Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Should you allow your players to showboat?

Mario Balotelli’s attempt to score with a backheel during Manchester City’s pre-season friendly against LA Galaxy, resulted in him being taken off by his manager Roberto Mancini and instantly replaced by James Milner.

Team mate Edin Dzeko, who was up alongside Balotelli as he tried his trick, threw his arms up in exasperation. The LA Galaxy fans whistled, as he trudged off, Balotelli argued with his manager and threw a water bottle on to the pitch.

Mancini said: “In football you always need to be professional, always serious and in this moment he wasn’t professional.”

A player should never try to embarrass the opposition. Nor should a player embarrass themselves in the manner that Balotelli did with his rather pathetic attempt to score.

Last November, Cristiano Ronaldo upset Atlético Madrid when he bounced the ball off his back when they were losing 2-0 to Real Madrid. It is seen as disrespectful therefore players should avoid doing it.

If one of my players tries to showboat even in a meaningless match I too would take him off. Young players will have seen the incident because Balotelli made such a mess of it. Don’t be surprised to see them trying it at your next coaching session – if it happens you know what you have to do.

Watch the Balotelli incident below:


Why you should take the Coerver Coaching Youth Diploma

I have worked with lots of coaches and coach educators and believe me, Alf Galustian is a very good coach. I watched Alf coach for two hours in torrential rain – conditions that would have had you or I scuttling for the safety of the changing rooms.

Alf not only took control of a dozen or so players he had never coached before, he talked everyone through his coaching style, his coaching points and the skills he was giving to the players.

I picked up so many ideas and tips during that first two hours that I was already planning my next coaching session. Alf is a co-founder of Coerver Coaching and a specialist skills adviser to the English Premier League.

The purpose of the Coerver Coaching Youth Diploma is to give attendees, whether they are a professional academy coach, junior coach, teacher or parent, a greater understanding of how to plan and execute more effective coaching sessions.

The course is held at Premier League team Fulham’s excellent training ground and with the presence of academy players and first teamers, you really feel you are in a pure coaching environment.

Then the slick Coerver team moves into gear and their ideas and values are brought to the fore by Alf who focuses on how the course develops you the coach and how you can deliver those ideas to develop the individual.

It’s all about touch, control, confidence, 1v1s, 2v1s, 5v3s, movement on and off the ball, feinting, beating your partner, keeping the ball, winning the ball back – and respect, confidence, fun.

It truly is food for thought on how you coach your team.

The Coerver Coaching concept concentrates on attacking, fast-flowing football and this style has been demonstrated during the past few years by teams such as Barcelona and Spain.

In Alf’s own words: “What Coerver brings is that individual component, the ability for a coach to improve his or her players’ individual skill. Increasingly it is individual skills that can make or break a match and win the game.”

The final session of the day is about how to build and deliver a session. It was run by Coerver’s excellent coaching director Scott Wright who coached Fulham U12s for the session. If you go along to the next Coerver Coaching Youth Diploma course, make sure you write it all down, you could run it with any age group and I lost count of the number of skills you work on.

It is great stuff. This course will make you a better coach. If you can’t go on the course then why not invest in the Coerver CD set, there’s lots of material on how to help you plan your sessions.

To order the CD in Europe:

To order the CD in the USA:

There will be two further Diplomas in the summer, one at Manchester City on the 5th & 6th August & the second in Dublin, 13th & 14th August.

Listen to Alf on this video below

Let your defenders play like Lucio

DCWhen you are working with your defenders spend some time on ball control and playing the ball away with purpose.

If they are under pressure it is better to kick the ball into the nearest touch to give them some time to regroup. Simply hacking the ball up the pitch can be the wrong option because they don’t know where or how far the ball will go. This creates potential problems for the team.

Explain to your defenders the need to look for a pass to relieve the pressure to link with the rest of the team. They should be allowed to show off their skills with the ball as well as your midfielders and attackers.

The emergency hoof away from goal should only be used when all other options are blocked or impossible to perform.

Watch this compilation of Lucio at Inter Milan and how he puts the ball out or wins the ball and turns attack into defence. He doesn’t aimlessly boot it up the pitch, giving the ball back to his opponents.

Defensive drills and games

How do you cope with losing your best player?

DCThe loss of Cesc Fabregas and Carlos Tevez will be a big blow to Arsenal and Manchester City but they need to send out a message that the teams are moving on not looking back.

I think the history books will show that although a Fabregas driven Arsenal could compete with Barcelona and give them a good game, in the English Premier League Arsenal lost too many games because teams could soak up the pressure and hit them on the break – their style of play won’t win Arsenal the League.

Arsene Wenger can now revert to play 4-4-2 bringing back their own counter attacking prowess. 75% of their passes in the final third of the pitch were successful last season, yet they could not translate possession into goals. A fast breaking Arsenal will give them more space to take advantage.

