Whatever method you choose, you should quickly notice subtle differences in the way your team play or position themselves.

At the moment, this is how I plan out my sessions in order to include a ‘stop and recreate’ exercise:

  • Warm up – 10 minutes
  • Exercise or game with ‘stop and recreate’ technique – 10 minutes
  • Same exercise or game letting it flow to the end – 10 minutes
  • Small-sided game – 15 minutes
  • Warm down – 10 minutes
  • Q&A with players at the end – 5 minutes

This is a good way to control the whole session if you are coaching for an hour, and is one that keeps the players interested. It gives you the best set-up to get coaching points across whilst ensuring that your players are still developing their techniques and skills.

And remember, a good Q&A session for five minutes at the end will help you find out if your players have understood and learnt from you.



Thursday’s sweat is Saturday’s glory

DCPutting the effort in at training is important and I always want to see my players trying their best at training sessions. But they need a framework to do so….

The exercises and drills you use must be relevant to the coaching point you are getting across.

This week I wanted to work on the agility of my players as well as other aspects of fitness. I find that one of the best ways to do this is set up an agility course that I can show them being worked on by players from the English Premier League.

Watching EPL players doing something often makes youth players work harder and that is something you want at every training session.

Practice is how your players develop so what they work on during your coaching sessions is what they take with them to the next match – a poor training session often results in a poor game.

How do players weave in and out of defenders easily , or jump over a defender at an awkward angle to avoid being tackled or fouled?

So we worked on this session this week that I set up and showed the players in action on my laptop, watch it below:



A top tactic to open defences – the fake striker

DCIn the English Premier League this season there are two tactics I want to take from it and give to my team next season.

First the use of a fake centre forward, a player that drops off from a normal attacking role to drop into midfield dragging the defenders out of their comfort zone creating space behind them.

Think Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez. Messi continually drags defenders out of the area to create space for players like Pedro to work in. Tevez not only plays as a striker but also links the whole of the team together making up for any lack of team play by always being available for the ball before breaking away with it to attack the goal.

Messi creates space for a new kind of winger, a player that cuts inside and attacks the heart of the defence where once a centre forward stood. The fake centre forward creates the space for the winger to cut into rather than take the ball wide and cross it they can cut into the danger zone and shoot.

Sounds simple enough so I’m going to try it.

Watch Carlos Tevez work on a drill you can set up for your players in the clip below



Xavi plays the perfect through ball

Once your players can pass and move the ball you need to get them to focus on more advanced types of passes. The through ball is a ball passed into space for the target player to run on to – a great attacking weapon. It is a skill players develop over time, theability to put a ball where an attacker can run on to it.

Below is a clip of Xavi at Barcelona playing an amazing through ball to Thierry Henry. It is such a clever ball that the defenders do not see it coming. Watch though how good recovery play from the defender and a brave goalkeeper block Henry’s attempt to score.

You can also see two great goals from the FA Cup games at the weekend. When Leeds shocked Manchester United the goal came from a perfect through ball by Jonny Howson of Leeds who played the ball into space behind the Manchester defenders. Jermaine Beckford was quickest to the ball and he beat the goalkeeper with his shot.

The second goal was in the Tranmere v Wolves game when Wolves’ Nenad Milijas played a ball through the heart of the Tranmere defence to Matt Jarvis who fired home from just inside the box.

Watch all three goals below.

You can get your players to practice playing the through ball using coned off zones at either end of the pitch with an attacker and a 3v3 in the centre where players have to compete for the ball then pass it through to the attackers.

 Soccer Skills and Drills




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