Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Simple way to get players to look up


This session from Kevin McGreskin is aimed at developing a player’s visual awareness by making them look up and know what their team mates are doing around them. In the session, players have to carry out a specific action in response to a visual cue which forces them to look before they pass or receive a pass.

How it works

In the picture above. Player 2 must only use three touches in the centre – one to control the ball, one to move it and one to pass.

Encourage players to call out the colour of the visual cue during the exercise. This is an important secondary task that increases the challenge for the players and gets them used to talking during play.

How to play it

  • You need three players, two balls and six markers.

  • Player 2 stands between two markers (one black, one white) approximately three yards apart.

  • Players 1 and 3 each have one black and one white marker.

  • Player 1 passes to player 2.

  • Player 2 must look around to "spot" the visual cue, held up by player 3.

  • Player 2 must then shift the ball around the same coloured marker as the visual cue.

  • Player 2 follows the ball and makes a return pass to player 1.

  • Player 2 turns and repeats with player 3. This time, player 1 will hold up the visual cue.

How to progress it

  • Continue as above but player 2 must now "spot" a second visual cue, held up by player 3 in the picture, and call out the colour before making the return pass.
  • Rotate players after they have had two turns.

Key coaching tips

  • Make sure players look over their shoulder before receiving a pass.

  • Players need a good touch to shift the ball out of their feet and beyond the cone.

  • Ensure players look up and correctly identify the second visual cue before making the return pass.

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Do your players UNDERSTAND?

David ClarkeYou can be as clever as you like with tactical planning and technical instructions, but players must be able to understand what you want them to do.

I went to a demonstration this week by a couple of highly respected youth coaches to see examples of the different ways you can coach young players. There were some really good coaching and session ideas that I was privileged to take away from the get together.

However, one thing that was clear to me was that the players were having a hard time understanding exactly what was expected of them.

Both sessions were player- and activity-centric – but, because this was a meet-up designed for coaching knowledge, the players at times were clearly unsure of what they were doing and what was expected of them. In that respect, the experiment failed on all levels, bar one – namely in reminding me that one of the most important things you must do with players is ensure they are ‘with you’ at every step along the path of learning. It’s the whole purpose of what we do, after all.

If you notice that players are not doing what they are supposed to or are looking around to see how others perform the task, either they were not listening or you failed to get instructions across well enough.

Remember, players understand things in three different ways:

  •  Visually
  •  Verbally
  •  Physically

It is important that for each demonstration a coach must:

  •  Perform and show the technique that is being learnt, or recreate the scenario for tactical feedback (the visual part).
  •  Use explanations and key coaching points through the stages of the demonstration (the verbal part).
  •  Let the players perform the technique or replay the situation (the physical part).

This way, you can be sure your players know what they are doing. And it will ensure you make the most of every session you take.