Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


If there’s one course you should go on…

davidscwnewI firmly believe that if you want to develop the skills of individual players you need to start young and you need to do so at grassroots level. So this summer I decided to attend a number of courses based on skills coaching and individual excellence that would add to my knowledge of youth coaching. And this was the pick of the bunch.

Coerver Coaching’s Alf Galustian was the star skills educator at his Play Like Spain course at the London Soccer Dome – and it was like being in Spain on one of the hottest weekends of the year.

DCAlfWillie+spanish players1

Coerver’s course is based on the Spain national side and the success they have had playing with Spanish style and the phases of play that make up that style. Alf coached sessions where the emphasis was on individual ball mastery and how the development of the individual creates a winning team.

Alf said: “I have worked in Spain as a coach educator several times throughout my career. It is common knowledge that Spain are the current leading developers of football talent and they have implemented a style of play that is the envy of world football”.

I found it very interesting because last year I spent a lot of time  working on the phases of play used by Barcelona and why they have had so much success in the last few years with their style of possession play – I broke Barcelona style down to Possession/Patience/Penetration and did a presentation for the NSCAA on the Barcelona phases of play.

Alf broke down the Spain style into four phases of play

Protecting

Protecting the ball individually by coaching shielding techniques and as a group moving the ball quickly to keep it away from opponents.

Pressing

Individually and as a team. This is the Spanish way, lose the ball win it back by pressing high up the pitch giving teams no time to settle on the ball.

Probing

Running with the ball into space or finding the killer pass, with drills to develop individual and team skills

Penetration

The creative end product from the combination of the other three parts of the course – ­including creativity in the final third (the one thing English players find hard to do).

Coerver have been over in Spain recently and Scott Wright the UK director of Coerver told me: “We have had coaches from all levels attend our courses in Spain including La Liga clubs Real Madrid, Getafe, Real Mallorca and Rayo Vallacano as well as other coaches and ex-players from across Spain and Europe.”

Dave Clarke with Manuel Ojalvo

Dave Clarke with Manuel Ojalvo

So I felt I was in good company on the course and that there was a real Spanish aspect to the sessions. Added to that Coerver had brought former Athletico Madrid youngster Manuel Ojalvo, and former professional Diego Camacho, who has amassed more than 400 appearances in La Liga.

Manuel has a background in youth coaching and gave some great insights into what it was like to be a youth player in Spain. Diego doesn’t have the command of the English language that Manuel has but he managed to get across the frustrations of being coached in one position for all his time in youth football – defensive midfield. He has played against the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi, asked how he stopped Messi he shrugged and gave a chopping motion… it was fascinating stuff.

Both players are convinced the Coerver system can help grassroots in Spain – and of course in England.

Diego said (with Manuel acting as interpreter): “Every ex-professional player, no matter the level, who is thinking about moving into coaching should definitely study the Coerver System; I wish it had been available to me when I was a young, it would have made me a better player”.

Dave Clarke and Diego Camacho

Dave Clarke and Diego Camacho

Alf also introduced former ManchesterCity and Scotland defender Willie Donachie who is now development coach at Newcastle United. Again the advice was very interesting because Coerver are very much an attack minded in their tactics. Willie talks defence and used the example of Ian Rush the former Liverpool and Wales striker as an example of a forward whose first thought on losing the ball was to win it back. Alf too had praise for an attacker who likes to win the ball back – Lionel Messi “he is the best defender in the world”, said Alf.

Dave Clarke and Willie Donachie

Dave Clarke and Willie Donachie

Some great course material to take away in the form of a book that included the sessions Alf had put on during the weekend added to the overall success of the course.

It was a great way to spend a weekend in the summer and a very valuable one for my own personal development adding to my knowledge of Spanish football, giving me lots to take back to the teams that I coach. I suggest if you get the chance you should go on the course – it is a great learning experience.



