Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: both feet, left foot, pass, practice, right foot, score, sessions, shoot
The best attackers can shoot with either foot… is this true? Well attackers that can shoot with either foot have more opportunities to score so the individual will be much better placed if they can score with the foot that naturally takes the ball towards goal.
The complete attacker should be able to at least direct the ball on target with both feet even if one has a more powerful shot than the other.
Young players instinctively go for their preferred foot so you need to get them shooting with both of them or they will come to rely on one foot rather than the other.
I often see attackers, even professional attackers, making awkward shapes with their bodies so they can use one foot rather than the one they should use. Once again it’s down to the amount of practice they do and how they practise.
I like this great exercise to get my players shooting with both feet:
How to set it up
Use an area 40 yards by 30 yards with two goals and two goalkeepers.
How to play it
- The shooter makes a long pass to the coach and runs to receive the ball back.
- The player now shoots with one foot.
- After shooting, the player reacts and runs to receive a second ball from another server and shoots with the other foot.
How to rotate it
After completing the circuit, the player becomes a server for the next shooter.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: game, goals, quick feet, score, sessions, shoot, training
How often do you watch your striker reach great attacking positions only to then delay his shot, offering enough time for defenders to get back and put in a tackle? It’s a frustrating part of the game and something that’s certainly not exclusive to youth football!
It’s important to give players the confidence to shoot from anywhere on the pitch, rather than them trying to walk the ball into the net. So below I’ve put together a great practice that, quite simply, encourages players to shoot at the earliest opportunity from all areas.
How to set it up:
You will need six target cones and seven balls, plus additional cones to mark out a pitch. You will also require bibs and a goal.
Create a pitch measuring 35×25 yards.
Three yards in from each end touchline, and halfway up the area, place three cones in a triangular shape.
Each cone has a ball placed on top of it.
The game can be played either 3v3 or 4v4.
Each team defends its set of cones.
Players must try to knock the balls off the cones at their opponent’s end of the pitch while ensuring their own cones do not come under threat.
If a player shoots and gets a "strike" (knocks all three balls off with one shot) the team gets six points, otherwise it’s one point scored for each ball.
Should all three be dislodged, the balls are set up again before resuming.
Play for three games of six minutes, ensuring players are ambitious in their attacking play and do not hang back crowding around their cones as a defensive tactic.
Developing the session:
If you have three or four teams, play so the team that knock three balls off, then faces a different team. Teams waiting on the sidelines act as ball boys.
Note which teams are the best at winning a strike – undoubtedly this will be because of the frequency of shots and from all distances – and point out to the other teams why they are so successful.
How to advance it:
Put a goal and a keeper at one end and set up a bowling alley-style group of six cones with balls on at the other end.
This is a straight knockout, with one team trying to knock all the balls off the cones and the other trying to score three times past the keeper. Which team will fulfil its task first?
Why this works:
The initial practice encourages players to shoot at targets from all areas of the pitch. Teams defending cones will also be pushing forward trying to attack, so the scoring options should be plentiful.
Direction and power are, of course, vital to a team’s success, while the set-up ensures players are aware of the need to shoot quickly and positively. Should they not, a tackle could see the other team attack and complete their task first.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: messi, rebounds, score, shoot, striker, tap-ins, win
It’s funny, when you’re watching a match and a goal is scored, how often do you hear someone say: “that was just a tap-in – I could have scored that”. But it’s important not to forget that it was the movement in the build up to the goal and the decision to stay with the attack that often creates simple tap-ins.
Talk to Lionel Messi about tap-ins. He scored a record-breaking 91 goals in 2012 and he would be the first to tell you that simple tap-ins count for just as much as his spectacular drives and dribbles. If the player wasn’t there to put the ball in the net, the team wouldn’t score.
Tap-ins or rebounds are like the last putt in golf – they’re just as important as a huge drive down the fairway.
A big part of a striker’s job is being in the right place at the right time, following up shots in order to put rebounds into the back of the net. In a youth game spectacular goals are a rarity but rebounds are plentiful. Young players can learn a lot from watching Messi – not just from his sublime skills but he also regularly demonstrates how important it is to be in the right place at the right time. You can always count on him to pop up and tap the ball into the net after it has been parried by a keeper. A good striker will always anticipate a rebound or be in the right place to finish off a move.
I like my strikers to follow any shots on goal, however feeble they are, because young keepers often push the ball away rather than risk catching it, giving predatory attackers a second chance to score. Supporting strikers should never stop running, as they may be the ones that get the rebound coming their way.
Having the ability to finish off moves is vital to the development of young footballers. A confident bunch of players makes for a much better team and increases the opportunities of success. There is nothing more disheartening for the whole team when chances are not taken. And it takes practice to get it right. Look at any of the top finishers in the world and behind their success you will find hours and hours of practice, both in training sessions and on their own.
