Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Great way to switch play

davidscwnewSwitching play (moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other) will allow teams to create significantly more space on a football pitch. And that, in turn, can lead to better goalscoring situations.

Changing this angle of an attack requires intelligence and reasonable passing ability, but get it right and it’s a potent weapon for your team.

Here’s how to do it.

How to set it up:

  • Set up a 45×20 yards playing area.
  • On both long sides, position three goals using poles or cones, each five yards wide. Each team protects three goals.
  • In the area, a 4v3 takes place. The overload is designed to help one team achieve the coaching focus.

Getting started:

  • Teams must maintain possession, use quick switching of play to find space – with both short and long passes – and score in any of the goals.

Progressing the session:

  • After 10 minutes, add two players in sweeper roles behind the goals their team is defending. The opposition cannot score in a goal the sweeper is protecting.
  • Rotate players regularly.

Game situation:

  • Set up a 50×40 yards area with a full-size goal at one end and three small goals at the other. Play 5v4 (including the keeper), use normal rules. The team with the overload attacks the three goals. Here, look for switches from deep and quick breaks forward.

Why this works:

The session encourages forward angled passing, one-twos and through balls, and rehearses offensive as well as defensive principles. Teams that can hold onto the ball and make use of the space will create lots of scoring chances.

* Editor’s choice *

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The Lone Ranger – wins the ball and beats the keeper

davidscwnew

Although this game is heavily weighted in favour of the passing team, the
need to make 10 consecutive passes puts pressure on the players in a
tight area.

If the defender does manage to force a mistake, he needs to show stamina
and composure to make his efforts count by scoring a goal. Collective pressure and individual responsibility are key elements of what
makes players and teams successful.

How to set it up:

  • This game uses two teams of four players.

  • One works as the passing team. The other works as defenders, though only one player works at a time.

  • Create a playing area measuring 40×25 yards.

  • At one end, place a goal and goalkeeper.

  • At the other, mark out a 10-yard square centred on the far touchline.

The rules:

  • The passing team of four players works in the 10-yard square, passing
    the ball around and attempting to retain possession.

  • One at a time, each player in the defending team must enter the area
    and attempts to win possession from the passers.

  • If the defending player manages to force a mistake or win possession,
    he leaves the ball where it is and runs towards the other goal. Receiving a pass from you, he tries to score past the keeper.

  • The defending team gains a point for each goal scored.

  • The passing team scores a point for each set of 10 consecutive passes.

  • When the passing team manages to make 10 consecutive passes, the
    defender is replaced.

  • Each defender has two attempts at winning the ball in the 10-yard
    square during each game.

  • Swap teams and repeat the game so players experience both roles.



Tap-ins need practice too…

davidscwnewIt’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.

messiA 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.



Hit the target man and score

By David Clarkedavidscwnew

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.

Getting started:

  • 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.



Creating a stylish strike force the Italian way

David Clarke

I started my coaching session this week with an attacking drill inspired by the game between Palermo and Inter Milan last season in Italy. The two main men were Diego Milito and Fabrizio Miccoli – an M&M exhibition.

It creates situations that will keep a frontman’s mind active – switching between measured approach play and first-time shooting.

How to set it up

  • Create an area measuring 30 yards long by 20 yards wide. Use two goals,
    two goalkeepers, a striker, four servers and plenty of balls.

  • Position the four servers, one on each corner of the square,
    numbering them 1 to 4, anti-clockwise from the top left.

  • Place a cone in the centre – this is the starting point.

Getting started

  • Server 1 plays the ball into the centre where the striker
    controls with his first touch then shoots with his second.

  • The striker then turns and moves quickly to a pass from the
    opposite side of the area and repeats the task, as in the top picture.

  • He then returns to the centre for a pass from server 2, but this
    time the striker must dribble and go 1v1 with the goalkeeper. He
    then quickly turns for a pass from server 1, controls and shoots in the opposite goal, as in the middle picture.

  • In the final test the striker must shoot first time from passes by
    servers 3 and 4. No controlling touch is allowed as in the bottom picture.

  • At the end of the sequence, rotate all players.



Never write your strikers off… just ask Matri at Juventus

dave clarkeA friend of mine was thrilled this week. His son had scored the winner in an U14s match against a team at the top of the league. It gave the team a huge boost because they hadn’t scored a lot of goals recently.

But even more important to my friends son was that he had actually played. The team normally has the manager’s son playing up front, and although he is a good player no one else got to play in that position – my friends son was limited to bit part substitute roles.

The fact that without his son up front the team still played well and his “reserve” striker had scored the winning goal hopefully made its mark on the manager. Players must be allowed to play games or you cannot see how much they have developed from week to week.

It reminded me of the recent Juventus v Inter Milan game. “It’s hard to score goals without any attackers,” Said Juventus manager Gigi Del Neri in January when they won just two of seven league games after losing top scorer Fabio Quagliarella to injury.

He went out and bought Alessandro Matri from Cagliari on the last day of the transfer window which didn’t impress everyone.

Former Juventus great Franco Causio was not impressed: “Matri? He won’t make the difference.”

But just like my friends son he has. He scored the winner against hated rivals Inter.

“Matri is already a legend,” said the Turin-based newspaper La Stampa. Gazzetta dello Sport is even more enthusiastic. “Do you realise what you have done,” it declares. “That was not a goal. That was a howl of liberation, a declaration of love, an act of desire, a black-and-white orgasm.”

You’ll never know how good a player is until you see them playing in your team each week. Don’t have bench warmers in your team.

Watch Matri’s goal below:

 Soccer Skills and Drills



Young strikers should take second chances

dave clarkeA big part of being a striker is being in the right place at the right time, following up shots to put any rebounds in the back of the net. In a youth game spectacular goals are a rarity – but rebounds are plentiful.

When I think about players following up to put away rebounds I think of Pippo Inzaghi when he was in his pomp at AC Milan. He was always in the right place at the right time to pop the ball into the back of the net when it had been parried by a goalkeeper.

I like my strikers to follow any shots however feeble they are because young goalkeepers often push the ball away rather than risk catching it giving predatory strikers a second chance to score a goal.

So when you are coaching strikers make sure they keep on their toes once the shot has been sent goalwards and are ready for any rebounds coming their way.

Watch this clip of Inzaghi and see how he is always in the right place at the right time.

Soccer shooting drills




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