Filed under: Attack, Dave Clarke, defence, Goalkeeping, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: antonio conte, Chelsea, counter attack, Premier League
Watching the Euros instead of standing coaching my players gives me a good chance to see how some of the world’s greatest coaches approach games where the opposition poses different problems.
Chelsea’s new boss Antonio Conte gave a wonderful performance in matches before they lost out to Germany on penalties. He was faced with two different types of games but his ability to get the best out of his players I noticed usually relied on them cleverly switching play in attack to create space when it was difficult to find any because the opposition was closing out any obvious space on the pitch.
And when defending, Italy’s formation makes perfect use of the players available. In Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, Italy have the best defensive unit in European football.
Italy still has the best coaching academy in the world. They produce generations of coaches capable of organising players into effective teams, something that Conte has taken on at the European Championships.
His tactics are a big part of the success he brings to teams. He said “When my teams attack, we do so with five players. It used to be four but now it is five. Attack with five, defend with five”. This means his attackers can spread right across the pitch finding any space that is available.
Italy’s performances against Sweden and Spain were entirely different, with both exploiting noted weaknesses but in each case Conte used switches of play to create goalscoring chances.
Against Sweden, Conte knew that he would face a side sitting deep in their own half, looking to take advantage of the counter-attack and free-kicks. As a result, Italy were patient, stretched the play from side-to-side when looking for an opening, and defended in numbers whenever they lost possession.
Against Spain, far from sitting back and limiting space in the final third, Italy charged at Vicente Del Bosque’s team, robbing them of the chance to build any tempo or rhythm.
Spain’s style of football depends on the players being very compact so that they can begin their mesmerising short passing game and work their way up the pitch.
When Italy attacked, they took advantage of this narrow team shape – constantly switching play to break up the compact Spanish team and give themselves a chance of scoring.
They constantly played the ball into space, dragging Spain around. It’s exhausting to defend against and when Spain would eventually win the ball back, Italy would press high up the pitch and surround their players to stop them passing.
“We have been working very intensively for a month now, tactically and physically, in a bid to surprise people and we have already succeeded in that,” said Conte after that 2-0 win over Spain.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Aguera, goals, how to score, manchester city, Premier League, shoot, shooting skills
By David Clarke
The Sergio Aguero challenge
I’ve named this after the Manchester City striker who shoots from all over the pitch – long range, short range and every angle you can image. He has been successful for club and country, and provided some memorable moments in his career – like his last second goal to win the Premier League title for his team last season.
How to set it up
- You will need six poles (or cones), a stopwatch and timesheet.
- Starting on the 18-yard line, place three poles two yards apartlined up with the goalposts. Repeat in line with the other post.
- Put three balls on the 18-yard line, one in the middle, one tothe left and one to the right.
- Starting in the middle, the player flicks the ball into the air,keeping it up twice. On the third kick, he volleys at goal,trying to achieve the highest score he can.
- He then runs to the ball on the right, passing it toward thegoal with a good weight so they can weave through the polesto get on the end of his pass.
- He should shoot across goal with his right foot aiming forthe far corner.
- The player then runs back to the remaining ball, repeatingthe process on the left side.
- He should end with a left-footed shot into the
How to score
- Back of the net = one point
- Side netting inside the goal = two points
- Top corner = three points
How to advance the session
- To keep this move fresh, move the poles further away from goal so that players can shoot from greater distances.
- Later, add a goalkeeper into the equation. Can your players still find the high-scoring areas of the goal?
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Arsenal, Champions League, player awards, Premier League, van persie, youtube
I hope you are all having awards events at your clubs as the season comes to a close. They’re a great way to wrap up the campaign and for the team as a whole to celebrate their achievements. And because this is done away from the football pitch, it puts an extra gloss on proceedings.
One of the end-of-season honours that I always keep a watch for at our club is that of Players’ Player of the Year.
To be the ‘players’ player’ is always a great honour. It tells a footballer they’ve won the respect of their team mates. And it’s usually won by that same player who has become regarded as the most consistent, trustworthy and level-headed.
Michael Owen revealed on Twitter that Robin van Persie of Arsenal should be PFS player of the year: “Player of the season so far? I went for Robin Van Persie. Stand out winner in my opinion.”
In my Under-10s group, they are now at the age where they have stopped voting for their best friend, and actually give credit to the player who they feel genuinely deserves the award.
