Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management | Tags: challenges, communication, drills, exercises, games, keep attention, verbal, youth coaching, youth modules
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 situationBefore 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: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, control, drills, exercises, pass, passing
This advanced passing and moving exercise gets players thinking about where they are moving as they control and pass the ball. It helps young players perfect the weight and accuracy of the pass while they are on the move and looking around them for the player to pass to.
How to set it up
- Set up an area 30 yards long by 20 yards, with a cone at each corner. Have a queue of players at the first cone and one player on the next three cones.
- The game is continuous but because there is a lot of passing and movement, it relies on your players to listen and then perform the tasks using good technique, running and passing skills.
What you want to see in your players
Follow the steps in the diagram. Your players will have to concentrate as you talk them through the steps. Read the diagram carefully so you can see how the ball is moving around the cones.
Make sure your players are concentrating on all the aspects of the exercise – passing, controlling, awareness and moving with ease around the cones. Explain to them that the weight of the pass and accuracy of the pass are vital to the exercise.
When you have run the exercise for 10 minutes (or less if you are only using a few players) have a drinks break then tell your players you want to see them do it again at full speed for five minutes. They will either be brilliant at it or have a great deal of fun and laugher trying to be brilliant at it!
End with a small-sided game where you want to see some of the aspects the players have learned in the session.
Filed under: Soccer Coaching, Soccer Skills, Soccer Training, Soccer News, Soccer Fitness, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Refereeing, Dave Clarke | Tags: skills, technique, drills, coerver, sessions, turning, futsal
How to play it
• Set up an area measuring 20×5 yards, as shown, with two cones marking the midway length point.
• The player in the middle receives a pass from the front player in the top line – this man then follows his pass.
• The middle player must make a turn, pass out, then follow his pass to join the group at the bottom.
• The player who originally passed from the top line now becomes the new middle player.
• For the next part, a pass is fed in from the bottom line.
• The process continues with the player in the middle receiving the pass, but his ‘turn and move’ must be different to the one used by the player before him.
• There are many ‘turn and move’ choices, including:
- An open body turn
- Opening legs and flicking the ball in between
- Open legs and dummying Making a Cruyff turn
• The practice continues until all players are suitably warmed up in passing, controlling, turning and moving on.
Technique and tactics
• Players must be on their toes at all times.
• You’re looking for imagination in terms of how they turn.
• The quality of passing to and from the middle man is essential if this warm-up is to maintain its momentum.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Chelsea, brazil, drills, exercises, skill, hazard, oscar, Belgium, beat a player, 1v1s
It is the speed of the initial reaction which makes all the difference when players lose the ball and the opposition counter-attacks. Running in counter attacking situations often means players are being chased by defenders. I get my players to prepare by playing this game. Not only does it get players to react quickly to a change in possession but it also involves a skill and a technique.
The skill is a reverse pass, followed by pressing the player on the ball – and the technique is both with and without pressure.
How to play it
Put down two cones 20 yards apart – further/closer depending on the physical fitness of your players.
You need players at each end of the exercise.
Play starts at one end with a player running with the ball.
When he reaches the far end, he passes to the player at that end with a reverse pass – he runs past the first player in the queue and use a backheel pass across the standing leg.
The receiving player starts running to the opposite end, the player who has made the reverse pass must turn and give chase.
When players get to the far end, the player with the ball reverse passes to a player at that end then turns and gives chase.
The original chasing player joins the back of the queue.
Key coaching points
When running with the ball, players should use the laces for each touch, making sure they run in a straight line.
Players run as fast as they can, complete the skill and turn to give chase.
Make sure your players put maximum effort into this exercise so they get all the benefits of fitness and skills.
Change the pass
- If your players are having trouble with the reverse pass across the front of the standing leg get them to try a normal backheel (without crossing the legs). Even this may be hard with some young players, but keep pushing this skill – they will get it with practice.
Filed under: Soccer Coaching, Soccer Skills, Soccer Training, Soccer News, Soccer Fitness, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Refereeing, Dave Clarke | Tags: coaching, how to coach, drills, exercises, decisions, style, develop, coaching sessions
Some of my fellow coaches have been labelling me as a stuck record, of late. But if you’ll indulge me in the same way that I ask them to, I’ll explain why I’m so passionate about allowing kids to play the game without them being told what to do – to make their own decisions.
