Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


The goalkeeper has nowhere to hide

davidscwnewWatching one of the Under-12s goalkeepers at my local club this week picking the ball out of the net seven times I was reminded me of an article I had read by David James, the former England stopper who is now at English Championship club Bristol City.

When the 41-year-old was playing in the Premier League with Portsmouth, he once suffered the humiliation of conceding 10 goals in two games. Recalling that and other similar events, he said: “I try to get on with it; I take the dogs out for a walk. I try to move on and prepare for the next game. I have a debrief with my psychologist…” Psychologist?

Now that is where the similarities end…!Coaches of youth teams don’t have psychologists at hand when they lose a game, and neither does the poor lad whose goal has been under constant bombardment. More likely is that said keeper will be in the car home getting a pasting from his dad, your words of comfort a distant and fading memory!

But that’s the problem for keepers… their errors are highlighted every time the ball goes in the net; they have nowhere to hide. That’s why you must not let your keeper take the blame because, trust me, if you do, he won’t be your keeper for much longer! Protect him and nurture him so he wants to play in goal no matter what the score is.

At training nights make sure he joins in with all the fun bits – the match, skills, fitness – before you move him between the sticks for some designated keeper practice. It is important for you and the team that he feels part of it all. You can also get him to be vocal at training – to shout at his defenders and order them around, if necessary. Not only will this give him a unique status, but it will cement his value to the rest of the team as a leader and organiser on match day – someone who can survey all that’s in front of him with ease.

And encouraging him when he makes a mistake rather than criticising means that most of his team mates will do likewise.

At the end of the day keepers are vital to your team and their influence is stronger than you may realise. Let’s make sure they don’t go home crying.



How Lampard destroys the opposition

davidscwnew

Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard has built his whole game on the ability to thread a pass. His trademark long balls can split defences wide open and create space for an attacker to work in.

But he is equally good at playing the short game, using the ball to take out defenders or to put an overlapping winger in behind the defence.

If every team got its players to use passes with purpose they would be much more successful in creating goalscoring opportunities. And by the same token, nothing will destroy a team more than inaccurate passing.

So here’s a move that will help players practise passing so that it comes to them naturally during a match.

How to set it up:

  • Mark out an area 30 yards long by 10 yards wide using cones.

  • Place four players around the area, one on each side.

  • Use only one ball.

Getting started:

  • The players on the short ends pass long and short.

  • The players on the long sides must move to receive but can only pass short.

  • Get the players moving the ball around in triangles, anticipating where the next player will run to.

  • Mark out zones so the players on the longer sides are given some guidance of where to move to when they receive the ball.

  • If it is a short pass, they run into the end zone nearest the passing player.

  • For a long pass they are in the zone furthest from the passing player.

Why this works:

The way to familiarise your players in passing with purpose is to get them passing long and short. Players need to learn not only how to pass well, but to move into space so it is easier for the player on the ball to find them. The passing must be very accurate or the exercise breaks down.

In a match situation, coaches will often stand on the side of the pitch and see situations where a simple pass, long or short, could open up the opposition defence, but the opportunity is missed.

Practising the basics in a quick-moving scenario such as this will perfect technique as well as decision-making ability, so get your players doing this exercise to make them into mini Frank Lampards.

You can set up a few areas like this so the whole team is passing and moving at the same time.

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Welbeck and Cleverley can hit the target every time

David Clarke

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 all parts of the penalty area 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 of the pitch.

How to set it up:

  • You will need six target cones and seven balls, plus additional cones to mark out a pitch. You’ll 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.

Getting started:

  • One team starts on the left, one on the right. Each defends the cones as they would do a goal in a normal match, although there is no keeper.

  • Players must try to knock the balls off the cones at their opponents’ end of the pitch while defenders need to ensure 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 that 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 that the side getting a strike knocks the opposing team out, and another comes into play. 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 knock-out, 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 that 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.



The English playmaker

David ClarkeChelsea youth midfielder Billy Clifford has all the attributes to become a classic playmaker. The 19-year-old is agile, quick of body and of mind, patient on the ball and has lot of creative vision.

