Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Great Pogba goal Juventus v Udinese

Love the technique used to keep the ball down with this long range shot.


Never write your strikers off… just ask Matri at Juventus

dave clarkeA friend of mine was thrilled this week. His son had scored the winner in an U14s match against a team at the top of the league. It gave the team a huge boost because they hadn’t scored a lot of goals recently.

But even more important to my friends son was that he had actually played. The team normally has the manager’s son playing up front, and although he is a good player no one else got to play in that position – my friends son was limited to bit part substitute roles.

The fact that without his son up front the team still played well and his “reserve” striker had scored the winning goal hopefully made its mark on the manager. Players must be allowed to play games or you cannot see how much they have developed from week to week.

It reminded me of the recent Juventus v Inter Milan game. “It’s hard to score goals without any attackers,” Said Juventus manager Gigi Del Neri in January when they won just two of seven league games after losing top scorer Fabio Quagliarella to injury.

He went out and bought Alessandro Matri from Cagliari on the last day of the transfer window which didn’t impress everyone.

Former Juventus great Franco Causio was not impressed: “Matri? He won’t make the difference.”

But just like my friends son he has. He scored the winner against hated rivals Inter.

“Matri is already a legend,” said the Turin-based newspaper La Stampa. Gazzetta dello Sport is even more enthusiastic. “Do you realise what you have done,” it declares. “That was not a goal. That was a howl of liberation, a declaration of love, an act of desire, a black-and-white orgasm.”

You’ll never know how good a player is until you see them playing in your team each week. Don’t have bench warmers in your team.

Watch Matri’s goal below:

 Soccer Skills and Drills

When do you chip the goalkeeper?

Players that make decisions to try something different with the ball instead of head down just kicking it, are often the ones that score the best goals. What makes a player decide to chip a goalkeeper rather than just kick it as hard as they can at the goal?

In the World Cup game between England and USA the forward Emile Heskey had a great chance to score for England and give them a much needed win. Faced with the goalkeeper Heskey simply put his head over the ball and kicked it as hard as he could. It hit the goalkeeper smack band in his midriff and the chance was gone.

Had Heskey decided to chip the ball just a tiny bit it would probably have gone over the goalkeeper and into the net. This is what makes a goalscorer great – the ability to make the decision about the best type of shot to use.

If the goalkeeper comes of their line and leaves enough space that’s the time to try a chip and make your players look like the professionals.

Watch Clint Dempsey score his amazing chip for Fulham against Juventus in the second leg of the Europa League last 16 game:

1959 video of Pele scoring for Santos FC aged 18

I stumbled across this amazing video from 1959 of Pele aged 18 scoring his first ever goal scored for Santos FC against rivals Atletico Juventus.

It’s incredible it exists, and although a bit grainy you can make out the goal as he heads it into the net.

Watch it:

Pride in your team’s colours – the top five worst kits

Who is in charge of choosing the kits for your team? Hopefully it isn’t the one that chose the Newcastle United Away kit for next season – 2009/10.

I feel it is very important for young players to want to wear the kit they play in, much the same as they would want to wear the kit of the team they support. It is all part of taking pride in your team. Look good, play good.

It is also something that gives a team the initial advantage when you get to a match. Much like doing some good warm-ups the opposition will look across and weigh your team up. How come they have a full Nike kit? Wow they look like Brazil!

Kits are a massive boost to the revenues of professional teams. The launch of new kits is now a huge event. The latest England kit has matching jackets, all part of the image of the team.

Here’s my top five worst kits

1. Newcastle Utd Away shirt (2009) Oh dear relegated from the Premiership the final insult for Steven Taylor – has he looked in the mirror yet?

man-utd-grey-away-kit-19962.Man Utd Grey shirt (1996) 
 Worn only once, Sir Alex Ferguson demanded his players change into a new kit at half-time against Southampton as they “couldn’t see” each other on the park and this was why they found themselves 3-0 down at the interval. Worst excuse as well.

athletic-bilbao-home-shirt3. Athletic Bilbao home shirt (2004)
 Basque side Athletico Bilbao are one of the few clubs who do not have the logo of an official sponsor emblazoned on their kit. Now I wonder why…

1997Deshamps_ma_e4. Juventus (1997) In an attempt to hark back to its very first strip in 1899 Juventus decided it would be a great idea to ditch their iconic black and white strip and make their stars prance around in this delightful pink one. They quickly changed back.

mexico-campos-keeper-shirt-19965. Mexico Jorge Campos Goalkeeper shirt (USA World Cup 1994). Eccentic in goal, eccentic in kit.

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Fabio Capello to Save English Football
Fabio Capello was appointed England national team manager on 7 January 2008. Fabio has an almost perfect soccer CV. He has played for and won trophies with Milan, Juventus and Roma, as well as the Italy national team. He has managed and won trophies with Milan, Real Madrid and Roma.So we know he’s good. But what is he worth? Well, his annual salary is £6m (around US$12m). That’s around £13,561 a day. Give or take. Plus expenses.

And what does he do to earn his salary? Well, he watches lots of matches. He appears before the press every now and then. He fires and appoints other coaches and assistants on a regular basis. He does the occasional photo opportunity to help with his and the FA’s public profile.

Oh, and occasionally he gets together with the England players for a spot of coaching before a friendly. A total of five days since his appointment in January. At a cost of around £2.5m to the FA. He picks the team, he calls the tactics and he makes the substitutions.

And what of his coaching style? What is he bringing to the English game? The word most often associated with Capello is “discipline”. Predrag Mijatovic, who played under him at Real Madrid describes him as “A painful but necessary medicine”. Roberto Carlos at Real said of Capello’s style “There will be no spectacle, it will be 1-0…But the team will be there, correctly set up and balanced on the pitch. And always winning.”

I really hope so. I’m as disappointed as the next fan that England aren’t at Euro 2008 (and I’m Irish!). And maybe Capello can secure qualification for World Cup 2010. Clearly, the FA believe that if he can his astronomical salary will have been worth it.

But here’s the thing. Forget 2010 for a minute. What about 2022? If England are successful at that tournament it will have been down to the likes of you and me as youth coaches. Somewhere out there on the playing fields of England are the future generations of Steven Gerrards and Rio Ferdinands. Hopefully they’ll play a more expansive and open style than we’re used to from Capello. And we’ll have done it for a heck of a lot less than £6m a year. And we’ll spend an awful lot more time with our players.

That’s not me being bitter – that’s me being proud of what we’re doing for the future. I’m realistic about the commercial imperative of steadying the England ship and hiring the best available coach at whatever cost. In the short term England might even win something. But the long term is down to grassroots coaches doing it for free week in week out, year after year.

The FA know this. Let’s see some more support. Let’s see some action.

Dwyer Scullion, publisher, Better Soccer Coaching