Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Five Minute Warm up

Strength and Power

This is an excellent warm-up that practises good ball skills whilst getting players ‘switched on’ in terms of movement, speed and ball control. Players should get a good feel of the pace of the ball when they take the shot at goal – the ‘race’ adds pressure.


Arrange the players in pairs and tell them to react to your whistle. You need balls in each part of the warm-up.


Whistle 1 – the players sprint into the first area where the first one to the ball must keep it and hold the other player off. After 15 seconds the coach whistles again…
Whistle 2 – the players leave the ball and sprint into the second area, again trying to be first to the ball and hold the other player off. After 15 seconds the coach whistles again.
Whistle 3 – the players react and sprint to get a first time shot at goal. The players then become servers. The servers now jog back to the starting position. The whistles work on a conveyor-belt effect. On each whistle a new pair is entering an area that the previous pair has just left.


How to take a free-kick in soccer

A couple of weeks ago in Soccer Coach Weekly I showed how David Beckham practiced his free kicks. The effort he put in and the way he achieved perfection for himself. He hit balls from different angles around the goal.

Beckham would not move the angle or distance of the ball from the goal until he hit three perfectly placed balls into the back of the net. He used eight different angles without a goalkeeper and then progressed the exercise to performing the same series of kicks with a goalkeeper.

It showed his commitment to his art.

Coaches of youth soccer teams can get their players to do the same.

You don’t need to practice eight angles, start with two or three then work your way up. It is also a good practice to get your strikers hitting shots on target. But I would initially get the players with the best shots – or ones that can kick the ball hard – to practice until you see a difference in the direction and power of their shots.

In this video David Beckham shows you how to coach free-kicks to young players, where and how they should hit the ball:

David Beckham coaches Snoop Dogg’s children

Well I guess if you’ve got the money you may as well get David Beckham to coach your kids. That’s what Snoop Dogg did. If you watch the video Becks is trying to get them to use both feet, but you’d think the superstar would have a few different coaching tricks up his sleeve other than running through sticks and trying free-kicks.

If you’re reading this Becks there’s plenty of tips and ideas in Better Soccer Coaching you could use in your academies… In fact there’s a whole load of coaches on here that could help you out!

It’s kind of nice though to spend a day just kicking a ball around, and messing about with a rapper.

The singers three kids: sons Corde, 13, and Cordell, 10, and daughter Cori, eight, insisted on meeting the soccer star after they came to know that their father knew him.



In return, Snoop took Becks to his favourite restaurant, Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n’ Waffles.

Here Comes the Sun- I’m finally able to take my soccer team back onto grass to train

Actually, that’s not strictly true because it looks like it’s about to start pouring with rain outside my little attic office here in not-so-sunny Oxfordshire, England.

But spring is here. The daffodils are wilting, the trees are blooming, there’s a smell of freshly cut grass in the air, and at long last I’m finally able to take my team back onto grass to train.

Our season lasts from September to April. From October to March it gets dark at around 5.00pm or earlier. Although our local soccer facilities are really very good, unfortunately we do not have the luxury of a floodlit grass training pitch. And frankly, even if we did, it would be unusable for much of that period due to the weather.

Instead we train on a floodlit multi-use-games-area (MUGA). We’re lucky to have that facility, I know, but it’s still not ideal. The surface is extremely fast, and is bound on all sides by a low wall. The fast surface means that the players aren’t training in conditions that replicate the match experience. When you pass a ball on a MUGA it zips across the surface. Play the same pass on a Saturday morning on a boggy pitch and it doesn’t go nearly as far and often as not just gets stuck in a mud-bath. And the boundary wall has the effect of making young players forget that they need to observe the touchline – why use a stop-turn when you can just bounce the ball off the wall?

But on match days we have to play on a large grass pitch. Many times through the winter I’ve asked myself, why do we play in these conditions? Can we reasonably expect 8, 9, 10 year olds to play to the best of their ability, to really express their skills, when it’s freezing cold, raining, the grass is too long and the ground is muddy? What do they learn from that experience? For many they learn that they don’t like playing soccer as much as they thought and they’d rather be somewhere warm and dry with a cup of hot chocolate.