At the moment he thrives in the atmosphere of Chelsea U21s where he has built up a great understanding with the more famous Josh McEachran. Their appreciation of what each other can do gives them an extra dimension to the quality and skill of play all over the pitch.

His youth team manager, Dermot Drummy is very impressed: “He’s a very good player Billy, an absolutely excellent standard of player for me and he’ll set the way we play; a leader on and off the field. [He’s] a fantastic trainer and he’ll set the standard for us on and off the pitch like that…we want that sort of leadership.
“He’s a player who can play anywhere. He has a footballer’s intelligence, he has everything, and he’s a winner.”

Indeed he is, having played a key role in FA Youth Cup and Premier Reserve League trophy successes in recent times. He also joined Andre Villas-Boas’ first-team squad on tour in Asia in 2011 and has been on the substitutes bench in the UEFA Champions League.

His versatility and ability to also play wide or at full-back will make him an enticing and intriguing prospect for a loan move to a Championship team – in the right team he would be a huge asset.

Hopefully he will progress over the next couple of years because this boy is exactly the type of player England needs.

Watch this video clip of him and see his vision and skills.

See also The Brazilian attacker

See also The German defender



Five fantastic volleys

My top five cup volleys

Marco van Basten: Holland v USSR Euro 1988 final

David Platt: England v Belgium World Cup 1990

Zinedine Zidane: Real Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen 2002 Champions League final

Joe Cole: England v Sweden World Cup 2006

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Sweden v France Euro 2012



My top six penalty misses

David ClarkeIt’ll sson be Euro 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine and that usually heralds a whole load of penalties – here’s my six top penalty misses in all competitions.

John Terry, CHELSEA v Manchester Utd (Champions League Final 2008)

After a 1-1 draw on the night, Cristiano Ronaldo missed his spot-kick to put Chelsea within touching distance of the trophy, but his crucial slip sent the ball crashing against the outside of the post, leaving the England international on the floor and in tears.

Lionel Messi, BARCELONA v Chelsea (Champions League Semi-Final 20120)

Barcelona started the second half 2-1 up but Chelsea were down to 10 men. Messi had the chance to gain the psychological advantage but hit the bar and Chelsea went on win the game.

Denis Bergkamp, ARSENAL v Manchester Utd (FA Cup Semi-Final replay 1999)

Bergkamp could have won the game with a last minute penalty. The match was notable for a disallowed Arsenal goal, the sending-off of Manchester Utd’s Roy Keane for a second bookable offence, a last-minute penalty save by Peter Schmeichel, and finally and most memorably a winning goal by Ryan Giggs, intercepting a pass near the half way line, before taking the ball past five Arsenal defenders and scoring past goalkeeper David Seaman.

Ruud van Nistelrooy MANCHESTER UNITED v Arsenal (Premier League 2003/04)

With the scores level at 0-0, United were given a controversial penalty in injury-time after Patrick Vieira had earlier seen red for a kick-out at Van Nistelrooy, but the Dutch striker made it three consecutive misses from the spot after he rattled the underside of the crossbar.

Gareth Southgate, ENGLAND v Germany (Semi-Final Euro’ 96)

After Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle failed at Italia ’90, it fell to Southgate to end the hopes of the Three Lions on home soil six years later, as football ‘came home’ but then swiftly left for Germany on penalties.

Roberto Baggio, Brazil v ITALY (World Cup Final 1994)

The first World Cup final to be decided on penalties, it was a moment that would define Baggio’s career despite some of the great things he achieved for both club and country.



David Clarke Interviews… PETER BEARDSLEY exclusive

David ClarkeMy series of interviews on influential figures in the world of coaching continues with this exclusive interview with Peter Beardsley.

I remember Peter as a very skillful player, slight of build, operating just behind the front strikers at Newcastle, Liverpool and of course England.

His skills have proved devastating for creating and scoring goals, netting over 230 in his career. He was a player with lovely ball skills and fantastic vision, as well as tremendous stamina, enthusiasm and work-rate.

He was also able to score long range shots, or clever placement using timing and dribbling skills.

As a youth player Peter was discovered at the famous Wallsend Boys Club on Tyneside in the 70s – 
the club has a pedigree of bringing through great players including Alan Shearer, Michael Carrick, Lee Clark and Steve Bruce.

