Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


3v3 to coach support play

davidscwnew

In this 3v3 game, you can get players to learn about providing support and being in the right position to cover when the ball is lost.

Support play

In a 3v3 situation, one of the most important jobs is to support the player on the ball. There should be forward support to provide an attacking outlet and rear support to give a defensive outlet.

A pass back to the player covering the defensive area of the team can be an attacking move because it can open up space on the other side of the pitch.

Support players need to think about:

  • The angle of support
  • The distance of support

Getting this right means the supporting player:

  • Has a full range of forward vision.
  • Can receive the ball comfortably.
  • Has space to pass the ball to a team mate.
  • Can move forward into space in front of them.

How to set it up

In this game, rear support comes from the goalkeeper who must move out of his goal when the team is attacking. When the team is in possession of the ball none of the three players are allowed in their defensive end zone.

Goalkeepers have to support from the rear and be ready to get back if the team lose the ball. So the attacking team always has an empty end zone so the defending team can quickly attack if it wins the ball.

The attacking team therefore has a 3v2 advantage in the middle of the pitch. The defending team can have players in any zone, but when it wins the ball and attacks, all players including the goalkeeper must move out of the defensive end zone.



Creating intelligent players

davidscwnew

Intelligence on the pitch isn’t something that comes naturally to all players. Many will make good passes or strong tackles but won’t think about what follows. Smart players are those who learn there is more than one part to a move – they must link, support and anticipate.

It is through exercises such as this one that a player’s footballing intelligence can be enhanced – not just so they replicate moves well, but so they realise too that when they’ve made their contribution, the sequence continues to build.

How to set it up:

  • Set up as shown in the diagram, with two players by the first cone (A). Five yards on, place another cone (B), then at right and left diagonals, place two more cones (C and D) 10 yards away.

Getting started:

  • This part of the exercise is run without a ball.

  • Setting off side by side, players sprint from A to B. They touch the cone at B and sprint to the diagonal cone on their side, touch that cone, then race back to the start.

  • As soon as the outgoing player touches cone B, the next man in line begins his run.

Developing the session:

  • For the second part, a ball is added.

  • Two servers are placed two yards either side of cone B.

  • Now, one player advances to cone A, passes to either of the servers, then sprints past B, where he receives the ball back in his stride.

  • This working player dribbles to C or D before returning to the start.

  • Swap the servers so each player has a go at both roles, and encourage working players to change the direction they take around the circuit each time.

Further progression:

  • This time, we place a player on A and two on B, plus two men on C and D.

  • The player at A passes to B, follows his pass and stops at the cone.

  • The player at B turns to his right with the ball, dribbles for a short distance then passes to the player at C.

  • This man receives the pass, dribbles to cone A, and begins the move again from the start.

  • The player at B this time turns in the other direction and heads for D.

Why this works:

Research from Sport England has shown that the average number of times a youth player sprints during a match is 19. The average distance is 10 yards and the run is not in a straight line.

What is replicated in this exercise is passing and receiving, taking into account those sprint statistics for youth matches.

The formation of the exercise also mimics the attacking angles players will practise in matches. And the alternating between cones C and D ensures that players use both feet.



Winning without the ball

davidscwnew

Call me strange but I like watching my team when we haven’t got the ball. In one of the matches we played this week my U10 team was attacking – all the players were in advanced positions. The opposition defence won the ball and were moving quickly to counter attack.

What was great to see was my players moving to cover the space they had left. The nearest player went to the ball and the others moved to cover. It was a great example of getting into a good defensive position and it stopped the counter attack immediately.

By moving into this defensive block, they were playing a compact game making the pitch smaller for the opposition by covering the space behind them.

This is a great tactic for young teams, they can work hard and win the ball back when they have lost it – but remember it is hard work and needs committed players!

To practise this I use a warm-up and a small-sided game:

 

Warm-up

  • Lay out several rows of two cones, about six yards apart.

  • Split your squad into pairs.

  • Players pass to their partner, then follow behind the pass and try to slow the advancing player using a jockeying technique – blocking the player’s movement without contact.

Small-sided game

  • Play a small-sided game on a pitch 30 yards long by 20 yards wide. I’ve shown a 4v4 in the picture but depending on the size of your squad you can use 3v3 or 5v5.

