Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Try this game from Keith Boanas

davidscwnew

In this game, players move at walking pace like the character from the film Robocop – but with a ball. The main objectives are to improve communication, co-ordination and getting a feel for distances.

Set up a 50×30 yards playing area with a coned-off target zone around each goalmouth. Use two teams of six players.

The rules

  • One player stands in each target zone to act as a target for the attacking team. They also serve the ball for the other team to counter attack.

  • The ball is thrown and caught between team mates to reach the target player.

  • Players move with the ball at walking speed. They can pass freely and must pass if tagged by an opponent.

  • Opponents can only win the ball from an intercepted throw or if the ball is dropped.

  • Speed walking is allowed.

  • A point can be scored by reaching the target player from a designated third of the pitch or after a minimum number of passes to encourage team play.

  • Be firm with the no-running rule.

  • Players must take time to be accurate with their throws. Any form of throw is allowed – overarm, underarm or proper throw-in technique.

How to progress it

Allow the ball to be headed rather than caught if this will gain an advantage.

Allow the attacking team to throw or head the ball into the goal rather than pass to the target player. In this instance, the target player becomes the goalkeeper and tries to save.



Let the kids take the session

davidscwnewEvery so often at training I like to give my players the reins of the session and see how they create a game.

I know my players love to play games, and I love the fun they get out of it. Not only that but they learn much faster and retain more of what they learn from being actively and closely involved in the session.

So I involve my players in setting and changing the rules for the session. The more involved they feel, the more they’ll invest, and undoubtedly, the more they will enjoy it. So maybe try something new out at your next training session. For instance, before your players arrive, mark out a pitch and place a ball in the middle. Make sure there are no other balls available.

As your players arrive, stay away from the playing area and tell them to go out and get started on their own.

When there are enough players they will probably organise themselves into teams and will begin a game. Let them play for five minutes and then stop them. Find out what rules they were playing and why. Then set them a couple of challenges that they have to incorporate into the game, such as asking them to win the ball back within 20 seconds of losing it. Only give them a brief outline of the challenge and see how they work it into the game.

Getting them to think about what they can do to make the game more fun makes them feel part of a unit; it offers them a voice. It’s a great bonding element that goes a long way towards developing a team.

If it doesn’t happen the first time you try it don’t give up. Say to a couple of players as they head outside “Why don’t you get a game started?” You’ll probably notice the younger ones organising full-scale games, while the older kids may be perfecting the finer elements.

Let them play the session for a good 20 or 30 minutes, stopping every five minutes for a quick chat about the rules, seeing if your players want to change anything to make the game more fun.

I’d be willing to bet they don’t want the game to stop because they will see it as their own. And I’m sure that empowerment will mean they go home from training with smiles on their faces.



Communicate with your players through challenges

davidscwnewHow do you get and keep your players’ attention in training? One way to ensure this is to ask questions of your players to check they are listening.

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.

Thus:

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?



Attack and defend in quick, simple overloads

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.


Noughts and crosses – great game

By David clarke
David ClarkeI was on a coaching course recently with Surrey County FA coach educator Keith Boanas. One of the warm-up sessions from Keith really caught my eye and I have since used it with my team – it is tremendous fun and brings coordination, communication and teamwork to the fore.

Fun team games are one of the treasures in any coach’s chest of exercises and drills, and this combines some great elements of physical and mental awareness.

This opposed warm-up is fantastic for coordination, whilst rehearsing players in seeing and assessing what is in front of them.

They are looking to solve a strategic problem whilst also staying aware of the movement of opposition players, just as they would do in a match situation.

Adding in a ball provides an extra challenge, so try this with your team to see if they can develop dribbling ability and mental agility in one exercise.

 How to set it up:

  • This opposed warm-up is played 3v3.
  • You will need 11 cones and 12 bibs.
  • Set up three lines of three cones, each five yards apart horizontally and vertically. This is your noughts and crosses playing grid.
  • Add two additional cones at the bottom of the grid a further five yards back. This is from where each team will begin the exercise.
  • Each player has a bib of his team’s colour in both hands.

