Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Counter attack like Argentina

Watching Argentina play Canada in a World Cup warm up game, there was a great counter attacking goal. What I liked was the attacker’s skill in taking on a couple of defenders once they got to the opposite end of the pitch.

I see breakaway chances in lots of youth games but it needs a good finisher to score a goal. Often young strikers will wait too long or try to kick too hard and shoot past the post.

You can watch a clip of the goal below and play this exercise which coaches your players in how to take advantage of a counter attack.

How to play it

  • Mark out an area 40 yards x 20 yards – you can make it smaller for younger players.

  • In one of the corners, mark out a 10 yards square with a small, coned goal in it.

  • In this soccer drill the ball is passed so the attacker can run onto it.

  • The attacker must take full control of the ball at this point. The defender starts his run as soon as the pass is made and his first action is to hold up the attacker. The attacker should change his pace to fool the defender.

  • The defender cannot tackle until they get into the marked-off zone.

  • Once they get into the marked-off zone, the attacker must try to lose the defender with a turn – for instance, a stop turn, then try to put the ball between the two cones.

  • The defender must stick close to the attacker and try to get a tackle in to win the ball.

Click here to go to my Soccer Coach Weekly forum and read the comments or add one yourself.


The perfect cross

I’ve been working my team on good crossing this week, and the work was put to the test at the weekend. The players were much more positive in crossing and attacking the cross. It resulted in the team scoring two goals. You can use the exercise in today’s issue of Better Soccer Coaching from West Ham Academy director Tony Carr to get your team crossing with purpose.

I also have a clip of Barcelona’s Dani Alves crossing for Bojan to score. Look at how the cross goes into the danger area between the penalty spot and the six yard box. Perfect.

Key soccer coaching tips for crossing skills

•Low, powerful crosses are hard to defend.
•A good, accurate, low cross into the penalty area is one of the hardest balls young defenders will have to face.
•High, looping crosses are hard enough but at least you can see those.
•Balls coming in at an angle just behind the defenders are almost impossible to control and often any touch by a defender will result in an own goal.

How to do it

The technique players should use is the swerve pass using the inside of the foot.

The technique

•Non-kicking foot should be slightly behind, and to the side of the ball. Use the inside of the foot to kick across the ball.

•Tell player to keep his head steady, eyes looking at the ball at the moment of contact.

•His body should be slightly forward to keep the ball low.

Right footed Joe Cole scores with his left

If you can get your players used to playing with both feet, even though they cannot get power with both feet, when it comes to reaction shots close to goal they will be able to direct the ball on target with either foot.

How often have you seen your players go into contorted angles to try and wrap one of their feet around the ball only to see it dragged wide with the goal at their mercy?

In these cases a simple deflection can make all the difference. So when you practice this don’t worry if they cannot strike the ball with any pace, if they can use both feet to direct the ball that can be the difference between winning or losing.

Watch this clip of right footed Joe Cole, the Chelsea midfielder, directing a hard cross with his left foot to score against Manchester United for an important 1-0 victory which basically won them the Premier League title.

“Jabulani” is the World Cup ball
May 12, 2010, 12:02 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

The World Cup ball for South Africa is called Jabulani,which means Be Happy, but there’s more to it than that as Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou points out…

How to choose your captain

By Stuart Thorpe

Stuart is Head coach, North Middlesex Reds U-13G Premier, Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada.

Stuart’s North Middlesex Reds team with captain Emily 2nd row, 3rd from left.

How do you avoid hard feelings from players due to the coach choosing their kid or the leading striker as the Captain?

I would like to suggest the following process for choosing a Captain.
Here in Canada we have to train indoors during the winter. I like to give my players homework at the end of each indoor session.

At one 2009 session the players were tasked with coming up with their top three attributes which a Captain must possess.

I took their results and put them in to a weighted pie chart which I shared at the next session (see below).

Their results were very thorough; I could only take issue with one item. I let them know that I felt that “friends with other players” was too highly ranked; sometimes you need bit of Mark Messier in the mix.

With the pie chart in mind, the players (and coaches) were then asked to name by secret ballot their top three choices for Captain.

One person received 10 first place votes, 6 second place votes and 3 third place votes.

She was not named on only one ballot, which I later found out was her own.

She wore the armband with pride and led her team to 17-2-1 record, a 2nd place league finish and a Challenge Cup victory over the 1st place team.

I think the above process allows for some teaching moments, permits the coach to guide the selection, and gains unanimous player support for the Captain.

A soccer coaching ladder to success

I’ve been discussing the use of speed ladders on my Soccer Coach Weekly forum. It seems a lot of you use speed ladders but would like more exercises to use with them. In Soccer Coach Weekly I run fitness drills, but I am never sure how many coaches have access to them.

You can use flat cones for speed ladders placed so your players have space to put both feet down quickly and move through them in the same way you would a speed ladder – like one of the forum members suggests.

Early on in my coaching career I was given a speed ladder when I bought a full kit for my team. So I did a bit of research into using them – and I think most sports should use them and will get the benefits of speed and coordination that they promise. And for a pre-season it’s a very good way

Here’s two drills which I use with my young players to help with their coordination:

Sideways double feet

  • Stand side on to the ladder, feet in the first square
  • Running action, moving sideways through the ladder
  • Each foot contacts each square once
  • Ground contacts on balls of feet
  • Emphasise upright posture & coordinated arm action
  • Repeat 5 times. Rest 60 seconds between repetitions.

Forward hops – 3 in 1 out

  • Hop forward on one leg
  • One hop in each square
  • Every 3 hops step once out of the ladder onto the other leg
  • Continue this sequence until ladder is complete
  • Ground contact on balls of feet
    Strength & powerHow of pass / shot12
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • Rest 60 seconds between repetitions.

The best defenders block the ball

One of the problems for defenders is that when they are closing down players a clever attacker can break away with the ball into goal scoring positions. The best defenders will stay with the attacker and get a block on the shot or a last second tackle to poke the ball away.

This situation is quite likely in youth soccer when young players lose concentration at the back and an attacker gets free with the ball. Rather than stand and watch the drama unfold they should be running to get back and cover the attacking player.

There will always be opportunities for a defender to recover when they have made a mistake or the attacker has worked their way free from the covering defence.

As coach you should be encouraging your players never to give up when they have lost the ball and work hard to win it back and stop the opposition scoring.

Check out the clips below of two of the world’s best attackers making last ditch tackles and blocks to save their team losing a goal – Alessandro Nesta of Italy and Carles Puyol of Spain show how giving up just isn’t in their vocabulary.

Soccer drill to coach the block tackle