Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Create a diamond defence on the Pivot/Goalkeeper axis

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davidscwnewIndividual players have a particular job to do in a diamond defence right from the goalkeeper to the attacking midfielders. The focus here is on the role of the defensive midfielder or pivot and his relationship with the goalkeeper.

At this year’s Euros in France the strongest teams all seem to have a brilliant goalkeeper and a ball-playing defensive midfielder or what we call a pivot. France use Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante, Germany often use Mats Hummels in that position, Spain has Sergio Busquets and Italy has Daniele De Rossi. Look behind them and you find Hugo Lloris, Manuel Neuer, David de Gea and Gianluigi Buffon.

That means finding a way past some of the best players in the world in diamond defences using formations like 4-4-2, 3-5-2 and of course the classic 4-1-4-1 creating a diamond between the centre backs, goalkeeper and the pivot. The pivot will also form a diamond with the other midfielders creating a strong formation right up the pitch.

The role of the goalkeeper is vital with positioning key to stopping any attacks through the defence. This works with things like the Sweeper Keeper personified by Manuel Neuer and his clever positioning in front of goal. The pivot also needs use a wide range of attacking as well as defensive qualities.

The players should:

  • Have a good tactical sense.
  • Be good at shielding the defence.
  • Be good at tackling and intercepting.
  • Be able to drop into and hold the defensive line, possessing good defensive qualities.
  • Be able to control and direct play from a static deep position, so being a point of reference for the whole team.
  • Be able to accurately deliver long passes.

Defensive Midfielder Responsibilities

  1. Protect the Center Backs by denying through balls and blocking passing routes into attack plus cover any holes when a defender gets pulled out of position
  2. Work hard in the middle of the pitch to win the ball and create space for attackers
  3. Stay central disrupting and destroying plays as they come through the middle of the park

Defensive Midfielder Physical

  • Fitness key to recovery from attack to defence
  • Good in the air to jump against attacking players
  • Strong lower body to clear balls with both feet
  • Quick reactions to transitions
  • Agility to press players
  • Good body strength for tackling and shielding the ball

5 Defensive Midfielder Attributes

  1. Winning the ball in the air and on the ground
  2. High Work Rate
  3. Link up with simple passes between defence and attack
  4. A team player
  5. Disrupts the flow of the opposition


Neuer the Keeper Sweeper

Joachim Löw played his defenders in a very high line against Algeria which with the heat and not exactly speed players seemed like a risky strategy with balls over the top tempting for the opposition.
However, Algeria found the imposing figure of Manuel Neuer, who Löw described as playing as a keeper sweeper.
Neuer made some fantastic clearances coming out of his area to clear the danger. There were some tricky moments like when the Algeria striker Islam Slimani got around him but ran out of space to turn the ball in.
Neuer made a number of heart in mouth sliding tackles outside his area but his timing was superb.
“Neuer played an extraordinary game,” Löw said. “He didn’t have to make saves on his line but he participated in the game. With all those long passes from Algeria, he saved us very often. He played as a libero. He delivered for us.”

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR A KEEPER SWEEPER SESSION

Sweeper Keeper session



Preparing for the conditions is vital for young players

davidscwnewOne thing’s for sure, it hasn’t been great weather for goalkeepers this winter. Changing weather conditions can cause problems. How will the ball bounce? Will it skid through or stop? What kit to wear? Rain is bad enough but I always feel sorry for my keeper when it’s really cold.

wetweatherplay

The ball is more slippery, and cold arms and legs make catching and kicking much more difficult.  Because a young keeper is standing  around for long spells it is much  harder to keep warm – just last month,  right at the start of the match my  U12s goalkeeper dived full length  and ended up soaking wet. The temperature was very cold and we had to get him a change of clothing pretty sharpish.

The opposition manager wasn’t happy that we asked for the game to be stopped, but it was face him or let my keeper freeze to death. His mum was worried but we had a change of kit and she had a clean base layer for him and he was soon back out there.  So what can keepers do in the worst kinds of winter weather?

For the prevention of injury on cold days, a warm up is essential and it gives your keeper a good opportunity to see how the pitch is going to play. And when they warm up, they should wear at least a waterproof jacket so they don’t get wet and cold before the game.

Also, carry a spare towel so the keeper can wipe his gloves or dry his face if it’s raining. The most important thing is to try and get your keeper to remain focused for the whole game, so work out a little routine that he can do when the ball is at the other end of the pitch – something like jogging to the edge of the penalty box and then backwards to the goal line, but make sure he is keeping a close eye on where the ball is.

Any routine is a good way to help focus and concentration on cold or wet days. The other side of play that can be hit by changing weather conditions is close control and dribbling. Running with the ball is hard if the ground is very wet so I always get my players to do some running around to get used to the conditions. If the ball is sticking in the soft ground they need to use more power with their control.

However, on some pitches the ball will be much faster if the grass is wet. When the weather is unpredictable, my advice to you is to make sure your players are both physically and mentally prepared and that they have the right kit on for the conditions.



Building from the back

davidscwnew

This practice looks at attacking movement that begins with every team’s last man – the keeper.

Starting these forward moves from the back takes courage and confidence but utilising possession in this way is good for technique and means opponents are being asked to work hard to get near the ball.

It rehearses passing into and creating space, forward movement, counter-attacking and support play. And with practice, players can really enjoy the benefits of such skilled and attractive build-up patterns.

How to set it up:

  • Use a 40×30 yards area with three small goals – each two yards wide – at each end.

  • You’ll need balls, bibs and cones (or poles).

  • The pictures above use 12 players (6v6) but you can adjust player numbers to suit.

