Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

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.

Score In Shoot-outs
July 27, 2015, 1:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

davidscwnewUse this knockout scoring game to improve the ability of your young players to score from the spot and cope with the pressure of a penalty shoot-out

Why use it

In this knockout game the penalty becomes just another aspect of scoring goals. The pressure is on the individual but there are three different shots to ensure that the pressure on young shoulders is not as great as it could be.


Set up

You need a goal, a goalkeeper, two servers and plenty of balls for this session. You also need a number of players to make it a worthwhile competition.

How to play

Each player has three goes to get through to the next round of the competition: a penalty, a turn and shoot technique, and a header. The first shot is the penalty – then the player must run to touch the goalpost before returning to a ball played in by a server and turning and shooting with one touch. He must then follow that shot in to place a header in the net. Start by saying players must score with one of the chances, then after round one make it two – and as players are knocked out, make it all three chances.


There are three ways of scoring but because the player has to concentrate on what follows the penalty, the pressure is much less on the actual kick. Players should show good technique and a fearless attitude that they can carry with them into a penalty shoot-out.

– See more at:–1–Score-In-Shoot-outs#sthash.vPu6i0E6.dpuf

Goalkeepers can counter attack


Goalkeepers like nothing better than having the ball in their hands, running to the edge of their area, then blasting it into the sky.

But throw-outs can be better, not to mention more valuable, because the ability to throw the ball quickly and accurately is becoming an increasingly important skill for goalkeepers in the modern game.

Many of the world’s top keepers can throw the ball more than half the length of the pitch, and the distance and accuracy they can achieve is a big counter-attacking weapon for the team.

The overarm throw allows your goalkeeper to clear the ball over a long distance and at a great height. And it can be more accurate than kicking the ball.

Here’s my seven-step guide for goalkeepers looking to master the art of the long throw:

  1. Tell your goalkeeper to adopt a side-on position and put their weight on the back foot.
  2. Your goalkeeper’s throwing hand needs to be positioned under the ball, and their throwing arm kept straight.
  3. The non-throwing arm must point in the direction of the target.
  4. The goalkeeper can then bring this arm down as the throwing arm comes through in an arc over the top of their shoulder.
  5. The goalkeeper’s weight should be transferred forward as the ball is released.
  6. It is similar to a bowler’s action in cricket.
  7. Over long distances, get your player to concentrate on powering the arm downwards on the same line as the target spot. This will help with his accuracy.

Red Card Roy – insight into the pressures facing young players

Red Card Roy, the autobiography of Roy McDonough … A must read… put this on your Christmas reading list.

David ClarkeIt’s such a glamorous life being a professional footballer… every young player’s dream to be given a contract to play football every day of your life. Just like Balotelli or Beckham or Torres or van Persie…

… but not like Roy McDonough.

Because the hero of Red Card Roy collected his first red card at 16 for trying to strangle the referee in a schools cup final and went on to clock up a British record of 22 red cards.
And yet he could have lived the dream – Roy could have been a hero at Chelsea.
Roy’s autobiography is full of insights into the pressures facing today’s young players – from the heartbreak of release from Birmingham as a youngster to a desperately lonely spell at the famous King’s Road club.

I get a lot of emails from readers of my youth coaching publications who ask me for advice on how to get their young players signed up by the big boys… here’s a reason to keep them away.

This is a tale straight out of Chaucer… The footballer’s tale.

Booze, birds and football… what more could a young man wish for? But the pressures he faces day in, day out, culminating in the suicide of his strike partner at Colchester, John Lyons, show the other side of the coin that players face as they struggle to become a David Beckham or a Clint Dempsey. Anger and loneliness are no strangers to Roy McDonough.

A book that is compulsive reading on many levels.

There are some great footballing tales. McDonough was brave enough to dump legendary Liverpool hard man Tommy Smith over the touchline into a pile of snow and vengeful enough to get sent off after seven minutes of an FA Cup tie for planting a kung-fu kick in Stoke manager Tony Pulis’s ribs.

It’s also a fabulous X-rated romp through the different leagues in England. I recommend you read it because I couldn’t put it down as I rollercoastered between sadness and open mouthed astonishment at what went on in Roy McDonough’s world.

Beating the offside trap
November 5, 2012, 10:57 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By David Clarke

David ClarkeLet’s be honest, coaching the offside rule to a team of young players can be difficult. The mental and physical requirements of timing runs and passes is something that even senior players struggle to cope with. So it’s no surprise that our youngsters can have problems getting their heads around the rule, and you’ll often hear complaints of it “ruining” their love of the game. But teaching older children the offside rule is important.

If explained and coached well, players will quickly see that rather than being an obstacle to ambitious, energetic attacks, they can utilise the rule to create whole new advantages in play that they maybe didn’t realise existed. That’s because beating the offside trap is not just about holding runs when the ball is played. For one, players can experiment with moving back onside for the second phase of play if they are not interfering with the ball. The offside trap is excellent too for getting strikers to play on the shoulders of their opponents before losing them.

And it’s also a way to keep your strikers on their toes as they judge the pace of through balls.

These elements are at the heart of this move. Practise it with your team and encourage them to welcome, rather than worry about, the offside rule.

How to set it up:

  • For this session, you’ll need bibs, cones, balls, a goal and a goalkeeper.
  • Create a playing area measuring 40×30 yards.
  • Just past halfway, create a coned line across the playing area.
  • A server stands inside each touchline, just behind the cones. Place a goal and goalkeeper at the far end.
  • At the opposite end, set up two lines of players, one on each edge of the pitch.

Getting started:

  •  Players in each line take it in turns, sprinting forward to begin the move.
  • When past the white line (which represents the offside line), a player turns 360 degrees to come back onside before moving forward again.
  • At the point of the player coming back onside, the coach lays a ball into his path. The player continues forward and shoots at goal.
  • Once the shot is despatched, the player must run back behind the line, before turning and running diagonally on to a second ball played by the other server.
  • The player is permitted one touch before shooting at goal.
  •  He then goes to the back of the opposite queue from which he started.

Why this works:

Beating the offside trap is as much about varying the approach and style of runs, as it is knowing the right time to break forward. Players will learn each others’ games instinctively, and can recognise the signals from team mates in terms of when a through-pass will be released. But this move teaches them the skill of disguising and varying runs at the same time. The sooner your players learn to beat the offside trap, the better their advantage over other sides who still regard the rule as an inconvenience, rather than a potential match-winning factor.


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