Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

A striker who plays with a smile

dave clarkeThere have been some great players gracing the English Premier League this year, Samir Nasri at Arsenal, Carlos Tevez at Manchester City, Andy Carroll at Newcastle United and players like Yaya Toure, Michael Essien and Scott Parker, strong ball winners.

But the player who has stood out to me more than anyone is Florent Malouda at Chelsea where he has had an excellent first half of the season scoring 9 goals and creating lots of others. Go to his website and you will see the work he does for the people caught out in the earthquake in Haiti and his visits to local hospitals.

He is beginning to look like a role model both on and off the pitch.

And yet at the end of 2010 Samir Nasri was named French footballer of the year ahead of Malouda, confirming what strength in depth there is in the Premier League.

Watch out for Malouda in the coming weeks I reckon he’s got a lot more to offer this season.

See his goals in this clip below:


Players missing chances? Even the professionals do it…

When you see young players missing easy chances you can’t help but feel aghast that they chose the wrong option and the rest of the team will all have an opinion about what the player should have done to score the goal.

The best thing you can do is reassure them that they are not the first player to miss an easy chance, especially when they have made the wrong decision, like shooting with their right foot when it was tap in for the left foot or using their foot when a header would be much easier.

I always tell my young players that even the professionals miss easy chances and they shouldn’t worry that it happened. If you recreate the situation at your next training session without drawing attention to the fact that it happened in the match they played you can ask them which part of the body they should shoot with when the ball comes to them at different heights in different situations. Explain how each part of the body can be used for shooting.

With my players when they are feeling a bit low about things that have happened on the pitch I show them clips of how the professionals in the game can make the same mistakes…

Go to my blog and watch my top three missed goals of all time:

1: Ronny Rosenthal, Liverpool v Aston Villa

2: Kei Kamara for Kansas City v LA Galaxy

3: Jose Carlos Fernandese, for Allanza Lima

Why non-stop games work indoors

dave clarkeOver the last month the UK has seen its fair share of bad weather and I’ve been forced indoors with my team. Even friendly matches which I have arranged around the squad have been called off due to the state of the pitches.

Indoors brings its own set of challenges, non more so than half my players arrive at the indoor arena and think they are going to a soccer party! The noise and the atmosphere is totally different to being outside so I come armed with a few exercises to get the players using up all that untapped energy.

Use this colour react exercise to channel players’ energy:

david clarke

Get brains and muscles into gear

  • Two groups of players on each side of a row of four different coloured cones fives yards away.
  • The players must react to your call and move to the appropriate cones.
  • The players must touch the cones in the order you call out, and then sprint out of the nearest end.
  • Players then join the opposite queue.
  • An example would be “White and Black” as shown in the diagram. Make sure you keep advancing the warm-up with combinations of colours so your players are thinking about what they are doing.
  • Mix the colours around so they do not become familiar with the position of the colours.

Indoor soccer drills

You don’t need to kick people to be a good player

One of my players got hit by a two-footed challenge and went down in great pain. Luckily nothing was broken and he was able to walk after a long rest. I was furious but the opposition manager and his player were unrepentant, the boy even chuckled to his team mates.

The problem is young players are watching these kinds of tackles on the TV and replicating them on the pitch. And some coaches are seeing it as a way to make their team stronger.

Earlier this season in the Premier League, Newcastle United’s Hatem Ben Arfa suffered a broken leg in a tackle by Nigel de Jong of Manchester City and Wolves’ Karl Henry was sent off for a wild challenge on Jordi Gomez of Wigan.

Harry Redknapp thinks managers should drop players who commit reckless tackles. The Tottenham Hotspur manager is worried that someone will have a career threatening injury unless there is a crackdown on bad challenges.

“You don’t need to kick people to be a good player. The only way to calm them down is by leaving them out of the team and by saying to them: ‘I don’t need you being sent off every week and making reckless tackles. We need 11 men and until you can time your tackles and make good tackles then you’re not going to play’.”

It’s not just the Premier League managers that should take a firm hand with bad tackles it should be coaches right through all levels of soccer that should make sure their players don’t do them.

Watch this horror tackle in a non-league game:

Creative play and finishing moves

dave clarkeThere will not be much New Year optimism around for the coaches of some clubs. While you and I look forward to the tussles ahead and the development of our young players coaches like Chris Hughton once of Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez at Inter Milan will likely be looking for new jobs.

In the run up to Christmas Benítez was described by Italian newspaper La Stampa as a man, “walking with a pistol at his temple”. I’m glad I don’t work under those conditions!

Everything a professional coach does is linked to a winning team. Lose and you’re out is basically the message for the top coaches around the world. How different then is this message to the one we preach for young teams and their coaches “winning doesn’t matter”. Everything I am focused on is the development of each young individual that comes my way.

And that should be at the heart of everything we do – playing the game the right way, and that goes hand in hand with winning. Jose Mourinho is seen as a winning coach, but his Real Madrid team got played off the pitch by a team that just passed the ball around them – Barcelona.

The message here is: play the right way and you’ll be a winner.

When I watch these professional games there are two things that stand out in winning teams – creative play and finishing moves.In an attacking sense creative play is vital to give attackers goalscoring chances. And finishing into the net makes the move complete.

Watch the two goals scored by Real Madrid in their match against Valencia. Both goals are excellent examples of playing the game the right way. The first one is a wonderful turn and finish and the second a great move and finish.