Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: attack, lose, parents, score, shoot, tactics, touchline tale, win
I’ve heard a lot of things shouted at soccer games in youth leagues, but something that I was confronted with at our game last weekend was a new one for me.
It was hot on the heels of a meeting I’d had the day before where the blueprint for youth soccer in England had filled my world with hope for the future of the game. But the positivity and fair-mindedness that I’d experienced was quickly stifled in the reality of an Under-11s match.
We were playing against a strong, tough-tackling, hard-kicking team who were hitting balls at our defence with alarming regularity. Supporting this extremely hard-working team were a group of parents intent on winning, and winning whatever it took.
We adjusted to the pressure and at half-time it was 0-0. We now had the slope of the pitch in our favour. Our slick passing and movement began to gain us the upper hand, and the through-ball exercises we had been working on earlier in the week were looking as though they might pay dividends.
It was at this point one of the opposition parents, obviously realising his son’s team were losing their edge, began shouting warnings. Nothing unusual in that, until a final instruction came: “Don’t let them play!” he screamed. “Stop them playing!” This ‘tactic’ was promptly followed up by other parents. They were trying to end this absorbing game as a contest.
I remarked to the parent how much the players were enjoying the tactical battle, and that shutting down and stifling the game was a real shame… but of course I was ignored and the bluntly shouted instructions continued. This tactic actually allowed us to switch play more easily, and as my players began to pick off the tiring opposition players we found better chances to score. Late on, we finally found the net.
We held on to win the game, and the post-match atmosphere between the two sets of players, if not the parents, was good. It was our opponents’ first loss of the season and those around the sides of the pitch took it badly.
But what they failed to see was that it was a good close game. And it might have been even closer had they let the players continue in the same manner with which they’d approached the first half.
At the end my players said they had enjoyed winning 1-0 much more than the previous week when they’d triumphed 8-0, but I think even they felt the spirit of the game had gone in those final phases. That was a shame, because up until then there had been two styles of play cancelling each other out, providing a platform for an abundance of skill all over the pitch.
If only the parents hadn’t got involved…
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: Barcelona, drill, exercise, passing, session, spain, success, win
A lot of coaches have been asking me “how can I make my team play like Spain”. Sometimes with youth players you need to let them have success at doing things before they get the belief in themselves that they can do it. Using unopposed exercises for build-up and combination play in attack is a good way of coaching your players to move the ball, and encourages movement to support the ball as play moves around the pitch. And because it is unopposed they will experience some of the moves that Spain or Barcelona create.
In this session, strikers and midfielders combine with a neat lay off and a precise threaded ball to set up a shot across the goalkeeper.
Set up a 40 yards by 30 yards playing area with four mannequins (poles or cones will do), two cones and two goals. You need eight outfield players and two goalkeepers.
How to play it
- The forwards move away from the mannequin to receive a pass.
- The forwards set the pass back to the supporting midfielders.
- The midfielders return the pass into space for the forwards to spin and run after. The forwards now shoot across the goal.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Barcelona, Manchester United, messi, nani, Real Madrid, valencia, win, youtube
If you find you’re playing a team like Barcelona who won’t allow you to have the ball don’t try to stop them playing – you end up not being able to stop them and ruining your own game plan.
Sure your players will be thinking that it’s time they had the ball because all teams want the ball but if they hold their positions and when they do win it hit quickly on the break they can make the game theirs.
When teams lose patience they often lose the game because they become easy to pick off with one-two passing and 1v1 skills.
If you jump in like Nani does on Lionel Messi you will easily be beaten. Watch the video clip below of Messi beating Nani.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: AC Milan, jmoonwalk, Kevin prince-boateng, michael jackson, victory, win
Last season one of my players was the lead role in Billy Elliot: The Musical at our local theatre and he stood up and sang one of the songs from it. It made it a special occasion and one that everyone enjoyed. Hopefully this season someone will be able to do something similar.
I was reminded of this when I saw that AC Milan’s Kevin Prince-Boateng had kept a promise to do a Michael Jackson routine if his side won the Serie A title in Italy.
The Italian giants won their first league championship in seven years with a 0-0 draw at Roma last week, and they celebrated their title with a resounding 4-1 thrashing of Cagliari in front of their home fans on Saturday.
After the game Boateng, in his first season with the Rossoneri, stole the show by dressing up and performing Jackson’s dance moves, including the moonwalk.
what a great way to be part of a team experience and take winning in the spirit it should be taken – players showing their human side.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: argentina, creative, lose, messi, win, youth
After the Argentinian side went out of the World Cup I have been watching with interest to see if they, like Brazil, will adopt a more European style or stick with its traditional style of attacking play.
At youth level, coaches are encouraged to play either 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2 on the grounds those formations should ensure the continued production of attacking midfielders. In games you rarely see any pressing of the ball, so players can stroll around with all the time in the world to be creative.
On TV they like to highlight the best moments of skill from the weekend much like they do on Soccer AM but the skill is the highlighted whether it leads to any attacking or defending move or not.
I warm to the idea, its all about the fun element, and that is what I should be seeing up and down the country in the parks and grounds where youth soccer takes place – it’s the idea that playing the right way is more important than winning.
It gives young players the time to be creative and leads to very watchable matches. When did your U8 midfielder get time on the ball without someone shouting “pass it!” or worse “get rid of it!”
There is one problem with this romantic idea of how the game should be played – the only side Argentina has beaten in a World Cup knockout game without going to penalties in the past 20 years is Mexico.
What does that do for the beautiful game?
Take a look at the latest Argentina sensation Javier Pastore the future of Argentinian football – linked with a £40m move to Manchester City.