Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: defending, small-sided games, parents, player development, tournaments
During the off season I spend a lot of my time at tournaments and I often look around for new players who, for whatever reason, have not fitted in with their clubs and face a season out in the cold.
Last year my club had been offered a number of players from rivals that were closing down. Three of these players were in an age group I was coaching and I was asked if I could fit them into my team. This was fine as I had a number of tournaments ahead and was looking for players to come along for a bit of fun and show me that they were up for playing in my team.
The next tournament was a six-aside affair and so the three new players would have a great deal of influence on the game and could let me see how interested they really were in playing for the club. I didn’t have any idea where they played on the pitch but because of the small-sided games, they would have to play in every position – again an ideal scenario because all my players swap positions during a season.
Of course, they all told me they play up front. The team performed really well but one of the parents did take it upon himself to voice his disapproval. “He doesn’t play in defence, hasn’t anyone told the coach?”
The player in question played very well during the first half but the parent kept up his banter.
“You don’t play in defence but you’ll just have to get on with it and do your best,” he said in his best stage whisper. The player looked across at me and we laughed.
“Is it right you’ve never played in defence?” I asked him at halftime.
“No,” he smiled, “I’ve played there plenty of times – I like playing there.”
So the second half started. “In defence again, that’s crazy!” shouted the parent. Eventually I did move him into midfield much to the parent’s delight and he played well there too, so it was a great game for me to watch him and to see that he was already able to play in more than one position.
His dad was wrong in wanting his son to play up the pitch to have the glory of scoring goals – just ask defenders like Dani Alves at Barcelona or Nathaniel Clyne at Liverpool if they hate being stuck in defence. There are all sorts of pressures heaped on young players and dads should try to support children wherever they are on the pitch. They should help them to learn all the positions because it helps with their development.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: abuse, parents, referee, shouting, Soccer
This is exactly the kind of thing that happens more often than it should in youth sport. Get the parents of your players to watch it and make them realise how awful they can appear…
Filed under: Better Soccer Coaching Blog Guests, Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Barcelona, cheats, coaching, communication, control, parents, winning
BY Alistair Phillips GUEST BLOGGER
Despite the best efforts of football’s governing bodies, some teams bend or even break the rules to give themselves an advantage. Here are some handy hints to help you get
the better of match day cheats…
STEP 1 RUN A CLEAN TEAM
Make sure your own team is squeaky clean and that all players understand the rules of the game and the expectations of players as stipulated in your FA’s Code of Conduct. If you have to take any form of action against a team that does turn out to be cheating, it will be taken much more seriously if you and your own players have a reputation for fair play.
STEP 2 STICK BY THE RULES
Prior to kick off present the opposing coach with your list of your registered players. By doing this you should encourage them to do the same thing and you will be able to check they are using only properly registered players. It also sets out your stall as a stickler for doing things the right way and as someone who holds the rules of the game in high esteem.
STEP 3 REMAIN DISCIPLINED
If a team you are due to face has a bit of a reputation or you have experienced problems when playing them in the past, remind your players of the need to remain disciplined at all times. Tell them not react to any heavy challenges or verbal provocation during the game but to inform you of any problems they have at half-time and at the end of the game.
STEP 4 CHECK WITH THE REF
When the referee arrives, make sure you introduce yourself and go through a few points briefly before the game. Ask that he punishes bad behaviour and foul play, perhaps letting slip you have had some problems with this in previous games. Then go to your opposing coach and relay the contents of your chat, making sure they are happy with this in advance.
STEP 5 DON’T INFLAME THINGS
Be vocal if you see any cheating during a game but in a way that will not inflame the situation. Remind your team to play to the whistle if a decision goes against you and try and establish eye contact with the referee when you do this. If things have got really bad, speak to the ref at half-time but remember to invite your opposite number into the conversation if you do so.
STEP 6 ALWAYS SHAKE HANDS
At the end of the game make sure your players shake hands with all opposing players. Listen out for any ‘under-thebreath’ remarks and, if you hear any, act on it by reporting what you hear to your opposing coach first. The match may be over but your opponents will remember this before you play them next time. Remember to congratulate your team for playing by the rules.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: discipline, how long?, parents, problems, time, understanding
I always remember when I was struggling to cope with delivering sessions in my early days, a very experienced academy coach said to me: “There are no failures, just experiences and your reactions to them.”
It’s a great piece of advice. My right hand man at training is fairly new to coaching and he, like you, works very hard at getting the right sessions and delivering them to some of our younger teams. But he gets very nervous and if the kids haven’t understood what he wants them to do, he moves right on to another session and tries that.
Understanding is vital to a session, both for the coach and the players – often it takes time for the players to get the session you are delivering. We were well into the session last week and I could see the players looking at one another slightly lost.
“It’s not working, Dave,” said my right-hand man. “You said it was a 15-minute exercise but time’s almost up and they’re not grasping it.
I told him to hold fire and managed to block out the murmurs of the watching parents who were keen for me to move on to something else. But I wanted to show them one more time that this could work. It’s never easy watching kids struggling with a concept, but I couldn’t give up on this with them so close.
I tried giving two players some extra encouragement – sometimes that’s all it takes. And sure enough, within 30 seconds, they began to ‘get it’. And more than that, they started having fun. The session was working and they wanted to carry on, because part of the fun was ‘getting’ the session.
Within a further 10 minutes they were making it look easy, which was exactly what I wanted. “Okay,” I shouted, “it’s a wrap!” And guess what? They didn’t want to stop
Some players began to move onto a small-sided game, but a good number were still running the passing sequence. I initially planned this as a 15-minute warm-up, but it had ended up filling the majority of the session!
