Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

ENGLAND: Soccer drill to get players defending long throw ins

davidscwnew1 A long throw-in caught England out when Iceland launched one into their penalty area in the Euros on Monday. To defend against them, you need a basic set up with players aware of their responsibilities when the ball is played in. Use this soccer drill to get your players working on these skills.

Depending on the size and age of the players, you will normally see the long throw aimed at the near post – because the thrower cannot get it any further. Positioning starts with the goalkeeper who stays on their line at the near post.

Drill set up

  • Each attacker in the drill must be marked goalside by a defender.
  • In first part of the drill diagram, an attacker makes a short run, so the defender goes with them to challenge for the header and prevent the flick on.
  • You need two spare defenders in the drill, one in the six yard box just ahead of the near goal post and the other midway between the thrower and the penalty area to block any pass back to the thrower.
  • Both should be on their toes ready to clear the ball if it drops into these areas.

Loading up the six-yard box

In the second diagram, the attackers have loaded the front of the six- yard box in the hope that one of them will get the nod down for the others to attack.

Get your players to man-mark again, but get another defender to move into the space in front of the attackers in case the throw lands short or for any defensive headers that come out that way.

Make sure your defenders are ready to run with the player they are marking, a loaded front leaves a lot of space behind to defend.


Teach your players which foot to play off depending on how much time they have on the ball

BACK FOOT the ball is played to the foot furthest from the defender

FRONT FOOT the ball is played to the foot nearest the passer


Ball Control and Footwork

Front foot, back foot from David Clarke's Soccer Tactics Made SimpleThe foot furthest away from the ball is known as the back foot.When receiving the ball, with time and space to turn, a player should open his body andreceive the ball on his back foot to dribble forward.

Front foot refers to the foot nearest the ball.

When receiving the ball under pressure from an opponent and unable to turn, a player must receive the ball on his front foot and protect the ball by placing his body between the ball and the opponent. Now the player can choose to pass to a team mate or turn away from the opponent using a quick skill or trick=.

David Clarke’s Soccer Tactics Made Simple explains 58 of the game’s tactical concepts in simple, plain language. Read more.

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10 Top Tips – How To Win A Tournament

Tournaments are great fun so you don’t want to be the first to pack your kit away and head home. Here are David Clarke’s 10 tips to help your team have a successful experience.



Tournaments usually take place at weekends and during school holidays, so check your players will be available. TOP TIP: Many tournaments allow teams to field guest players, so check the rules if you need to add players.


The level of play is crucial to how successful your team is going to be. TOP TIP: Call coaches you know who have competed in the tournament to ask their opinion.


When choosing tournaments, parents will need to know the transportation options that are available. TOP TIP: Do your research on travel and the best means of getting to the destination.


Put together a checklist to give to the parents of all of your players. Include directions and maps showing how to get to the tournament, plus a list of things that players need to bring. TOP TIP: Make yourself a list of mobile phone contact numbers for everyone connected with the team – just in case.


It is vital that you prepare your team for the weather conditions on the weekend of the tournament. TOP TIP: Keep an eye on the weather forecast for the area hosting the tournament and inform parents.


Find out in advance what kind of surface the matches will be played on. Is it grass or on a synthetic turf? TOP TIP: Make sure you prepare tactics for the type of surface your teams is playing on.


Most tournaments guarantee a minimum of three or four games, but the most successful teams will often play more as they go through the rounds and get to the final. TOP TIP: If you spread the load equally among the entire team your chances of success will be greatly enhanced.


Going straight on the attack in tournament games is vital to get on top, both physically and psychologically. TOP TIP: Use one of your best kickers for a shot – or kick for touch in the opponents’ half and press high.


There is always a lot of down time at tournaments and you should be prepared for it. TOP TIP: Ensure your players snack every two or three hours – energy bars or bananas are perfect. They should also drink water regularly.


Most tournaments have a roll-on, roll-off style substitute policy – so make sure you use it to your advantage. TOP TIP: Make a list of your subs and ensure you use all of them by switching players at regular intervals.

Score like Aguero in the 6 yard box


If you want your strikers to be as lethal as Kun Aguero around the penalty area, try this session to help them develop that magic touch.This is a fantastic attacking game for getting strikers to make runs behind the defence and to get outfield players to look for space to play the ball into.

Why use it

Timing runs to meet the ball and beat a player is one of Aguero’s main attributes. He is lethal when the ball is played through into space and he can work his magic.

