Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


6 steps to correcting technical errors

davidscwnew1Part of a young player’s soccer development is the crucial way you deal with technical errors your players make. It is often easier to turn a blind eye so you don’t have to say anything to the child, but it will help them more if you talk to them about how they will be a much better player if they follow your advice – after all you are the coach!

A good coach will eliminate technical errors in players to help them improve. Use our six-step guide to help correct the technique of your players in the right way.

1 SPOT THE PROBLEM

Watch your players closely to see what kind of errors they make. If the errors occur consistently in both training and matches, then these are ‘technical’ errors and could be correctable. These are fixed by working on a specific part of the player’s technique. If the errors that you spot occur during matches only, then they are ‘performance’ errors and less of a problem.

2 GATHER EVIDENCE

While observing a player, gather as much evidence as you can to help you work out how serious the problem is and how it can be fixed. Statistics on how often the error occurs and video footage are both valuable tools if you are able to get them. A lot of players will be unaware that they are making recurring errors, so evidence is essential to convince them.

3 OFFER SOLUTIONS

To persuade a player that he has a flaw in his game, you will need to provide him with a solution to his problem rather than just simply point out a series of faults. You should think carefully about what you are going to say before speaking to the player – and when you tackle the issue, have a clear idea about how you are going to help him overcome his technical problems.

4 GIVE HIM FEEDBACK

When you’ve worked out what needs to be done, make sure you give the player feedback in the right circumstances. Wait until the player does something you can praise and then use this as an opportunity to address the problem that you want to raise. Be positive and make the player aware that you have the solutions for him and are determined to help him improve.

5 TAKE ACTION

Once you’ve explained the problem to your player and made him understand the need for corrective action, make sure you demonstrate different ways to help eradicate the flaw in his game. Spend time with the player at training while he practices his technique and try to put him in situations that will give him plenty of opportunity to test out your solutions.

6 SUPPORT THE PLAYER

Don’t just identify the problem and then let players get on with his game. Make sure you offer support and give regular feedback on how the player is progressing. Be aware that correcting ingrained errors doesn’t happen quickly and in many cases the skill can get worse before it gets better. Players can become very despondent if they feel they are not being supported.



Players who can do it in training but freeze in matches

A performance error happens because a player cannot perform a skill in a match that they can do in training. Once you have identified this type of error and the player has acknowledged that there is a particular problem, you can set about helping him to correct it.

TIREDNESS

Tiredness is the easiest cause to diagnose and overcome. Ask the player about their pre-match routine. What and when do they eat? How much do they drink before a game? Do they sleep well before matches? If necessary, get the player to keep a simple diary logging their exact routine. Based on their answers you can advise them about eating and drinking before games to maximise their performance.

TACTICAL NAIVETY

Speak to the player about what they would do in different game situations. Get them to talk through their decisions during exercises and games in training. In terms of overcoming the problem, put them into more game-related scenarios, and see how they respond. Players can often learn more on how to play in different situations by experiencing them. Encourage players to talk to each other about what worked and what didn’t. Ask the defenders what they saw and how easy different options were to defend against.

ANXIETY ABOUT THE GAME

The first step in overcoming pre-match nerves is for the player to realise that everyone else feels the same way and that if they can control their nerves they can turn it into a positive. Different things work for different players and you may have to try a number of options before finding one which works.

Pre-match routines can help overcome nerves. Introduce a period of relaxation before games. Players sit quietly and focus on their breathing while you speak to individuals and give them positive messages about their own performances. Use self talk and visualisation to help players remember things they are good at, or aspects in which they excelled in past performances.

In some cases, changing a player’s position in the team can help them rebuild confidence. For example, moving a struggling winger to full-back can help to alleviate some of the responsibility on them.



Decisions for defenders

Watching the positioning of Ashley Cole for Chelsea in their match at Newcastle United was a timely reminder that defenders positions can block goal bound shots. I think my U10s defender must have been watching because he did exactly the same thing in training the next day.

How vital that clearance by Cole was will not be known until the end of the season, but it certainly helped the team. Heading the ball off the line is a skill in itself, especially if the ball has been struck hard.

Knowing when to move to the line is important because things like offside come into play and players can get in the way of goalkeepers. However it is worth talking to your defenders about when and where to position themselves during defensive moves.

In the same match the Chelsea defender Alex plays a backpass which goes past his goalkeeper Petr Cech giving Andy Carroll a simple sidefoot into the empty net – in this case that was poor decision making by Alex. He had time to clear and should have been able to look up and see the goalkeeper coming.

You can see the highlights of the game by clicking on the link below:

Highlights of Newcastle 1-1 Chelsea