Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


The Lone Ranger – wins the ball and beats the keeper

davidscwnew

Although this game is heavily weighted in favour of the passing team, the
need to make 10 consecutive passes puts pressure on the players in a
tight area.

If the defender does manage to force a mistake, he needs to show stamina
and composure to make his efforts count by scoring a goal. Collective pressure and individual responsibility are key elements of what
makes players and teams successful.

How to set it up:

  • This game uses two teams of four players.

  • One works as the passing team. The other works as defenders, though only one player works at a time.

  • Create a playing area measuring 40×25 yards.

  • At one end, place a goal and goalkeeper.

  • At the other, mark out a 10-yard square centred on the far touchline.

The rules:

  • The passing team of four players works in the 10-yard square, passing
    the ball around and attempting to retain possession.

  • One at a time, each player in the defending team must enter the area
    and attempts to win possession from the passers.

  • If the defending player manages to force a mistake or win possession,
    he leaves the ball where it is and runs towards the other goal. Receiving a pass from you, he tries to score past the keeper.

  • The defending team gains a point for each goal scored.

  • The passing team scores a point for each set of 10 consecutive passes.

  • When the passing team manages to make 10 consecutive passes, the
    defender is replaced.

  • Each defender has two attempts at winning the ball in the 10-yard
    square during each game.

  • Swap teams and repeat the game so players experience both roles.



Possession… dribble or pass

davidscwnew

When players feel pressure in matches, it can often affect their ability to make decisions. You will undoubtedly have players who dribble brilliantly in training, yet "panic pass" in matches. Other players will hesitate when on the ball and a great opportunity to pass to a team mate is often lost.

Knowing when to surge into space with a dribble or when to switch play with a good pass comes from lots of practice – and you can’t expect players to learn this on their own.

Therefore, it’s a great idea to set up situations where they have the choice, because making that call can be vital to their development.

This session shows players where options present themselves, then develops into a small-sided game, in which the right decision will give their team the advantage.

How to set it up

  • Create a playing area measuring 30×25 yards.

  • For this session you’ll need bibs, cones and balls.

  • There are two teams of four players.

  • Set up three small goals – spaced equally apart – along the longest sides.

  • Each team must defend its goals while trying to score in the other three.

Getting started

  • Players score by dribbling or passing the ball through the poles.

  • Players must react quickly to situations around them, looking for areas on the pitch where there is space to exploit. They should look to mix dribbling with passes to team mates, but every decision is made with the aim of retaining team possession.

  • Play for 15 minutes.

Developing the session:

  • Develop the session by making the area 50×30 yards with two five-yard end zones.

  • The players must get the ball into the end zone by passing to a player who has run to meet the pass, or by dribbling into the end zone themselves.

  • Players are not allowed to stand in the end zone waiting for a pass – they must always be on the move.

  • You can award an extra "goal" if the attacking team makes five consecutive passes before scoring.

  • If players find the session easy, reduce the size of the scoring zone at each end by a yard. For younger players, increase the size.

Why this works:

This practice rehearses players in the logic that clever dribbling can move the ball into areas where there is space to be exploited. A final pass to a team mate should make the creation of goalscoring chances that much easier.

Players are also encouraged to score with a pass which represents a quicker route to goal than a dribble. The decisions depend on the player’s ability to read the space and that will come as they practise this session.

This session originally appeared in Soccer Coach Weekly.

Interested in more counter attacking exercises? Try these links:

2. Shake off and pass

3. Elite Soccer Issue 1 – Alex McLeish: Whole team attacking



A fun session from the Barcelona training ground

David ClarkeThis session is influenced heavily by techniques seen on the Barcelona training ground, a place where teamwork, communication and ball control provide the natural order. It’s a fun game that gets players keeping the ball close whilst moving as a unit. On the face of it, the premise is simple – a group race where one team tries to get a ball around a cone quicker than the other. The problem is the teams must hold hands in a circle and keep the ball moving with one or two touches as the whole group negotiates its path around the cone.

How to set it up:

  • For this game, you will need cones and balls.
  • Separating your group into teams of four, create an appropriate number of channels – in the example shown, we’ve used eight players and two channels. In each channel there are two cones, placed 15 yards apart.
  • Each team has one ball.
  • Each team begins on the left cone, and players hold hands with one another so as to form a circle.

