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?
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Gerrard, goals, pass, score, space, switching play, tactics
By David Clarke
I keep this session in my little black book of ‘must-have tactics and how to coach them’. It is a great way to show young players how to move the ball to find space.
When their team is on the attack, young players need to be alert to the possibilities of switching play from one side of the pitch to the other.
It’s a tactic relied upon by every professional football team and takes craft, vision and confidence.
It works so well because of the need for defending teams to play a pressing, compact line in the modern game. That makes them susceptible to the switch and the potential of being caught out.
That’s why it’s crucial for attacking players to know when and how to switch – either by a long pass or a series or quick, short balls from one side of the pitch to the other.
In this exercise your players first have to work out how many ways they can get the ball from one end man to another. They will then move on to put that technique into practice to score points.
How to set it up:
- For this practice, you will need bibs, balls and cones. The session uses three teams of four players.
- Create a 30 yards long by 15 yards wide area, split into three equal zones.
- In the middle zone, mark out three cone gate goals along each line across the pitch.
These should be one yard wide and evenly spaced along the line.
- Start by getting the teams to work out all the combinations of play that can ensure the ball moves from one side of the pitch to the other in their groups… so either a long ball across, passes to each man individually, etc.
- Get them to switch positions.
- Practise this for five minutes.
- Then split the middle row of players into two teams of two.
- One team defends the three gates towards the top of the area, while the other team defends the other three gates towards the bottom.
- The outside teams must pass the ball within their area and score points by putting it through an empty gate, but any scoring effort must be passed through the gate, not struck hard.
- Rotate teams every five minutes and play for a total of 15 minutes, seeing how well attackers switch play and defenders cope with the demands of a versatile strikeforce.
Developing the session:
- In a 36 yards long by 20 yards wide area, use a goal and goalkeeper at each ends. Play 4v4 with two neutral players who run the lines but cannot go onto the pitch.
- Teams play a standard game but must involve a neutral player in every attack.
- Play for 10 minutes.
Why this works:
Getting players used to switching play encourages them to use the technique in matches, and in this session, you are showing them how and when to make the correct decision.
In the main game, having three goals protected by only two defenders means attackers will always be keen to hunt out space in which they can score.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Arsenal, attack, Barcelona, creating space, drills, exercise, goal, passing, score, tight defence
By David Clarke
Modern day football formations make it essential that midfielders and attackers become accustomed to playing in congested areas. If they can display the skills needed to produce short, sharp interchanges of play, the rewards in the final third can be impressive.
This session replicates the free-flowing passing football of Arsenal and Barcelona.
It will provide a platform to help your team find a way through opponents with flooded backlines, as well as those who attempt to break up play by deploying one or two holding midfield players.
Why this works
The session requires speedy and decisive passing over short distances. Opposition defenders are used as solid obstacles meaning attackers are encouraged to sidestep their man so as to find an angle for a pass.
The move should prove that the fewer touches each player takes, the quicker and more accurate the pass is likely to be, and with two attacking outlets, the last two defenders will need to make quick decisions as to which player to track.
Try to repeat this move until the attacking players can produce the quick interchanges using only one touch each.
Starting with an attacking triangle, you can adapt the attacking elements of this move to show the freedom of space that players can move into.
How to set it up
Four attackers and four defenders are required for the session to work – in the picture above, the attackers are labelled A, B, C and D.
The activity is carried out in the final third of the field using the goal and a goalkeeper in position.
Players A, B, C and D form a triangular shape.
The four defenders are positioned in the shape of an upside-down letter "Y", spread apart from each other but close to attacking players. They must hold shape and allow the attackers to work the angles.
Player A starts with the ball. He must make an angle to evade the first defender and pass to player B, before making a run towards goal.
Player B lays a similar ball to player C, who after laying a pass to player D makes his own forward run.
Player D controls the ball and look for runs from A and C, then he lays a pass off to his chosen man.
In this instance, player A receives the pass. Making sure to stay onside, he fires at goal with a first-time shot.
Player C must continue his run in order to take advantage of any loose balls or rebounds.
Vary passing shapes but always ensure a centralised midfield move breaks out into a double-headed attack.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: attack, lose, parents, score, shoot, tactics, touchline tale, win
I’ve heard a lot of things shouted at soccer games in youth leagues, but something that I was confronted with at our game last weekend was a new one for me.
It was hot on the heels of a meeting I’d had the day before where the blueprint for youth soccer in England had filled my world with hope for the future of the game. But the positivity and fair-mindedness that I’d experienced was quickly stifled in the reality of an Under-11s match.
We were playing against a strong, tough-tackling, hard-kicking team who were hitting balls at our defence with alarming regularity. Supporting this extremely hard-working team were a group of parents intent on winning, and winning whatever it took.
We adjusted to the pressure and at half-time it was 0-0. We now had the slope of the pitch in our favour. Our slick passing and movement began to gain us the upper hand, and the through-ball exercises we had been working on earlier in the week were looking as though they might pay dividends.
It was at this point one of the opposition parents, obviously realising his son’s team were losing their edge, began shouting warnings. Nothing unusual in that, until a final instruction came: “Don’t let them play!” he screamed. “Stop them playing!” This ‘tactic’ was promptly followed up by other parents. They were trying to end this absorbing game as a contest.
I remarked to the parent how much the players were enjoying the tactical battle, and that shutting down and stifling the game was a real shame… but of course I was ignored and the bluntly shouted instructions continued. This tactic actually allowed us to switch play more easily, and as my players began to pick off the tiring opposition players we found better chances to score. Late on, we finally found the net.
We held on to win the game, and the post-match atmosphere between the two sets of players, if not the parents, was good. It was our opponents’ first loss of the season and those around the sides of the pitch took it badly.
But what they failed to see was that it was a good close game. And it might have been even closer had they let the players continue in the same manner with which they’d approached the first half.
At the end my players said they had enjoyed winning 1-0 much more than the previous week when they’d triumphed 8-0, but I think even they felt the spirit of the game had gone in those final phases. That was a shame, because up until then there had been two styles of play cancelling each other out, providing a platform for an abundance of skill all over the pitch.
If only the parents hadn’t got involved…