Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Create a diamond defence on the Pivot/Goalkeeper axis

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davidscwnewIndividual players have a particular job to do in a diamond defence right from the goalkeeper to the attacking midfielders. The focus here is on the role of the defensive midfielder or pivot and his relationship with the goalkeeper.

At this year’s Euros in France the strongest teams all seem to have a brilliant goalkeeper and a ball-playing defensive midfielder or what we call a pivot. France use Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante, Germany often use Mats Hummels in that position, Spain has Sergio Busquets and Italy has Daniele De Rossi. Look behind them and you find Hugo Lloris, Manuel Neuer, David de Gea and Gianluigi Buffon.

That means finding a way past some of the best players in the world in diamond defences using formations like 4-4-2, 3-5-2 and of course the classic 4-1-4-1 creating a diamond between the centre backs, goalkeeper and the pivot. The pivot will also form a diamond with the other midfielders creating a strong formation right up the pitch.

The role of the goalkeeper is vital with positioning key to stopping any attacks through the defence. This works with things like the Sweeper Keeper personified by Manuel Neuer and his clever positioning in front of goal. The pivot also needs use a wide range of attacking as well as defensive qualities.

The players should:

  • Have a good tactical sense.
  • Be good at shielding the defence.
  • Be good at tackling and intercepting.
  • Be able to drop into and hold the defensive line, possessing good defensive qualities.
  • Be able to control and direct play from a static deep position, so being a point of reference for the whole team.
  • Be able to accurately deliver long passes.

Defensive Midfielder Responsibilities

  1. Protect the Center Backs by denying through balls and blocking passing routes into attack plus cover any holes when a defender gets pulled out of position
  2. Work hard in the middle of the pitch to win the ball and create space for attackers
  3. Stay central disrupting and destroying plays as they come through the middle of the park

Defensive Midfielder Physical

  • Fitness key to recovery from attack to defence
  • Good in the air to jump against attacking players
  • Strong lower body to clear balls with both feet
  • Quick reactions to transitions
  • Agility to press players
  • Good body strength for tackling and shielding the ball

5 Defensive Midfielder Attributes

  1. Winning the ball in the air and on the ground
  2. High Work Rate
  3. Link up with simple passes between defence and attack
  4. A team player
  5. Disrupts the flow of the opposition


Try these two 5-minute warm ups

Strength and Power

davidscwnewThis 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.

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SET UP

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

HOW TO PLAY IT

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.

Speed and Agility Ladder

This five minute fitness drill can be used during your training sessions for a quick break to help coaching points sink in, or as an incentive for a drinks break

Speed ladders are excellent for player speed and fitness but if you haven’t got one you can mark out the rungs of the ladder with cones.

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HOW TO DO IT

Forward hops – 3 in 1 out

Hop forward on one leg

One hop in each square

Every 3 hops step once out of the ladder onto the other leg

Continue this sequence until ladder is complete

Ground contact on balls of feet. Repeat 5 times.

Rest 60 seconds between repetitions

 



EUROS WALES Near Post Winners

WHY USE IT

davidscwnew1By getting across the defender and reaching the ball first, the attacker will have a good opportunity to score at the near post in a 1v1, taking the keeper by surprise using speed of movement.

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SET UP

Use the penalty area of your pitch. You will need balls, bibs and a goal with a goalkeeper.

HOW TO PLAY

Start with a simple warm-up by splitting players into two groups. One group serves for the opposite group to shoot at the near post. Advance the session using three groups of players: one group are wingers crossing the ball in, one group are near post attackers and a third group must try and get across to defend the near post shot. Rotate the players after each run through, with player A joining group C, C joining B, and B joining A.

TECHNIQUE

In this session attackers must time their runs well and accelerate quickly so the defender cannot get across. This puts pressure on attackers to win the 1v1 with the keeper, exactly as they would in a match. All three groups must play quickly and time their movements.



COPA AMERICA Pass to the open player

WHY USE IT

davidscwnewWhen you see teams like Argentina moving quickly up the pitch the creative players in the final third need to have the ability to play the ball in the air not just on the ground. This gets players to use all surfaces of the body to pass the ball.

 

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SET UP

You need balls and cones. In this session you need four players in an area 10 x 10 yards.

HOW TO PLAY

Start the session with three of the players. One player throws to a player who has one touch to get it to the third player who catches. The third player throw to the next player who has one touch to pass on. Players must use different surfaces of the body – head, chest, thigh, inside of foot, outside of foot and if they are clever they can use the heel or the side of the shin. So each time you want to see something different. Then add a defender and do the same thing. Switch defender every three goes with one of the passers which keeps the defender fresh. Finally, play the same thing on the ground with players using little chips and dinks to pass the ball and keep it off the defender. Again switch the defender every three goes.

TECHNIQUE

Controlling a ball in the air with all areas of the body is important for creativity in the final third where passing with clever chips and clever flicks will create goal scoring chances.



Play out of the back with a defensive diamond

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Defending

Tactics_Defensive-diamond

davidscwnewA defensive diamond is created when a team’s midfielder drops back from midfield towards his own goal (also known as dropping deep) to form a diamond shape with his goalkeeper and two centre backs. This enables the team to play out of defence against a team playing with two forwards.For this to happen, the team’s full backs must go high and wide, and the midfielders and forwards must go into advanced positions to really exaggerate the space for the players to play out of defence.Defensive Diamond from David Clarke's Soccer Tactics Made Simple 1

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



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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