Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Strikers go 1v1 for a special finish

Dribbling

davidscwnewThis fast and game-realistic training session sets up 1v1 attacking situations that will encourage your strikers to come up with a special finish.

Why use it

This is all about using skills around the penalty area to take defenders by surprise and create goalscoring opportunities. It uses quick combinations but relies on individual excellence and it’s great for development of ball mastery.

Set up

Use half of your usual pitch. We’ve used seven players. You need balls, bibs, cones and a normal sized goal.

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How to play

The attacker takes the ball through a chicane of cones and drives towards the first defender before passing to the server. The defenders cannot move until the server has touched the ball. The server plays a quick return pass and the first defender tries to catch the attacker, while the second defender closes down the attacker.

Once the shot has been taken the attacker swaps with the first defender; the first defender swaps with the second defender; and the second defender swaps with the server, who goes to the attacking line up.

Technique

This is all about creating 1v1s at pace so that everything is game realistic. There are different skills to use and when the attacker gets to the final phase, he can try something clever to create space for a shot.



Give your players a voice – they often know best!

davidscwnew1Sometimes my young players make more sense than I do – and that makes me well aware that I shouldn’t always put a tactical side of the argument as a rule that cannot be broken, so I try not to.

This week with the season over I’ve been coaching positional sense to young players – not for very long though as it can be a lot for young players to take in and understand.

All players are different, some can be taught from an early age but some cannot. However, players need to be given the chance to learn it so they can develop their soccer brain.

Working with the Under 10s I was going through some moves that a central defender can make when we are winning 2-1 with five minutes remaining. Note that I constantly rotate my players at this age but already they have begun to think about the position they will play each week.

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One of my team wants to be a central defender. And he is good at it but because he has played in every position he gets carried away sometimes when he has the ball and charges up the pitch in search of glory! Nothing wrong in that, but sometimes he loses the ball and leaves his defensive position open to being exploited, which has cost us goals, especially late on in matches.

One match this season we were winning 2-1 with five minutes to go. My defender decided to go on one of his runs and he lost the ball and suddenly it was 2-2 and the game was a different one. Don’t get me wrong, I like him going on runs, it helps him develop as a player, but he needs to think about when to do it.

In this situation, coaches can do one of two things – constantly shout at him about his position during the match or talk to him about the situation and what the team needed him to do the most. As a coach, I am not going to shout at him during the game. I am going to try and coach him into making the right decision when to run forwards and when to pass or stay back.

What I have done is talk to him about how far he takes the ball before a pass or a shot. These actions give him time to get back to his position should his team lose the ball. He must also think about timing during the game – if we are winning 2-1 with a few minutes left, should he go on a run or should he give that responsibility to the midfield?

He happily listens and comes back with his own logic – “if we are winning 2-1 and I run up the pitch and make it 3-1 is that not a better way to make sure we win the game?”

He is right of course and what can I say to that kind of positivity? Carry on playing!



TACTIC: Playing between the lines

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davidscwnew1 Line-breaking passes are those that go through a line of the opposing team’s formation.

For example, a pass that goes between two opposing defenders is known as a line-breaking pass because it breaks through the defensive line.

A line-breaking run is similar to a line-breaking pass, although in this case it is the player, not the ball, that breaks the line.

Line-breaking runs usually occur in the final third of the pitch when a forward or midfielder runs through the defensive line and into a goal-scoring position. Cristiano Ronaldo is an expert at making line-breaking runs.

Taken from David Clarke’s manual

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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.




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