Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Splitting defences with a pass
April 26, 2009, 7:15 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Skills | Tags: , ,

dc1A pass can split a defence in two – even at youth level the killer pass is the through ball that makes a goal scoring chance for your attackers.

It’s the ball you are always looking for whether you are playing in the top leagues or the bottom leagues, the ball that splits the defence is the one that brings you goals.

If you watch an expert like Kaka do it, then maybe you can get your players to copy it, It isn’t easy and nine times out of ten it gets cleared away. But when it works, boy does it work.

Watch Kaka’s guide to passing and see him hitting defence splitting passes…

 Soccer Skills and Drills


Coaching goalkeepers to save the 1v1

dc1I’ve just come in from a game at U13s where the two goalkeepers were outstanding.

It isn’t often you see two goalkeepers command their area like the players did today. There were four 1v1s, two on each side and none of them were turned into goals.

What a difference that makes to the spirit of the team and the confidence the defenders have in their goalkeeper.

The defenders on both teams were able to concentrate on defending rather than worrying that the goalkeeper was going to make a mistake.

The only thing that troubled me today was that the referee twice blew up for backpasses to our goalkeeper who picked the ball up. I wanted to go on the pitch and explain that if my players could hit pinpoint passes under pressure at full stretch a long way from the goalkeeper then I would be a happy man.

It was a 3-3 draw and neither of the freekicks for backpasses were turned into goals!

I thought you might like to see this video of how Phil Weddon, the coach of USA ladies national team goalkeeper Hope Solo, coaches the way to control a 1v1. Watch it and take some ideas from it – I have!

 Soccer Skills and Drills

How do you deal with “but they’re better than us”?
April 19, 2009, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Team Management | Tags:

I woke my son this morning and said come on we’ve a match to play. He pulled the covers back up over his head. “Must I? I don’t want to play this match today.”

“Why not?”

“They’re top of the league, dad, they’ve score over 100 goals and let in 3, I don’t want to play.”

This is a team playing below themselves, they shouldn’t be in this league, but we are down to play them. We’re a good team and give as good as we get so I was a little surprised by my son’s reaction.

But they had been talking about the game in school and how many they would lose by – half the team had already lost the game before we even kick off.

As my son ate his breakfast I spoke to him about Andy Murray playing against the unbeatable Rafael Nadal at tennis. Murray had put up a great fight the night before our match and made huge progress in his tennis even though he lost. “Next time Murray will win,” I told my son. “And even if we lose the match today we will learn a lot and next season we will beat them because we will be the ones who have progressed.”

He took this on board, and was more agreeable to playing the game. We played well and only lost by a single goal. Next time we will beat them, next time all that we have learned in this match will help us win.

Was homework ever this fun?
April 19, 2009, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Skills | Tags: , ,

dc1When I’m coaching my youth teams I’m constantly telling them to practice at home. Get in the back garden with their brothers and sisters and play soccer, show off, get the skills that they need to be the best player in the next match that they play.

It was with a slight smile that I saw this video of young players in Brazil doing what can only be described as rather sensational “homework”.

But yours and my players don’t need to be this good. Simple kicking the ball against a wall and trying to use both feet would be excellent for starters. Keepy uppies in the back garden with just themselves and a ball would be brilliant.

Then again I can’t help looking back at this video and what everyone would think if my team was doing this like the boys from Brazil…

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Ten ways to say “well done” to young players

1.You’re on the right track now.
2. That’s right.
3. You’re really working hard today.
4. You’re very good at that.
5. That’s coming along nicely.
6. That’s much, much better.
7. I’m happy to see you working like that.
8. I’m proud of the way you worked today.
9. You’re doing that much better today.
10. That’s the best you’ve ever done.

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Let the eight-year-olds enjoy the game

How are England going to create players of the future if the future players are churned out like one big supermarket churns out ready meals?

And that’s not my opinion but the opinion of ex-Watford youth team coach Tom Whalley He reckons young players are not given enough time to enjoy the game, and they are not looked after in a way he thinks is important. In the words of David James the England goalkeeper “Football shouldn’t feel like a job to 8-year-olds.

These are the facts – some of the teams in the Premiership have up to 250 8-year-olds on their books. That is astonishing. How on earth do they keep up with 250 players. And these are just ones from England. When they get older they then have to compete with the players that are bought in from abroad. Players like Frederico Macheda, who came over from the Lazio youth system. He has got ahead of the young strikers who have been at Manchester Utd since they were eight.

And what happens to all these bright young players? Of the 250 eight-year-olds that start out how many get left on the way?

I lost a player once who went to an academy and a year later came back, the shadow of the player he had been, low on confidence and low spirited. He hadn’t made it.

Liverpool have 62 first team players – I was worried when I upped my squad to 17 last season, how would they all get a game!

The numbers that now go through the system in England is huge – I just hope these players are enjoying playing football as much as I did when I was 8.

I saw this video and thought it set out well the goals a coach like you and I should be looking for…

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Referees out of position on the pitch
April 6, 2009, 5:49 am
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Refereeing | Tags: , , ,

When you have to referee youth matches it can be difficult getting your position on the pitch right.

I started refereeing games involving U6s right through to U10s, and the game sometimes moves quicker than you and you find yourself hit by the ball. It causes huge cheers and laughs when the referee gets in the way, but it happens at all levels.

It can be quite an art making sure you can see all that is going on, balls hitting the bar and bouncing onto the line, corner kicks when the ball comes out of a group of players, it can be hard to be in the right place at the right time.

Sometimes you see the top referees getting hit because the game has moved quicker than they can. I came across this clip of a match earlier in the season between Lazio and Torino where the ref gets caught in the wrong place. Ouch!

 Soccer Skills and Drills