Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Why quick throws work for youth teams

David ClarkeLast weekend, we were lucky to find our game was on given that most of the country was under water – we played on astro turf as our usual pitch was too wet. It was a fast game, requiring player reactions to be somewhat quicker than normal.

But whether on a fast surface or not, I always ask my players to think about performing quick, instinctive actions all the time anyway. Sure enough, on Saturday, we scored an opportunist goal thanks to one of my players taking a quick throw-in while the opposition was still getting set up to defend the set play. After the ball went dead, my winger ran over, picked it up and threw it first time into the path of one of our attackers. Two touches later, and the ball was in the back of the net before the keeper had even realised what was happening.

Something like a quick throw-in can make a huge difference in matches, and particularly in youth football where players are not as ‘tuned in’ and alert as they are in the pro game. Of course, players need to show good technique if they are to take advantage of the situation. In fact, after we had used the quick throw-in successfully, another one of my players repeatedly tried to replicate the tactic, and on each occasion he was penalised for lifting one of his feet off the ground.

I know he felt frustrated about it – he was trying to perform the throw quickly, but as a result lost sight of the action itself. You could say he was quick, but couldn’t keep to the rules!

But it’s still worth using quick throw-ins at every opportunity in your coaching sessions. Get players to try it under timed pressure – each time there’s a throw-in they have only 10 seconds to get into position and perform the action.

Of course, to make the most of this in game situations you’ll need for each player to excel at the technique. A lot of teams will have one or two players who are specialists, but if you want quick throw-ins, they’ll need to be performed by the player nearest the ball.

Tell your players to remember:

  •  To take the throw-in from where the ball went out of play
  • That their team mates can’t be offside from a throw-in
  • That another player has to touch the ball before the thrower can touch it again
  • That a goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in
  • And that opponents must stand more than two yards from the thrower

Try it out! It’s a great feeling the first time your team proves that something as basic as a throw-in can be utilised to such devastating effect!


Simple tactics for throw-ins

By David Clarke

David ClarkeI find that when young players pick up the ball for a throw-in and are faced by one of their team mates very close to them they usually end up doing a foul throw because they aren’t throwing the ball very far.

The way to stop them doing this is to give them tactics that both the thrower and receiver have practised before the match.

A player too close to the thrower is not in a good position anyway. What you are looking for is a player on the move who can take the ball in their stride and use it to advance your team up the pitch.

Throw-ins are good attacking weapons but you also need to be able to make the most of them when you are defending as well.

I use these four throw-in tactics to give all my teams good basic ideas so they know what to do when they pick the ball up. You should try them too.

  • In diagram 1, player A throws to player B who gives the ball back to player A with the inside of the right foot on the volley.

  • Once your players have done it a few times with their right foot, player B does the same this time using the left foot like diagram 2 – again playing the ball from the throw-in before it touches the ground.

Concentrate on the quality of the throw-in

Player A should always make sure his throw makes it easy for player B to move to the ball and volley back. The throw should put the ball at the right height, in the right spot and at the right pace.

Make sure your throwers concentrate on this, aiming the ball in the general direction of player B is not good enough.

Players shouldn’t be put under pressure

A ball thrown at chest or head height will put player B under pressure, as defenders will have a chance of intercepting as player B tries to control the ball.

How to progress

  • You can progress the throw-in practice, as we have done in diagram 3, by adding a defender and another team mate.

  • Player A must then disguise his throw, so the defender runs to the wrong player.

Support and move from the throw-in

    • Add another defender, as in diagram 4. This time the thrower and his attackers must support each other once the initial throw has been made.

    • Player B receives the ball, passes to player C then supports the pass so player C can pass back to him. Or player C can pass long to player A who has run into an attacking position down the wing.

    • Alternatively, player B can either play the ball back to player A and set up an attack, or retain possession, and still set up a 3v2 situation.

Soccer coaching tips to boost player throw-ins