Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


If at first you don’t succeed

DCMy coaching word for this week is ‘perseverance’. I heard Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson talking about the attributes that make a good coach and that was the first one he named – and having been manager of Manchester United for 25 years, he’s likely to know!
Within a few days, I had experienced why this is such an important part of a coach’s toolkit. I was trying out a new session for my Under-10s, an exercise that uses movement, coordination, passing, receiving and sprinting – you’ll see it in Soccer Coach Weekly in a couple of weeks.
I know sometimes when directing exercises with young players in front of their parents it can be a bit awkward for you, particularly if the players don’t understand immediately what it is they have to do. I ran the exercise a couple of times and it was not going well. It needed some fine tuning and a few re-run demonstrations for the players to understand what I wanted.
It was eating into my coaching time but I thought it was worth persevering with it. After 10 minutes they were still struggling but suddenly one of the players shouted “got it, Dave!” Instinctively, he showed the others how it worked. And with demonstrations from both of us, the whole squad got the hang of it. It still took time to really get things motoring, but we played the exercise for the next 20 minutes and I took notes on how to change it… how to make it easier to understand for my Soccer Coach Weekly readers.
It had worked in the end but only because I was prepared to persevere with the session, and thanks in no small part to some visual aids and a player who could help me to show the others how to do it. After the session, a coach from one of our other teams (who had caught the final 10 minutes) came up and told me what a great session it was.
Rest assured he wouldn’t have said that at the start, but as a group we persevered,



Are your attacking fullbacks fit for purpose?

DCWatching my fullback in a match this week he was having to work really hard to get up and down the pitch.

We’ve been working on setting the ball back into midfield and getting our fullbacks to support on the wings with balls played wide to them from deep in our defence. It was a tactic working very well and we created numerous chances at the far post.

But I noticed as the match wore on my fullback was less inclined to run wide onto through balls. He had worn himself out running up and down the pitch. It is true of modern fullbacks that their role involves a lot of support play in attack as well as defence.

If you take a fullback like Patrice Evra at Manchester United you will know what I mean. His training sessions are based around fitness and agility as well as tactics and skills. Watch the clip below of Evra training and try some of the exercises with your teams I have and find they work really well for fullbacks.



Thursday’s sweat is Saturday’s glory

DCPutting the effort in at training is important and I always want to see my players trying their best at training sessions. But they need a framework to do so….

The exercises and drills you use must be relevant to the coaching point you are getting across.

This week I wanted to work on the agility of my players as well as other aspects of fitness. I find that one of the best ways to do this is set up an agility course that I can show them being worked on by players from the English Premier League.

Watching EPL players doing something often makes youth players work harder and that is something you want at every training session.

Practice is how your players develop so what they work on during your coaching sessions is what they take with them to the next match – a poor training session often results in a poor game.

How do players weave in and out of defenders easily , or jump over a defender at an awkward angle to avoid being tackled or fouled?

So we worked on this session this week that I set up and showed the players in action on my laptop, watch it below:



Cream of English U17s well beaten by Qatar academy

Watching the Qatar Aspire Academy U17s playing in the Milk Cup youth tournament in Northern Ireland its hard not to be very impressed. The players are individually very skilfull and Qatar is developing a wonderful team.
They won the final against Manchester Utd U17s 5-1. Utd are known for having a very strong team but had nothing to give against these boys.

Qatar also beat a Brazilian youth team 6-1 and a Dutch youth team 7-1… watch this space.

Here they are beating Manchester Utd with some fabulous play.



A defender in the United tradition

Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United has signed the Blackburn defender Phil Jones. It brings to four the number of United players in Stuart Pearce’s U21 England squad, emphasising the importance Sir Alex Ferguson is placing on youth as he rebuilds his squad in the wake of last month’s Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.

Jones is a classy defender who has already linked up with United’s Chris Smalling in in the England U21 squad – they could be a central defensive partnership for years to come. He has shown his versatility as a player with some excellent displays in the Blackburn midfield this season – and sir Alex likes that.

A lot of his players are able to fill more than one role – so Jones is following a trend. With Rio Ferdinand’s injury record he should get a lot of chances in the season to come and should be ready to snatch them.

And Wayne Rooney gave Jones’ move the thumbs up, tweeting: “He’s one of the toughest defenders I played against last season.”

Watch the England U21 squad training

And in the U21 European Championships



Paul Scholes: fantastic player, but what kind of coach?

DCI first saw Paul Scholes play for Manchester United in the final of the Youth Cup against Leeds United in 1993. Man Utd’s team included David Beckham, Scholes, and both Nevilles as well as Ryan Giggs and even Robbie Savage.

The game remains memorable for being live on the new satellite channel Sky Sports, for a crowd at Elland Road of 31,307 and the emergence of several players that were to go on and play for England.

A strong, physical Leeds side easily dominated what were to become the basis of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team for years – they lost 4-1 on aggregate but the one goal came from a 5ft 7 scrawny youth… Scholes.

Scholes was turning out for underdogs everywhere – this small midfielder had the nimbleness and timing to confound a beefy defence and score goals from all over the pitch. All in all he has scored 150 of them.

What is great for coaches everywhere is that a youngster with asthma can become a such a huge player. Scholes moved people with the height of his achievements as much as the impact of his play – how could someone like him be first choice attacking midfielder?

He was a clever player which was as much part of his game as was his technique. There was quick-witted vision to the best of his passes and goals. He could see the opening and the perfect way to exploit it.

Zinedine Zidane has called him “the greatest of his generation”. Xavi hailed him as “the best central midfielder of the past 15 or 20 years”.

Now he has retired Scholes is taking up coaching, and it will be interesting to see the type of players he turns out.

Watch highlights of his career below and you can also watch a clip of the best goal from the Youth Cup Final in 1993 scored by Jamie Forrester with an overhead kick to rival Wayne Rooney:



Why Rooney is the best defender

There is no better proponent of the art of defending from the front than Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and England. His defensive qualities set him apart from the other best attackers in the world – think of Cristiano Ronaldo or Francesco Totti neither would be seen charging the defenders high up the pitch where his bubbling enthusiasm can often see him win the ball back in his opponents half.

His movement when Manchester Utd lose the ball means that as the full backs advance Rooney can fill in as a third defensive midfielder blocking the attacking runs of the defenders.By forcing the play back he creates space in the centre of the pitch for Manchester’s more creative players like Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher to flourish.

These creative players then use the space to slip balls behind the opposing backline for Rooney or his striking partner to run on to making it hard to defend against.

This idea is something I like to make use of during my coaching sessions. If I can get the attackers in my teams to push high up the pitch to close the opposition defenders down before they are out of their own half it can force a mistake which opens up huge opportunities for my team to attack the space behind the defence.




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