Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: communication, match day, team talk, training
By David Clarke
Before starting to talk you need to consider how to make sure your players are listening. Here are some “dos” of getting and keeping children’s attention.
Make sure you have all the players’ attention before you start talking. Off the cuff questions are a good way to gain attention. Once your players get into the routine and realise you are only going to talk for a short time before they will be off and active again, they will settle more quickly.
Following the ancient Chinese proverb “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”, the more activity and the less talking the better. Also, remember the 30-second rule: you should never spend more than 30 seconds at a time talking to your players during training.
Keep your chats short and sharp. “Little and often” is an excellent motto. Tell the players one or two things at a time between activities. During a 10-minute exercise you might bring the players in for four 30-second chats which repeat variations of the same one or two points.
Whether in rain, wind or bright sunshine, make sure the players are protected from the weather conditions and can see you clearly. If necessary, that may mean you will have to talk to them facing into the weather.
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Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: information, lazy, match day, new players, not turning up, parents
At the weekend everything was looking good – the weather had cleared up and our game was on. But then, as I was preparing to leave the house, I was informed that three players had gone away for the half-term holidays without bothering to tell me.
So I had a problem. And sure enough, within the hour I had only nine players present, and was being asked what time the others were turning up. “Well, this is it, lads, this is the team… we’ve been let down”, I replied.
We’d beaten our opponents 1-0 earlier in the season, but a repeat performance seemed unlikely… not that I told my players that.
We gathered for our team talk and I assured them that they could still perform with only nine men. It’s not the first time this sort of setback has happened, and in the past I’ve used different tactics – one being to tell them to pretend we’d had two players sent off. But nothing had worked because, simply, they wanted to be told that everything would be okay and they wouldn’t be easily beaten.
So this time I took a simple, honest approach, telling them that hard work would compensate for the loss of players, and how if everyone put in an extra bit of effort we could make up the difference.
The reality was that the three who had failed to show comprised two strong covering players and a speedy trickster. So how was I going to cover that tactically?
Well, the pitch seemed particularly narrow, so my first move was to sacrifice the left-back position and tell my defenders to cover left. The defenders were sure they could manage – great.
I wanted to leave my four-man midfield as it was, so that left a lone striker up front, but we’d give it a try. It was an exciting challenge.
And I’m pleased to say the formation worked well. The opposition didn’t really take advantage of our left defence problem – they had a fast winger but he continually attacked our right-back. The only thing that let us down was support in attack – we created more chances than them but couldn’t get shots away, and when we did, there was no-one to follow up.
The game finished 0-0 but the players were magnificent and it was a great lesson in how hard work can overcome a numerical disadvantage. In many ways, it was probably the best game we have played all season.
The moral is don’t be put off by what might appear to be a major setback. It’s from such events that we usually learn most about ourselves and our players
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: age, attacker, defender, match day, positions soccer, tactics
During a victory for my Under-10s side, one of my defenders got injured. This was not too much of a problem as I had another player who could move from midfield to fill that role. The solution worked fine for a while until he too limped out of the action, leaving me struggling to solve the problem.
We got to half-time without too much trouble and were winning 1-0, and at that point I managed to persuade another lad to change positions and slot back into defence. He halfheartedly accepted the offer, even creeping forward into his regular attacking role at times, thus leaving holes and gaps behind him.
I was therefore relieved when my left winger came across and said to me that he would play in defence because he’d operated there for his previous team. I was surprised because I had never considered him to be a natural defender – he is, after all, a strong attacking winger, and it had never even crossed my mind to use him in defence.
But he was an absolute revelation, with excellent positioning, plus strong support and marking skills. At one point he took the ball off the toes of the opposition attacker and ran the whole length of the pitch, unleashing a brilliant shot at the end of it. I am still reluctant to play him at the back because we have some good defenders, and he is a valuable left winger, but I know now he makes a great back-up if we ever need someone to fill the role.
It got me thinking about players and how they generally begin to ‘find’ their positions around nine or 10 years of age. And yet many will play for another few years before actually discovering where they are best. What we should be doing as coaches is constantly experimenting with their roles – maybe hiding inside a player who has been labeled a ‘defender’ is a strong attacking force just waiting to be unleashed on an unsuspecting opponent. It’s rare when it happens, but on the occasions that it does, it’s always a pleasant and useful surprise.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: analysing, coaching a losing team, losing, match day, team preparation, winning
Winning is always important but not always an accurate measurement of how well a team played. It is better to ask key questions about your team:
Did they create chances?
Did they have a good shape defensively and cover the dangerous spaces?
Did the players make good decisions when in possession?
Did they play a mixed passing game?
Did they control the tempo of the game?
Jot down your thoughts straight after the game. Then write down what happened in the game an hour after your team has played and re-read what happened. Look for the positives to talk to your players about and then go to work on the negatives.
My team played a game recently where they started off easily
the best team. We totally outpassed the opposition and created twice as many chances as they did. We lost the game 3-2.
So I wrote down my answers to the questions…
Yes, we did create chances – praise the team.
No, we often left dangerous spaces when we didn’t get back quickly enough when attacks broke down – work on defensive positions and recovery movement.
Mixed, but on the whole we made good decisions.
Yes, passing was good, long and short – praise the team.
No, they allowed the opposition back in to the game when they had it won – work on closing the game out.
You can then see what to talk about, what to praise and what to work on at your next coaching session.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: match day, snow covered pitch, soccer in the snow, youth soccer match
I took a photo on Saturday just to show you that here in England we are once again playing matches… it’s been nearly two months since we played a proper game – and we beat the team above us 4-1.
It’s a great feeling although I have to say it was still very, very cold and the boys were pink by the end of the match.
One of our players got a clearance hit right on his ear, and had to sit out the rest of the match. It’s great to be back…
And then I woke up on Monday morning and realised that perhaps we hadn’t got our season going again. The amount of snow falling has been amazing – so I went to one of our home pitches to see how it was doing! Here it is and not a groundsman in sight…