The truth is you should only be coaching your players when you are running sessions, or when they are playing a game in training. Basically, it’s only at a time when you can stop the game and make observations and suggestions. During a match – whether it is a friendly or league game – you should only be reminding players of their responsibilities, because the most important thing in this situation is for players to try out what you have been coaching; it’s the best environment for them in which to make mistakes… and learn from them. That way the experience gets logged in their brains through experience.
This week I observed a coach who constantly told his players what to do. A ball in the air, and he shouted “head it, head it”… a ball coming towards a player, “kick it hard”… a player running with the ball “pass it, PASS IT”. You get the picture. When I asked the coach if he thought this was the best approach, he responded: “I never tell them what to do – I’m just shouting to get them thinking.”
But they don’t need to think because they’re being instructed by the coach at every turn.
Interestingly, when the coach turned his back for a few seconds his players were looking around for him, shrugging their shoulders unsure what to do. He smiled at me and said, “See, if I don’t tell them what they should be doing they’re stuck.”
He’d missed the point completely.
I have told you this little tale because even the best coaches dictate things to their players when they should really just be letting them get on with it – I’m guilty of it myself.
At the end of the day, players who make decisions for themselves are developing every time they have to do it – even when they choose the wrong option. If we continue to instruct our players at every turn they’ll never develop the instinctive elements of play that all good sportsmen have.
Try to hold back this coming weekend and see if your players surprise you – I bet they do.
Filed under: Soccer Coaching, Soccer Skills, Soccer Training, Soccer News, Soccer Fitness, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Refereeing, Dave Clarke | Tags: dribble, Ronaldo, passing, messi, shoot, drills, exercises, pass
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.
- 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.
Take out a 97p trial to Soccer Coach Weekly today.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: attacking, communication, defending, direction, drills, exercises, match pace, position
When young players are involved in fast, action-packed matches they often lose their position and don’t realise what is going on around them. You find that the pace of some matches they play in will be just that bit too fast for them and they lose their soccer sense.
What I do with my teams is to play a fast, constantly moving game where players must think about position, action and direction.
How to set up and coach it
You need a 30 yard x 20 yard pitch. Use two teams of four players, and four mini goals. Create a triangle in the centre. One team defends the triangle the other team defends the four mini goals.
The team defending the triangle goal must nominate a goalkeeper whilst the other three players try to pressure and win the ball.
Play for 15 minutes then reverse the roles.
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: 8v8, cold, defence, drills, half time drinks, match, training
Wow, the temperature just gets colder and colder. As a result, there was no way our match was going to be played at the weekend.
I very quickly get withdrawal symptoms from not playing matches, particularly when we’ve prepared well.
Take this week for example – I knew we had two tough games approaching, so had been training support play in defence. This is where the players cut down the space in and around the penalty area, all the time being ready to cover if the defence is breached.
So when I heard that our weekend game was off I went to look at the pitch to see if there was any way we could have a kickabout amongst ourselves.
Because only a couple of teams use our pitch – coupled with the fact we have an excellent groundsman – there were no spikes of frozen mud on the playing surface. Those peaks can be especially dangerous to youth players, so always watch out for them. But thankfully the pitch seemed just very flat and hard – a bit like playing on tarmac.
I called around the parents and most of their kids wanted to come along. The masses soon arrived, and I kept the players warm with hot chocolate from the local cafe – which is, by the way, a drink recommended for half time in cold weather.
I double-checked the pitch with three of the dads. The top layer had crusted, which made it fine to play on.
We played 8v8 in order to brush up on the defensive lessons we’d learnt in the previous session. And the conditions really did us a favour…The hardness of surface provided the best reason for the lads to stay on their feet at all times – a lesson that’s always worth re-learning. In addition, the responsiveness of the ground created the need for good passing accuracy from players.
And finally, by the time we’d summed up the session at the end with a biscuit and another hot chocolate, there was a togetherness in the team that we just wouldn’t have had from a normal training session; a camaraderie and joint spirit brought about by having to battle against unusual conditions.
Try to use adverse events as a spur for your side. See how players react – even introduce some artificial obstacles if you think the effect may be really positive. You may be surprised how your team responds to the challenge!
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.