Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Simple 1 v 1 goalkeeper drill

Middlesbrough stopper Victor Valdes is great at pulling off saves when he goes one-on-one with a striker – and if you run this session your goalkeepers could master the art too.

Why use it

This session is great fun to play and good practice for getting your goalkeeper to dive at the feet of strikers that have raced clear of your defenders. It is a good activity for taking the fear out of goalkeeping.

Set up

For this session we have used our penalty area and a normal sized goal. You can set these up at either ends of the pitch or if you take the net off your goal, you can have back-to-back goalkeepers.

1 v 1 goalkeeper drill image

How to play

Place seven balls around the edge of the penalty area D, and have your keeper in goal. Players take turns to go 1v1 with the keeper using the seven balls – once one ball goes dead, the striker runs to get the next ball and the goalkeeper has to run and touch the goal line in his goal before facing the next attack.

This is tiring work so rest the players after each turn of seven balls.


The goalkeeper needs to come off his line and try to smother the shots as the striker turns and tries to beat him. The session is also a physical workout, and as the striker tires it should be easier for the keeper to stop him.


Five fantastic volleys

My top five cup volleys

Marco van Basten: Holland v USSR Euro 1988 final

David Platt: England v Belgium World Cup 1990

Zinedine Zidane: Real Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen 2002 Champions League final

Joe Cole: England v Sweden World Cup 2006

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Sweden v France Euro 2012

Look to the left and salute Falcoa

David ClarkeIt’s been a remarkable season for 26-year-old Radamel Falcao Atletico Madrid’s Colombian attacker.

Spain is indeed blessed with some great players in La Liga – Barcelona’s Argentinian Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Portuguese attacker Ronaldo, but the man making the headlines in the Europa League final was Falcao. He also finished as the tournament’s top scorer for the second year running, hitting the back of the net on 12 occasions.

Atletico beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 with two first half goals from Falcao.

The two goals were both of wonderful quality after receiving a pass from Diego down the right flank, he cut inside and curled a delightful effort into the top left-hand corner of the Bilbao net. proved it was no fluke 28 minutes later, collecting a low cross, skilfully dragging the ball back to rid himself of his marker and smashing it past Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz from close range

But even more amazing both goals were score with what he regards as his weaker foot: Falcao explained: “I don’t know what to say; I hit both with my left foot. My right was just there to support my weight.”

Europe is indeed watching.

See the goals below:

Ramires v Barcelona: My top six goals scored from an angle

David ClarkeBy David Clarke

Champions League Semi-Final 2012: Barcelona v Chelsea

Ramires is the king of technique. His goal for Chelsea against Barcelona when his team was 2-0 down with John Terry sent off was as good as you will see. An impossible situation, but the through ball to him from Frank Lampard just before half time putting him into the penalty area at an angle to the goal was perfect. His finish was sheer class.

Here’s my top six goals scored from tight angles:

Ramires, Barcelona v CHELSEA (2012)

Marco van Basten, HOLLAND v Russia (1988)

Gabriel Batistuta, FIORENTINA V Arsenal (1999)

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, CHELSEA v Manchester United (2001)

Ronaldo, REAL MADRID v LA Galaxy (2011)

Robin van Persie, ARSENAL v Barcelona (2011)

Why balance is the key to Messi

David ClarkeWatching a player like Lionel Messi slaloming through Real Madrid’s solid defence shows how important balance is for a football player – and it is true for any sport.

During growth and development our balance improves through practice. From learning to sit to walking and running does not just happen; it needs to be learnt and developed.

Think about how you learn to balance on a wall or the branch of a tree – first time you are awkward and slow until you can use your balance to speed up.

So too in sport. Lionel Messi has a low sense of balance because of his height and has learnt that he can lean and weave and stop quickly or speed up without losing his balance. This makes him an ideal machine for dribbling a ball past players. Dropping his shoulder to fool the defender into which side he will go to.

Balance is dependent on feedback and feeding of information from sensory receptors so repetition of movement, like walking along a wall, is vital to being balanced in sport especially at speed.

The optimum learning ages are between 5 and 11 but all coaches should do some training that involves specific balance related exercises.

Wobble boards and balance cushions are great to use if your club has them but if not I use this exercise below to help players with balance. I will add a ball once they can do it without falling over to make it more difficult.

How it works

  • This exercise is done by a player and three cones.
  •  It helps young players with balance, and is great fun to do as well with players trying to keep balance on one leg.
  •  The player balances on one leg then touches the top of each of the three cones with the foot of their other leg without it touching the ground.
  •  Touches should be light and quick.
  •  After three touches change the standing leg so the other foot is touching the cones.
  •  Players should do the it three times with each foot.

Ball skills help youth and professional players – watch Ronaldo take on a youth player

Puyol, we love your labour

David Clarke

Carles Puyol is the type of player every team would like. He is the classic old-fashioned captain. Quick and powerful, committed almost to the point of comedy, he is an inspiration to team-mates and an idol for the fans.

His intense commitment to Barcelona runs deep – he often stays behind to train and reportedly comes in on his days off to put in some extra work.

He makes a good roll model for youth players because he has made himself great even though he does not have the reputation of some of his team mates. Puyol has played for Barcelona since 1999 and been club captain since 2004. In his early years as captain before Iniesta, Messi and Xavi came on the scene he said of his team mates: “I don’t have Romário’s technique, [Marc] Overmars’ pace or [Patrick] Kluivert’s strength. But I work harder than the others. I’m like the student who is not as clever, but revises for his exams and does OK in the end.”

“Puyol is the key,” says Xavi, the Barcelona midfielder, “not just because he is one of the best defenders in the world but because of his character. He never lets up. If he sees you relax at all, he’s suddenly at your side demanding more.”

He has starred in more than 500 official games for the team, winning 18 major titles, notably five La Liga and three UEFA Champions League championships. At international level he has won the Euro 2008and the 2010 World Cup tournaments with Spain.

Team mate at Barcelona Gerard Piqu&eacute said: “He’s someone who, even if you’re winning 3–0 and there’s a few seconds left in the game will shout at the top of his voice at you if he thinks your concentration is going.”

More recently said, “Even four goals down he thinks we can still win.”

“The fans appreciate that I work my hardest all the time,” Puyol explains. “I need no encouragement because I’ve always been a cule – I’ve never hidden that fact. I am living the dream playing football for Barça and it is my dream to retire playing here. I know someday that I will have to leave and I am not looking forward to that day. I will work hard to realise my dream but if I can’t then I would like to play in another country. I wouldn’t want to play in Spain. I would go to England or Italy.”