And when it comes to writing down their favourite, the response is usually quick – it doesn’t take them long to work out who they think is the best in the team. It’s an exciting time and one that should be savoured. If you’re trying it for the first time this year, then be prepared for a couple of things.
Firstly, will the award be given to the leading goalscorer? Not always. I think some players feel that the strikers gain enough plaudits throughout the campaign! And secondly, the goalkeeper very often goes home empty-handed as well.
This was summed up one year when one of my players expressed surprise when I spoke to the squad about the award and how important it is. After outlining the process of how the players would vote, I added: “And don’t forget the goalkeeper.”A reply came from the back of the group: “Is he a player?”
Watch Robin van Persie scoring goals this season:
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: bicycle kick, derby, escape to victory, manchester city, Manchester United, overhead kick, Pelé, Premier League, Rooney
Wayne Rooney has been in disappointing form so far this season but on Saturday 12th February the England international showed just how good he can be using the perfect technique and body shape while hanging in the air – pure genius. The match was in the English Premier League, the Manchester derby between United and City at Old Trafford – boring game lit up by this goal that was also the winner.
Nani put in a cross from the right flank which clipped Pablo Zabaleta, but Rooney was there to think instinctively and went for a spectacular overhead kick that flew past England goalkeeper Joe Hart and into the City net.
After the game, Rooney said that it was the best goal he has ever scored, and enthused: “I saw the ball come in the box and I thought ‘Why not?’ I tried to get in a good position from when Nani crossed it. Nine times out of 10 they go over the crossbar or wide. I tried it and thankfully it’s gone in the top corner.
“You don’t have time to think about what you’re going to do. It’s the first one since I started playing professionally so I’m delighted, especially as it has given us three points.”
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was impressed: “He is a fantastic player who has done a fantastic thing. It was genius.”
Former Manchester City player Mike Summerbe said: “Pele did something similar in Escape To Victory. It took a goal like that to beat us – a moment of Rooney magnificence to do it.”
And here’s Pele’s overhead kick in Escape to Victory:
How to do the overhead kick
This skill is all about balance and technique. Get those right and you may have a chance of kicking the ball cleanly. It’s not an easy skill to perfect but your players will have a great deal of fun trying to do it. Practice it on soft ground to prevent your players injuring their backs, but don’t let them overdo it.
How to practice it
- Players throw a ball in the air.
- Jump up using the kicking foot as a spring.
- Then bring the kicking foot up and hands down to break fall.
- Twist your body so you don’t land on your back and use your arms to cushion your landing.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer News, Soccer Team Management | Tags: beating a better team, Carling Cup, clever coaching, last 10 minutes, Premier League
Funny how a lot of teams in the top division in England have had a change of heart and decided that the Carling Cup is now worth winning.
For years it’s been the stage for trying out players and letting the reserves have the spotlight. Now teams outside the top four in the Premier League fancy their chances of winning it.
This is sadly the realization that only a handful of teams have a chance and only two or three a realistic chance of winning the Premier League.
Watching the scores as the matches were being played in round two this week there seems to be a time during the game when the big teams suddenly wake up and score goals.
Teams from the top divisions can be losing 1-0 for most of the game but the last 10 minutes usually ends with the ‘better’ teams scoring enough goals to win. This is due to a number of reasons.
1. The lower league teams have been playing in top gear for most of the match and mistakes begin to show and tiredness comes in so the higher league teams find the last 10 minutes a lot easier.
2. The lower league teams begin to sit back and try to protect the league by playing deep allowing the higher league teams to attack from much higher up the pitch.
3. The higher league teams bring out the big guns if they are losing for the last 10 minutes – the attackers they have been saving for the league games.
For youth teams I see a very similar trend. During cup games I have taken teams to play matches against opposition from leagues higher than our team. Often we will surprise them by how well we play and pass the ball, and will score a couple of early goals. As the match wears on usually you find yourself pegged back and finally lose the game.
How do you prevent this?
I find substitutions in the last 10 minutes help your team, especially tired players who are finding it hard going. You can also make sure you continue to play the way you have been playing for the rest of the game. Try and get the ball into the opposition half and keep it there. Get your team to put the ball into touch to give them more time to organize themselves. Win the ball back – it sounds simple but if your team has the ball the opposition cannot score.
