Filed under: Dave Clarke, defence, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: coaching, fun, shouting, training, under 5s
“Wow, brilliant!” I said.
Then she said, “I knew you’d say it was brilliant that we won, but we didn’t, we lost.”
Now I don’t consider myself to be a win-at-all-costs kind of coach, but my daughter has lived most of her 11 years on the touchline of youth pitches up and down the country and has obviously picked up on the celebration of winning and the type of language I use when the teams win.
The last thing I want her to feel is that she only gets praise if the team wins. The other thing to think about is that win or lose, within a few minutes of the final whistle, children’s minds are already on something else.
When I said to my daughter that it wasn’t the result I cared about but how she had played, she wasn’t interested as one of her friends had texted and her mind was already elsewhere.
It’s only the adults who are still raging hours later about the penalty that wasn’t given. So, as coaches, the lessons are huge – as the players in your team get older they will not remember winning the Under 12s Best Team Is The Winner Cup but they will remember the good times they had with the team and how their skills developed within the team.
Watching Gareth Bale playing for Real Madrid in the Champions League this week reminded me of the story where Bale, aged 15, had gone from being the fastest player to seventh fastest and was less of a match winner.
He was on the list to be released before the head coach decided he should stay. It was a development blip and of course the rest is history. But sometimes the development of a player seems to stall, but rather than sit them on the bench, keep playing them and they will reap the rewards of your foresight.
The question “How did you play?” in this instant is much more relevant to the player than “did you win”. I will be watching my daughter’s development with interest to see whether her comments were a one off.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: co-ordination, communcation, fun, games, young players
In this game, players move at walking pace like the character from the film Robocop – but with a ball. The main objectives are to improve communication, co-ordination and getting a feel for distances.
Set up a 50×30 yards playing area with a coned-off target zone around each goalmouth. Use two teams of six players.
One player stands in each target zone to act as a target for the attacking team. They also serve the ball for the other team to counter attack.
The ball is thrown and caught between team mates to reach the target player.
Players move with the ball at walking speed. They can pass freely and must pass if tagged by an opponent.
Opponents can only win the ball from an intercepted throw or if the ball is dropped.
Speed walking is allowed.
A point can be scored by reaching the target player from a designated third of the pitch or after a minimum number of passes to encourage team play.
Be firm with the no-running rule.
Players must take time to be accurate with their throws. Any form of throw is allowed – overarm, underarm or proper throw-in technique.
How to progress it
Allow the ball to be headed rather than caught if this will gain an advantage.
Allow the attacking team to throw or head the ball into the goal rather than pass to the target player. In this instance, the target player becomes the goalkeeper and tries to save.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: coaching, equipment, fun, grassroots, referee, st georges park
One of the positives to have come out of the opening of St George’s Park in England is the recognition being given to the thousands of coaches up and down the country that make grassroots football tick. St Georges will hopefully be putting coaches at the forefront of football in England, much like the situation is in Europe and America.
Without coaches there wouldn’t be matches taking place every weekend. The hours you coaches spend getting the right advice and the right sessions not only helps to create a development culture at your club but is also vitally important to the children you coach.
I know how hard it is for all of you because I’ve started clubs too, and have stood in front of parents wondering how on earth I was going to fulfil their wishes. Like you, I’ve stood at the end of a game when my team has lost, wondering if we would ever win again. Yes, it can be hard sometimes, but coaching is also a wonderful experience, with some amazing highs.
I spoke to a coach this week who has set up his own team because the side his son played for no longer saw the boy as part of their future. His son sat on the bench most matches and when he was allowed on, he was screamed at and told what to do. That’s not being a coach – coaches make football fun.
To rescue his son he created a team and set about learning what he should be coaching and how to manage. He hadn’t realised all the things he would have to do: the amount of emails to players, the collection of subs, the payment of referees, coping with training, getting a kit and buying the right equipment.
But I went to one of his matches and it was great to see him doing everything the right way, encouraging his players and making sure they all got a game. And at the end, when his team had won, he was bubbling over with delight. By doing it all himself he is learning the hard way that coaching is a huge responsibility.
As Head Coach of Soccer Coach Weekly I want to recognise all the hard work that goes into the role of the coach by shining a light on some of you who do the job. In our Coach Of The Month feature, the magazine recognises grassroots coaches with all kinds of experience, whether it be for putting so much into the game every week or maybe just for making the kids happy.
If you want to nominate someone, or even yourself, to be Coach Of The Month, please tell us why and you could be featured in the magazine. Email your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: fun, mind games, player specific, players leaving, training sessions
I had a conversation last weekend with a youth coach regarding why players sometimes go AWOL halfway through the season. He told me his team had won every game they’d played, but the number of lads attending his training sessions was dwindling week-on-week.
There are reasons why kids suddenly lose interest, although sometimes coaches need to step back to really see why it’s happening.
