Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


How to analyse youth players

davidscwnewI gave a talk last year about analysing players during the season – essentially when I do it and how I do it.

A lot of coaches were asking me about the system I use and wanted to try something similar themselves. They were keen to know how appropriate it was for assessing new players during pre-season or on trial days.

I use a system I call TIPS, which was introduced to me by a couple of youth coaches who worked at Dutch club Ajax.

Here’s what TIPS stands for:

T = Technique.
Can the player control the ball? What about his first touch, passing, shooting and tackling ability?

I = Intelligence.
Does the player make the right decisions? Can he think ahead?

P = Personality.
How does he communicate with others? What about leadership, creativity, receptivity to team mates and discipline?

S = Speed.
Is he quick off the mark, mobile, and can he maintain pace over long distance?I use it for players during the season to assess how they are progressing, but when I look at new players for my team it’s the IPS bit that I find most interesting.

That’s because if I feel a player is short on the ‘T = Technique’ part it is up to me to bring him up to a good level. It may not be his fault that his technique is not up to scratch so I look at the other things in which he may or may not excel.

Arsène Wenger said recently that when he assesses young players it is speed he looks for first and technique second which, coming from a coach who utlises a system where player technique is vital, it just goes to show that technique can be taught.

When you think about it, the level of technique for 99% of players in grass roots football can be taught – it is only that tiny percentage who go on to play in the academies and the professional game who need something extra. You can coach technique to your players so they are of a sufficient standard to play at grass roots level.

So on trial days I will give players marks out of 10 after observing them, and get my helpers and fellow coaches to do the same. This gives us a way of fairly analysing which players we feel would be a good fit with our teams.Why not apply this criteria to your players?

If it works for Ajax, it will hopefully work for you too!

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Simple tactics for throw-ins

By David Clarke

David ClarkeI find that when young players pick up the ball for a throw-in and are faced by one of their team mates very close to them they usually end up doing a foul throw because they aren’t throwing the ball very far.

The way to stop them doing this is to give them tactics that both the thrower and receiver have practised before the match.

A player too close to the thrower is not in a good position anyway. What you are looking for is a player on the move who can take the ball in their stride and use it to advance your team up the pitch.

Throw-ins are good attacking weapons but you also need to be able to make the most of them when you are defending as well.

I use these four throw-in tactics to give all my teams good basic ideas so they know what to do when they pick the ball up. You should try them too.

  • In diagram 1, player A throws to player B who gives the ball back to player A with the inside of the right foot on the volley.

  • Once your players have done it a few times with their right foot, player B does the same this time using the left foot like diagram 2 – again playing the ball from the throw-in before it touches the ground.

Concentrate on the quality of the throw-in

Player A should always make sure his throw makes it easy for player B to move to the ball and volley back. The throw should put the ball at the right height, in the right spot and at the right pace.

Make sure your throwers concentrate on this, aiming the ball in the general direction of player B is not good enough.

Players shouldn’t be put under pressure

A ball thrown at chest or head height will put player B under pressure, as defenders will have a chance of intercepting as player B tries to control the ball.

How to progress

  • You can progress the throw-in practice, as we have done in diagram 3, by adding a defender and another team mate.

  • Player A must then disguise his throw, so the defender runs to the wrong player.

Support and move from the throw-in

    • Add another defender, as in diagram 4. This time the thrower and his attackers must support each other once the initial throw has been made.

    • Player B receives the ball, passes to player C then supports the pass so player C can pass back to him. Or player C can pass long to player A who has run into an attacking position down the wing.

    • Alternatively, player B can either play the ball back to player A and set up an attack, or retain possession, and still set up a 3v2 situation.

Soccer coaching tips to boost player throw-ins




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