Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


How to time your sessions… don’t!

davidscwnewI always remember when I was struggling to cope with delivering sessions in my early days, a very experienced academy coach said to me: “There are no failures, just experiences and your reactions to them.”

It’s a great piece of advice. My right hand man at training is fairly new to coaching and he, like you, works very hard at getting the right sessions and delivering them to some of our younger teams. But he gets very nervous and if the kids haven’t understood what he wants them to do, he moves right on to another session and tries that.

Understanding is vital to a session, both for the coach and the players – often it takes time for the players to get the session you are delivering. We were well into the session last week and I could see the players looking at one another slightly lost.

“It’s not working, Dave,” said my right-hand man. “You said it was a 15-minute exercise but time’s almost up and they’re not grasping it.

I told him to hold fire and managed to block out the murmurs of the watching parents who were keen for me to move on to something else. But I wanted to show them one more time that this could work. It’s never easy watching kids struggling with a concept, but I couldn’t give up on this with them so close.

I tried giving two players some extra encouragement – sometimes that’s all it takes. And sure enough, within 30 seconds, they began to ‘get it’. And more than that, they started having fun. The session was working and they wanted to carry on, because part of the fun was ‘getting’ the session.

Within a further 10 minutes they were making it look easy, which was exactly what I wanted. “Okay,” I shouted, “it’s a wrap!” And guess what? They didn’t want to stop 

Some players began to move onto a small-sided game, but a good number were still running the passing sequence. I initially planned this as a 15-minute warm-up, but it had ended up filling the majority of the session!

I’m always amazed when coaches tell me they ran a session with 15 minutes of ‘this’, then 20 minutes of ‘that’, and another 10 minutes to finish, because that is what it told them to do in the session notes. Sure, following that principle helps you keep control of your session, but it won’t allow you to develop your players with any spontaneity.

Don’t keep looking at your watch just because it says 15 minutes in your session notes. Instead, watch the players and use your own coaching knowledge to judge what to do next. Trust me, the results can be fantastic.



Two ways to recover your session from disruptive players

David Clarke

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.



Returning players and team discipline

David ClarkeAn email popped into my inbox this week which filled me with dread. The title alone was enough to have me put my head in my hands… ‘Harry wants to come back’, it read. Everyone had breathed a sigh of relief halfway through last season when Harry had decided to leave the team to go on to “better things”.

His parents were quite adamant that this was his decision and that he was going to “a team that won every week”, even though we were on a strong winning streak ourselves. (That said, we’ve never preached that winning is vital to our success.) Harry and his parents caused a lot of trouble – not at matches but at training. The lad rarely attended, and when he did, was one of the most disruptive boys I’ve ever coached.

But during matches he was the model player – very skilful, strong and never gave up. Even if I substituted him he was fine with the decision. But the trouble was getting him to matches in the first place. He once turned up 10 minutes after kick-off and was surprised that I made him sit on the bench for the majority of the game.

Harry’s problem was that his parents were too busy to get him to matches on time and too preoccupied with other things to ensure he attended training. But no matter how often I spoke to his mum and dad, they never reacted in the way I hoped. And Harry’s reasoning was that he couldn’t be blamed for his parents failing to get him to places on time. But punctuality is the first example of player discipline at any football club, and the team will suffer if players don’t turn up for training. It is vital in any squad that all of the players are singing from the same song sheet.

What was wrong with Harry was that – good player though he was – he wasn’t a team player. He missed out on key coaching sessions and the development of my other lads was being hindered by him not realising what he was supposed to do on the pitch. So if Harry wants to come back he does so on a two-month trial. If he sticks to the team rules on match days and at training he will win himself a place in the side.

If not he has to leave.

I’ve put the ball firmly in his and his parents’ court. They have to make it work or Harry will be finding himself another team.



There’s always one player at training…

The player that messes about at training… every team has one and mine are no exception. One player is always last to stop, always kicking the ball into the goal when you’re talking or wandering along absent mindedly when you’re waiting to talk to the players.

There is one particular boy in my squad, lovely boy, but his mind is always on the move, taking him with it. However much I talk to him about it he cannot help having just one last kick of the ball.

I have no problem with this at the moment because he is not distracting the other players from the training they are concentrating on, but if my coaching sessions begin to suffer then action must be taken.

What I would do is take away the thing they love the most – playing the game. Sit them out for five minutes and if they do it again keep sitting them out. Or stop them taking part in the game at the end of your session.

And don’t lose your patience – that isn’t any good for either of you.

It’s not only the kids that mess about at training. I’ve seen seasoned internationals refusing to train or run during sessions – tantrums, fighting you name the professionals do it.

If you go to my blog you can see a clip of David Beckham at the England training camp messing about while the England players run around the pitch. He does get told off though!

 Soccer Skills and Drills




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,210 other followers