In particular, the coach I was speaking to highlighted some areas that gave me instant cause for concern:
1. His sessions were heavily focused on outcomes rather than development. Winning was always the main target at his club.
2. Over-coaching was a huge problem. Training was heavy on drills and exercises, with little uninterrupted game play that allowed players to experiment, and with that, experience failure and success.
The problem for this coach’s team is that even though they were winning games, the players have been getting to a certain age and discovering soccer was no longer fun. And when players aren’t having fun, their development stalls.
At this age the players should be hitting real highs in the way they understand the game, and their play should express this – tactically and technically. Ideally you want players who have a desire to learn, to succeed, and who possess a low fear of failure. That’s the ideal, but naturally, you can’t buy that off the shelf. You have to create an atmosphere that encourages your players to want to develop, learning from their mistakes along the way.
At the heart of it, as coaches we must do our best to promote an environment that is challenging, fun and free of fear. This builds confidence and self-esteem, but it all comes down to the basic idea that if you treat people well, they will respond to what you’re asking of them.One of the things I always tell coaches who are struggling with training sessions is to picture the excitement in children when the bell rings for break time at school. This is the atmosphere and spirit you want reproduce, albeit with a bit more control!
Small-sided games are an ideal way of generating this sort of enthusiasm and energy. Within those games, let the play continue uninterrupted, and at the end allow players the opportunity to offer their feedback.
And unlike the team leader I was chatting to last weekend, don’t over-coach the session – only make points when it’s absolutely necessary. That will leave the players wanting to come back for more next time around, I guarantee it.
Take out a 97p trial to Soccer Coach Weekly today.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Barcelona, dribbling, drill, fun, game, innovation, session, team, team bonding
This session is influenced heavily by techniques seen on the Barcelona training ground, a place where teamwork, communication and ball control provide the natural order. It’s a fun game that gets players keeping the ball close whilst moving as a unit. On the face of it, the premise is simple – a group race where one team tries to get a ball around a cone quicker than the other. The problem is the teams must hold hands in a circle and keep the ball moving with one or two touches as the whole group negotiates its path around the cone.
How to set it up:
- For this game, you will need cones and balls.
- Separating your group into teams of four, create an appropriate number of channels – in the example shown, we’ve used eight players and two channels. In each channel there are two cones, placed 15 yards apart.
- Each team has one ball.
- Each team begins on the left cone, and players hold hands with one another so as to form a circle.
- On your whistle, teams must keep the ball in the middle of their group and pass one-touch as they move to the cone, then around it. (For younger age groups allow two or even three touches.)
- The first team to get around the cone and back to the start wins.
- If the ball goes out of the circle players must go back to the start.
- The distance between the cone and the players should alter according to their age and ability, so vary the length and see how they get on. The longer the distance, the more difficult the task.
Developing the session:
- This is for super control freaks, particularly older players. Try your players with the same set-up but this time they must not let the ball bounce on the ground. It’s an elaborate ‘keepy-uppy’ game where each group must keep a ball in the air between them, get around a cone, then back. They can use their heads, feet, legs, and any other part of their body except their hands.
- You can also nominate one player as the ‘captain’. He has to guide the group of players by pushing, pulling and talking to them.
Why this works:
This is a good team bonding game that requires skill and technique. Coordination and communication are vital because although players are moving in one direction, some are going backwards, some forwards and some sideways… yet all need to keep an eye on the ball. Players will buy into this too because they find it really good fun.
Kids being kids, the prospect of holding hands with one another may not be too popular, so why not tell them to hold sleeves or wrists instead. The effect will be the same – players linking as one circle so as to perform the task
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: accuracy, fun, inspiration, motivation, speed
Children thrive on having a time limit to work to and nothing focuses them better than working against the clock.
I did an experiment recently with a squad of 12-year-old players. They did a basic passing exercise – running up a channel in groups of four passing along the line. There was no pressure and I stood back and watched.
After two minutes I noticed that none of the players were running on to the ball and taking it in their stride and the whole exercise lacked energy and accuracy.
So, I then set them a challenge: how many runs can you do in one minute? There were still one or two poor passes so players had to stop and go backwards to receive the ball, but the pace was up and you could see the concentration on their faces.
Their passing and receiving technique had also improved. Balls were being passed in front of players for them to run on to. When asked why there was such a big improvement, the overwhelming answer was that they all wanted to beat their previous score and that meant focusing so they didn’t have to wait for passes.
Dos and don’ts of timing
- Do vary the amount of time you give the players depending on their age and the skill you are practising. Thirty seconds of work is more suitable for younger players.
- Do tell them their score each time and challenge them to beat it.
- Don’t worry if the skill level drops the first few times. This is normal as players are trying to do everything as quickly as possible. They will soon realise that the more accurate they are the faster they will be.
- Don’t time everything. The novelty and effectiveness will soon wear off.