Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: attack, challenges, coaching, communication, defend, development
How 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.
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?
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: counter attack, cover, defend, drills, exercises, support
Call me strange but I like watching my team when we haven’t got the ball. In one of the matches we played this week my U10 team was attacking – all the players were in advanced positions. The opposition defence won the ball and were moving quickly to counter attack.
What was great to see was my players moving to cover the space they had left. The nearest player went to the ball and the others moved to cover. It was a great example of getting into a good defensive position and it stopped the counter attack immediately.
By moving into this defensive block, they were playing a compact game making the pitch smaller for the opposition by covering the space behind them.
This is a great tactic for young teams, they can work hard and win the ball back when they have lost it – but remember it is hard work and needs committed players!
To practise this I use a warm-up and a small-sided game:
Lay out several rows of two cones, about six yards apart.
Split your squad into pairs.
Players pass to their partner, then follow behind the pass and try to slow the advancing player using a jockeying technique – blocking the player’s movement without contact.
Play a small-sided game on a pitch 30 yards long by 20 yards wide. I’ve shown a 4v4 in the picture but depending on the size of your squad you can use 3v3 or 5v5.
The player with the ball takes three touches on the move before they can pass. Players cannot kick the ball three times quickly when they are stationary.
No tackling at first, only jockeying. Allow tackling once the game has been played a few times. Opponents must close down quickly before the three touches are taken.
Play first to five goals or time it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: create space, defend, game, shield, shoot, shooting drill, tackle
How often do you watch your striker reach great attacking positions only to then delay his shot, offering enough time for defenders to get back and put in a tackle? It’s a frustrating part of the game and something that’s certainly not exclusive to youth football!
It’s important to give players the confidence to shoot from anywhere on the pitch, rather than them trying to walk the ball into the net. So below I’ve put together a great practice that, quite simply, encourages players to shoot at the earliest opportunity from all areas.
How to set it up:
- You will need six target cones and seven balls, plus additional cones to mark out a pitch. You will also require bibs and a goal.
- Create a pitch measuring 35×25 yards.
- Three yards in from each end touchline, and halfway up the area, place three cones in a triangular shape.
- Each cone has a ball placed on top of it.
- The game can be played either 3v3 or 4v4.
- Each team defends its set of cones.
- Players must try to knock the balls off the cones at their opponent’s end of the pitch while ensuring their own cones do not come under threat.
- If a player shoots and gets a “strike” (knocks all three balls off with one shot) the team gets six points, otherwise it’s one point scored for each ball.
- Should all three be dislodged, the balls are set up again before resuming.
- Play for three games of six minutes, ensuring players are ambitious in their attacking play and do not hang back crowding around their cones as a defensive tactic.
Developing the session:
If you have three or four teams, play so the team that knock three balls off, then faces a different team. Teams waiting on the sidelines act as ball boys.
Note which teams are the best at winning a strike – undoubtedly this will be because of the frequency of shots and from all distances – and point out to the other teams why they are so successful.
How to advance it:
- Put a goal and a keeper at one end and set up a bowling alley-style group of six cones with balls on at the other end.
- This is a straight knockout, with one team trying to knock all the balls off the cones and the other trying to score three times past the keeper. Which team will fulfil its task first?
Why this works:
The initial practice encourages players to shoot at targets from all areas of the pitch. Teams defending cones will also be pushing forward trying to attack, so the scoring options should be plentiful.
Direction and power are, of course, vital to a team’s success, while the set-up ensures players are aware of the need to shoot quickly and positively. Should they not, a tackle could see the other team attack and complete their task first.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 3v2, attack, awareness, defend, drills, games, overloads, small-sided game
When playing matches the elements are constantly changing.
You can be attacking on your own one second, then have a team mate aor team mates in support to pass to pass to the next.
In your sessions it is a good idea to run exercises that are constantly changing so your players can prepare for this happening in matches. You can sometimes see players switching off when you do repetitive drills that have them doing A, B or C and they don’t have to think about it.
This exercise is a high intensity, near continuous game using five players. You can set up two or three of these depending on numbers at your training session.
How to set it up
Set up a few 15 x 30 yard pitches marking out with cones a couple of small goals at each end. You will need one pitch for every five players.
How to play it
- Choose 3 players who will be given the ball first against the remaining two. Decide which end the 3 are to attack. The attacking team start with the ball bringing it out from the goal line. They can choose to pass or dribble, but no direct goals are allowed on the first touch. The emphasis is on restarting quickly.
- The 3 play against the 2 until either: the two defenders win clear possession of the ball; they must have it under control; or the ball goes over the goal line last touched by an attacker.
- If either of these two things happen, the two players who were defenders become attackers trying to score at the opposite end in a game of 2v1 against whichever attacker last touched the ball, the player who lost possession or took a shot.
- The attackers retain possession on all balls that go out over the side lines.
- You will need a coach or knowledgeable soccer parent to act as referee…the point is to designate immediately which player stays on and which players go off (ignore the “it wasn’t me” shouts). The attackers who go off should quickly step well out of the way of this new 2v1 game and sit out until it is finished.
- The 2v1 game continues until it resolves in the same fashion as for the 3v2 game; the lone defender wins clear possession or the ball goes out off one of the two attackers.