Getting started:

  • On your whistle, teams must keep the ball in the middle of their group and pass one-touch as they move to the cone, then around it. (For younger age groups allow two or even three touches.)
  • The first team to get around the cone and back to the start wins.
  • If the ball goes out of the circle players must go back to the start.
  • The distance between the cone and the players should alter according to their age and ability, so vary the length and see how they get on. The longer the distance, the more difficult the task.

Developing the session:

  • This is for super control freaks, particularly older players. Try your players with the same set-up but this time they must not let the ball bounce on the ground. It’s an elaborate ‘keepy-uppy’ game where each group must keep a ball in the air between them, get around a cone, then back. They can use their heads, feet, legs, and any other part of their body except their hands.
  • You can also nominate one player as the ‘captain’. He has to guide the group of players by pushing, pulling and talking to them.

Why this works:

This is a good team bonding game that requires skill and technique. Coordination and communication are vital because although players are moving in one direction, some are going backwards, some forwards and some sideways… yet all need to keep an eye on the ball. Players will buy into this too because they find it really good fun.

TOP TIP:

Kids being kids, the prospect of holding hands with one another may not be too popular, so why not tell them to hold sleeves or wrists instead. The effect will be the same – players linking as one circle so as to perform the task



Coaches with enough balls… try this

Nani dribbles through a pattern of footballs without touching any. Set this up for your players, great fun…



Why balance is the key to Messi

David ClarkeWatching a player like Lionel Messi slaloming through Real Madrid’s solid defence shows how important balance is for a football player – and it is true for any sport.

During growth and development our balance improves through practice. From learning to sit to walking and running does not just happen; it needs to be learnt and developed.

Think about how you learn to balance on a wall or the branch of a tree – first time you are awkward and slow until you can use your balance to speed up.

So too in sport. Lionel Messi has a low sense of balance because of his height and has learnt that he can lean and weave and stop quickly or speed up without losing his balance. This makes him an ideal machine for dribbling a ball past players. Dropping his shoulder to fool the defender into which side he will go to.

Balance is dependent on feedback and feeding of information from sensory receptors so repetition of movement, like walking along a wall, is vital to being balanced in sport especially at speed.

The optimum learning ages are between 5 and 11 but all coaches should do some training that involves specific balance related exercises.

Wobble boards and balance cushions are great to use if your club has them but if not I use this exercise below to help players with balance. I will add a ball once they can do it without falling over to make it more difficult.

How it works

  • This exercise is done by a player and three cones.
  •  It helps young players with balance, and is great fun to do as well with players trying to keep balance on one leg.
  •  The player balances on one leg then touches the top of each of the three cones with the foot of their other leg without it touching the ground.
  •  Touches should be light and quick.
  •  After three touches change the standing leg so the other foot is touching the cones.
  •  Players should do the it three times with each foot.


Pre season: coaching the individual

DCI’ve had a bunch of letters this week from coaches and parents asking about individual training when their child is not getting enough from their club, or coaches who are facing a new season and want to give their players something they can do at home.

Individual training will often depend on the resources of the club – are there enough balls for every player to have one for instance. What I often do is get the parents to bring a ball to training so every player has their own ball. Of course not everyone remembers (or can be bothered) to bring a ball but I can cover those with the club balls.

Once you have them all with a ball then you can do individual skills like running and turning or throwing the ball in the air and controlling it with their first touch. I’m lucky at my club because the training area has a wall that I can get players to pass to and receive it back off the wall.

I set up a dribbling line of cones quite far apart so players can run at speed with the ball, then five yards from the wall I put a cone where players must stop, pass, receive back, turn and run back. you can set up a few of these and players can run constantly between the cones.

Add into the mix some individual keepy-uppys where individuals can try and keep the ball in the air with any part of their body except their hands. I’m sure a lot of coaches have their own ideas and I’d be interested to hear them.

Click here to go to my Forum to read ideas or add your own.

Watch this video clip that has some more ideas for individual training:



Why teamwork can progress your team

In most team sports the player with the ball controls the match. Think of the quarterback in American football or the point guard in basketball. They control how the play will develop – in cricket the bowler controls the batter until the ball connects with the bat.

The problem in youth soccer is that the player with the ball is the slowest player on the pitch – not counting players like Christiano Ronaldo who runs just as fast with the ball as without. So the time that the player with the ball is the controlling player is short because they will quickly be caught.

This is because dribbling with the ball is much slower than running without it due to the technical pressure of keeping control.Therefore because the player will be stopped the quickest and often the only way for the team to progress up the field is by passing the ball to a team-mate.




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