Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

My top six penalty misses

David ClarkeIt’ll sson be Euro 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine and that usually heralds a whole load of penalties – here’s my six top penalty misses in all competitions.

John Terry, CHELSEA v Manchester Utd (Champions League Final 2008)

After a 1-1 draw on the night, Cristiano Ronaldo missed his spot-kick to put Chelsea within touching distance of the trophy, but his crucial slip sent the ball crashing against the outside of the post, leaving the England international on the floor and in tears.

Lionel Messi, BARCELONA v Chelsea (Champions League Semi-Final 20120)

Barcelona started the second half 2-1 up but Chelsea were down to 10 men. Messi had the chance to gain the psychological advantage but hit the bar and Chelsea went on win the game.

Denis Bergkamp, ARSENAL v Manchester Utd (FA Cup Semi-Final replay 1999)

Bergkamp could have won the game with a last minute penalty. The match was notable for a disallowed Arsenal goal, the sending-off of Manchester Utd’s Roy Keane for a second bookable offence, a last-minute penalty save by Peter Schmeichel, and finally and most memorably a winning goal by Ryan Giggs, intercepting a pass near the half way line, before taking the ball past five Arsenal defenders and scoring past goalkeeper David Seaman.

Ruud van Nistelrooy MANCHESTER UNITED v Arsenal (Premier League 2003/04)

With the scores level at 0-0, United were given a controversial penalty in injury-time after Patrick Vieira had earlier seen red for a kick-out at Van Nistelrooy, but the Dutch striker made it three consecutive misses from the spot after he rattled the underside of the crossbar.

Gareth Southgate, ENGLAND v Germany (Semi-Final Euro’ 96)

After Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle failed at Italia ’90, it fell to Southgate to end the hopes of the Three Lions on home soil six years later, as football ‘came home’ but then swiftly left for Germany on penalties.

Roberto Baggio, Brazil v ITALY (World Cup Final 1994)

The first World Cup final to be decided on penalties, it was a moment that would define Baggio’s career despite some of the great things he achieved for both club and country.


Sorry coach, I forgot my boots

dave clarkeIt’s raining heavily. I’ve just gone outside to put some things in the car and I’m already soaked. The pitch is going to be a nightmare.

To be fair there hasn’t been many matches this season where the rain has spoiled things but I can tell this is not going to be fun. We have two matches to play with one of my three teams having the Saturday off. The pouring rain brings added problems – two players phone up ‘ill’ so we have not substitutes for the first game.

We’re playing a team that is top of the division above us so it’s going to be a test and judging from the state of the pitch when I arrive at the ground the ball will not be easy to pass.

During the first half one of my players is like Bambi on ice. He can’t stay on his feet so he’s not tackling or intercepting any passes like he usually does. Suddenly it dawns on those of us watching that he’s playing in trainers.

It hadn’t crossed my mind that any of the players would forget their boots but today of all days he’s forgotten his. His dad runs to look in the car but they aren’t there. We lose the game 4-2 – after being 2-1 down at half time. The difference between the teams was the size of one of their players, the boggy pitch so we couldn’t play our normal passing game – and of course my player without his boots.

It is worth checking when your team arrives on match days that everyone has all their kit with them including shinpads and boots. There would have been time for his dad to drive home and get them had I checked or had he told me, but because I neglected this small task it had a big effect on our game.

Players slipping can give goals away… or make you miss. Go to my blog and see some clips of Kieran Gibbs for Arsenal and John Terry for Chelsea slipping at vital times.

Central defenders make good stand-in goalkeepers

DavidClarke1Covering for the goalkeeper was brought sharply into focus on Sunday when our U14s ‘keeper felt ill at half time and said he couldn’t carry on. The game was a close one we were losing 2-1 but from my position as assistant referee (I get all the best jobs!) I felt it was certainly winnable.

We had therefore to change goalkeepers. My son used to play a lot as goalkeeper but hasn’t played in that position since the summer, but he was the best replacement. He was also instrumental in holding the ball on the left wing and playing it through to the attackers. The other thing he is good at is winning the ball off defenders high up the pitch which creates problems for the opposition, so to move him from there to goal gave two problems, filling that role and getting him to refocus on goalkeeping.

The match became difficult because the ball was quickly coming back at our defence with no one there to hold it up. Also my son was not coming out to get the ball like he would if he had been practicing more often.

The game turned when we went 3-1 down and there was no way back. There are a number of coaching points to be made here.

Make sure you give your reserve goalkeepers time in goal. With the U9s I play them in goal for a half every other game. It keeps them ready in case our main goalkeeper is unavailable or injured.

Goalkeeping gives central defenders a different view of the penalty area and makes them good at positioning themselves so that they can defend attacking shots if the goalkeeper has gone missing.

In this clip from the Champions League final 2008 between Chelsea and Manchester United, John Terry is in the ideal position to head the shot over the bar when his goalkeeper had gone to claim the ball and lost it. In the other clip Rio Ferdinand goes in goal and nearly saves a penalty after the Manchester Utd goalkeeper had been sent off. And another of Man Utd’s John O’Shea going in goal.

Central defenders get a good tactical view when they stand in for goalkeepers and it helps their defensive positional sense.

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Soccer teams – one big family

Michael Ballack has put Chelsea’s recent resurgence since their Carling Cup final defeat to Tottenham down to skipper John Terry’s insistence on a team bonding paint-ball trip the following week. And I for one am a great believer in team bonding trips.

One of the wonderful things about grassroots football is the spirit and friendships it produces between the players. When I first started writing for Better Soccer Coaching it was because I felt such an affinity with the players and the sport that I wanted to put in words what I had experienced in reality.

With my first team that I set up so my son was playing from the age of 5, we had such camaraderie among the players and the parents that we went away for a soccer trip to Devon. We stayed in converted stables that had houses for each family and an indoor pool so we could all interact together as families and as a team.

The matches we played after that weekend away together were so much more intense from a team point of view, because we had got to know each other from a different angle. We had run through the woods together, gone out at midnight to find the headless horseman of local legend. We had played volleyball in the hot indoor pool that none of the kids wanted to get out of. We had for a weekend been one big family.

We made it an annual experience, something to look forward to in the cold winter months when soccer takes on a different aspect, a grit-your-teeth-and-keep-the-cold-out aspect, but we were going to Devon so we had a lot to look forward to.

I saw one of my players from that time the other day and it reminded me of those Devon weekends. He’s now much older but still remembers and still thinks about those trips away with his friends, his team mates and his coach.

You should try it with your team. Build them up into one big family, creating memories as they go.

Dave Clarke, editor, Better Soccer Coaching