Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Score goals from midfield


If you want your players to create goal scoring chances like the midfield players at Barcelona, try this exciting and fast-moving game and you’ll soon see the benefits.

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Why use it

A session aimed at getting players to create and utilise space in midfield. With quick passing and movement, it should help open up the opposition and make goal scoring chances.

Set up

Create a playing area 40x20yards, with two goals back to back across the middle, but just one goalkeeper. We’re using eight players and a keeper for this session, plus a server who can be the coach. You need bibs, cones, balls and two small goals.

How to play

Start by serving a ball into the game. Players can score in either of the two back-to-back goals. If the keeper gains possession or the ball leaves the area, serve a new ball in. The keeper puts any balls he gathers into the net behind him. When a goal is scored, immediately serve another ball into the game.


Creating space in a match situation with fast and accurate passing will open up the room for midfielders to exploit. In this game a quick switch of play allows players to take advantage of one of the goals being unguarded – they must be aware of the position of the keeper at all times.

Tackling bullying in your team

davidscwnewYouth  coaches need to look out for signs of bullying and be prepared to take quick, positive action to nip any problems in the bud. It’s our duty as the temporary guardian of children in our charge to know what bullying is, how to recognise it and how to prevent it, preferably before it happens.

What is bullying?

Bullying manifests itself in a variety of forms. It ranges from teasing and spreading rumours to pushing someone around and causing physical harm. It usually happens in front of other people. Name calling, mocking, kicking, taking or messing about with personal belongings, writing or drawing offensive graffiti, gossiping, excluding people from groups and threatening physical violence, are all forms of bullying. And don’t rule out cyber-bullying either – this is a growing form of bullying and equally hurtful for victims.

The effects of bullying

Screen shot 2016-08-18 at 11.51.03Bullying makes the lives of its victims miserable. It undermines their confidence and destroys their sense of security. It can cause sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, fear, anxiety, poor concentration and lead to self-harm, depression, suicidal thoughts and, in some cases, suicide. Bullying will certainly result in players leaving a club. And not just the ones who are being bullied. A football field where bullying is allowed is an unpleasant place for everyone, not just the victims.

Who are the bullies?

The bully can be any person. For example, a bully could be…

  • A parent who pushes too hard.
  • A coach who adopts a win-at-all-costs philosophy.
  • A player who intimidates other players or officials.
  • An official who places unfair pressure on a person.


How do you know if children on your team are being bullied?

There are several tell-tale signs of bullying and, as a coach, you are in a good position to spot them. If one or more of your players…

  • Suddenly decides they don’t want to take part in activities they used to enjoy.
  • Becomes anxious or lacking in confidence.
  • Appears distressed.
  • Has bruises, cuts or scratches, and gives improbable reasons for them.
  • Has possessions regularly damaged, lost or go missing.
  • Appears nervous of walking to or from training.
  • Appears frightened of a particular individual or group.
  • Becomes aggressive, disruptive or unreasonable.
  • Starts bullying other children.
  • Is frightened to say what’s wrong… …you should find out if they have become a victim of bullying.

What can you do about bullying?

Ensure your players know what bullying is and that it will not be tolerated. Tell them that it’s okay to complain if they are being badly treated by one of their team mates, or anyone else for that matter. And, just as important, they should tell you if they see someone else being bullied.

After all, you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, and bullies can be very secretive. If you spot behaviour that can be classified as bullying, you should take prompt action but don’t dive in

Take the victim to one side (but not out of sight of everyone else) and ask the child to tell you about the incident. You then have to discuss the incident with the bullies and their parents. This will probably be difficult, but it has to be done. It will be a lot easier to talk about bullying with an ‘offender’ and parents if your club has an up-to-date and well communicated anti-bullying policy.

Dominate midfield with this session

Use this session to turn your midfielders into a well-oiled attacking machine and teach them the benefits of bringing strikers into the game with some exciting one touch play.

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Why use it

davidscwnew1A session aimed at getting midfielders to play off each other in order to bring attackers into the game and provide support in attack, taking shooting chances when they are created. It also sets up good opportunities to coach counter attacking from midfield.

Set up

Mark out a tight playing area 30×15 yards with two mini goals at both ends of the area. We’re using six players in the session and you will need balls, bibs and cones,plus the four mini goals.

How to play

Play a 2v2 game with a target player at each end of the pitch positioned between the two goals. The midfielders attack the opposition goals but the attack must involve the target player at the attacking end of the pitch.


One of the most attacking football formations uses a three-man midfield behind three attackers. This session shows midfielder show to make the most of the midfield by playing off each other to set up attacks and make use of counter attacks.