So why can’t we play from April to September? Why can’t we train our players in the conditions that we expect them to play in? Is the argument that schools break up for summer and the players aren’t around? Frankly, I don’t think that holds water anymore. The school calendar has changed so much in England, and there are so many half-term breaks and long weekends and Christmas and Easter holidays that I actually think it might be easier to keep your squad together from spring to autumn than from autumn to spring.

I have little doubt that had I coached my players through the summer rather than through the winter they would all be better players for it. I follow David Clarke’s (Better Soccer Coaching editor) credo of pass-pass-pass on our MUGA sessions. We practise passing until it’s coming out of our ears, but more often than not when we get to the game on Saturday, the same well-rehearsed drills end up with the ball stuck in the mud or long grass. So what do the players do? Hoof it up the pitch as hard as the can, conceding possession, and turning the match into a large-scale game of ping pong.

Am I missing something? Are there any other reasons why we insist on putting our players through this? I really think we’re making it more difficult rather than easier for our young players and I would implore the FA to consider the structure of the season in England.

I’d love to get some feedback on this from coaches in other countries around the world. How does the weather impact on your coaching and your players’ development?

Dwyer Scullion, Publisher, Better Soccer Coaching

Look to your players Mr Wenger

“Every single decision has gone against us in every game and I don’t know why…” Arsène Wenger, April 2007

I like and admire Arsène Wenger. His teams play wonderful passing soccer, just like I imagine my team will play when they get to the professional level!

So it always surprises me when he makes statements about referees that make no sense. I felt sorry for him and his team when they played so well at Liverpool in the Champions League but lost out to a penalty decision that was his player’s own fault rather than the referees fault. And it was something dear to the hearts of all of us at Better Soccer Coaching where our publisher is Liverpool through and through.

By throwing himself at Liverpool’s Ryan Babbel, Kolo Toure was leaving himself open to a split second interpretation of the game by a referee. From the refs position it looked like a penalty so he gave it. The reason Wenger was sore was that in the first leg a different referee in a similar incident had chosen not to give a penalty. This time it was an Arsenal player who was knocked over in the penalty area. A definite penalty, fumed Wenger. The two decisions over the two legs were virtually identical but the referees saw them differently.

It’s difficult to criticize a referee over his interpretation. Last week playing at home my Under 15s had one of our best young referees on the pitch. At 0-0 we had a certain penalty turned down when a player tripped our striker. No penalty. Up the other end they went and to my amazement they won a penalty. I wasn’t happy and stormed around the pitch to our linesman, who confirmed it was a penalty. I asked the ref at half-time why he hadn’t given our penalty. “I’m really sorry, Dave,” he said, “at that point two players ran into my line of vision and I couldn’t actually see what happened. I can only give what I see.”

And that’s the truth of it. These guys give what they see. I accept what my referee tells me because I know him and because on a rainy cold day you expect things like that. Just because a match is on TV doesn’t mean the conditions are any different to the conditions my referee was playing in.

Where Arsène Wenger went wrong was that it was his players at fault. If his forwards – namely Emmanuel Adebayor – had scored from the chances that came their way Wenger wouldn’t need a refereeing decision to decide his fate. If Philippe Senderos had actually defended Wenger would not be ranting at the referee.

In a way it’s “welcome to our world Mr Wenger”. The world we write about in Better Soccer Coaching. If young Matt had put his three easy chances into the net on Sunday I wouldn’t have worried about the penalty. If Tom hadn’t rugby tackled the opposition they wouldn’t have been given a penalty.

Players lose games – not referees.

Dave Clarke, editor, Better Soccer Coaching

How to GROW as a soccer coach

As I’m sure you are aware, a soccer coach does more than just coach. He’s a manager, a taxi driver, motivator, nursemaid,andrew_griffiths.jpg father figure…I could go on. Oh, and he or she knows a bit about the game.

It’s quite a responsibility. But there’s more.

Coaching is probably the most powerful tool available for personal development. As a soccer coach you are perhaps the strongest influence on the future careers of the players you look after today. At whatever level they play throughout their life, and for how long, their enjoyment of the game is going to be determined to a large extent by their experiences with you as a leader and mentor.

In my last post I outlined some definitions of coaching from the Defence Leadership Centre passed on to me by Roger Jones, a coach at AFC Holmer Green, based at The Misbourne School in Great Missenden, England. Today I’d like to go a step further and explore a coaching technique used by the centre and in other organisations.

The technique gets players to learn for themselves, and is called the GROW model. The coach helps the player to think through the following steps: G = Goal, R = Reality, O = Options, and W = Wrapping Up.

I’ll explain what these mean.

Goal. The player decides what the goal of the coaching session will be. For example, a soccer player might express a desire to get into space more often.

Reality. The player explores reality from different perspectives to raise their awareness of the issue in hand. For example, the player might ask himself why he doesn’t already get into space and what’s stopping him. He might ask how others get into space or watch professionals in action to gain further insight.

Options. These are considered by the player and coach together along with the feasibility of meeting the goal. For example, the player might consider always making a run as a fellow player receives the ball, or always looking around for space as a pass is made by a fellow player. The player has to see the possibility of one of the options helping him or her towards the goal.

Wrapping-Up. The player decides or commits to taking an action. For example the player commits to always making a run when a team mate receives the ball.

The approach only works if first, the coach manages to remove interference (noise and interruptions) as well as self-generated distractions, and second, the player himself chooses to do something differently.

Here’s the upside.

By allowing the player to set the agenda, he or she has ownership of the issue and retains the motivation to solve the problem. In other words, the player becomes the driver for the change and the improvement.

The coach has raised the awareness of the issue by the player and helped to improve both learning and performance at the same time. And to some extent, both the coach and the player have “grown.”

Andrew Griffiths, Managing Director, Better Soccer Coaching

What Does Better Soccer Coaching Do?

What we’re all about?dwyer-2.jpg

You’ll have noticed a great many references to Better Soccer Coaching in the posts on this blog site. Better Soccer Coaching is the name of the free weekly coaching guide published by the company we all work for.

If you’ve been wondering what Better Soccer Coaching is all about, I’ve included a recent article below. This one is about the core skills of passing and receiving. We also cover areas such as tactics, fitness, communication, running a good session and lots more.

We like to think we’re good at taking these tips from our panel of expert coaches and presenting them in a way which makes it easy to take on to the training pitch.

Head on over to Better Soccer Coaching and have a look at our archive of over 100 tips and maybe sign up to receive a new issue each week. Either way, I’d love to hear what you think of how we do things.

Dwyer Scullion, publisher and youth team coach

A Great Way to Coach Passing and Receiving

Constant passing using match-like situations and a bit of competition to give it an edge is the best way to coach your players to be ready for soccer matches. And it should be fun too, says David Clarke.

Great for passing, agility and building fitness.

We’ve covered passing and first touch a lot in Soccer Coach Weekly, and it is indeed one of the most important things you can teach a young soccer player. I came across a little exercise recently that I just had to share with you. It is great for passing and agility but it also has a little bit of fitness in there too.


Run, pass, receive, control, pass

Use two players and four cones. In the diagram the player at the bottom runs left to right and gives a square pass to the player on the opposite side. The top player does the same thing from right to left. Both players must keep up with play to receive, then pass. So it is a constantly moving exercise with first touch and good passing vital to its effectiveness.

It has proper soccer-like situations

If your player makes a bad touch, he will have to work a little bit harder to get it back which is exactly what he would have to do in a game.

Making the exercise competitive

You can move this exercise on by bringing a bit of competition into it by combining skills with fitness and whenever you can do that in an exercise it adds to its value.

After 10 touches get your players to sprint to the 18 yard line and see who can get back to their positions first.

You will see that by adding a little bit of competitiveness to it, the pace picks up and the skill level goes up a notch because they are doing it in competition with each other, so you’ve created a skill building exercise.

Key coaching tip: First touch is vital coupled with a good inside foot pass.