Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Developing a Coaching Philosophy


8 tips for first time coaches


Simple 1 v 1 goalkeeper drill

Middlesbrough stopper Victor Valdes is great at pulling off saves when he goes one-on-one with a striker – and if you run this session your goalkeepers could master the art too.

Why use it

This session is great fun to play and good practice for getting your goalkeeper to dive at the feet of strikers that have raced clear of your defenders. It is a good activity for taking the fear out of goalkeeping.

Set up

For this session we have used our penalty area and a normal sized goal. You can set these up at either ends of the pitch or if you take the net off your goal, you can have back-to-back goalkeepers.

1 v 1 goalkeeper drill image

How to play

Place seven balls around the edge of the penalty area D, and have your keeper in goal. Players take turns to go 1v1 with the keeper using the seven balls – once one ball goes dead, the striker runs to get the next ball and the goalkeeper has to run and touch the goal line in his goal before facing the next attack.

This is tiring work so rest the players after each turn of seven balls.


The goalkeeper needs to come off his line and try to smother the shots as the striker turns and tries to beat him. The session is also a physical workout, and as the striker tires it should be easier for the keeper to stop him.

Play with your head up


Many young players look at the ball when they should be scouring the pitch for opportunities of where they can pass it. If you can get their heads up for twice as long as they are at the moment, that’s twice as many signals, runs and goalscoring opportunities they can spot.And here’s the perfect session to test it:

How to play it

  • You need cones, bibs, balls and two pop-up goals.
  • Use the centre circle of your pitch and place the goals back to back in the middle.
  • I’ve used three teams of three, but vary player numbers to suit.
  • Two teams start in the circle, while the other – a neutral team that plays for the team in possession – runs around the outside.
  • Opposing teams can score in either goal but a player in possession must play a one-two with an outside player before he can shoot.
  • Play for five minutes then teams swap roles.
  • Progress to two or even one-touch if you want to make the challenge harder.

Technique and tactics

  • The team in possession must look up and be alert to opportunities, passing to team mates but also using outside players to control the game, while working overloads that create space for players to run into.
  • The defending team needs to quickly decide on a tactic to protect the two goals or they will be overrun.
  • As well as vision, you’re looking for players to use their imagination, with individual as well as team skills.

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.

How to coach fullbacks

A good fullback will force flashy wingers wide in order to stop them from putting your goal under threat.

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Why use it

The aim of this game is to force play wide and into the outside squares of the grid, teaching young defenders how to make tricky wingers run away from goal and to stop them getting in a cross or switching play.

Set up

Set up an area of 30×40 yards split into three zones. The two outer zones are 15 yards wide and the center zone is 10 yards wide. The target goals go on each end of the lines between the zones. We’ve used 12 players in this session. You need bibs, balls, cones and four goals.

How to play

Play 6v6. The team with the ball are the attackers and they can go in any zone. The defending team (the team out of possession) must have players in two touching zones but can’t be in three zones, so the far zone will always be left open. The idea is to lock the ball in these zones and stop attackers opening up the defense by crossing into the far zone and switching play.


Your defenders must try to slide play wide and keep it there, making play predictable until they force a mistake and win the ball back. There will be enough numbers with the six players to force play wide but they must keep tricky wingers under control.