Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

The best of the worst missed goals

Here’s something to watch when your team has missed chances… it won’t change what happened in your game but it might bring a smile to your face.


The secret to beating a static defence

One of the things I am constantly coaching my teams to do is to pass the ball into space behind the opposition defenders.
By playing a ball from midfield into an attacker he has the option to turn and run or try to make space for the shot or pass first time behind the defenders so one of his team-mates can run on to it.
In this video the AC Milan players at last year¹s Champions Youth Cup Final played Ajax ­ the kings of the pass ­ at their own game and scored a goal by playing the ball into space behind the defence. The Milan forward reacted quickest and had time to round the goalkeeper and finish into the net.



Laws of the playground NOT good for footballers


I was watching a group of boys in the playground of my son’s school in England last week, and how they sorted themselves out for a game of football.


It was all ‘John and I are the best players so we can pick the teams’. And I saw and felt the embarrassment of the last player to be picked. ‘You can have him – no you have him.’

The teams were pretty even, lots of running and not much passing. Of course the boy who was last to be picked was stuck in goal and probably never got the chance to play anywhere else. What will he think of football when he’s older?

This is why good coaches like you and I can have a huge difference in the lives of a lot of children. I’m sick of hearing from various figures on TV (and from my father-in-law) that coaching at youth level has nothing to do with the kids anymore. And that it was much better in ‘the old days’ when boys picked teams and organised themselves. The ‘Jumpers for Goalposts’ era of skills and innocence where boys flourished into footballing idols. So where are all the glorious England teams of the past?

I’ve made boys who would have gone in goal in the playground and never left it, into extremely good players. In fact one of them now playing at under 16 was a player no one wanted in their teams when he was 7 or 8. Through my training he is now the leading scorer for the team and one of the first names on the team sheet.

A lot of what we do as coaches is give children the chance to play in teams, the chance to play up front or midfield or at the back. And giving someone a chance in life is a great gift to give.

There are bad coaches I don’t deny it, but there are hundreds of coaches out there – usually the ones that read Better Soccer Coaching so I’m preaching to the converted –  that can change the lives of a lot of children.

Get a Torres in your under 13s

Watching Fernando Torres aged 12 playing in for Athletico Madrid against AC Milan just shows what we could all have in our teams. Does he look special here? Well I reckon my under 13s could give them a run for their money! 

How to take penalties

I wrote an article last week for Better Soccer Coaching about how to turn penalty shoot-outs in your favour by teaching your goalkeeper how to read them. During my research for it I came across Francesco Totti practising his penalties during a Roma training session.

 If only he’d been at Euro 2008…

Parents are VITAL to soccer teams

One of the vital ingredients in coaching young soccer teams is the support of the players’ parents.

Better Soccer Coaching has a lot of information on how to control parents but you should also nuture and get the best out of them. 

Any player who needs lifts to matches or whose parents drop off and leave are no good to your team. It doesn’t matter how good the player is if his parents are not supportive you will end up tearing your hair out when he doesn’t turn up or you go to his house and his parents say “he’s still in bed” or they don’t know where he is.

You will find the other parents are forking out money to pay referees and for drinks and for other things a soccer team needs, but the absent parent gets off free.

The linesman rota will be short and that will get the other parents annoyed.

One of my best midfield players last season was constantly seeking lifts. Because he spent each weekend with different parents, away games were a nightmare, we could never find him! Home games he came on his bike. Eventually he stopped coming to those as well because he got no support and it began to mean little to him – he wanted his dad there to praise him. One of the other boys parents lived nearby but even though he knocked on the door there was often no sign of him.

My initial response was that he was just a boy who wanted to play, but it became a problem when numbers were short and he was taking the place of boys I had turned away when the initial squad was formed. His parents didn’t care whether he played or not and certainly never turned up to watch him play. A good player who just needed the support of parents was wasted.

Look after your parents you need them!

David Clarke, editor, Better Soccer Coaching