Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


6 steps to correcting technical errors

davidscwnew1Part of a young player’s soccer development is the crucial way you deal with technical errors your players make. It is often easier to turn a blind eye so you don’t have to say anything to the child, but it will help them more if you talk to them about how they will be a much better player if they follow your advice – after all you are the coach!

A good coach will eliminate technical errors in players to help them improve. Use our six-step guide to help correct the technique of your players in the right way.

1 SPOT THE PROBLEM

Watch your players closely to see what kind of errors they make. If the errors occur consistently in both training and matches, then these are ‘technical’ errors and could be correctable. These are fixed by working on a specific part of the player’s technique. If the errors that you spot occur during matches only, then they are ‘performance’ errors and less of a problem.

2 GATHER EVIDENCE

While observing a player, gather as much evidence as you can to help you work out how serious the problem is and how it can be fixed. Statistics on how often the error occurs and video footage are both valuable tools if you are able to get them. A lot of players will be unaware that they are making recurring errors, so evidence is essential to convince them.

3 OFFER SOLUTIONS

To persuade a player that he has a flaw in his game, you will need to provide him with a solution to his problem rather than just simply point out a series of faults. You should think carefully about what you are going to say before speaking to the player – and when you tackle the issue, have a clear idea about how you are going to help him overcome his technical problems.

4 GIVE HIM FEEDBACK

When you’ve worked out what needs to be done, make sure you give the player feedback in the right circumstances. Wait until the player does something you can praise and then use this as an opportunity to address the problem that you want to raise. Be positive and make the player aware that you have the solutions for him and are determined to help him improve.

5 TAKE ACTION

Once you’ve explained the problem to your player and made him understand the need for corrective action, make sure you demonstrate different ways to help eradicate the flaw in his game. Spend time with the player at training while he practices his technique and try to put him in situations that will give him plenty of opportunity to test out your solutions.

6 SUPPORT THE PLAYER

Don’t just identify the problem and then let players get on with his game. Make sure you offer support and give regular feedback on how the player is progressing. Be aware that correcting ingrained errors doesn’t happen quickly and in many cases the skill can get worse before it gets better. Players can become very despondent if they feel they are not being supported.



How to coach the chip – or get players to chip into the ball bag!
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davidscwnew1This simple game not only helps to develop the kind of soft touch your players will need to chip the ball, but it is also a fun way to pack up at the end of a training session too.

Why use it

Developing a soft touch to chip the ball with accuracy helps players learn to use the technique in matches and helps when they need to cushion a ball that has been passed to them.

Set up

All you need is your ball bag, players and balls.

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How to play

One player holds the ball bag and the rest of the players stand in a circle around three yards away.

One player starts with the ball and tries to chip it into the bag. The player holding the bag can chest the ball in if the chipping player misses. If it goes in they get one point and the next player goes. If they miss, the next player tries to put the same ball into the bag. When a player misses, whoever reaches the ball first can take the next turn.

The game ends when the last ball is in the bag. And it saves you packing the balls away too!

Technique

What do you need to see from your players? Think Messi caressing the ball with a chipped pass into space, or Ramires chipping the keeper on the way to Chelsea winning the 2012 Champions League.



Teach your players which foot to play off depending on how much time they have on the ball

BACK FOOT the ball is played to the foot furthest from the defender

FRONT FOOT the ball is played to the foot nearest the passer

 

Ball Control and Footwork

Front foot, back foot from David Clarke's Soccer Tactics Made SimpleThe foot furthest away from the ball is known as the back foot.When receiving the ball, with time and space to turn, a player should open his body andreceive the ball on his back foot to dribble forward.

Front foot refers to the foot nearest the ball.

When receiving the ball under pressure from an opponent and unable to turn, a player must receive the ball on his front foot and protect the ball by placing his body between the ball and the opponent. Now the player can choose to pass to a team mate or turn away from the opponent using a quick skill or trick=.

David Clarke’s Soccer Tactics Made Simple explains 58 of the game’s tactical concepts in simple, plain language. Read more.

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Make free-kicks work for your team

davidscwnewEvery team needs to be able to score from a dead-ball situation, so get your players to try this game to develop the perfect free-kick
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WHY USE IT
Every game seems to involve a goal scored from a set piece. This shows how important free-kicks are to the final outcome of matches. Therefore it’s vital that your players spend adequate time developing an unstoppable free-kick in their training sessions.

SET UP Mark out an area 40×30 yards with a goal at each end. Select two even teams. You need balls, bibs, cones and goals.