You need your players to practice as often as possible, using sessions that will help them perfect their finishing technique. Otherwise you’ll end up standing on the touchline on match day with your head in your hands.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 1v1, accuracy, control, score, shooting, shot
This is a great game to end one of your sessions. I often use it with my U9s team when they have been training hard. Your players won’t know there’s a coaching element to this game and will be learning without realising it.
Expect to see lots of 1v1 situations in this game. But as the number of balls decrease, these will become more random because players can then link up to create 2v2 or 2v4 scenarios.
Players will learn how to attack and defend different goals. They will also have to use communication, decision making and teamwork skills as the game progresses from individual to multi-player situations.
Set this one up in a 30 yards by 30 yards square. You need six target goals (mini goals or cones will do), and a lot of balls.
How to play it
On your whistle, the attackers get a ball each and try to score in one of the goals. After each shot, the attackers return to the middle of the playing area to get another ball.
Once all the balls have been played, the number of balls in the goals should be counted and then the roles reversed. If you are using cones for goals, get a couple of parents or helpers to keep score.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: andover town, brockenhurst, dagenham, drills, goals, herbert, leyton orient, penalties, score
Brockenhurst and Andover Town set a new English FA record when they scored 29 consecutive penalties, until the unfortunate 20-year-old Andover Town player, Claudio Herbert, had his shot saved. The previous record was set when Dagenham and Redbridge beat Leyton Orient in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in 2011.
“I didn’t realise the magnitude, it was a bit of a blur, the keeper pulled off a great save,” Herbert said.
The record for the longest penalty shoot-out came in 2005 when the Namibian Cup had to be settled by a record-breaking 48 spot-kicks, with KK Palace holding their nerve to defeat the Civics 17-16 following a 2-2 draw in normal time.
Watch the video then follow my advice on how to take the perfect penalty
Research carried out by Liverpool John Moores University in the UK came up with a solution, according to Professor Tom Riley “A well-placed ball, high to the corner, will not be stopped by the goalkeeper even if he anticipates it,” says Prof Riley. “There is not enough time to react, so a kick placed in this area would have a 100% strike rate. Some players blast the ball straight down the middle, assuming that the goalkeeper will move, but it’s not always successful.”.
But it’s an interesting alternative to the conventional theory that you will often hear from professionals, managers and commentators: “Hitting the inside of the side netting, low down just inside either post is often the target for a penalty taker.” According to Professor Riley this conventional approach has a greater chance of being saved but it’s an easier one to execute. Get your players to try hitting the top corner in training – it may work.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 1v1, 3v3, control, drills, exercises, goal, score, shooting, shot
If your attackers are shy when they get the ball in front of goal and either just kick in hope in the vague direction of goal or try and pass it away quickly they need a boost in confidence.
This three-goal game is fantastic for giving every player in your team a chance to run at goal or shoot cleverly into the corners when they approach the goal at an angle.
Can they switch feet to fool the goalkeeper? Can they get into a better position to shoot? Can they win the 1v1s to set themselves up with a chance? Find out with this session:
How to set it up:
Play 3v3, in a 30-yard square area. There are three goals, two in each of the corners and one placed on the opposite side in the middle. One player from each team acts as goalkeeper.
The practice starts with one player from each team attacking the goal to their left – unopposed dribbling and shooting in turn.
Players must concentrate on controlling the ball and approaching each goal at an angle.
At the end of each attack, the attackers move clockwise around the playing area, ready to attack the next goal. Goalkeepers remain where they are.
To advance this, add defenders to the practice so your attackers have an additional obstacle.
Make sure you rotate players so that everyone gets a chance in each position.
You can also switch play by attacking each goal from the right-hand side.
The key elements:
The focus is on individual skills such as dribbling, shooting and 1v1 attacking and defending.
Highlight those players who are using good technique and creating space.
Don’t be afraid to stop the game, pointing out to your players what they are doing right and wrong in terms of technique and positioning.
Why this works:
Play is centred on a tight area that represents the compacted nature of the midfield so players are forced to make quick and efficient decisions in attack and defence.
Rather than undertake an exercise that encourages a player to pass, this is a great move whereby taking on an opponent can be shown to have a much more dynamic effect on the game, something that is good for players to recognise in a match situation.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: goals, pass, score, shoot, small-sided games, tactics
I love setting up new challenges in small-sided games for my players – the emphasis in this game is on positive passing and determined movement. And while quite basic, this is a clever set-up that tests players’ ability to think "outside the box", or rather "inside it"!
Goals are no longer fixed to the touchlines, which means that scoring opportunities can be manufactured using unconventional routes. If players can replicate this thinking in a standard game, you may find them producing goalscoring chances out of unpredictable actions.
