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.


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

Take the hit and win a free kick

Sometimes your young players are going to play teams that are very physical, and your players will find it difficult to play the way they normally do. It’s not nice to be knocked over every time you get the ball.

We played an U14 team who were bundling my players over constantly. Of course this annoyed them but I kept reminding them that they would get free kicks out of the physical contact which they must remain cool and take advantage of the situation.

Watching the professionals play you see the way they are constantly hit by big tackles and bundled off the ball. This results in free kicks in dangerous positions, which is why you see so many players diving once they are touched. Watch the video of some tackles that have been flying in during the season then watch Dani Alves take advantage for Brazil with a free kick.

There is a physical side to the game, but there is also a man in charge who will give your players an advantage they can turn into goals.

Playing in windy conditions

It was pretty horrible playing in the wind this weekend and you have to think about your tactics because goalkicks, long through balls and clearances will all be affected depending on whether you are playing into the wind or not.

I have a load of tips for playing into the wind on my Better Soccer Coaching website.

Whether your players are kicking into the wind, or with the wind, follow these tips to keep youngsters’ shots, passes and goal kicks accurate.

Playing into the wind tips

Tell your players to keep it tight — short passing skills are needed into the wind. Any long balls will be held up by the wind and you will soon find you’re up against a fast breakaway attack.

In training drills practise holding the ball up — get your players to play balls into the attacker with his back to goal, creating opportunities for your midfielders to run with the ball.

At goalkicks, tell your goalkeeper to play out to the sides — a long kick down the middle would be suicide.

Playing with the wind tips
Tell your players to resist the temptation to blast long balls into the opposition half — your forwards will soon get tired of the ball going straight out of play.

But do let your goalkeeper unleash some long balls – get your forwards to cause chaos with the bouncing goalkicks by heading them towards goal.

Tell your forwards to test your opponents’ goalkeeper with high accurate shots.

Watch the highlights of this 2002 World cup qualifier between the Faroe Islands and Luxembourg. Wet and windy conditions provide some great moments!

And watch this tornado during a youth match