  • Each team has three outfield players and a keeper in their defensive half, with two attackers in the opposition half.

Getting started:

  • The ball starts with one of the keepers. He has to patrol three gates at once and, given that the majority of his work is performed with his feet, he cannot use his hands.

  • The keeper passes the ball to a team mate in his own half.

  • This attacking team must make three passes – something they should be able to do quite easily with their 4v2 overload.

  • Once they complete the three passes, a player can pass or dribble into the opposition half of the pitch, supported by his team mates, which creates a 5v4 overload.

  • To score, attackers must dribble the ball through any of the three opposition gates.

  • If the defending team wins the ball back, it can counter attack – there are no offsides. If it cannot counter, passing back to the keeper resets play – opposition players return to their original positions, and the exercise restarts by building from the back.

Why this works:

This session works because it helps coach breaking into space when attacking, and covering space when defending.

Players are encouraged to create overloads by exploring space, and having three goals to aim at offers the chance to combine width with intelligent running.

The threat of the opposition in counter attacking reminds attackers that while considered build-up play is encouraged, they must stay aware of their defensive positions as well.



Goalkeepers can counter attack

davidscwnew

Goalkeepers like nothing better than having the ball in their hands, running to the edge of their area, then blasting it into the sky.

But throw-outs can be better, not to mention more valuable, because the ability to throw the ball quickly and accurately is becoming an increasingly important skill for goalkeepers in the modern game.

Many of the world’s top keepers can throw the ball more than half the length of the pitch, and the distance and accuracy they can achieve is a big counter-attacking weapon for the team.

The overarm throw allows your goalkeeper to clear the ball over a long distance and at a great height. And it can be more accurate than kicking the ball.

Here’s my seven-step guide for goalkeepers looking to master the art of the long throw:

  1. Tell your goalkeeper to adopt a side-on position and put their weight on the back foot.
  2. Your goalkeeper’s throwing hand needs to be positioned under the ball, and their throwing arm kept straight.
  3. The non-throwing arm must point in the direction of the target.
  4. The goalkeeper can then bring this arm down as the throwing arm comes through in an arc over the top of their shoulder.
  5. The goalkeeper’s weight should be transferred forward as the ball is released.
  6. It is similar to a bowler’s action in cricket.
  7. Over long distances, get your player to concentrate on powering the arm downwards on the same line as the target spot. This will help with his accuracy.


The goalkeeper has nowhere to hide

davidscwnewWatching one of the Under-12s goalkeepers at my local club this week picking the ball out of the net seven times I was reminded me of an article I had read by David James, the former England stopper who is now at English Championship club Bristol City.

When the 41-year-old was playing in the Premier League with Portsmouth, he once suffered the humiliation of conceding 10 goals in two games. Recalling that and other similar events, he said: “I try to get on with it; I take the dogs out for a walk. I try to move on and prepare for the next game. I have a debrief with my psychologist…” Psychologist?

Now that is where the similarities end…!Coaches of youth teams don’t have psychologists at hand when they lose a game, and neither does the poor lad whose goal has been under constant bombardment. More likely is that said keeper will be in the car home getting a pasting from his dad, your words of comfort a distant and fading memory!

But that’s the problem for keepers… their errors are highlighted every time the ball goes in the net; they have nowhere to hide. That’s why you must not let your keeper take the blame because, trust me, if you do, he won’t be your keeper for much longer! Protect him and nurture him so he wants to play in goal no matter what the score is.

At training nights make sure he joins in with all the fun bits – the match, skills, fitness – before you move him between the sticks for some designated keeper practice. It is important for you and the team that he feels part of it all. You can also get him to be vocal at training – to shout at his defenders and order them around, if necessary. Not only will this give him a unique status, but it will cement his value to the rest of the team as a leader and organiser on match day – someone who can survey all that’s in front of him with ease.

And encouraging him when he makes a mistake rather than criticising means that most of his team mates will do likewise.

At the end of the day keepers are vital to your team and their influence is stronger than you may realise. Let’s make sure they don’t go home crying.



A quick thinking goalie can start counter attacks

By David Clarke
David ClarkeGoalkeepers can distribute the ball from the back to get the team moving forward. They should be able to look around and communicate with the players in front of them, to play the ball into space and launch an attack.

Especially when the opposition have just been on the attack from say a corner, they often react slowly to getting back if the goalkeeper gets the ball. They can then throw the ball to take advantage.

I often play this game to get my goalkeeper thinking about quick plays that can get my team reacting quicker than the opposition. Every time the team wins the ball it must go back to their goalkeeper before they launch an attack. I use it to get my goalkeepers thinking about how and where they are going to play the ball to gain advantage.

A game for goalkeepers
In this small-sided game the goalkeeper is at the heart of every move. When your goalkeeper has the ball in a match they should be looking to use throws as well as kicks to get the ball to a team mate in space. Throwing the ball can often be a better way to distribute the ball because by using the technique in the diagram, goalkeepers can catch out the opposition with quick, accurate throws.

How to play it

  • Set up a 40×20 yard area with two end zones.
  •  Play normal rules but when a team wins the ball it must go to their own goalkeeper before the team can launch an attack.
  • No backpass rule – in this game the goalkeeper must pick up backpasses and throw to a team mate.
  • When the ball goes out of play it must be restarted with the goalkeeper throwing the ball to a team mate.
  • If the goalkeeper gets the ball off an opponent they must use a throw to get the ball to a team mate.
  •  Only the goalkeepers can go in the end zones.
  • Make sure the goalkeepers use the full width of the end zones to create space.

Ten of the best goalkeeper drills




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