Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: fun, mind games, player specific, players leaving, training sessions
I had a conversation last weekend with a youth coach regarding why players sometimes go AWOL halfway through the season. He told me his team had won every game they’d played, but the number of lads attending his training sessions was dwindling week-on-week.
There are reasons why kids suddenly lose interest, although sometimes coaches need to step back to really see why it’s happening.
In particular, the coach I was speaking to highlighted some areas that gave me instant cause for concern:
1. His sessions were heavily focused on outcomes rather than development. Winning was always the main target at his club.
2. Over-coaching was a huge problem. Training was heavy on drills and exercises, with little uninterrupted game play that allowed players to experiment, and with that, experience failure and success.
The problem for this coach’s team is that even though they were winning games, the players have been getting to a certain age and discovering soccer was no longer fun. And when players aren’t having fun, their development stalls.
At this age the players should be hitting real highs in the way they understand the game, and their play should express this – tactically and technically. Ideally you want players who have a desire to learn, to succeed, and who possess a low fear of failure. That’s the ideal, but naturally, you can’t buy that off the shelf. You have to create an atmosphere that encourages your players to want to develop, learning from their mistakes along the way.
At the heart of it, as coaches we must do our best to promote an environment that is challenging, fun and free of fear. This builds confidence and self-esteem, but it all comes down to the basic idea that if you treat people well, they will respond to what you’re asking of them.One of the things I always tell coaches who are struggling with training sessions is to picture the excitement in children when the bell rings for break time at school. This is the atmosphere and spirit you want reproduce, albeit with a bit more control!
Small-sided games are an ideal way of generating this sort of enthusiasm and energy. Within those games, let the play continue uninterrupted, and at the end allow players the opportunity to offer their feedback.
And unlike the team leader I was chatting to last weekend, don’t over-coach the session – only make points when it’s absolutely necessary. That will leave the players wanting to come back for more next time around, I guarantee it.
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Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Barcelona, dribbling, drill, fun, game, innovation, session, team, team bonding
This 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.
- 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.
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
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: accuracy, fun, inspiration, motivation, speed
Children thrive on having a time limit to work to and nothing focuses them better than working against the clock.
I did an experiment recently with a squad of 12-year-old players. They did a basic passing exercise – running up a channel in groups of four passing along the line. There was no pressure and I stood back and watched.
After two minutes I noticed that none of the players were running on to the ball and taking it in their stride and the whole exercise lacked energy and accuracy.
So, I then set them a challenge: how many runs can you do in one minute? There were still one or two poor passes so players had to stop and go backwards to receive the ball, but the pace was up and you could see the concentration on their faces.
Their passing and receiving technique had also improved. Balls were being passed in front of players for them to run on to. When asked why there was such a big improvement, the overwhelming answer was that they all wanted to beat their previous score and that meant focusing so they didn’t have to wait for passes.
Dos and don’ts of timing
- Do vary the amount of time you give the players depending on their age and the skill you are practising. Thirty seconds of work is more suitable for younger players.
- Do tell them their score each time and challenge them to beat it.
- Don’t worry if the skill level drops the first few times. This is normal as players are trying to do everything as quickly as possible. They will soon realise that the more accurate they are the faster they will be.
- Don’t time everything. The novelty and effectiveness will soon wear off.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: communication, control, fun, how to coach, skill, understanding
AS a coach you have lot of responsibilities, so how you coach and how you get your points across as a coach are vital to your players’ progression. It is not just on the pitch either – players learn from you how to achieve their goals in life.
What do you think it feels like to be coached by you? When your players turn up for training and matches what goes through their mind when they see you? Do you inspire them? Are they afraid of you?
An inspirational coach will find players respond better to them, and that it is easier to be understood when explaining what you want them to do in a particular exercise. A coach that breathes fire should realise players are just doing what they have to because they are frightened. So a coach needs to thnk about how they coach and what they want to get out of their coaching.
When I think about my coaching I want to base it on best practice rather than just controlling a group of kids. Best practice comes from the exercises I use and how I use them and the enjoyment the group gets from them. At a recent soccer coaching exhibition I went to one of the better coaches moaned that his session didn’t work because the players were not up to the standard he demanded.A coach should recognise the players level is not as expected and quickly change the exercise so the players understand it and can work with it.
So best practice… You need to coach fundamental skills – touch, passing, receiving communication and heading, and you need to coach the game – rules, tactics, sportsmanship. And you have to make it fun! There is a lot there, but if you start with yourself and how you coach and how players receive you, you will build a solid foundation and with that an understanding between you and your players.
Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal, has a track record of producing great players. How does he do it? Watch this video and pick up a few tips:
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: adnan januza, Anderlecht, attracting players, ferguson, fun, Manchester Utd, new players, safety
Attracting players gets harder and harder as more teams than ever before set up to play the game. Players have a lot of clubs to chose from so coaches need to think about their set up so it is their club which gets the players and not another.
These are the issues you have to think about when you advertise for players.
Quality of coaching
Cost per player
Attitude of the club
In the case of my club the important thing that attracts players is the set up of the club and the attitude of all the coaches – players come first – which means fun in a safe environment with all players getting equal rights on the pitch.
This message gets around and parents and players like the idea of joining a club with this philosophy – you will find that they don’t mind paying the fees if the set up is right.
Meanwhile, Adnan Januzaj from Belgium has joined Manchester united academy. He has signed a four-year deal for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, the right winger being brought to Ferguson’s attention after some brilliant displays in Anderlecht’s youth team.
Januzaj will get £120,000 a yearand becomes the highest paid academy player at Old Trafford. Manchester united will have to pay a training and development fee to Anderlecht.
Anderlecht manager Herman Van Holsbeeck said: “Interest in Adnan Januza is a great compliment to the youth of purple and white (Anderlecht). Adnan Januzaj has been at Anderlecht since he was 10 and has not played first team football yet.
Watch this clip of him and think about what he could do for your team!