Getting started:

  • On your call the first player in each team runs and puts one of their bibs on a cone.
  • They must run back and tag the next player in the team.
  • Players must try to get three in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally, whilst looking to prevent the opposition team from achieving the same feat.
  • Play three games making sure each player takes a turn being first in the line.

Developing the session:

  • Progress this opposed warm-up by giving both teams a ball. Each working player must now dribble to his chosen cone before placing the bib over it.
  • You can increase or decrease the distances between cones to alter the physical demands of the test – the greater the distance, the greater the challenge.


A quick thinking goalie can start counter attacks

By David Clarke
David ClarkeGoalkeepers can distribute the ball from the back to get the team moving forward. They should be able to look around and communicate with the players in front of them, to play the ball into space and launch an attack.

Especially when the opposition have just been on the attack from say a corner, they often react slowly to getting back if the goalkeeper gets the ball. They can then throw the ball to take advantage.

I often play this game to get my goalkeeper thinking about quick plays that can get my team reacting quicker than the opposition. Every time the team wins the ball it must go back to their goalkeeper before they launch an attack. I use it to get my goalkeepers thinking about how and where they are going to play the ball to gain advantage.

A game for goalkeepers
In this small-sided game the goalkeeper is at the heart of every move. When your goalkeeper has the ball in a match they should be looking to use throws as well as kicks to get the ball to a team mate in space. Throwing the ball can often be a better way to distribute the ball because by using the technique in the diagram, goalkeepers can catch out the opposition with quick, accurate throws.

How to play it

  • Set up a 40×20 yard area with two end zones.
  •  Play normal rules but when a team wins the ball it must go to their own goalkeeper before the team can launch an attack.
  • No backpass rule – in this game the goalkeeper must pick up backpasses and throw to a team mate.
  • When the ball goes out of play it must be restarted with the goalkeeper throwing the ball to a team mate.
  • If the goalkeeper gets the ball off an opponent they must use a throw to get the ball to a team mate.
  •  Only the goalkeepers can go in the end zones.
  • Make sure the goalkeepers use the full width of the end zones to create space.

Ten of the best goalkeeper drills



The power of unorganised play

David Clarke

Here’s something for you to try. Before your players arrive at training, mark out a pitch and place a ball in the middle. Make sure there are no other balls available.

As your players arrive, stay inside the clubhouse, or well away from the playing area, and let them go out and get started on their own.

When there are enough players they will probably organise themselves into teams and start playing a game (of sorts) or drill. Let them play for five minutes and then stop them. Find out what rules they were playing and why. You will either find that they are playing a game you have taught them, or they have made up their own.

There will be well thought out reasons for their rules, usually based on what they have found works and what doesn’t.

Researchers have tried out this method of letting players take the lead and ended up with some startling findings, namely that adults will either kick the ball around or perform technical moves and tricks (essentially something that features little or no refereeing), while children will come up with all sorts of ideas and mini games.

If it doesn’t happen the first time you try it don’t give up.
Say to a couple of players as they head outside “Why don’t you get a game started?” You’ll probably notice the younger ones organising full-scale games, while the older kids may be perfecting the finer elements. But whatever they choose, the message is clear: children love to play games, and if you let them, they will learn much faster and retain more of what they are learning. Involve your players in setting and changing the rules for games and, from that, sessions.

The more involved they feel, the more they’ll invest, and undoubtedly, the more they will surprise you! Empowering your group is an important thing, and will aid their football development hugely.

The more they feel they are part of a unit where they have a voice and a strong influence, the more they’ll invest not only in the physical action of playing the game, but also in the bonding elements that ultimately make up a team.

Football, certainly at the highest level, has the image of being very authoritarian, with pecking orders and protocol very evident. But that’s a world away from youth coaching, and the skills and responsibility players can gain from playing a significant role in their team will undoubtedly be transferred to other areas of their life away from the football pitch. Get them into good habits now, where they feel their opinions and ideas are valued and appreciated, and you’ll be the first to gain from the benefits.

Why not try it this weekend?




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