- Now the 3 players who just played 2v1 immediately join together in a team of 3 attackers against the 2 who had to stand out, with the 3 now attacking, so we are back to step one.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 2v2, attack, defend, drills, exercises, quick game, warm-up
There are times when I have turned up to find the equipment not where I would expect it and all I am left with is a ball and a pitch. So while I wait for the cones, balls and bibs to turn up I play a game that uses a ball and the centre circle.
How to play it
- Set up as shown in the diagram with players split into pairs. Two pairs start in the middle of the centre circle with others spread around the outside.
- In the middle, one team is nominated as attackers and the other pair defenders.
- The attacking pair must keep possession for 30 seconds in order to score a point. To help them do so, they can use players around the outside for one-twos.
- If the possession is lost, the other pair now attempts to retain the ball for 30 seconds.
- Rotate the pairs every 90 seconds.
- The central players need to work hard at all times – either in moving to support, or closing down opponents in possession.
- Outside players must be alert and ready to receive the ball at all times.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: attack, box to box, defend, drills, exercise, game, how to, lampard, midfielder, pass, score, tackle
Combining pace and aggression going forward with the wherewithal to track back, this is a move inspired by one of the best in the game, Chelsea ‘s Frank Lampard. For over 10 years, the England man has proved a pivotal force in the centre of the park, so here’s an opportunity for your players to try out some of that classic Lampard box-to-box play.
How to set it up:
Play 3v3v3, in an area of 30×30 yards. There are three goals, two in each of the corners and one placed on the opposite side in the middle. One player from each team acts as goalkeeper.
The practice starts with one player from each team attacking the goal to their left – unopposed dribbling and shooting in turn.
Players must concentrate on controlling the ball and approaching each goal at an angle.
At the end of each attack, the two attackers move clockwise around the playing area, ready to attack the next goal. Goalkeepers remain where they are.
To advance this, add defenders to the practice so your attackers have an additional obstacle. l Make sure you rotate players so that everyone gets a chance in each position.
You can also switch play by attacking each goal from the right-hand side.
The key elements:
The focus is on individual skills such as dribbling, shooting and 1v1 attacking and defending.
Highlight those players who are using good technique and creating space.
Don’t be afraid to stop the game, pointing out to your players what they are doing right and wrong in terms of technique and positioning.
Why this works:
Play is centred on a tight area that represents the compacted nature of the midfield. Therefore players are forced to make quick and efficient decisions in attack and defence. Rather than undertake an exercise that encourages a player to pass, this is a great move whereby taking on an opponent can be shown to have a much more dynamic effect on the game, something that is good for players to recognise in a full match situation.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 2v2, awareness, counter attack, defend, drills, intercept, simple, support play, tackle
I often set up a number of simple 2v2 games for my players to give them plenty touches of the ball and force them to think tactically and make decisions about when to drop when to tackle when to intercept or when to dribble or pass. There’s a whole lot of coaching going on in this one.
What I look for: quick defenders who move the ball quickly when they win it; good defensive positions – individual and pairs; awareness of space.
- Speed – keep passes and touches to a minimum and be ready to spring into action.
- Move directly towards the goal/target.
- Sometimes, the fast break is not possible. It is important in these circumstances for defenders to keep possession and wait for the chance to play a forward pass.
How to set it up
Play 2v2 in a 20 yards by 10 yards area, split in two halves.
How to play it
- Each team lines up on its goal line.
- Play a 2v2 with the defending team restricted to its half.
- To score a point, an attacker must dribble the ball across the defenders’ goal line.
- If the defenders win the ball, they can launch an immediate counter attack.
- The attackers then have to get back to defend as quickly as possible.
- Once either team scores a point, or the ball goes out of play, possession is handed back to the original attacking team.
- Play for, say 2 minutes, then swap team roles.
How to develop it
- This time, if the defenders win the ball, only one can enter the opposition’s half.
- The defender in possession can either dribble towards the goal line or pass to their partner, who breaks quickly into the other half.
- If the counter attack isn’t possible, the only way a player can release their team mate into the opponent’s half is by crossing back into their own half with the ball.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: crawley town, defend, defend overheads, defender positions, manchester city, Manchester Utd, matt tubbs, overhead kicks, vincent kompany, Wayne Rooney, wes brown
Once all the talk of the Wayne Rooney amazing overhead kick against Manchester City had died down I began to take note of other overhead kicks and how to defend against them.
Rooney’s goal at Old Trafford was a spectacular winner, but often in these situations the referee blows the whistle for dangerous play. On the same ground in the FA Cup Manchester United were playing against Blue Square Bet Premiership non-leaguers Crawley Town and the minnows were a goal down when Crawley striker Matt Tubbs almost did the same thing as Rooney.
His spectacular overhead kick just cleared the bar, but this time the referee blew for a free-kick – had the ball gone in the net it wouldn’t have counted.
This would have been very contentious because of the occasion and the scoreline. However, the difference in this case was that the Manchester defender Wes Brown put his head in the way… so it was considered dangerous play. If Vincent Kompany had done the same against Rooney it would probably have been considered dangerous play as well.
In youth matches I’m sure most referee’s would blow the whistle for dangerous play if your players hold their ground and try to win the ball.
Watch the clip below and around 3.40 minutes of it you will see Matt Tubbs’ attempted overhead kick and Wes Brown putting his head in danger.