Why heroes can inspire your players

davidscwnewIsn’t it great when you hear players shouting the names of their heroes in the professional game? Twice this week I heard a pro’s name shouted by one of my players when they were bearing down on goal, as I’ll go on to explain…

To put it into context, my Under-11s were playing a really important end-of-season match last week. I was nervous for them, as were the cluster of parents gathered on the touchline, but how refreshing to see the kids just playing the game with so much relaxed spirit. It was a tight first period with relatively few chances, and with the scores level in the second half, a series of passes led the ball to my midfielder Marcus through on goal at an angle.

Before he shot, he shouted “AGUERO!” and tried to emulate the player he had seen in his living room score that fantastic title-winning goal for Manchester City . Needless to say the shot went high and wide – oh well! Even so, that didn’t stop his team mates appreciating at least the fact he had put himself in the right place as we drove forward looking for a goal.

“I heard you shout that!” one of his team mates said with a smile on his face. “That was brilliant!”

Another came over laughing and told him he too had thought of Aguero as the move developed. I find it heartening when I see my players inspired by great and memorable events on the pitch that they want to emulate.

Kids learn by watching and there is no better league for them to learn from than the English Premier League. Their appreciation for the game is a far cry from some people’s perception that kids are sometimes only taken in by some of the more unsavoury aspects of the modern game. I disagree with that notion. At the end of the day they take the positives, and this season has been full of them – great players, great skills, great goals, but also great stories.

And not always on the pitch – look at the reaction to Fabrice Muamba recovering from his heart attack and the draw of affection from the football family, for instance. I have started to realise there’s a lot in football to inspire those of us in the grass roots game. And if ever, as coaches, we’re unsure which of those influences are having an effect, just watch the kids!

Take out a 97p trial to Soccer Coach Weekly today.

Don’t delay! Click here to find out how you can subscribe to Soccer Coach Weekly.



A pressure and overload game that keeps on evolving

davidscwnew

This game is about pressing and dropping in tight areas of the pitch. It helps your players’ decision-making skills where overloads are concerned – their judgment of when to press and when to drop during a game, depending on numbers and position on the pitch.

Playing in exercises that have a game structure helps players understand training principles.

How to set it up:

  • This game requires cones and balls.
  • Use two 30×20 yards areas with a gap between of 10 to 20 yards. The bigger the gap, the fitter your players need to be.
  • Two teams – whites and greys – play 4v4 in each area, with a five-yard cone goal at each end but no keepers.

Getting started:

  • Start both 4v4s at the same time, instructing one team when to press high and when to drop back to cover lower down the pitch. Play for five minutes.
  • Now assign numbers – in both boxes whites are 1, 2, 3 and 4. Greys in both boxes are 5, 6, 7 and 8.
  • Returning to the game, when you call out a number the two players who have that number must switch pitches to create overload scenarios.
  • Play for a further five minutes.

Progressing the session:

The players now don’t have numbers, and can play in either box. If greys are winning in one box but losing in the other, players can switch to assist, leaving team mates behind to defend their lead. Play for 10 minutes.

Why this works:

As the players switch pitches they leave and join different overloads, adapting their game in the process. In the progression, the decision of when to support the other team is left to the players. The challenge is very match-like in that respect – when to press and when to drop.

Take out a 97p trial to Soccer Coach Weekly today.

Don’t delay! Click here to find out how you can subscribe to Soccer Coach Weekly.



Three ways to score like Sergio Aguero

By David Clarke

David ClarkeRate your players’ shooting prowess with this three-shot test that calls for speed, touch, accuracy and confidence. Can they hit the top corners and score maximum points or will they play safe?

The Sergio Aguero challenge

I’ve named this after the Manchester City striker who shoots from all over the pitch – long range, short range and every angle you can image. He has been successful for club and country, and provided some memorable moments in his career – like his last second goal to win the Premier League title for his team last season.

How to set it up

  • You will need six poles (or cones), a stopwatch and timesheet.
  • Starting on the 18-yard line, place three poles two yards apartlined up with the goalposts. Repeat in line with the other post.
  • Put three balls on the 18-yard line, one in the middle, one tothe left and one to the right.