He is now football development manager at Newcastle United helping to drive forward the recruitment of talented youngsters for the club’s Academy and Development Squad, so what better person to answer questions on how to coach youth skills.

I caught up with Peter at Newcastle where he was coaching with the world famous coach Alf Galustian and asked him about youth coaching and what a coach learns from watching someone as experienced as Alf.

1. We all have favourite areas of coaching – as a former attacker do you find it easy to coach defending as well as attacking exercises?

I think all coaches need to learn how to coach both topics: the modern player especially as a youth player has to be both attacker and when they lose the ball win it back by pressing deep – defending from the front. Messi is probably the best example.

2. As a skillful striker you must have had a few tricks you used, which were your favourite and how did you practice them.

I learnt mostly by playing – we didn’t have a programme like Alf’s Coerver Coaching, so most of what I did was learnt in games. If I had had a programme like Coerver to follow, I am sure it would have made me a better player, especially for scoring goals!

3. Messi and Ronaldo both use skill in their play but appear to have one or two clever moves that they use a lot. How many skills should a youth player work on to use in match play?

I think young players should learn as many skills can they can so they can use them to beat players in as many different ways as possible; it will help their future game and it’s great fun to learn new skills.

4. I think repetition is one of the most vital coaching tools. But players can find doing the same old thing boring. How do you hide repetition when coaching?

As you know I have been close to Alf for many years – once I was exposed to Coerver (over 20 years ago) I realised that repetition was crucial for perfecting skills.

I follow Alf’s view that for young players you can hide repetition by playing fun games – for example simple relays where repetition is included.

Watching Alf coach today I can see so many possibilities to coach young players in using skills to win 1v1s and 2v1s where the repetition is hidden by the actual game they play.

5. You played in youth teams at Wallsend Boys in the 70s, which one factor would you say is the most important change in the way kids are coached today?

The quality of facilities and the improvement in coaches knowledge and understanding of what is best for the players and not what is best for the coaches

6 Can you explain one specific exercise you have been using with your team that my coaches can go out and use with their players?

While Alf has been here at Newcastle we have been concentrating on attacking principles. This is one of the sessions I have seen Alf coach and I am now using to help my players in their attacking role.

SESSION: To improve Shooting under pressure

How to set it up

  • 10 players plus a server or the coach
  • A 40x25yd area with a goal and goalkeeper at each end.
  • Two teams of four players and a server
  • Each player has a ball lined up by each goal.
  • Two cones 5 yards either side of the server
  • The coach or a designated player is stationed in the middle of the field as a wall passer.

How to play it

  • The first player in TEAM A passes to the server in the centre, then takes the return pass and after controlling and dribbling the ball shoots on the opposite goal.
  • As he shoots the first player in TEAM B passes to the server and sprints to take a return pass and take at least one touch before shooting.
  • As soon as the TEAM A player shoots he sprints around the cone to try to stop TEAM B from scoring.
  • When TEAM B shoots he must recover around his marker cone to defend again the second player in TEAM A who’s repeats the sequence.

COACH’S TIPS

  • At first the recovering player going around the marker cone will be too far and he will not be able to apply much pressure on the shooter.
  • But gradually move the markers towards the Coach so the distances of recovery is less and less and there’s increasing pressure on the shooters.
  • Eventually allow the recovering players to use the WP as their marker to go around.

PLAYER TIP

  • Be sure the first pass to the server is firm so there’s no lag time waiting for the return pass and the defender to get close.
  • Take your first touch from the server away from the approaching defender to set up your shot.
  • Head up before shooting.
  • Aim low far post the GKs toughest shot.


Learning from losing

David Clarke

Learning to lose graciously is one of the hardest lessons any young sports person has to take on board. Young players learn a lot from losing, providing they can accept it, analyse why they lost and know what they can do to improve next time.

It’s okay to show some emotion…
Many psychologists believe you shouldn’t deny children the opportunity to show their emotions when they lose. It’s okay to feel upset but they need to know where the boundaries are in terms of displaying emotion. Set standards of behaviour for your players and have sanctions if they don’t follow them. For example, showing dissent towards a team-mate or the referee means they start on the bench for the next game. They will soon learn to control their emotions better. Always acknowledge your players’ disappointment and show sympathy but emphasise the positive elements of the performance. It is important that players go home after a game with a positive mindset.

