Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Ramires v Barcelona: My top six goals scored from an angle

David ClarkeBy David Clarke

Champions League Semi-Final 2012: Barcelona v Chelsea

Ramires is the king of technique. His goal for Chelsea against Barcelona when his team was 2-0 down with John Terry sent off was as good as you will see. An impossible situation, but the through ball to him from Frank Lampard just before half time putting him into the penalty area at an angle to the goal was perfect. His finish was sheer class.

Here’s my top six goals scored from tight angles:

Ramires, Barcelona v CHELSEA (2012)

Marco van Basten, HOLLAND v Russia (1988)

Gabriel Batistuta, FIORENTINA V Arsenal (1999)

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, CHELSEA v Manchester United (2001)

Ronaldo, REAL MADRID v LA Galaxy (2011)

Robin van Persie, ARSENAL v Barcelona (2011)



Should you allow your players to showboat?

Mario Balotelli’s attempt to score with a backheel during Manchester City’s pre-season friendly against LA Galaxy, resulted in him being taken off by his manager Roberto Mancini and instantly replaced by James Milner.

Team mate Edin Dzeko, who was up alongside Balotelli as he tried his trick, threw his arms up in exasperation. The LA Galaxy fans whistled, as he trudged off, Balotelli argued with his manager and threw a water bottle on to the pitch.

Mancini said: “In football you always need to be professional, always serious and in this moment he wasn’t professional.”

A player should never try to embarrass the opposition. Nor should a player embarrass themselves in the manner that Balotelli did with his rather pathetic attempt to score.

Last November, Cristiano Ronaldo upset Atlético Madrid when he bounced the ball off his back when they were losing 2-0 to Real Madrid. It is seen as disrespectful therefore players should avoid doing it.

If one of my players tries to showboat even in a meaningless match I too would take him off. Young players will have seen the incident because Balotelli made such a mess of it. Don’t be surprised to see them trying it at your next coaching session – if it happens you know what you have to do.

Watch the Balotelli incident below:



Pass and support to create goals

When players pass the ball it is vital to their team’s success that they don’t just pass the ball then think their job is over. Support play will help your team keep possession of the ball and create goal-scoring chances. There’s a lot more to build up play than simply making good passes.It is often the pass into space that a player runs on to which creates the scoring opportunity.

This needs accuracy, good weight and timing of passes and runs. Supporting runs make life easier for your player on the ball, which means your team will have more chance of scoring goals.

Watch this goal from Landon Donovan and see how passing and support creates the chance to score then try the exercise below it to help you coach support play:

dave clarke

How to set up the soccer drill

Mark out an area around 10 metres x 20 metres and start with three players in this soccer drill.

In the first part of the diagram, attacker A is in possession of the ball.

Defender B holds his position and allows A to pass.

Player C makes the overlap, creating the opportunity to pass past the defender.

Note: If you are playing offsides make sure player A has timed the pass so that C is not beyond B, and in an offside position, when the ball arrives.

Get your players to read the defender

B can set off towards C once A has passed the ball. One of the skills to pick up is the timing of the pass and the accuracy.
A has to has to be decisive with a crisp pass for C. Note that in the second diagram B is much more active.

Advance the soccer (football drill)

In the second soccer drill, player C plays the ball into A, who has to control, and pass back into the path of player C who has run on to support his pass. Player B meanwhile has come out of the corner and must try and win the ball, so C’s pass must be sharp, A must control, turn quickly and get his pass away to player C’s run. Player C must then hold off player B’s challenge
and get past the end line.

Soccer drill’s third phase

The third phase makes a much more demanding run from player C – the overlapping player. The move takes place like an attacking corner. Player A takes a short corner to player B, who controls the ball and shields it from defender D. Player A moves away into the field, while player C overlaps around the outside of B who lays the ball off to C in a dangerous attacking position, running into the penalty area.



Becks and the US troops
November 20, 2009, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer News | Tags: , , ,

David Beckham’s rehabilitation with the LA Galaxy fans will be completed when he goes with the team to join US soldiers on a morale-boosting trip to show their support for the ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan. They’re back in love with him anyway after he took them to the weekend’s MLS Cup Final.

They’ll be there on Thanksgiving Day an emotional experience for all.