Getting started

  • Starting in the middle, the player flicks the ball into the air,keeping it up twice. On the third kick, he volleys at goal,trying to achieve the highest score he can.
  • He then runs to the ball on the right, passing it toward thegoal with a good weight so they can weave through the polesto get on the end of his pass.
  • He should shoot across goal with his right foot aiming forthe far corner.
  • The player then runs back to the remaining ball, repeatingthe process on the left side.
  • He should end with a left-footed shot into the
    opposite corner.

How to score

  • Back of the net = one point
  • Side netting inside the goal = two points
  • Top corner = three points

How to advance the session

  • To keep this move fresh, move the poles further away from goal so that players can shoot from greater distances.
  • Later, add a goalkeeper into the equation. Can your players still find the high-scoring areas of the goal?


Triple Dutch – top three young players in demand

Bas Dost (Heerenveen) aged 22

Top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie with 32 goals Bas Dost has been linked with some of the biggest names in England and Germany, but Dost himself claims to be more than happy in his native Netherlands with Heerenveen.

Signed from Heracles Almelo at the age of 20 after hitting 17 goals in 61 games, he has been a revelation since, impressing with his unorthodox style and finishing fourth highest scorer in Europe this season as he led Heerenveen back into the top five.

John Guidetti (Feyenoord) aged 19

Carlos Tevez is not the only wave-making exiled Manchester City striker – over in Holland, John Guidetti, on loan at Feyenoord from City, has 20 goals in 23 starts for the Rotterdam club. Just 19, he has scored three hat-tricks this season, one of which was against Ajax, Feyenoord’s greatest rivals.

Playing in Holland but not Dutch Guidetti is Swedish and won his first senior Sweden cap in Croatia and has a good chance of playing against England in the second Group D game at Euro 2012.

Luuk de Jong (Twente) aged 21

21-year-old rising Dutch star Luuk de Jong is tall, quick and technically gifted – De Jong boasts 62 strikes in all competitions over the last two seasons. The Holland international, who played against England at Wembley in February, scored 25 goals in the league this season for Steve ­McClaren’s FC Twente.

McClaren believes that Luuk de Jong’s style of play makes him a perfect fit for the Premier League. “Luuk is big, strong, brilliant in the air and scores goals so easily. He has every quality a top class striker needs to have for a big club.”

The Netherlands international has been in fine form this season, and has recently been linked with Borussia Monchengladbach, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham.

“Very soon he will be the best in the Netherlands – and he even has all the qualities a forward needs to become a European great,” says Patrick Kluivert.



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:



How do you cope with losing your best player?

DCThe loss of Cesc Fabregas and Carlos Tevez will be a big blow to Arsenal and Manchester City but they need to send out a message that the teams are moving on not looking back.

I think the history books will show that although a Fabregas driven Arsenal could compete with Barcelona and give them a good game, in the English Premier League Arsenal lost too many games because teams could soak up the pressure and hit them on the break – their style of play won’t win Arsenal the League.

Arsene Wenger can now revert to play 4-4-2 bringing back their own counter attacking prowess. 75% of their passes in the final third of the pitch were successful last season, yet they could not translate possession into goals. A fast breaking Arsenal will give them more space to take advantage.

At Manchester City losing the 25-goal a season Tevez is also seen as a blow. But City can buy in a replacement that will more than make up for the loss. Much as Liverpool did when they lost Fernando Torres and replaced him with Andy Carroll.

City have never lost when Tevez scores, but throughout last season he was constantly in the news for his arguments with the club – something they will be better off without. And there are good replacements out there like Sergio Aguero another Argentine playing at Atletico Madrid. He is a younger version of Tevez without the histrionics.

So don’t despair if you lose one of your best players – as we speak I am talking with parents who want to take their son out of the team because they are being wooed by another club. I’m not losing sleep over it, I’ve been looking at the squad to see who can be promoted from one of our other teams. Of course that causes problems for that team!

And so it goes…

Watch Fabregas give the ball away with a suicidal backheel against Barcelona, and Tevez having his penalty saved in the Copa America for Argentina




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,246 other followers