Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

When a draw feels like a win

dave clarkeThere are great goals in matches that you think about for a long time afterwards. When one of my U10 teams was losing 1-0 in a game they were bossing. They couldn’t believe they were a goal behind and try as they might they just couldn’t get the finishing touch.

“Lost this one I reckon,” said one of the fathers grinning next to me.

But then with the minutes ticking down we attacked down the left. The ball was played back to our centre forward who, finding the route ahead blocked, played it back to one of our midfielders. With a powerful swing of his leg our midfielder dispatched the ball on a perfect arc into the roof of the net. 1-1. But it felt like a win and gave everyone a great feeling for the rest of the game.

It was a feat mirrored by Deportivo de La coruna fighting to preserve a 20-year stint in the top flight – they were 1-0 down to fellow relegation contenders Almeria in February. Defeat would have left them a solitary point off the relegation zone, with four teams below them all within two points. And next weekend, they’re playing Real Madrid.

The referee had given four minutes of additional time. With four minutes up Deportivo won a corner. Pablo Álvarez took it into the heart of the penalty area and from the melee inside one head made contact and the ball hit the back of the net. 1-1.

It was the head of Dani Aranzubia, the goalkeeper…

“No one told me to go up for the corner, I just thought it was a good idea,” he said, becoming the first goalkeeper to score in Spain for nine years.

And that felt like a win for Deportivo.

Watch it below


Counter attacking as a tactic

dave clarkeHitting teams on the break is a good tactic to use when your team is playing away from home against a team they know nothing about. Fast counter-attacks can take advantage of players being out of position.
Players need to be aware and alert to their team-mates and react quickly when the ball is turned over.

It relies on accurate passing and having the ability to hold off retreating defenders. You can watch the best counter attacks in the video below and play this exercise to help your players get used to running with the ball and holding the defenders off.

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.