Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Practise in threes to use both feet

Watching my left winger playing in the U9s at the weekend, he beat a player and moved into the penalty area, the ball was perfect for a right foot shot, but he tried to turn it back on to his left foot and all the hard work he had done to get in to the penalty area and set himself up was lost.

It’s a great thing at this age to have a left footed player because it means your forward line is very well-balanced and playing down both wings is made much easier without having to play a right footed player on the left wing like most teams have to do – so I’m not complaining!

You also have to remember he is only 8-years-old so there’s plenty of time for him to learn.

I find that easy drills with both feet are the best way to ease these young players in to using both feet and I found the one in the clip below to work well with my younger players:

 Soccer Skills and Drills


I know Drogba’s secret

Chelsea’s amazing striker Didier Drogba has the ability to barge his way through any defence in the world, whether he is playing against a Premier League club or for Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations.

What you see in Drogba is power and determination to get to goal. There are some great strikers around the world but I don’t think I have ever witnessed a more powerful player than Drogba.

His ability to hold on to the ball under pressure and knock defenders away is second to none. Then he has a powerful shot at the end of it.

The work Drogba puts in on the training ground is the secret of his success. He uses exercises like the one above to fine tune his balance and power. If you are going to turn your young players in to potential Drogbas you have to do something similar with your players.

Try this:

Your player must dribble in and out of the coaching poles, go around either side of the cone, by selling a dummy or skill move and follow up with a shot on goal.

In diagram two the player must do the same movement but beat the goalkeeper at the end.

In diagram three the player must do the same movement but beat a real defender and then the goalkeeper.

He obviously has a lot of natural ability but he also puts in a good deal of hard work to give him his striking power. Watch these clips from Chelsea’s training ground you will see what he gets up to in order to make himself one of the world’s best strikers:

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Repeat passing with good touch and movement

Getting players to repeat things is a good way to get them to sink in. But it’s important that there is a technique or tactic involved in what they are doing. In the exercise here players can use one touch or two touch, but both need not just good technique but clever movement off the ball.

Passing is the key to any match, if you can out pass your opponents the team has a headstart on winning the game.

Any exercise relies on the coach to guide his or her players in the exercise they are doing. So good touch and good movement to the ball is an essential part of any passing exercise

I use this constant passing game as a good starting point in developing passing and movement for individuals and teams:

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Using near post corners when the pitch is too wide

How often do you get to grounds with wide pitches and your corner taker can’t reach the middle of the penalty area so you watch corner after corner go to waste?

Tactics go out of the window as your players try to kick the ball harder but just cannot reach their team mates.

I’ve coached my team to use a near post tactic which catches the defenders off guard and creates goal scoring opportunities in front of goal.

1. The corner taker plays a quick ball into the player on the near post along the ground.
2. The receiver moves towards the ball to get it.
3. He plays the ball back to the corner taker who has moved to the edge of the penalty area.
4. The ball is played to the edge of the D where one of your midfielders has moved into position.
Isolate the defender with quick movement

Diagram 2 shows a close up of the initial move. The corner taker and two receivers have moved quickly so the circled defender is isolated in no man’s land. Players are moving to the ball and must be quick to control and pass.
The other attackers pull defenders away

Diagram 3 shows how the defenders have moved to cover the attackers they expect the ball to be played to. The two circled attackers have not only pulled the defenders away opening up a route to goal from the penalty area, they are also in the perfect position to score from any rebounds.

Watch the highlights from Barcelona versus Sporting Gijon and see how often Barcelona attack the near post. Their first two goals come from corners played towards the near post or the front part of the penalty area. They don’t cross deep first time it usually goes short first.

The highlights also show some wonderful skills and it in HD so worth taking a look at:

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Don’t give away goals at goal-kicks

By David Clarke
Writing for my Touchline Tales column in Soccer Coach Weekly I was reminded of an incident which happened to a fellow coach.

A coach I was corresponding with has asked for advice, his problem he says is that “sometimes it’s better when my team gives away a corner rather than a goal-kick because we give the ball away and end up letting soft goals in”.

In 7-a-side matches, junior teams find it hard to clear the ball at goal-kicks, often resulting in the ball going straight to the opposition, who shoot straight away and end up scoring with the goalkeeper stranded.

However, I like my goalkeepers to take goal-kicks, because it is part of the responsibility they have to take on. Sometimes it will be the only time they kick the ball.

During last season I went to watch one of the other teams who I had not seen during the season play. The coach of our team was looking glum. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that the team were 3-0 down after 15 minutes all resulting from the goalkeeper kicking the ball straight to the opposition and being returned into the empty net.

“I’d let someone else take it but he’s the best kicker,” he told me. I explained that I too had experienced this problem and our solution had been to put a defender on the line at goalkicks in case the ball went straight to the opposition attackers.

Not only did this give us a chance to stop the ball but it also gave our goalkeepers the confidence to kick, and they usually kicked much better with this added security of a player on the line.

What I have also found useful with this tactic is that when you go to 11-a-side the players who have been on the line become excellent line clearers at corners and free-kicks. Of course they can no longer stand on the line at goal-kicks but the art they have learnt can be put to use in other ways.

Back at the game the coach of the U9s decided he would try the tactic in the second half. I reminded him to impress upon the goal-line defender that he mustn’t use his hands or he will give away a penalty. I told him to tell the defender on the line to advance towards the attacker to cut down the angle and make it harder for him to hit the back of the net.

In the second half the team tried the tactic out and they did notice a huge difference. Now if the opposition striker got the ball straight from the goal-kick he couldn’t just kick it straight back into the net, he had to think about what he was going to do to beat the defender on the line. It also gave more time for the goalkeeper to get back to the goal and be ready for a shot.

The coach said he would be practising at training and definitely use it from now on in the matches he played.

Here’s how he can coach his players:

Practice in your training sessions
Players: Goalkeeper, two attackers and your goalline defender.
Where: Use the goalmouth on your pitch making it as realistic as possible.
Aims: Goalkeeper kicks out and the two attackers win it and advance on the goal. Your goalline defender must advance towards them at speed and so must your goalkeeper. You’ll be amazed at the number of times the attackers miss or shoot straight at your goalline defender.

Here’s a clip that may stir a few memories…

Even the professionals get it wrong…

 Soccer Skills and Drills

One team, one voice

Many junior teams are lucky enough to have more than one coach.

Sometimes parents will take a proactive semi assistant role. But there are inherent dangers – lots of well meaning comments can confuse the overall message.

Coming from different voices, most of whom have at least some implied authority, means a player can be under several influences and may even shut out the key messages.

Before each session, it is important to agree who is leading each section of the practice. Then decide who is going to talk, when and most vitally what is going to be said.

The “corporate” language of how a skill or strategy is to be performed must come as a constant – even if a coach does not agree with what the others are saying. As the session progresses, the lead coach can turn to other coaches for specific comments.

Otherwise, the other coaches purely encourage or reiterate. More difficult is the “one voice, one message” with sideline parents.

It is a brave coach who faces the parents over the corporate view, especially when a particular parent is perhaps telling their sibling to perform differently. The Soccer Coach Weekly strategy is to take the practice as far away from the parents as possible!

I like this speech which explains what a young player has to put in to get what they want from the sport. It uses the tale of the carpenter to illustrate the point – it’s a nice tale so sit back and listen and learn:

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Skills on a bar football table

With all the snow around and very, very short training sessions – short passing exercises on flattened snow! – I’ve been brushing up my bar football skills so I’m not losing every time to my eldest son.

I came across this technique in the clip below. Bet none of you can do it!

 Soccer Skills and Drills