How to set it up:
Create a playing area that measures 35×25 yards.
There are two teams of four players.
Two goals are made using cones or poles, and are placed five yards in from each end of the pitch.
Add a keeper in each goal.
The players can score in the front or back of the goal.
The game is played for a set period of time – 20 minutes.
Tell your players that if they are blocked when in front of the goal they need to look to play quickly to the other side and try to score in the back.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 1v1s, attack, defend, score, shoot, skills, technique, win
In the game my U10s B team played on Saturday they were involved in a lot of 1v1 duels both in defence and in attack, which had a big effect on the game. By winning the majority of these battles, my team held a huge advantage by having possession of the ball much more than their opponents.
Fortunately in the session before the game I’d been using this session designed to improve 1v1s in the midfield. Players are forced to continually attack and defend 1v1 in order to forge a chance to score a goal.
These are the kind of duels they would face in a real game. Remember to also alert your players to the fact that beating an opponent in a 1v1 will remove them from the game, allowing more space to attack.
How to set it up
Use an area 50 yards by 30 yards with a 10 yards by 10 yards area in the centre of the larger area.
How to play it
Pass a ball into the smaller area where two players must compete for it. The player successful at taking the ball outside of the area has the chance to run and take a shot at goal.
How to develop it
The player that wins teh initial batlle in the centre area has take on the defender in 1v1.
However, if the defender wins the ball from the attacker then they can pass the ball back to their team mate in the centre square.
The team mate can now go 1v1 at the opposite end.
Now when winning the 1v1 duel, your player attacks as he would in a game with the attackers outnumbering the defenders (the picture showing 3v2 can be changed to suit the players available in your session).
Play it in a game
The objective is to show the players in your team the benefits of competing and winning the duel against their immediate opponent in the game.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: attacker, drill, exercise, hit target, score, shoot, striker, target man
This is a great game to practise with all ages. It is all about using target men to set up attacks. Neither team can score without utilising the target man, so this is a great game to teach link-up play in the final third and reminds players not to be greedy.
It also rehearses the art of playing through opponents, and only positive and well-organised supporting runs will be rewarded with goalscoring opportunities.
How to set it up:
Create a playing area measuring 35×25 yards.
Within that, create two end zones, each 10 yards in from the goal lines.
There are two goals – one at each end – and keepers in place.
This game is best played with two teams of four outfield players.
- This game has no offsides, and if the ball leaves play, you have a few different restart options:
1. You pass a new ball onto the pitch.
2. Players take a roll-in.
3. Players take a throw-in.
4. Players make a pass-in.
5. Players dribble the ball in.
Each team selects one player to be the "target man". This player stands in the attacking end zone.
The aim of the game is to make a pass to the target man, and then for a supporting player to receive a lay-off pass to shoot at goal.
When the target man receives the ball, only one defender can come back to attempt to break up play.
After a shot is made, the shooting player swaps position with the target man.
If a tackle is made before the ball goes through to the target man, the other team can attack in the opposite direction.
Restart after a goal or if the ball goes out of play.
The game is played for a set time period of 15 minutes.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: goal crazy, lose, losing, score, targets, winning
We’ve all seen or heard about the team leading 15-0 whose coach says “play as if it’s 0-0”. And when the 16th goal goes in the team is celebrating as if it’s won the league. Never mind the fact that the losing team has given up long ago…
That said, I’m not a huge fan of the way some teams will hit double figures then put the goalkeeper up front or substitute half the team. That doesn’t make the opposition players or manager feel any better either – they just think the team is showing off.
It’s a difficult call to make, but there are other ways you can deal with the situation.
Last weekend, we were playing a team a couple of places below us who had won 7-1 the week before, so we were expecting a hard game. But we coasted into a 3-0 lead and I became a bit uneasy that things would get really bad for our opponents.
However, they had a really good spell and pulled it back to 3-2. This made for a much better game; my team had to think hard about how they were playing, and it was a lesson for them assuming the job was done so early.
By half-time though we were 5-2 up and I could see some of the opposition players’ heads had dropped. So for my team talk at the interval I challenged each of my players to touch the ball in the build-up to a goal. If they could do that, they’d get to choose what training we did the following week.
Of course, the opposition didn’t realise we were now playing this way – they could only see a switching, shielding, passing and movement process that offered more situations where they might, in theory, win the ball.
The parents of my players had something to concentrate on as well – watching players getting into good positions for the pass.
It became a much better game and really gave my players a good work out in the second half. The score in that half was 2-2 so both teams had played well. Neither of our goals came from every player touching the ball, but it’s something to aim at next week, or the week after.
This tactic led to a much happier conclusion to the match, although I know some of the parents on my team had been muttering that “nobody does this when we’re losing”!
That was a fair point, but if we can share ideas such as this, maybe that will change?