Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


How to win when you’ve lost

David ClarkeGoing into our game last weekend, my Under-11s were playing on the back of a seven-match winning streak. That run has been built on a good passing game and the idea that every single player is involved as the ball is moved up the pitch. In the match, we were up against a physically big side… not that my players were put off by that challenge.

And it was the best game of passing football I had ever seen us play, even if our winning sequence came to an abrupt and unexpected end.

Essentially, all our training, practice and repetition of movement has started to pay off. Yet we lost 4-0. But who cares? Some of the one-twos and link-up play were mouth-watering… I counted five back-heels that beat a player and put one of my players into a great position to create a goal.

And yes, we created a lot of chances, but the opposition were very strong at the back and the goalkeeper showed excellent awareness coming off his line to sweep up any through-balls. The opposition themselves played some great football and the match was an excellent advertisement for grass roots soccer.

We gave away a goal on the stroke of half-time, but that didn’t change my team-talk at the interval. I told them they were playing superbly. Sure, they were more concerned about leaking a goal, but even they admitted that the manner of the performance had been very encouraging.

The second period followed much the same pattern – both teams created chances. They took theirs, but we didn’t. That is sometimes how it goes in a match. I was buzzing afterwards because we had performed so well, and so much of what I had coached them had come through.

Sometimes that’s enough in soccer, because while things didn’t come off on Saturday, I know that if the players continue to play like that, they’ll win many more than they lose. And that’s the point – if they go out thinking they have a chance of winning, we have won together as a team – coach and players learning from each other.

The result should never be the main thing. It’s much more important that your team plays to the best of its ability – remind them that for as long as they do that they’re developing and growing, and you’ll find they’ll keep responding, no matter what the scoreline is.



Supporting players who can do it in training but not in matches

David ClarkeI have coached players who make recurring errors during matches but can perform the skill perfectly well in training. They need my support and help. I always start by trying to find the cause of the problem.

Why do performance errors occur?

Anxiety

All players experience anxiety before performing. For many, this enhances their performance by increasing the production of adrenalin. However, in some individuals, it causes them to tense up and has a negative effect.

Players might experience increased anxiety during matches when coaches and parents shout too many negative comments from the touch line.

Tactical naivety

A player might have all the skills, but consistently makes poor decisions when under pressure on the pitch.

Tiredness

This is common in players who are dehydrated or haven’t eaten or slept properly before matches. Tiredness affects the decision making processes and also the body’s physical ability.

Four steps for dealing with performance errors

Speak to the player and use the following four-point process to help them understand and overcome their performance errors.

1. Acknowledge the error

The player needs to realise they are making errors during matches that, given their skill level, should be avoidable. Discuss how they can perform the skills well and how you both need to find out what is causing the match day errors.

2. Review the errors

Work with them to determine how and why the errors occur. Do they get nervous before matches? Are they eating and drinking properly during the build up to matches?

3. Make a plan

Based on their responses, you can put together a plan with the player to make the necessary corrections for the future.

4. Execute the plan

Provide the player with support to execute their personal action plan before the next match. Ensure the player is realistic and doesn’t expect the errors to disappear instantly. They need to understand it is a long-term process and might take many weeks.



Even the professionals make mistakes

dave clarkeWatching Leeds United play Cardiff City in the English Championship last month what stood out was the mix up between the sons of two Manchester United greats managed between them to gift a goal to Cardiff.

The sons of Peter Schmeichel and Steve Bruce both play for Leeds. Kasper Schmeichel in goal and Alex Bruce at centre-back much like their fathers. Between they they let the Cardiff centre forward Jay Boothroyd take the ball when the two Leeds players should between them have easily cleared it – no communication and yet they played together in the changing rooms at Old Trafford while waiting for their dads – you can see a clip of them playing together aged 6 below.

But there are always mistakes during the course of a season in every division in every league. I’m sure you see them all the time in youth matches – it’s something that happens.

So next time your players make a mistake don’t let them dwell on it and don’t dwell on it your self because someone somewhere will be making a mistake too.

And the mistakes by their fathers in this clip below:




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