Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Make free-kicks work for your team

davidscwnewEvery team needs to be able to score from a dead-ball situation, so get your players to try this game to develop the perfect free-kick
Every game seems to involve a goal scored from a set piece. This shows how important free-kicks are to the final outcome of matches. Therefore it’s vital that your players spend adequate time developing an unstoppable free-kick in their training sessions.

SET UP Mark out an area 40×30 yards with a goal at each end. Select two even teams. You need balls, bibs, cones and goals.

Play a small-sided game. While the game is being played you should carry a second ball under your arm. On your call place the ball and award a free-kick to a team of your choice. Immediately the players must react to this situation. You can place the ball in different areas for players to practice angled kicks and straight ones.

Practice is crucial. It’s not just about mastering technique; it gives you confidence. This session gives plenty of realistic match situations for practising free-kicks around the penalty area. Players should also be practising at home. Every player needs to be alert during this game. It is a good idea to give the free-kick a name that can be called out so everyone moves. The kicker could shout ‘Usain Bolt’ so your players know it’s a quick free-kick.


Your coaching focus should be on technique

David Clarke

If you have one New Year’s Resolution make it that you are going to improve the technique of every player you coach – everything a player does on the pitch is about showing good technique.

Everything has a label – control, dribbling, shooting, first touch – but it all relies on good technique.

Technique is the bedrock of a young player’s success in soccer – there are of course other essentials like agility, balance, control and speed, but technique is the crowning glory.

Technique isn’t just Xavi or Messi’s close control. David Beckham has kept his career going for a second decade because his technique keeps him in demand. He doesn’t play anything like Xavi or Messi but he can do things with a ball they cannot. And vice-versa, you wouldn’t see Beckham involved in short passing, lightening quick moves up the pitch because he could never be Xavi.

So it’s about a player finding out what they are good at and practicing that skill. Repetition of the technique is a key factor in this. The more you can get them to repeat the technique the better they will become.

Watch the technique, even on the beach David Beckham can take accurate free-kicks!


Paul Scholes: fantastic player, but what kind of coach?

DCI first saw Paul Scholes play for Manchester United in the final of the Youth Cup against Leeds United in 1993. Man Utd’s team included David Beckham, Scholes, and both Nevilles as well as Ryan Giggs and even Robbie Savage.

The game remains memorable for being live on the new satellite channel Sky Sports, for a crowd at Elland Road of 31,307 and the emergence of several players that were to go on and play for England.

A strong, physical Leeds side easily dominated what were to become the basis of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team for years – they lost 4-1 on aggregate but the one goal came from a 5ft 7 scrawny youth… Scholes.

Scholes was turning out for underdogs everywhere – this small midfielder had the nimbleness and timing to confound a beefy defence and score goals from all over the pitch. All in all he has scored 150 of them.

What is great for coaches everywhere is that a youngster with asthma can become a such a huge player. Scholes moved people with the height of his achievements as much as the impact of his play – how could someone like him be first choice attacking midfielder?

He was a clever player which was as much part of his game as was his technique. There was quick-witted vision to the best of his passes and goals. He could see the opening and the perfect way to exploit it.

Zinedine Zidane has called him “the greatest of his generation”. Xavi hailed him as “the best central midfielder of the past 15 or 20 years”.

Now he has retired Scholes is taking up coaching, and it will be interesting to see the type of players he turns out.

Watch highlights of his career below and you can also watch a clip of the best goal from the Youth Cup Final in 1993 scored by Jamie Forrester with an overhead kick to rival Wayne Rooney:

My top five free-kick takers

By David Clarke

There is nothing better than seeing a free kick go rocketing into the top corner of the net.

It’s an important part of the game like the penalty takers or corner takers – technique is vital for direction and power, whether it is a whipping cross with the left foot floating into the far corner or a thunderbolt shot, with the laces.

Check out my top five below:

Here are my top five takers:

1. Juninho Pernambucano (Brazil, Leon)

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid)

3. Shunsuke Nakamura (Japan, Celtic)

4. Robert Snodgrass (Scotland, Leeds United)

5. David Beckham (England, LA Galaxy)

How to take a free kick

Spectacular goals are match winners

dave clarkeOn Saturday the opposition goalkeeper took a goalkick and my attacking midfielder volleyed it straight back into the net. Spectacular goals do a lot for your teams’ confidence – and for the confidence of the opposition. Moral boosting for your team but strength sapping for your opponents.

There was a collective gasp from the parents followed by a roar of approval – it’s hard to stay calm when a goal like that goes in. I felt for the opposition coach whose team had done so well to keep my attackers at bay – there was no stopping this shot.

When spectacular goals go in it always seems to be for the team that wins. In the match between Villarreal and Osasuna in January midfielder Ruben ‘Cani’ Garcia produced a David Beckham-style goal.

A spectacular lob from just inside Osasuna’s half by Cani, 29, helped Villarreal to a 4-2 victory over Osasuna.

“You attempt these goals but they only rarely come off. I saw the keeper slightly off his line and luckily it turned out well,” said the Villarreal man.

On the first day of the English Premier League season in 1996 David Beckham helped himself become a household name with a similar goal against Wimbledon – interestingly enough he did so in shoes custom-made for Charlie Miller of Glasgow Rangers – the name “Charlie” was embroidered on boots – which had been given to Beckham by Adidas by mistake.

Watch the goals below:

Soccer stars and their cars

Further to my blog on Stephen Ireland and his cars I there might be a few of you out there interested in these stars and the cars they drive.

On this clip you can see the cars of Alonso, Ballack, Beckham, Campbell, Crouch, Del Pierrro, Drogba, Essien, Gerrard, Giggs, Henry, Ibrahimovic, van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Ronaldo, Shevchenko, Torres.

Becks and the US troops
November 20, 2009, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer News | Tags: , , ,

David Beckham’s rehabilitation with the LA Galaxy fans will be completed when he goes with the team to join US soldiers on a morale-boosting trip to show their support for the ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan. They’re back in love with him anyway after he took them to the weekend’s MLS Cup Final.

They’ll be there on Thanksgiving Day an emotional experience for all.

Call me a cynic, but when I read of the hardship he was going to endure in a US army barracks I did think it was going to be in Afghanistan, but it’s actually in Germany.

On the evening of Thanksgiving Beckham and his team-mates will play Kaiserslautern FC – currently in the second tier of German football – in a friendly match at their 48-500 capacity Fritz Walter Stadium. Up to 25,000 tickets for the game are being made available to US servicemen, their families and US Defence Department staff.

Watch the highlights of LA Galaxy v Houston in the Western Conference: