Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Coach yourself a Carles Puyol – Barcelona legend

davidscwnew

By David Clarke

Barcelona’s captain Carles Puyol is known for his intense commitment and strength as a defender. According to Barcelona’s head doctor, Puyol is “the strongest, who has the quickest reactions, and who has the most explosive strength”.

Love him or loathe him, he is the sort of player who gives everything for the cause, who prides himself on being alert to wave after wave of attacking threats in and around the box. He is also the sort of player who is not afraid to put his body in harm’s way. And he’ll grab you the odd goal or two.

Ensuring that your players are back on their feet after a good tackle or clearance and ready to combat a second wave of danger is essential.

To keep them alive and reactive, here’s a defensive move that asks for quick reactions and tireless commitment to the cause.

How to set it up:

  • Create a playing area measuring 10×10 yards.

  • The drill requires four servers and one designated defender.

  • Each server starts on a different side, with a ball.

  • Place your defender in the middle – his job is to react to a different serve from each player around the area. After each serve, his task is to keep the ball within the box.

Getting started:

  • Starting on the left-hand side, server 3 throws the ball up for server 1 to head into the middle. The defender tries to stop the ball from going out of bounds.

  • Immediately, server 2 passes a ball towards the opposite line. The defender must now react, running to slide and stop the ball from crossing the line.

  • Now server 3 dribbles onto the pitch and attempts to get to the line opposite. The defender tries to stop him.

  • Finally, server 4 throws the ball over the defender’s head and attempts to run around him to win it back. The defender’s task is to shield the ball, letting it run over the line. If the ball stops dead before the line, he can then kick it clear to the left or the right.

  • Now rotate so that a different player acts as the defender.

Why this works:

Adopting the mindset that a defender’s job is rarely complete is absolutely vital if players are to counter all of the threats on a match day. After each phase of this drill, the defender needs to be alert to a new test, reacting quickly to each ball and clearing the danger.

Each test offers a new skill, and provides you with a quick-fire snapshot of where the defender’s game can be improved.



Simple skittles – but very match relevant

davidscwnewHow 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 anywhere on the pitch, 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.

How to set it up:

  • You will need six target cones and seven balls, plus additional cones to mark out a pitch. You will 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.

Getting started:

  • Each team defends its set of cones.
  • Players must try to knock the balls off the cones at their opponent’s end of the pitch while ensuring 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 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 the team that knock three balls off, then faces a different team. 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 knockout, 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 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.



Midfield magic – play like Frank Lampard

By David ClarkeDavid Clarke

Combining pace and aggression going forward with the wherewithal to track back, this is a move inspired by one of the best in the game, Chelsea ‘s Frank Lampard. For over 10 years, the England man has proved a pivotal force in the centre of the park, so here’s an opportunity for your players to try out some of that classic Lampard box-to-box play.

How to set it up:

Play 3v3v3, in an area of 30×30 yards. 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.

Getting started:

  • 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 two 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. l 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. Therefore 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 full match situation.



Sometimes simple is best – try 2v2

David ClarkeI often set up a number of simple 2v2 games for my players to give them plenty touches of the ball and force them to think tactically and make decisions about when to drop when to tackle when to intercept or when to dribble or pass. There’s a whole lot of coaching going on in this one.

What I look for: quick defenders who move the ball quickly when they win it; good defensive positions – individual and pairs; awareness of space.

Key points

  1. Speed – keep passes and touches to a minimum and be ready to spring into action.
  2.  Move directly towards the goal/target.
  3.  Sometimes, the fast break is not possible. It is important in these circumstances for defenders to keep possession and wait for the chance to play a forward pass.

 

How to set it up

Play 2v2 in a 20 yards by 10 yards area, split in two halves.

How to play it

  • Each team lines up on its goal line.
  • Play a 2v2 with the defending team restricted to its half.
  • To score a point, an attacker must dribble the ball across the defenders’ goal line.
  • If the defenders win the ball, they can launch an immediate counter attack.
  • The attackers then have to get back to defend as quickly as possible.
  • Once either team scores a point, or the ball goes out of play, possession is handed back to the original attacking team.
  • Play for, say 2 minutes, then swap team roles.

How to develop it

  • This time, if the defenders win the ball, only one can enter the opposition’s half.
  • The defender in possession can either dribble towards the goal line or pass to their partner, who breaks quickly into the other half.
  • If the counter attack isn’t possible, the only way a player can release their team mate into the opponent’s half is by crossing back into their own half with the ball.


Cream of English U17s well beaten by Qatar academy

Watching the Qatar Aspire Academy U17s playing in the Milk Cup youth tournament in Northern Ireland its hard not to be very impressed. The players are individually very skilfull and Qatar is developing a wonderful team.
They won the final against Manchester Utd U17s 5-1. Utd are known for having a very strong team but had nothing to give against these boys.

Qatar also beat a Brazilian youth team 6-1 and a Dutch youth team 7-1… watch this space.

Here they are beating Manchester Utd with some fabulous play.



Ashley Cole makes the right decisions

One of the world’s best defenders with or without the ball in 1v1 situations must be England and Chelsea superstar Ashley Cole. Most of the time he makes the right decision when faced with this situation.
Decision making is an important part of any young soccer player’s make-up. Every time they play a match, whether it’s for a team or for fun in the playground, there is a decision to be made when they get the ball.
Often they are faced with situations where there is an easy route where their team keeps the ball – a simple pass or sideways movement into space to slowly build up play – or a more difficult route with more to gain – attempting to dribble past a defender for example.
By playing this game you can help your players to see the results of their decisions. Because they keep the ball when points are scored they could quickly build up points by going to one of the easy cones. Or, if they find they are a lot of points down with only a few minutes left, they must go for the harder cone to quickly score points.
All your players – defenders, midfielders, attackers – should take part in this game. It can be used for any age group.

How to coach it

  • Tell your attackers to keep the ball moving.
  • They need to use moves and turns like stepovers, dragbacks and dummies to lose the defender.
  • Tell them to take every opportunity to score points.
  • The way to do it is to keep the ball close to their body.
  • When a player scores a point they return to the starting cone and try to score another point. They keep possession of the ball until it goes out of play or they lose the ball to the defender.


Why Rooney is the best defender

There is no better proponent of the art of defending from the front than Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and England. His defensive qualities set him apart from the other best attackers in the world – think of Cristiano Ronaldo or Francesco Totti neither would be seen charging the defenders high up the pitch where his bubbling enthusiasm can often see him win the ball back in his opponents half.

His movement when Manchester Utd lose the ball means that as the full backs advance Rooney can fill in as a third defensive midfielder blocking the attacking runs of the defenders.By forcing the play back he creates space in the centre of the pitch for Manchester’s more creative players like Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher to flourish.

These creative players then use the space to slip balls behind the opposing backline for Rooney or his striking partner to run on to making it hard to defend against.

This idea is something I like to make use of during my coaching sessions. If I can get the attackers in my teams to push high up the pitch to close the opposition defenders down before they are out of their own half it can force a mistake which opens up huge opportunities for my team to attack the space behind the defence.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,343 other followers