All these things are fine in theory but you’re going to have to use all your coaching instincts when it happens to you!
Filed under: Dwyer Scullion, Soccer News | Tags: Chelsea, Daniel Alves, David Bentley, Dean Ashton, Dimitar Berbatov, Fernando Torres, Liverpool, Manchester United, Michael Owen, Obafemi Martens, Play-offs, Premier League, Steven Gerrard, West Ham
After spending weeks telling us how the end of this English Premier League season is the most exciting for years, the media is now full of stories about how boring it is. So which is it?
The boring argument is based around the idea that only four teams can win – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool (indeed many would exclude Liverpool from that list, but not me). It’s certainly true that these teams have access to resources and players way beyond what the rest can manage.
Have you watched many games played by the Big 4 this season? Did you find Manchester United’s sweeping attack play boring? Or Arsenal’s clinical and incisive high-tempo passing? Or how about Fernando Torres in front of goal, feeding off the sublime passing of Steven Gerrard? Yes, really boring.
So, we know that these teams play some of the most exciting and attractive soccer in Europe. But yet it’s supposed to be a boring league? Why is that? Is a West Han United fan bored watching their team fight for a 2-2 draw against Newcastle United? Or were Fulham fans bored on the last day of the season as they battled to stay in the Premier League?
If your only interest in soccer is winning the league, yes, the dominance of the Big 4 might become a little boring. But that’s not how soccer fans see it. They don’t spend many hundreds of pounds each year on tickets thinking they’re going to be bored all season. They do it because they love their team and there are few things more exciting than watching your team competing in such an exciting league.
They also do it because there are great players throughout the Premier League – it’s not just about Ronaldo, Torres, Rooney etc. What about Dimitar Berbatov, Daniel Alves, David Bentley, Ashley Young, Obafemi Martens, Michael Owen, Dean Ashton, the list goes on.
And it’s not just season-ticket holders who get the excitement of the Premier League. Ever taken a child to a Premier League game? Try telling them it’s boring.
And was it ever really that different? West Ham United fans have never really held out too much hope of winning the league, but they know that they might be able to Manchester United or Liverpool on their day – indeed they’ve beaten both more than once in recent seasons. Now, that’s exciting.
So let’s just enjoy it and let it inspire the players we coach. And don’t forget, the season’s not quite over. If you want real excitement check out the Football League play-offs.
Filed under: Better Soccer Coaching Blog Guests, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: football coaching, Football Essex League, football player, football season, football teams, Premier League, Sunday football
Hi, my name is Ashley and I have been given the opportunity to post an article here on the blog. I’d like to thank Dwyer for the invite!
I am 26 years old and play Sunday football in a local Essex (England) league. A couple of seasons ago I made the decision to drop down a couple of leagues to join up with my friends and play for a different team. I don’t regret the decision but over this period I’ve noticed clear differences in the standard, football player behaviour and general attitude towards football on a Sunday morning.
This football season has been a disaster to put it bluntly. Bad habits have crept into the team and although we cannot expect Premier League status fitness, wages or TV coverage the simplest things were missing from our team. Our inability to do the simple things on the pitch let us down badly. To coach a football group of adults to do some simple drills, stretches and sprints before the game falls on deaf ears if you do not have a committed coaching structure in place. As the captain of the team I have found it hard to influence others to be as committed throughout the season.
Some of the other teams in the Sunday league include established local footballers who have played and now coach with passion. They organise the team properly, they have planned and structured training sessions, they know about fitness and hydration, they communicate positively from the touchline and they have enough support week in week out to get the team playing.
It’s no surprise that these football teams have hauled in the points this season. I can only think of a couple of occasions where we have matched them for fight and passion. But not having a proper football coaching structure and team discipline has let us down badly. On a number of occasions we haven’t even had enough players or subs to run the line.
I’ve now taken the decision to play for a new team in a different district and what I have seen watching two games with my new team confirms to me that organisation is the key. Although the ability of the players may not be hugely different, it’s the way that they perform as a team which makes the biggest difference. There have a considerable amount of respect for each other and the coaches and this is shown throughout the team.
I’m looking forward to a new challenge but I will miss the social side of meeting up with old school friends on a Sunday. But this football season has taught me that even at adult amateur level basic coaching needs to be applied to get the best results.