Coaching a growth mindset

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Latest issue: Focus on Pep

Screen shot 2016-08-03 at 11.40.09Spain were outmuscled by an aggressive, speedy Italy at the Euros and as the technical gap between Spain and everyone else has diminished, attributes like speed, acceleration and brute strength have come to the fore.

The counter attack has been one of the game’s central tactics for more than a century. But what has changed is the speed of these lightning raids and the number of players involved.

It isn’t just speedy forwards racing through on goal, but midfielders and even fullbacks in a coordinated jet engined attack.

Use the sessions in this issue to fire up your counter attacks.

Plus how to attack like Diego Simeone’s team, 10 ways to get a sponsor and find out what Thierry Henry learned from having Pep Guardiola as his coach at Barcelona.

How Soccer Coach Weekly took a grassroots team from relegation to promotion in one season

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I’m not going to say that coaching successful teams is magic – it takes a lot of hard work and time to coach a team, and to train a group to play matches every week throughout the season. What I hope to do is make things a bit easier by providing coaching sessions to help you develop your players.

I’m often asked what age groups Soccer Coach Weekly covers and, working from the bottom, it starts at Under 7s, but what is the top end? Where does the coaching point become too easy for the players?

I was contacted last summer by an adult team, Burpham FC who had just finished bottom of of the GWAFL Division 1 with just 1 win and 11 goals in 18 league games! “HELP!”, they cried…

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New First team Managers Scott Kemp & Suj Khera, both Uefa B licensed coaches wrote: “David, we love coaching and developing players and we believe, with your help and by using Soccer Coach Weekly coaching methods and drills, that we can turn the fortunes of our local club around! Would you support us and put the faith you have in your product to the test?”

The rest is history. Burpham were re-elected to Division 1 and, on Saturday 2nd April 2016, promotion was sealed when they scored 3 goals in the final 6 minutes to win 3-1 away at Swinley Forest FC. On 16th April Burpham were confirmed GWAFL Division 1 runners up.

Incredible results indeed, in just one season. Burpham amassed 33 points, 10 wins scoring 42 goals with a +8 goal difference. Compared to 4pts, 1 win, 11 goals and a -41 goal difference the season before.

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“If you can create that positive environment of learning, which Soccer Coach Weekly has given Burpham, then the results can be staggering!”

Joint Manager Suj Khera said “Credit to the team for all their hard work! They bought into the philosophy and approach of our management of wanting to develop and improve through coaching, which often took people out of their comfort zones. But it’s worked and the results show you that!”

Khera added “As a coach, you can never stop learning. Having used Soccer Coach Weekly this year and seen the results, I would recommend it to any coach or manager wanting to improve their own abilities and, ultimately, the performance of your team!”

How Chelsea’s Antonio Conte uses the full pitch to win matches

davidscwnewWatching the Euros instead of standing coaching my players gives me a good chance to see how some of the world’s greatest coaches approach games where the opposition poses different problems.

Chelsea’s new boss Antonio Conte gave a wonderful performance in matches before they lost out to Germany on penalties. He was faced with two different types of games but his ability to get the best out of his players I noticed usually relied on them cleverly switching play in attack to create space when it was difficult to find any because the opposition was closing out any obvious space on the pitch.

And when defending, Italy’s formation makes perfect use of the players available. In Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, Italy have the best defensive unit in European football.

Italy still has the best coaching academy in the world. They produce generations of coaches capable of organising players into effective teams, something that Conte has taken on at the European Championships.

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His tactics are a big part of the success he brings to teams. He said “When my teams attack, we do so with five players. It used to be four but now it is five. Attack with five, defend with five”. This means his attackers can spread right across the pitch finding any space that is available.

Italy’s performances against Sweden and Spain were entirely different, with both exploiting noted weaknesses but in each case Conte used switches of play to create goalscoring chances.

Against Sweden, Conte knew that he would face a side sitting deep in their own half, looking to take advantage of the counter-attack and free-kicks. As a result, Italy were patient, stretched the play from side-to-side when looking for an opening, and defended in numbers whenever they lost possession.

Against Spain, far from sitting back and limiting space in the final third, Italy charged at Vicente Del Bosque’s team, robbing them of the chance to build any tempo or rhythm.

Spain’s style of football depends on the players being very compact so that they can begin their mesmerising short passing game and work their way up the pitch.

When Italy attacked, they took advantage of this narrow team shape – constantly switching play to break up the compact Spanish team and give themselves a chance of scoring.

They constantly played the ball into space, dragging Spain around. It’s exhausting to defend against and when Spain would eventually win the ball back, Italy would press high up the pitch and surround their players to stop them passing.

“We have been working very intensively for a month now, tactically and physically, in a bid to surprise people and we have already succeeded in that,” said Conte after that 2-0 win over Spain.


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