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: 2v2, 4v4, player positions, small-sided games, tactics, team shape
Changing team shapes by changing the number of players during a game is a fantastic way to get your players to keep their concentration and adapt the team shape and tactics to suit the situation.
I have used this exercise with my players for the past two training sessions because it gives me lots of coaching points that I can get across to my players as the game progresses.
How to play it
Set up as shown in the first picture, with four teams of two players (blacks, whites, grey shirt/grey shorts and grey shirts/grey shorts), plus two neutral keepers.
Start the game with four teams of two playing with one ball.
Players can score in either goal. If the ball leaves play, pass a new one in immediately.
On your call, two teams immediately join together (for instance, “blacks and whites”) and the game continues in a 4v4 situation. Both these teams now join forces to play against grey/whites and grey/greys.
Play for 10 minutes changing player combinations at regular intervals.
Technique and tactics
Keep the game moving fast.
Players should mix passes by either playing them to feet or into space.
How to develop it
- You can overload the game against one team – for example, “whites, grey/ whites and grey/greys” would play against the black duo.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 3v3, accuracy, cleverley, direction, England, score, shoot, small-sided games, welbeck, win
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 all parts of the penalty area 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 of the pitch.
How to set it up:
You will need six target cones and seven balls, plus additional cones to mark out a pitch. You’ll 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.
One team starts on the left, one on the right. Each defends the cones as they would do a goal in a normal match, although there is no keeper.
Players must try to knock the balls off the cones at their opponents’ end of the pitch while defenders need to ensure 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 that 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 that the side getting a strike knocks the opposing team out, and another comes into play. 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 knock-out, 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 that 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: closse control, drill, fast passing, session, small-sided games, technique, tight space
Although simple in concept, this is a difficult small-sided game, and one that is brilliant when preparing for situations where space on the pitch is at a premium – for instance when two sides slot five men into midfield.
The fact the pitch remains long in length means that play can be spread about. That said, attackers must be sure of their control and angle of approach, as the defender’s task is made that much easier by only having to cover a relatively small width.
Teams will generally find that they need to build up through the middle of the pitch using quick skills and passing combinations, so close control and good technique is encouraged and can serve teams well.
- Pitch size: 30×20 yards (min) up to 40×25 yards (max).
- This is a 4v4 game plus two keepers.
- Construct two channels of 5 yards in width, one down each side of the pitch from the touchline.
- The game is played for a set time period of 10 minutes.
- Play as you would do a normal game, but with no offside rule.
- If the ball leaves play, you have a few re-start options:
1 The coach passes a new ball onto the pitch
2 The players take a roll in
3 The players take a throw in
4 The players make a pass in
5 The players dribble in
- The aim of the game is for the teams to score in each other’s goal, whilst negotiating a much narrower playing area.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: fabregas, passing, small-sided games, vision
There are certain players that I watch and wonder whether I could create for my youth team. These are special players that magically appear on my TV screen and I can be absorbed watching them. The way they play the game leaves others mesmerized in their wake.
Everyone talks about the strikers who can light up the game with one change of pace and in an instant give their team the advantage, but the special players I would like in my team play in midfield and come from Spain. Xavi and Andres Iniesta of Barcelona are outstanding hard working skilful players, but the one I see most of all is Cesc Fabregas.
Fabregas can run a game for the full 90 minutes. At the age of 22 he already has the ability to orchestrate the play of his team-mates. He can force them to change the direction of a run by his own clever pass that exploits space his team mates didn’t even see.
In the same way that Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard runs around doing everything better than anyone else in the team through sheer determination, Fabregas does it with his outstanding understanding of geometrical space.
And I want him in every single one of my teams because that is how I want my teams to play.
Space and vision is something you can coach your team to understand better. They may not be players who impose their own sense of space on their team mates but you can give them a better understanding of how to use space which will benefit your team in the long run. To do this I use a lot of small-sided games which are great to coach young players in how to use space and passing.
Fabregas’s ability was demonstrated by one pass in the 1-0 defeat of Liverpool earlier this month which was over 30 yards and at an angle through a crowd of Liverpool players to the feet of Diaby which showed his awareness and sense of space – Diaby failed to control it otherwise the scoreline would have been greater.
In this clip you can see some of the incredible passes he makes that look so simple but show his amazing vision: