Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Play out from the back

davidscwnewOne of the things that is important in playing out from the back is the pass from the goalkeeper out to a defender in space. This is an important part of the tactic. A pass that puts the defender under pressure will usually end up in disaster.

A good first pass and the defenders are on their toes ready for the ball.

Play this game which keeps the defenders on their toes but gives them a target to aim at.

Pitch size: 30 x 20 yards (minimum) up to 40 x 25 yards (maximum)

  • One full-sized goal
  • One keeper
  • Two teams of four players
  • Three mini target goals
  • One team starts the game as the attacking team.
  • One team starts the game as the defending team.
  • The keeper starts the practice with the ball in his hands.
  • The defending team must attempt to pass out of defence and into one of the mini goals in order to score a goal.
  • The attacking team must try to win the ball and shoot into the net to score a goal.
  • The game is played for 10 consecutive balls.
  • The two teams then reverse roles for a further 10 balls.


Attack and defend in quick, simple overloads

When playing matches the elements are constantly changing.

You can be attacking on your own one second, then have a team mate aor team mates in support to pass to pass to the next.

In your sessions it is a good idea to run exercises that are constantly changing so your players can prepare for this happening in matches. You can sometimes see players switching off when you do repetitive drills that have them doing A, B or C and they don’t have to think about it.

This exercise is a high intensity, near continuous game using five players. You can set up two or three of these depending on numbers at your training session.

How to set it up

Set up a few 15 x 30 yard pitches marking out with cones a couple of small goals at each end. You will need one pitch for every five players.

How to play it

  • Choose 3 players who will be given the ball first against the remaining two. Decide which end the 3 are to attack. The attacking team start with the ball bringing it out from the goal line. They can choose to pass or dribble, but no direct goals are allowed on the first touch. The emphasis is on restarting quickly.
  • The 3 play against the 2 until either: the two defenders win clear possession of the ball; they must have it under control; or the ball goes over the goal line last touched by an attacker.
  • If either of these two things happen, the two players who were defenders become attackers trying to score at the opposite end in a game of 2v1 against whichever attacker last touched the ball, the player who lost possession or took a shot.
  • The attackers retain possession on all balls that go out over the side lines.
  • You will need a coach or knowledgeable soccer parent to act as referee…the point is to designate immediately which player stays on and which players go off (ignore the “it wasn’t me” shouts). The attackers who go off should quickly step well out of the way of this new 2v1 game and sit out until it is finished.
  • The 2v1 game continues until it resolves in the same fashion as for the 3v2 game; the lone defender wins clear possession or the ball goes out off one of the two attackers.
  • Now the 3 players who just played 2v1 immediately join together in a team of 3 attackers against the 2 who had to stand out, with the 3 now attacking, so we are back to step one.


Ghost attackers can be the real deal

David Clarke

Young players often stand and wait for the ball to be passed to them, then wonder why they are either second to it or have nowhere to go once they have it.

I like to get my attackers moving around and thinking about where they can go to make it easier to receive a pass. In this tight 2v2 game tell them to behave like a ghost, appearing in a defender’s line of sight one second, then gone the next. It will give the defenders nightmares.

Use this exercise so your forwards ask questions of the defence. I like to make my practise sessions as game-like as possible so there is some form of soccer realism created.

Get your attackers to try and prise openings around the penalty area while your defenders are keenly marking and watching out for players dropping off and moving, creating 1v1, 2v1 and 3v2 situations.

Set up on the edge of your penalty area as in the diagram above. You need three attackers, two defenders, a goalkeeper and a few balls.

The middle attacker acts as server and plays the ball to attacker 1 who is marked by defender 1. Attacker 1 must break away from defender 1 and get the ball under control. He will be supported by the server, who is close by, and attacker 2 on the far side, who must try to lose his marker – defender 2.

The defenders must be aware of the attack building up around them. Defender 1 has two players to worry about – the server and attacker 1 – while defender 2 must stay with attacker 2 and not be drawn to the action.

There are a lot of situations developing here in a short space of time. The attackers need to move quickly to first take advantage of the developing 2v1 situation and then the 3v2 situation.

When you are coaching this, try to get attacker 2 to move inside defender 2 and not go wide. If he does go wide, it will create a difficult angle and allow defender 2 to get between him and the ball.

In the second diagram, both attackers must move quickly to the areas marked B and C to put distance between themselves and the defenders.

The server must quickly decide who to pass to – whichever attacker moves fastest – and then play develops from there. You want to see attackers moving quickly to areas B and C and away again, putting the defenders on the back foot.



8v4 game – Get your coaching point across with overloads

David Clarke

Playing with overloads is a great way to get achieve your coaching focus. I often play games achieve success for players in certain aspects of the game. In this 8v4 game for instance, the overloads created and the set up means I can see switching play, short passing, long passing, good control and technique for the team of 8 and the team of 4 needs quick thinking and shooting to win the session

This game gets players practising different aspects of possession play and movement. When shooting at the targets, the scoring team must combine to goalscoring effect, while for the in-circle passing team the aim is to find a way past the opposition. The passing team outside the circle must be mobile and able to position themselves in the best way so as to receive the ball.

dave clarke

How to set it up:

  • Mark out a 30-yard diameter circular pitch (with markers or cones if necessary).

  • Place four goals at four equal points around the edge of the circle.

  • There is one team of eight players, the passing team.

  • The other team has four players, the scoring team.

  • The passing team starts with four on the pitch and four off the pitch.

  • The scoring team starts with all four players on the pitch.

The rules:

  • The passing team must attempt to keep possession at all times, playing out to their team-mates positioned outside the circle.

  • The player passing the ball must go to the outside whilst the receiving player dribbles into the playing area.

  • The scoring team must get the ball into the target goals.

  • The passing team get a point for each successful switch.

  • Play for a time period to be designated by the coach, then gradually rotate groups of four players so that each team gets the opportunity to perform in each role.




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