Giving players the chance in training to practise this art will help them to do it in matches.


Set up a 40×20-yard pitch split into a central zone of 20 yards and two end zones of 10 yards. We’ve used 13 players. You need bibs, balls, cones and two normal goals.

How to play

Use two teams of six, with four attackers, one defender and one goalkeeper on each.

Play 4v4 in the central zone plus one neutral player who plays for the team in possession. A defender and goalkeeper start in the end zones.

Players stay in their starting zones until a pass is played into one of the end zones for a player to run onto.

If the pass into the end zone is played first time (one touch) any resulting goal counts as double.

When clubs release the ‘NOT WANTED’ list

It’s that time of year again when clubs up and down the country have lists of players they want to keep and unfortunately lists of players they are going to let go. At grassroots level most of the players will be kept on as long as mum and dad want them to stay there or as long as their friends are still with the team.

What also happens though is the academies up and down the country will be drawing up lists of players at every age group that they are going to let go. And in the mind of a child that is a huge thing – because it isn’t about mum and dad letting them stay because their friends have done so it is because they haven’t ‘impressed’ the coaching team enough.

I hear a lot of stories about players being let go by text message or even lists pinned up on the club noticeboard. One of my players was snapped up at an early age by a local Championship club and he played for a season with the team. He was an excellent player and had a massive love of the game.

However, he came to hate the competitive nature of the training and matches that he took part in with every kid there vying to catch the coach’s eye. Parents too became very competitive and his parents were uneasy with the situation.

At the end of the season all the players were called together and the coach said “if your name is called out go through into the other room; if it isn’t you will be contacted”. Basically if your name wasn’t called out you were not going to be kept on.

The boy in question didn’t have his name called out. There was no talking to him or explaining the decision or anything to give him a hint of hope for the future, it was just thanks, but no thanks, you’re not good enough for us.

But I knew he was good enough I had seen in him that he could make the grade but the conditions he was playing in and the atmosphere at the club had put him off.

We welcomed him back to our club with open arms and tried to take away some of the hurt he was feeling. He was quiet for most of that next season before thankfully he kicked on and became the player he was before he left.

If you have a list of players you are going to let go please make sure you talk to them and explain the reasons why – it will help them to come to terms with the decision.

As we all know sometimes it can be in the child’s interest if the decision has been taken that they are not wanted by the club – or sometimes in the interest of the team if there is a disruptive player involved. But let’s not lose sight of the main fact – it’s the life of a child we are dealing with so tread carefully.

Practise the Volley Pass

Your players need to have skills to beat their opponents and give your team the advantage on match days and a volley pass is a fast pass when team mates are in space for a long pass to catch out their opponents. Here’s how to do it…


A volley pass gives players power and accuracy over longer distances.


You need balls and cones with players standing 10-15 yards apart in a circle. We used 5 players in the session.


When they are volleying the ball to each other – let them catch the volley and return it by dropping it onto their foot rather like a goalkeeper would.

Tell your players to use the top of their foot to pass the ball over the distance to ensure it drops exactly into the hands of the other players.

Make sure there is not too much height on the volley pass.


Tell your players to spread around the field volleying the ball to each other to catch. Players maintain a distance of 10-15 yards between each other. In the diagram, A volleys to D who catches, then from his hands he volleys it to C and so the practice continues. You can try progressing to no hands. Players must then control the ball by foot, head, chest or thigh before volleying on to the next player or volley first time.


Players use the top of the laces of their boots and kick through the centre of the ball for power and direction.

Five Minute Warm up

Strength and Power

This is an excellent warm-up that practises good ball skills whilst getting players ‘switched on’ in terms of movement, speed and ball control. Players should get a good feel of the pace of the ball when they take the shot at goal – the ‘race’ adds pressure.


Arrange the players in pairs and tell them to react to your whistle. You need balls in each part of the warm-up.


Whistle 1 – the players sprint into the first area where the first one to the ball must keep it and hold the other player off. After 15 seconds the coach whistles again…
Whistle 2 – the players leave the ball and sprint into the second area, again trying to be first to the ball and hold the other player off. After 15 seconds the coach whistles again.
Whistle 3 – the players react and sprint to get a first time shot at goal. The players then become servers. The servers now jog back to the starting position. The whistles work on a conveyor-belt effect. On each whistle a new pair is entering an area that the previous pair has just left.