At Manchester City losing the 25-goal a season Tevez is also seen as a blow. But City can buy in a replacement that will more than make up for the loss. Much as Liverpool did when they lost Fernando Torres and replaced him with Andy Carroll.

City have never lost when Tevez scores, but throughout last season he was constantly in the news for his arguments with the club – something they will be better off without. And there are good replacements out there like Sergio Aguero another Argentine playing at Atletico Madrid. He is a younger version of Tevez without the histrionics.

So don’t despair if you lose one of your best players – as we speak I am talking with parents who want to take their son out of the team because they are being wooed by another club. I’m not losing sleep over it, I’ve been looking at the squad to see who can be promoted from one of our other teams. Of course that causes problems for that team!

And so it goes…

Watch Fabregas give the ball away with a suicidal backheel against Barcelona, and Tevez having his penalty saved in the Copa America for Argentina

Pre-season: winning the 1v1s

DCWin the 1v1s and your team is well on its way to winning the game.

If your player has the ball or is trying to win it in a 1v1, he needs to analyse the situation and opponent. It is vital to make quick decisions and use movement, skill and a change of pace to win the 1v1s.

This competitive game replicates the 1v1 situations you would get in matches. It requires both physical and mental skills to get a higher score than your opponent.

Go for broke or bank easy points?
Decision making is an important part of any young soccer player’s make-up. Every time they play a match, whether it’s for a team or for fun in the playground, there is a decision to be made when they get the ball.

Often they are faced with situations where there is an easy route where their team keeps the ball – a simple pass or sideways movement into space to slowly build up play – or a more difficult route with more to gain – attempting to dribble past a defender for example.

By playing this game you can help your players to see the results of their decisions. Because they keep the ball when points are scored they could quickly build up points by going to one of the easy cones. Or, if they find they are a lot of points down with only a few minutes left, they must go for the harder cone to quickly score points.

All your players – defenders, midfielders, attackers – should take part in this game. It can be used for any age group.

How to play it

  • Tell your attackers to keep the ball moving.

  • They need to use moves and turns like stepovers, dragbacks and dummies to lose the defender.

  • Tell them to take every opportunity to score points.

  • The way to do it is to keep the ball close to their body.
    When a player scores a point they return to the starting cone and try to score another point. They keep possession of the ball until it goes out of play or they lose the ball to the defender.

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Pre season: Speed and agility

Raymond Verheijen is a Dutch professional football coach who is currently the Assistant Manager to the Welsh national side. He recently said that running long distances at the same speed was pointless for players in pre season. He called it Jurassic Park!

In a match players run on average 10m sprinting and acceleration, so that is what you need to do in pre season.

I developed this exercise for my players in pre season.

In this speed and agility drill players are using quick feet, quick turns, changing pace between short and longer sprints and good body position – knees bent low in stance for good balance – to make players quicker and more agile on the pitch.

Work to compete
In this exercise players run between three sets of cones – a middle set and two sets five yards either side.
This is a test of your players agility, balance and turning technique as they compete against each other in a short sprint exercise. I often start by getting the players to run through the exercise individually then compete against each other. It’s one thing doing it on their own but watch how their intensity rises when they are competing.
Work out a sequence
The sequence I use is 5 yards – 10 yards – 5 yards which is a good representation of the changes of sprinting distances they will face in matches. You can, however, work out your own sequence or run it up to a 40 yard dash if you want to give older players a tougher test.

How to play it
• Opponents face each other.
• They must react on your call.
• Push off hard on the back foot – the foot furthest from the direction the player is sprinting in.
• Players with similar speed levels should compete against each other.
• Players should run 2-3 times before resting.

Pre season: coaching the individual

DCI’ve had a bunch of letters this week from coaches and parents asking about individual training when their child is not getting enough from their club, or coaches who are facing a new season and want to give their players something they can do at home.

Individual training will often depend on the resources of the club – are there enough balls for every player to have one for instance. What I often do is get the parents to bring a ball to training so every player has their own ball. Of course not everyone remembers (or can be bothered) to bring a ball but I can cover those with the club balls.

Once you have them all with a ball then you can do individual skills like running and turning or throwing the ball in the air and controlling it with their first touch. I’m lucky at my club because the training area has a wall that I can get players to pass to and receive it back off the wall.

I set up a dribbling line of cones quite far apart so players can run at speed with the ball, then five yards from the wall I put a cone where players must stop, pass, receive back, turn and run back. you can set up a few of these and players can run constantly between the cones.

Add into the mix some individual keepy-uppys where individuals can try and keep the ball in the air with any part of their body except their hands. I’m sure a lot of coaches have their own ideas and I’d be interested to hear them.

Click here to go to my Forum to read ideas or add your own.

Watch this video clip that has some more ideas for individual training: