Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Be creative with a tactics board

David ClarkeLast season my half-time team talks were full of drama – you might remember me talking about individual half-time chats the previous season and how successful that was. Well last season one of my teams went to 11-a-side and that made what happens at the interval all the more important.

Overnight, tactics became a huge problem. Who covers what, why, where and when all featured in a very rushed team talk at half-time during our first match.

What didn’t help was me forgetting to bring along my tactics board. A lot of my players like visual learning at half-time better than verbal learning and so I had taken to using a board in pre-season matches, and training sessions too. This had worked well, but on this occasion I’d left it at home.

I wanted to show my players how to deal with an opposition striker who was playing right on the line, and feeding off through balls played into the space behind my defence.

We kept getting caught out because one defender was constantly dropping back to pick the striker up, scared that the linesman wouldn’t flag for offside. I wanted to show the back four how to deal with the threat by keeping a strong line and stepping up when the through balls were played.

Or, they could sit deeper as a unit and win the ball off the striker before hitting the other team on the counter. But I had no board to help me express this. Looking around I saw a tower of cones. I picked them up and placed four on the ground to represent our half of the pitch.

Using additional cones I took my players through, step-by-step, where the defending was not working. Of course, I went for the positive angle – namely that we hadn’t let any goals in and were defending well, but we could do even better… I’m pleased to say the makeshift tactics board worked, and it seems I am not alone in improvising.

Other coaches have revealed to me similar ideas, one laying down water bottles, another even using half-eaten oranges! It all goes to show that when the need arises, it’s not only your players who need to be creative!


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