  • The player with the ball takes three touches on the move before they can pass. Players cannot kick the ball three times quickly when they are stationary.

  • No tackling at first, only jockeying. Allow tackling once the game has been played a few times. Opponents must close down quickly before the three touches are taken.

  • Play first to five goals or time it for 10 to 15 minutes.



Pressure, support and depth – go defensive

By David Clarke davidscwnew

Teaching defenders technique and the ability to move into the right places at the right time can be done on the training ground.

Here though, we combine the teaching with an immediate attack versus defence scenario, so players are straight away putting into practice what they have learnt.

So they must ensure they react to the call well, adopt the right shape, then be ready to defend immediately.

How to set it up:

  • Create a 25-yard square with 10 x 5 yards end zones.

  • In front of one end zone, place three cones across the width of the area, plus a mini goal just in front of the central cone.

  • Three defenders start behind the cones and three attackers start at the opposite end.

  • Stand halfway up the area on the touchline.

The technique:

The three defenders will need to move as per your instructions, so teamwork and unity is essential in maintaining a solid backline. So you will call either:

“Left” – the left defender pressures and shows inside, the central defender supports and stops the forward pass, the defender farthest away supports the central player and provides depth.

“Centre” – the central defender pressures the ball while the two wide defenders take up supporting positions behind, and to either side to stop the forward pass.

“Right” – the right defender pressures and shows inside, the central defender supports and stops the forward pass, the defender farthest away supports the central player and provides depth.

Getting started:

  • On your call, the defending team completes the defending technique task.

  • You then pass a ball to the attacking team at the opposite end.

  • Immediately, the defenders must run onto the pitch and use the group defending technique to stop their opponents from scoring in their target goal.

  • Each team has six run-throughs before the roles are reversed. The winning team is the one to have scored most times in the goal.



Supporting players who can do it in training but not in matches

David ClarkeI have coached players who make recurring errors during matches but can perform the skill perfectly well in training. They need my support and help. I always start by trying to find the cause of the problem.

Why do performance errors occur?

Anxiety

All players experience anxiety before performing. For many, this enhances their performance by increasing the production of adrenalin. However, in some individuals, it causes them to tense up and has a negative effect.

Players might experience increased anxiety during matches when coaches and parents shout too many negative comments from the touch line.

Tactical naivety

A player might have all the skills, but consistently makes poor decisions when under pressure on the pitch.

Tiredness

This is common in players who are dehydrated or haven’t eaten or slept properly before matches. Tiredness affects the decision making processes and also the body’s physical ability.

Four steps for dealing with performance errors

Speak to the player and use the following four-point process to help them understand and overcome their performance errors.

1. Acknowledge the error

The player needs to realise they are making errors during matches that, given their skill level, should be avoidable. Discuss how they can perform the skills well and how you both need to find out what is causing the match day errors.

2. Review the errors

Work with them to determine how and why the errors occur. Do they get nervous before matches? Are they eating and drinking properly during the build up to matches?

3. Make a plan

Based on their responses, you can put together a plan with the player to make the necessary corrections for the future.

4. Execute the plan

Provide the player with support to execute their personal action plan before the next match. Ensure the player is realistic and doesn’t expect the errors to disappear instantly. They need to understand it is a long-term process and might take many weeks.



Coach the supporting defender

David Clarke By David Clarke

If you’re facing a team where the attackers are getting good support from the wings, you need your defenders to support each other in dealing with the threat. The supporting defender in this situation is vital for cutting off attacking options.

In this session players learn how to improve the understanding of covering and support between team mates.

How to play it

Set up a 30 yards by 20 yards area and add a 5 yards end zone at one end. Split the playing area down the middle with a row of cones so you can run two drills at the same time and allow more players to participate.

To begin, the defender near the end zone passes to the attacker at the other end. He must then stop the attacker from dribbling back towards him and into the end zone. The supporting defender, standing behind the playing defender, must give verbal support such as, “get tight”, “stand up” or “force wide”.

How to develop it

Remove the cones to create one pitch. Now two defenders work together in a 2v1 situation against the attacker. The first defender must put pressure on the attacker while the team mate covers and supports.

