Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

The problem with training on astro turf…

I came in from training last night feeling a slight annoyance at the session. We were running the “turn 3v2 into 2v1” passingdavidclarke1.gif drill from Better Soccer Coaching (Soccer Coach Weekly, 25 July 2007, page 3) and it was going perfectly. Bang, bang, bang the passes were drilled to feet, controlled and drilled back. My Better Soccer Coaching colleagues would have looked on with a mixture of admiration and jealousy!

But at the back of my mind I know that come Sunday the boys will be on pitches that resemble ploughed fields and the ball will stick in the mud. You see, the problem is we train on astro turf. Outstanding if you play at Stamford Bridge or the Nou Camp every week, but on grassroots English pitches it doesn’t quite go hand in hand. When I write about training sessions in Better Soccer Coaching I am often tempted to give drills purely for astro turf and explain how you translate that onto the pitch on a rainy weekend.

Of course the best answer is to get your players to the match at least half an hour early so you can push them through some intense passing practice. One of the best ones is to get your players into fours and make a triangle with one player trying to win the ball off the other three, featured in our warm-ups in Better Soccer Coaching (Soccer Coach Weekly, 1 August 2007, page 2). Get them on the pitch and get that ball moving between the players. This is the best way to get the players used to the pitch before a match.

Astro turf is a great all-weather solution to training in rainy countries, and it is great for games like soccer tennis. It allows the ball to move around quickly for your passing drills – you just have to beware the stick-in-the-mud factor and take heed of what we say in Better Soccer Coaching: warm-ups work!

I looked at the pitch last night and wondered if David Beckham was to hit a crossfield pass to Ronaldo who beats a player then turns it inside to Lionel Messi, quick turn and on to Didier Drogba and bang into the net, would it work in the mud? I have my doubts, so why should I expect my players to do it?

David Clarke, Better Soccer Coaching editor


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