Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: blackpool, cardiff, defending, defensive wall, final, free-kick, Play-offs, set piece, wall, Wembley
By David Clarke
One of the most lucrative matches in world soccer is just around the corner… the play-off match between the English Championship teams hoping to get the last promotion place into the English Premier League.
Last season saw Blackpool beat Cardiff to win promotion and an estimated £90m in revenue this season. It is a huge boost to any team so they have to make the most of it when they get there.
In that game star player Charlie Adam for Blackpool scored a great free-kick that highlights the importance of player positions in the defensive wall – had the wall and the goalkeeper been more coordinated maybe that £90m would have been heading for Cardiff rather than the seaside.
Watch it below and leave me a comment about the organisation of the free kick.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Birmingham, centre-backs, counter attack, defending, elmohamady, lee bowyer, sunderland
Faced with entertaining the team that has scored the most goals in our league last week I decided to play three defenders for the first time this season, bring my wingers into midfield with a lone striker up front.
It meant my team was sitting deep allowing the opposition to come on to us. It was a tactic we used to great effect last season hitting teams on the break after they lost the ball to us. It relies on us keeping a clean sheet up to half time then adjusting the team accordingly to try and get a goal. We have been much more attack minded this season and are the second highest goal scorers in the league so I was expecting a lot of shots on goal.
Unfortunately the plan was never tested properly because we let in two early goals and then struggled to change our tactics to get ourselves back into the game. Such was the intensity of the match I was finding it hard to get my views across to the players – not helped by the squeeling parents around me.
We found it hard to take the initiative back and all our hard work in training where we practice compact defending had gone to waste.
In the same week Steve Bruce the manager of English Premier League team Sunderland also decided to play three centre-backs to deal with Stoke City’s threat from set pieces, but the plan did not work for him either as the home side scored all three of their goals this way. The final two Stoke goals were similar – coming from excellent Jermaine Pennant free-kicks, and converted by Robert Huth, who is ironically enough a centre-back.
It is disappointing when your tactics don’t work, but it doesn’t mean you were wrong to try it. As a coach using tactics in matches should be part of your game. It’s not just the players that need to experiment – getting things wrong is part of your learning curve as a manager.
Watch these highlights of Sunderland playing Birmingham in which both teams use three centre-backs and both get caught out.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: alex, andy carroll, ashley, Chelsea, cole, defending, errors, head off line, Newcastle, petr cech
Watching the positioning of Ashley Cole for Chelsea in their match at Newcastle United was a timely reminder that defenders positions can block goal bound shots. I think my U10s defender must have been watching because he did exactly the same thing in training the next day.
How vital that clearance by Cole was will not be known until the end of the season, but it certainly helped the team. Heading the ball off the line is a skill in itself, especially if the ball has been struck hard.
Knowing when to move to the line is important because things like offside come into play and players can get in the way of goalkeepers. However it is worth talking to your defenders about when and where to position themselves during defensive moves.
In the same match the Chelsea defender Alex plays a backpass which goes past his goalkeeper Petr Cech giving Andy Carroll a simple sidefoot into the empty net – in this case that was poor decision making by Alex. He had time to clear and should have been able to look up and see the goalkeeper coming.
You can see the highlights of the game by clicking on the link below:
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training, Uncategorized | Tags: central defender, defending, defensive shape, fast defender, Portsmouth, qpr
Twice my team broke clear of the defence at the weekend and twice a fast defender caught up and dispossed my attacker before he could shoot. Fast defenders are priceless in youth soccer, speed is something you cannot ignore when choosing the positions of your players in matches.
I was reminded of the Portsmouth v QPR game last month in the English Championship when Portsmouth should have taken all three points.
When the speedy John Utaka broke free at the end of the game the QPR fans must have been thinking that it was all over. 1-0 down in the 87th minute QPR’s unbeaten run was about to come to an end.
In an entertaining game the QPR defence were a man down after the dismissal of Matthew Connolly who conceded the penalty which had put Portsmouth ahead. Neil Warnock the QPR manager had thrown on all three substitutes in an attempt to save the game – the team had to keep their defensive shape though because Portsmouth were quick on the break.