After the ball has been played, a second attacker enters the pitch from the other side and the defensive roles are switched. The defender creating pressure now covers and supports while the covering defender has a turn at putting pressure on the new attacker.

Turn it into a game

Play as above, but with the addition of a goalkeeper and goal. Now the attackers can shoot from distance so there is extra pressure on the defenders to move across quickly. The goalkeeper can provide additional support, communicating with both defenders.



Recovery – I had to point out to my U11s that they were doing it

David ClarkeI spoke to Charlie at half time in a match this week. He was rather cross that I wouldn’t play him up front. He had been player of the match the previous week playing up front and thought this would be his position for keeps.

He said he was doing nothing playing in central defence and wasn’t sure why he was playing there. I explained to him about how he knew I moved players around the pitch to let them try different positions. But I also pointed out to him that he had twice recovered back and stopped a certain goal by tackling the player before they shot.

Not only that he had also cleared a long ball with his head away from danger. Is that good, he asked? Brilliant – as good as scoring a goal, I told him, and off he went pleased with himself.

I use this session to coach recovery with my players. It combines pace and awareness because players must concentrate on recovering by moving quickly, then supporting the other defenders. Another crucial part of this is in making sure that once your players have made it back they don’t turn off mentally and subsequently fail to complete the defending task. It can be all too easy to get back and think that the job is done, when really it has only just started!

How to set it up:
• Use a standard pitch for a warm-up sprint drill.
• Also set-up an area measuring 35×10 yards with a goal at one end – this will form the main part of the session.

Getting started:
• Start first with a sprint drill to teach defenders tracking back the key areas they should be running into.
• Players should run as fast as possible and take the shortest route towards the danger area. Players on the wing should take a line back towards the nearest goalpost, while those in the centre of the pitch should run towards the penalty spot.
• Now move to your 35×10 yard area.
• Three white strikers attack one defender and a goalkeeper.
• A second defender is 10 yards behind the play. His aim is to make it back to the ball to help prevent a goal.
• The middle striker is a server and cannot move. He plays the ball to either of the two white forwards. As soon as he does, play begins and the recovering defender can move.
• The lone defender must hold up the strikers until the second defender arrives.

The recovering player must make one of four decisions.
1. Challenge for the ball
2. Cover the defender
3. Mark an opponent
4. Mark space between the opponent and goal
• When a move comes to an end, play restarts with the serving attacker.

U11 soccer drills



Pass and support to create goals

When players pass the ball it is vital to their team’s success that they don’t just pass the ball then think their job is over. Support play will help your team keep possession of the ball and create goal-scoring chances. There’s a lot more to build up play than simply making good passes.It is often the pass into space that a player runs on to which creates the scoring opportunity.

This needs accuracy, good weight and timing of passes and runs. Supporting runs make life easier for your player on the ball, which means your team will have more chance of scoring goals.

Watch this goal from Landon Donovan and see how passing and support creates the chance to score then try the exercise below it to help you coach support play:

dave clarke

How to set up the soccer drill

Mark out an area around 10 metres x 20 metres and start with three players in this soccer drill.

In the first part of the diagram, attacker A is in possession of the ball.

Defender B holds his position and allows A to pass.

Player C makes the overlap, creating the opportunity to pass past the defender.

Note: If you are playing offsides make sure player A has timed the pass so that C is not beyond B, and in an offside position, when the ball arrives.

Get your players to read the defender

B can set off towards C once A has passed the ball. One of the skills to pick up is the timing of the pass and the accuracy.
A has to has to be decisive with a crisp pass for C. Note that in the second diagram B is much more active.

Advance the soccer (football drill)

In the second soccer drill, player C plays the ball into A, who has to control, and pass back into the path of player C who has run on to support his pass. Player B meanwhile has come out of the corner and must try and win the ball, so C’s pass must be sharp, A must control, turn quickly and get his pass away to player C’s run. Player C must then hold off player B’s challenge
and get past the end line.

Soccer drill’s third phase

The third phase makes a much more demanding run from player C – the overlapping player. The move takes place like an attacking corner. Player A takes a short corner to player B, who controls the ball and shields it from defender D. Player A moves away into the field, while player C overlaps around the outside of B who lays the ball off to C in a dangerous attacking position, running into the penalty area.




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