Call me a cynic, but when I read of the hardship he was going to endure in a US army barracks I did think it was going to be in Afghanistan, but it’s actually in Germany.

On the evening of Thanksgiving Beckham and his team-mates will play Kaiserslautern FC – currently in the second tier of German football – in a friendly match at their 48-500 capacity Fritz Walter Stadium. Up to 25,000 tickets for the game are being made available to US servicemen, their families and US Defence Department staff.

Watch the highlights of LA Galaxy v Houston in the Western Conference:



Six Soccer Sins

dc11.Stopping the ball standing still

Players that trap balls standing still are easy to target by the opposition.

2.Goalkeeper staying on the line

Goalkeepers must advance towards the ball as attackers close in.

3. Standing waiting for the pass

Players must move to the ball, not wait for it

4. Arguing with the referee

Those days are gone show that as a club you respect officials.

5. Lifting your feet at throw ins

It’s a technique all players should be able to get right.

6. Arguing with the crowd like David Beckham

Just ignore it we don’t want children seeing any silly antics on the pitch – come on Becks your paid well enough not to do that.



The Rise of Soccer in the US

dwyerscullion1.jpgI came across the following quote in this week’s issue of Soccer Coach Weekly.

South American soccer is renowned for the skill and quality of its players, its different styles, the interest it attracts among its fans and the dedication they have for the sport. If the South American imports are able to inject all this into MLS, as the great Pelé did when he joined the New York Cosmos in 1977, the league may well undergo such a huge transformation that its teams may eventually compete with the top clubs of Europe, both in success and popularity. Gregory Sica in Sports Illustrated

Gregory Sica is an acknowledged expert on South American soccer and really knows his stuff. However, I’m not convinced that his belief that MLS teams can “compete with the top clubs of Europe, both in success and popularity” is a realistic one.

Have you seen the movie “Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story Of The New York Cosmos”? It tells the story of how a couple of extremely wealthy record executives created the Cosmos from scratch and the story of the trials and tribulations of the team through to its demise in 1985. This is a more a tale of rock and roll glamour and excess than sporting achievement. The Cosmos were first and foremost a business venture and when it became clear that the American public weren’t interested, the club was dissolved.

The New York Cosmos featured, at various times in its 14 year history, some of the world’s greatest players, albeit well past their best – Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberta, Johann Neeskins and many other legendary names. I’ve seen footage and the truth is that, despite the obvious quality of many of the individuals, the soccer played was slow, clumsy, tactically naïve and frankly uninspiring.

The fate of the Cosmos mirrored that of the North American Soccer League itself. The average attendance in its first year (1968) was a mere 4,747. By the time the league was dissolved in 1984 the average was 10,769 – clearly not sustainable.

Major League Soccer came back to the States in 1993, really in response to FIFA’s requirement that the USA hava a professional soccer league in advance of the 1994 World Cup. The league failed to set the American public alight and the standard was poor.

David Beckham’s move to LA Galaxy was heralded by some as a big step forward for the MLS. I’m not so sure. I don’t believe that expensive foreign imports and has-beens are the answer (although you might argue that this process is what reinvigorated English soccer in the late 80s and early 90s).

So what’s different now? Why does Gregory Sica believe that an influx of South American talent to the MLS could enable it to compete with the European leagues?

Perhaps he believes the issue is that of quality. South American players will no doubt bring skilful, exciting soccer to the American public who, like the rest of us, want to be entertained. But it takes more than that.

I think the issue is more to do with the standard of coaching. And I think that that’s where the good news starts for the MLS. In my experience, American grassroots coaches are extremely open and keen to learn, share and develop. The US has a history of sporting excellence which suggests that when the numbers of young people playing the game reaches critical mass there will be enough homegrown talent to produce a league of real quality. I think that critical mass is here and I think that in 10 years the picture will be entirely different.

There are already signs that there is a new generation of young American players coming through who will be good enough to play at the top level. And as is the case in so many other sports, American coaches are becoming increasingly wise to the realities of the professional game.

I don’t think the MLS needs South American players to achieve success. They need the interest of the American public. That is growing but can it “compete with the top clubs of Europe, both in success and popularity”? Maybe one day, but I don’t think it will be for several generations and I don’t think it will ever have the cultural resonance that it does in England, Spain or Italy.




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