On this occasion the defence was undone by a through ball from Liam Lawrence. Utaka ran past a turning Kyle Walker, a young defender onloan from Tottenham HOtspur. But Walker turned and accelerated, catching a surprised Utaka, and won the ball off the striker then played a lovely pass to a midfielder up the pitch.
It was a brilliant bit of defending and one which changed the game because QPR scored a late, late penalty to draw the game. Without that fantastic defensive run QPR would have tasted their first defeat of the season. Warnock’s team has been outstanding in defence with 10 clean sheets already this season and Walker is one of the reasons for that.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 1v1, attacking, defending, Germany, Liverpool, spain, Torres
Key this has been the form of their striker Fernando Torres. His loss of form has been one of the reasons the team has struggled. The Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson decided Torres should go up against Everton’s Sylvain Distin at centre-back rather than attack Phil Jagielka.
This was a key battle in the game – if Torres won most of these he was likely to score or create lots of chances.
However Torres won just four of the 14 head to heads he had in front of goal mostly with Distin. Distin won 10 of the 14. Torres and indeed Liverpool didn’t score or create many chances.
One of the key reasons that he didn’t win many of them was the poor service into him, balls in the air rather than into his feet or body. It is much easier for a big centre back to win crosses into Torres than trying to stop him with the ball at his feet.
But the other key reason is that when commentators say he is out of form what they actually me is he is no longer winning the 1v1 situations he is famous for.
Watch the two video clips below. In the first he scores in the final of Uefa Euro 2008 to beat Germany 1-0. The second is a compilation – watch the number of times Torres is 1v1 and the number of times he scores after beating a defender 1v1.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer Skills, Soccer Training | Tags: defending, defensive header, how to head, midfielders
Something for you to work on… in youth matches when the opposition has a goal kick if the midfielders can get to the ball first and head it without letting it bounce they put their team immediately on to the front foot and the opposition on to the back foot.
When you watch the professionals see how they take the pressure off the defence by heading it before it bounces through to them. Also if you have to head a ball that has bounced, all the pace has been taken off it and the player finds it hard to get it any distance.
Young players are often worried by heading the ball so you need to gradually get them heading. They can practice by throwing the ball in the air and heading it between partners.
Heading a ball
1. Watch the ball
2. Keep eyes open
3. Head the ball on the forehead
4. Aim for the middle of the ball.
Watch this clip of how to head in defence:
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer News, Soccer Skills, Soccer Training | Tags: defence pushing up, defending, holding the defensive line, offside
By David Clarke
I wrote an article in Soccer Coach Weekly last year about defenders holding their line once the first attacking ball had been headed away. It’s a bit like holding lines on a battlefield. If the defenders don’t all step up following the ball, or they go at different speeds the defensive line is not as effective.
Here’s the best way to set up a practise session to get defenders to keep the line together and move as one thereby denying space to the attacking team. At 11-a-side it also means you can experiment with offsides.
How to play it
Set this up in half of the pitch – it’s a good exercise for all ages, and for 7-a-side as well as 11-a-side – use only three defenders
for 7-a-side games. Have two wide players to cross in balls and you stand in the middle to give a variety on the angle the ball will come in. All balls are aimed at the central defenders.
Defenders step up behind header
Tell the two wide defenders to push in as soon as the central defender moves forward to attack the ball so that the amount of space for the attacking team is shut down – look for co-ordination
of movement between the back four to cover the space behind the player.
© Soccer Coach Weekly
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Team Management | Tags: defending, goalkeeper, match day tactics, relax your coaching, scoring goals
I heard a great phrase this weekend and it came from the lips of our goalkeeper.
We had been involved in a tough game, and found ourselves 3-2 down having been 1-0 and then 2-1 up. But with 10 minutes to go we scored a great goal to level things.
The boys were supercharged with energy and were going gung ho for a win. However this left us opened up a the back and our opponents got through three times only to see our goalkeeper defend brilliantly.
“Guys, guys,” he shouted, “just relax!”
What a great thing to shout, I thought, he’s absolutely right, we should all just relax. And then he shouted it again, “relax, Josh just relax.”
We played the last few minutes in complete control and should have won it but the chance went over the bar.