I’m always amazed when coaches tell me they ran a session with 15 minutes of ‘this’, then 20 minutes of ‘that’, and another 10 minutes to finish, because that is what it told them to do in the session notes. Sure, following that principle helps you keep control of your session, but it won’t allow you to develop your players with any spontaneity.
Don’t keep looking at your watch just because it says 15 minutes in your session notes. Instead, watch the players and use your own coaching knowledge to judge what to do next. Trust me, the results can be fantastic.
Filed under: Better Soccer Coaching Blog Guests, Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: behaviour, coach, parents, players, relationships, respect
Respect is at the center of the player-coach relationship. With a setting that is based on respectful behavior, all members of a team can thrive. A parent’s role in helping a child to have a good relationship with a coach is one of instruction, encouragement and support. Unless you, the parent, are the one doing the coaching, it’s not possible to control how the coaching is handled. However, you can work to provide positive support that will enable a child to have a good experience.
Although children at different levels have different physical and behavioral abilities, it’s always possible to teach respect. Important aspects of respectful behavior include paying attention when the coach speaks or models a skill, listening without interrupting, following directions, trying new skills and asking questions in a polite manner. Additionally, respectful behavior involves not being distracted by other kids. Simple use of polite words and behaviors can also help form a positive relationship. Teach your child to thank the coach for his time at the end of practice.
A young child can stray off task easily, and distractions are common in early league levels. However, coaches working with young children are generally trained to keep activities shorter to accommodate age-related needs. As children grow older, more attentive behavior can be expected as longer drills and activities are provided. Help a child to enjoy a good relationship with coaches at any level by reinforcing respectful behavior with encouraging words. Correct your child when inappropriate behavior is observed, and be sure to praise positive behavior.
Model Respectful Behavior
Your child doesn’t have control over his arrival time. Being late to practices and games can create problems for the coach, and it’s on you to make sure your child arrives on time. The team can also suffer if multiple kids are late or absent. Good communication from a parent can help. Let your child’s coach know if he will be absent or late. Make it a point to be on time for official activities. Follow through on commitments to the team, especially those involving things like after-game snacks or important forms.
A parent who expects a child to show respect for an authority figure like a coach must also model such behavior. If you bad-mouth the coach’s style, decisions or other actions, your child may assimilate some of these same sentiments into his own behavior. If he perceives negativity on the part of Mom or Dad, he may feel that he is justified in acting out or criticizing on his own.
No coach is perfect, and parents often disagree about a coach’s decisions. However, helping a child to have a positive experience means that it’s important to avoid attacking his coach publicly or privately. This can be tough, especially if there is a perception that the coach hasn’t treated a child fairly. However, it’s important to remember the power you have as a role model.
Act in a Supporting Role
Coaches often appreciate the availability of parents during practices and games. Having a parent available makes it possible to quickly deal with serious behavioral issues. Additionally, having a few parents help out can lighten the duties of the coach by making it easier to manage drills and other administrative tasks. Consider volunteering as a team parent and assisting a coach in coordinating distribution of team notices, uniforms or fundraising materials. Demonstrate a willingness to help set an example for a child while supporting the coach. Parental support can do a lot to keep a child’s relationship with the coach positive.
Dealing with Differences
It’s important to realize that no matter how attentive and cooperative a child is, the player-coach relationship is two-sided. There will be times when a parent may not agree with how a play is handled, where a child is positioned, or when a child has to sit out for a play (or longer). An unintended slight can lead to a negative relationship between parents, players and coaches. It’s important to address concerns directly with the coach. Similarly, teach a child to ask questions respectfully if he disagrees with how a situation has been handled. Help your youngster understand that the coach is the leader and has the responsibility for decision-making. It’s important not to over-exaggerate small issues. At the same time, a pattern of oversights may require some private discussion.
Your child will have many coaches over time. Every coach will be unique in his approach to team discipline, drills and game strategies. It’s important to help your child understand that respect is an ongoing priority. Encourage him with positive points at the beginning of a season, and continue to model support and cooperation in order to facilitate a pleasant player-coach relationship.
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Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: angry, behaviour, incident, parents, shouting, violence
This week I had to do exactly that. Two players in my team had been winding each other up in school, and although I knew they had history, there were never any problems that spilt over into the team… until one of the dads got involved, that is.
A relatively innocuous incident in training was enough to make the whole thing explode. John and Peter (not their real names) were on opposing teams in the small-sided game we were playing. The former had already scored two great goals – much to his watching dad’s delight. When he tried nutmegging Peter there was an untidy coming together, from which Peter emerged with the ball.
“No, no, no,” shouted his dad, “I’m not having that! Free kick! You should be keeping your eye on this ‘problem’”.
I reacted only by explaining it was a fair tackle. But then a similar incident followed soon afterwards, and this time it was a foul. Before I could stop play John’s dad was on the pitch pacing towards Peter. I had to intervene, calm him down and get him off the pitch. I’m not sure what would have happened had I not managed to keep his dad at arm’s length.
We got to the end of training with no further incidents, but when Peter’s dad came to pick him up, I told him there was friction and it would need to be sorted at some point.As for John’s dad, under no circumstances can I accept this sort of behaviour at my coaching sessions. I told him I would ban him if it happened again. He accepted he had crossed the line and has promised to remain calm in future.
John is a great player and an asset to the club but if I did ban his dad he is likely to leave. Yet it is in the best interests of the club to reprimand a parent if something like this happens. Under no circumstances can repeated aggressive parental behaviour be overlooked; it sets a ridiculous example.
In the end, the team is more important than the individual, even when – such as in this case – you’re talking about one of your best players.
Football is often about making tough decisions, but the best way to avoid them is to be open and upfront, and to nip stuff in the bud before it escalates. Now I’ve just got to get Peter and John getting on – wish me luck!
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