HOW TO PLAY
Play a small-sided game. While the game is being played you should carry a second ball under your arm. On your call place the ball and award a free-kick to a team of your choice. Immediately the players must react to this situation. You can place the ball in different areas for players to practice angled kicks and straight ones.

TECHNIQUE
Practice is crucial. It’s not just about mastering technique; it gives you confidence. This session gives plenty of realistic match situations for practising free-kicks around the penalty area. Players should also be practising at home. Every player needs to be alert during this game. It is a good idea to give the free-kick a name that can be called out so everyone moves. The kicker could shout ‘Usain Bolt’ so your players know it’s a quick free-kick.



Winning the 1v1s

davidscwnewIn the game my U10s B team played on Saturday they were involved in a lot of 1v1 duels both in defence and in attack, which had a big effect on the game. By winning the majority of these battles, my team held a huge advantage by having possession of the ball much more than their opponents.

Fortunately in the session before the game I’d been using this session designed to improve 1v1s in the midfield. Players are forced to continually attack and defend 1v1 in order to forge a chance to score a goal.

These are the kind of duels they would face in a real game. Remember to also alert your players to the fact that beating an opponent in a 1v1 will remove them from the game, allowing more space to attack.

How to set it up

Use an area 50 yards by 30 yards with a 10 yards by 10 yards area in the centre of the larger area.

How to play it

Pass a ball into the smaller area where two players must compete for it. The player successful at taking the ball outside of the area has the chance to run and take a shot at goal.

How to develop it

The player that wins teh initial batlle in the centre area has take on the defender in 1v1.

However, if the defender wins the ball from the attacker then they can pass the ball back to their team mate in the centre square.

The team mate can now go 1v1 at the opposite end.

Now when winning the 1v1 duel, your player attacks as he would in a game with the attackers outnumbering the defenders (the picture showing 3v2 can be changed to suit the players available in your session).

Play it in a game

The objective is to show the players in your team the benefits of competing and winning the duel against their immediate opponent in the game.



12 –point plan for technical top marks

davidscwnewI’m starting some extra coaching this season which means I’m going to be looking at developing a team of eight-year-olds through to the age of 12. A couple of the parents asked how I’d kick things off, and I thought I’d share with you what my plan will be. My immediate thoughts are that I want my players to be technically good. I’ll then mix that in with a few speed of movement skills. Initially I will use unopposed sessions until my players are up to speed. I can then put in opposition to make the task harder.

Here’s my 12-point technical plan.

I will tell players to:
1. Use side of the foot and instep to kick the ball both along the ground and through the air with accuracy.
2. Use all parts of the body to keep the ball in the air… apart from the arms!
3. Control the ball with all parts of the body… apart from arms!
4. Concentrate on accuracy of passing when on the move.
5. Shoot at goal with accuracy, which takes priority over power.
6. Concentrate on crossing accuracy to near and far posts. This will take some time with the younger ones and therefore crossing will be initially about direction rather than power.
7. Try to gain confidence in defensive and attacking heading using the right technique.
8 Take on board 1v1 skills that give them the ability to get past an opponent using feints and stepovers.
9. Practise quick passing tactics to get past opponents with skills like wall passes.
10. Practise individual techniques like shielding, recovering, tackling.
11. Take notice of the correct technique and tactics for throw-ins.
12. Appreciate the art of set pieces, freekicks, corners and penalties. This is my initial technical blueprint.

Of course, we have tactics, positional play and a code of conduct that comes outside of this, but as a pretty thorough technical game plan, I can’t wait to get it started. I’ll let you know how you get on; feel free to use with on your team..



Skills session: coach players to turn with the ball

davidscwnewGreat way to coach turning with this simple session you can use to coach your players – it also makes a good warm up.

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How to play it

Set up an area measuring 20×5 yards, as shown, with two cones marking the midway length point.

The player in the middle receives a pass from the front player in the top line – this man then follows his pass.

The middle player must make a turn, pass out, then follow his pass to join the group at the bottom.

The player who originally passed from the top line now becomes the new middle player.

For the next part, a pass is fed in from the bottom line.

The process continues with the player in the middle receiving the pass, but his ‘turn and move’ must be different to the one used by the player before him.

There are many ‘turn and move’ choices, including:

  1. An open body turn
  2. Opening legs and flicking the ball in between
  3. Open legs and dummying Making a Cruyff turn

The practice continues until all players are suitably warmed up in passing, controlling, turning and moving on.

Technique and tactics

Players must be on their toes at all times.

You’re looking for imagination in terms of how they turn.

The quality of passing to and from the middle man is essential if this warm-up is to maintain its momentum.