They should know that, despite the result, they have achieved and learned something.

Win as a team, lose as a team…
Football is the ultimate team sport and no one individual is ever responsible for a win or a loss. Create a team sprit where players encourage their team-mates rather than point blame at individuals. Good teams have been ripped apart over the course of a season by one or two ‘blamers’. If you have any of these types identify them quickly and speak to them about their attitude and the effect it is having on the team. Try giving them responsibility within the team as ‘motivators’ instead. It is then their job to go straight over to a player who has made a mistake and get them back in the game.

Remember you’re the role model… You cannot expect your players to accept losing if you don’t. You need to keep your emotions under wraps especially in front of the players. It is often easy after a game to look for excuses, but is a lot harder to look at yourself and your players and ask, ‘What could we have done better?’. Despite what many armchair critics think, referees are very rarely responsible for the results of matches. Develop a ‘never blame the referee’ culture in your squad and lead by example. Encourage players to shake the referee’s hand after games and thank him for doing his job.

Focus on performance… If you are going through a bad patch of results, one way of keeping players motivated and focused is to de-emphasise winning and focus on improving skills. Set realistic goals within the game – for example, “This week I want us to make eight out of 10 first-time tackles”. This means if the team achieves its goal the players win, regardless of the result.

Watch players show their emotions after losing:



Time to put a youth specialist in charge of the England kids

DCThe elimination of a poor England U21 side from the European Championships made me wonder whether it was time to put a specialist youth manager in charge. Where was the flair that was expected of a team that had qualified for the tournament when teams like Italy and Germany had not? And if that’s down to the manager why is it being rubber-stamped by the FA with another contract for Stuart Pearce to coach these young lads?

To see a team that could absorb pressure and hit on the break was a throw back to the senior team and very disappointing to watch.

Sir Trevor Brooking, reckoned England’s display exposed the flawed coaching system in England. “Before the tournament we said the challenge would be to score goals. Creativity and subtlety in the final third is probably something neglected in all the age groups. That is something we have to transform in academies.

“You have to be doing those things at 12-13 and one of the key areas is playing in-between opposing players, looking forward or diagonally. I think we look at the safety pass too early.”

Coaching is something the England hierarchy must look at. There are in the country a number of managers with excellent records of nurturing young talent like Tony Carr, Keith Boanas and Michael Beale. Perhaps the time has come to trust the kids to the youth specialists.

Join in the debate here

Watching the players in a training game perhaps it’s not the coaching but the way the manager set up the team and how the players responded to him. Watch the game for yourselves on my blog – some of you may recognise it from coaching courses you have been on.



Dempsey – a player always likely to get you a goal

DC

Dave Clarke

Clint Dempsey became Fulham’s top scorer in their Premier League history this season – the 28-year-old, a 2007 signing from New England Revolution has impressed his manager Mark Hughes who said he hates taking Dempsey off because he feels that “he will always get you a goal”.

I never really took much notice of Dempsey until he scored that goal against Juventus in the Europe league. One of the fantastic things about that strike is that he doesn’t even look at the goal — he drops back out of the area five or six seconds before taking the shot and at no point in between does he even glance toward the keeper. He flights the ball into the top corner – and that’s class.

And then I noticed him again in the World Cup against England when England’s goalkeeper Robert Green fumbled the ball in the net. A hit and hope but like Hughes says he gets you goals.

Finding a player that gets you goals is not always easy and Fulham is a case in point. After four years Dempsey has scored 33 goals, a lot less than a lot of goal scorers in the Premier League. But Fulham have struggled to find goalscorers so Dempsey is one to hang on to.

Over the years I’ve beem coaching my juniors I have found good goalscorers and I too find it difficult to take them off during a match because of their ability to score goals. I get a lot of the other players saying its not fair because they are better players and want to play up front.

Of course every player gets a chance to play up front but as we all know scoring goals isn’t as easy as it looks.

Watch this clever goal from Dempsey and the one fumbled by Green




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