Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Give Players Time To Understand Your Session

davidscwnewMy coaching word for this week is perseverance. I heard Sir Alex Ferguson the former manager of Manchester United in the English Premier League talking about the attributes that make a good coach and his first one was perseverance.

I immediately experienced why this is such an important part of your coaching style. In training this week I was trying out a new session which I was writing up for Soccer Coach Weekly – I do it on the premise that if it works with my U10s then it will work for pracDavidClarke1tically all age groups.

It was an exercise that uses movement, coordination, passing, receiving and sprinting. I know sometimes when you are using exercises with young players in front of their parents it can be a bit awkward for you if the players don’t understand immediately what they have to do. Especially so when they have just come out of school and are raring to go – concentration is at a minimum.

 

I ran the exercise a couple of times and it was not going well. It needed some fine tuning and a lot of demonstrations by me to get the players to understand what I wanted. It was eating into my coaching time but I thought it was worthwhile persevering with it. After 10 minutes they were still struggling but suddenly one of the players shouted “got it, Dave!” and he showed the others how it worked.

And with demonstrations from both of us suddenly the whole squad could do it. We played thblog_volleye exercise for the next 20minutes and I took notes on how to change it to make it more easily understood for my Soccer Coach Weekly readers.

After the session a coach from one of our other teams came up and said “wow what a great session that was!” It had worked in the end but only because I was prepared to persevere with the session and use visual aids and use a player who could help me to show the others how to play it.

Not only that but it has given me another good, different exercise to use with my players as soon as we get to training that they can quickly get going with. And you can be sure that once I’ve used it a couple of times and drawn it out you will be the first coaches to get to play it because it will soon be in Soccer Coach Weekly.

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Jose Mourinho? No scapegoats in a youth game but plenty of pressure on the volunteer coach

davidscwnewIt can be a scary moment when you face the first game of the season. It doesn’t matter whether you are a new coach or have coached the same team for a few years, that first game is so important.

Getting the momentum is one thing but getting the parents and players right behind you is another, so a good display is important.

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Last season our first match was away at a very impressive ground with lots of facilities, including a main pitch with stands and floodlights.

As it was the Under 11s that were playing we were not on the adult A team pitch but we were on a pretty impressive one surrounded by a clubhouse and tennis courts. We had been promoted the previous season so we were not sure how we would cope at this higher level, but I could see my players were not intimidated by the surroundings and were raring to feel the excitement of the kick off.

We were quickly into our warm ups and soon we had shaken hands with the opposition ready for the match. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be Uwe Rosler, the new manager of Leeds United, as he waits for the whistle to blow with the eyes of his trigger happy owner Massimo Cellino upon him. Or Claudio Ranieri at Leicester, back in the Premier League hoping he can have the success he had before.

Kick off came with great relief and my initial fears that the team wouldn’t be good enough were soon banished as we unleashed a flurry of attacks. Twice we were nearly caught out on the counter but our defensive training sessions paid off with some good covering and clearing. However, as half time approached all of our hard work was undone when a clumsy clearance went into our own net.

The boy involved was heartbroken, but at half time we all gathered around him and told him it wasn’t his fault and that we were all pleased with the way the team had played. We ran the game in the second half but failed to score and that one own goal had been the downfall of the team.

However, parents and players alike were in high spirits because we had all seen we could compete at this higher level and I was proud of the way they had all gathered around the player who had scored the own goal.

So a great start to your campaign doesn’t always mean a winning start but momentum comes from playing well and working as a team – we went on to have a great season in a very tough league.



SWITCHED ON: Move the ball into space

By David Clarke

davidscwnewThis session will give players the confidence to use their craft and vision to be able to switch play from one side of the pitch to the other

Why use it

It is crucial for young players to know how to switch play so they can exploit space by moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. They can do this either by using a long pass or a series of quick, short passes.

Set up

Create a 30×15-yard area split into three 10-yard zones. Mark out three gates along the two lines that create the centre zone – the gates should be one yard wide and evenly spaced along the line. We’re using three teams of four, one in each zone. You will need balls, bibs and cones.

How to play

In their groups of four, get the players to work out how many ways they can get the ball from one side to the other: one long pass; three short; one short, one long etc. After five minutes split the middle team in two – one pair defends the three gates on one side and one pair defends the gates on the other side. The two outside teams must try to pass quickly in order to find a chance to get the ball through one of the gates. Rotate teams every five minutes.

Technique

Having three goals and only two defenders means attackers will be keen to hunt out space to score.

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