Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category.

Dynamic and Active Warm Up Variations

A good pregame warm-up should get a team physically and mentally prepared to play from the first whistle. You can look for some patterns that may point to a need to change how your team warms up before matches.

Does your team often have a slow start or go down a goal early?

Does your team always play better in the second half?

If you answer yes to these question then the issue may Continue reading ‘Dynamic and Active Warm Up Variations’ »

Teaching Pressing to Increase Effort Level

Occasionally a team will play a game when the effort level is just not there. There can be many reasons (or excuses) for it but when this happens with one of my teams I use it as an opportunity to explain that each player is responsible for their level of effort. When they go on the field it should not just be to make up the numbers but to make a difference in the game.

The next week I’ll often plan one of our sessions around activities that put the players in the position to give a maximum effort. This can push players to levels that they didn’t think they were capable of. It also helps to reinforce the idea that their effort level is up to them; they can play as hard as they choose.

There are many different exercises that can accomplish this goal. The ones below are taken from a session I recently did with one teams after a game where I new they could have been more committed than they were.

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Warm-Up 

The diamond is only 10 yards across. The players move back and forth on their side of the diamond. We used four of these so that all 16 of the players were moving at the same time.

Progressions

  • Shuffle there, shuffle back
  • Shuffle there, run back
  • Run there, shuffle back
  • Run there, run back

These progressions were interspersed with stretching and activation movements.

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Next the players run to the middle and shuffle to the right. They do this in unison so that they move in and out together. Next run in and shuffle left.

Progression

One player has a ball in their hands and everyone follows their lead. The player with the ball can choose to shuffle right or left and the other three players must follow their lead.

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Pressing

Working on pressing is a great environment to talk about effort. The effort to focus and anticipate as well as the physical effort to pressure the player on the ball.

The key is that the player across from the ball is the one to press it. The player with the ball can be instructed to pass to the right and run left or the other way around.

Progression

Allow the player with the ball to decide where to pass based on which side the defender tries to take away.

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1 v 1 Diagonal Goals

This is a fast paced, high energy game that requires effort and focus.

The attacker must get past the flags before they can score. Then they must immediately turn and defend the attacker from the other team.

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Transitional Possession

I usually play this game to work on possession but by changing what earn the team a point, you can change the focus of the players.

When one team has possession the other team sends two defenders to win the ball. Each time the attacking team makes five passes the defending team can send another defender. If the attacking team makes 15 passes then they pass the ball across the half line to the defending team.

The defending team earns points based on how quickly they win the ball. If the first two defenders win it or force the attackers to lose it out of bounds then the defending team earns five points. If they win it with three defenders then they receive three points. If they win it with four defenders they one receive one point.

This point system creates the urgency for them to win the ball as soon as possible. To keep it simple I call out the score by saying, ‘The yellow team is up by three.’ Then, ‘The black team is up by two.’ Keeping the score this way is easier for me and keeps the players motivated because they know the score.

Scrimmage

For the scrimmage we start by having each player match up with someone on the other team. When someone scores, whoever was marking them must leave the field and run all the way around it before rejoining the game. The team must play down one player until their teammate finishes their run.

This creates a very combative and competitive environment. I emphasis to the players that whoever works the hardest win usually be the one to win the 1 v 1 matchups and that will make a difference to how successful their team is.

The losing team puts the equipment away.

How do you create an environment within your team that fosters individual effort to support the team?

Have a great day!

Tom

 

The Penetrating Pass

I’ve spent the first few weeks of the year focusing on passing and possession with one of my teams. They’ve picked up on the concepts very well but there have been times when have just kept possession for the sake of possession. Possession without the intent to play the penetrating pass will have your team knocking the ball around nicely but not going anywhere. And that’s what I started to see with my team.

To progress our possession passing to finding penetrating passes I started with this session.

092814-1 Continue reading ‘The Penetrating Pass’ »

Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1

One of the biggest challenges when coaching young players is getting them to stay in position. Time and again, you see them charging for the ball, before huddling around it in a clumsy effort to get a kick. Even senior players can succumb to over enthusiasm, creating huge gaps for the opposition to exploit and break through on goal.

Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 provides a grid based training system that solves this problem. Firstly, it introduces your players to the key principles of keeping team shape before providing a progressive series of drills that improve their Continue reading ‘Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1’ »

Coaching the Principles of Soccer

When you coach young players, it can be difficult to know where to start. Some coaches will focus onlyon developing technique without teaching the key elements of the game. But this can just stunt a young player’s development. When they don’t understand the game’s core principles, they won’t know where they need to be and why so they can use their  technique to create chances to score. To solve this age old problem, two experts in youth coaching have created Coaching the Principles of Soccer – Attack and Defense. This book presents a structured approach to developing an understanding of how the game is played and to provide them with a solid base on which they can develop.

Coaching-the-Principles-of-Soccer-sidexside-500

The drills in Coaching the Principles of Soccer – Attack and Defense will Continue reading ‘Coaching the Principles of Soccer’ »

Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1

How many times do you hear coaches yelling, “Spread out, create space!” And how often do you see the players look around and not move much?

This is a sign that the players don’t know where to go or how to move in relation to their team mates. This ability is not a natural one for most players. They need to be shown where to go to support their team mates while keeping proper spacing between themselves and their team mates.

A new book called, ‘Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1′ by Sean Pearson contains Continue reading ‘Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1’ »

Training 1 v 1 Skills at Home

The summer months are a great time to recharge and take a break from formal training and playing but that doesn’t mean that players can’t work on improving their individual skills in their own time.

Legendary-1v1-Moves-vid-sidexside Continue reading ‘Training 1 v 1 Skills at Home’ »

Conquering the Myths of Youth Soccer

I recently discovered a post by Vince Ganzberg, former Director of Education of Indiana Youth Soccer and current Grassroots Coaching Education Consultant for US Soccer, that got my attention. ‘Conquering the Myths of Youth Soccer’ highlights some of common youth soccer fallacies. I’m re-posting one of the myths he deals with here because it’s one that I hear repeated over and over. Too many people think that more matches equals more development. Ganzberg does an great job explaining why this is not necessarily the case. 

“Conquering the Myths of Youth Soccer”
Vince Ganzberg
Director of Education of Indiana Youth Soccer

This past summer I finally found some time to read a few books. One of the books that Continue reading ‘Conquering the Myths of Youth Soccer’ »

Don’t be in a Rush

Parents (and many coaches) are in such a rush to move their players from one stage of development to another. They want their kids to play on the highest level team, in the best division, against the best players regardless if they are actually ready for it. They view it as a status symbol as much for them as for their child.

This is most obvious during the tryout process each year. You have parents jockeying for the best position on the best team in the biggest club. What they should be doing is finding the RIGHT position on the RIGHT team in the RIGHT club with the RIGHT coach.

Kids are best served by playing with other children that are at the same developmental stage that they are. This will allow the coach to set the level of difficulty so that all players maximize their development. If your son or daughter is on a team with more advanced players they will be expected to play at that level. That might be unrealistic given their level of talent and experience. There’s nothing wrong with challenging players to reach high standards but if those challenges are unrealistic they will be frustrated demotivated. They will probably give up because they just aren’t able to reach the level of the other players.

It’s far better to find a team that will challenge the child at a level where they can achieve some success. That success drives their motivation to continue to try and creates an upward spiral of development.

You can also see this rush when it comes to having players move from one format to the next. It seems that everyone wants their kids to progress as quickly as possible from 4 v 4  to 6 v 6 to 8 v 8 and finally to 11 v 11. It’s as if getting there quicker will mean that they are better players, faster. Skipping through these important steps too quickly can hurt a player because it will make them too dependent on their athleticism to survive rather than being able to acquire the skills that  are nurtured at each stage of development.

I came across a German Youth Development Model on a Twitter post recently that I thought laid out a good framework for the stages of development that each player goes through from four to 30 years old. It gives the expectations and guidelines for each stage. I thought it was an interesting insight to the German system.

Youth Development Program

http://www.kthi.is/skrar/file/Fyrirlestur%20%C3%BEj%C3%B3%C3%B0verjans.pdf

Please share your thoughts and comments in the section below.

Have a great day!

Tom

At Home Training Tools

There are a large number of ‘at home’ training devices on the market. I thought I would comb through them and give you what I think the best best option are.

Kickback

http://www.kickback.com/

kickback

This was one of the first at home training tools that I was familiar with. They were very popular in the 90’s and continue to be today.

SoccerEdge Bungee Soccer Trainer

http://www.socceredge.com/

Another old standard is the bungee cord attached to a ball. Less expensive and more portable but doesn’t give you the same satisfaction of hitting a target.

Kwik Kicker

http://www.kwikgoal.com/

This is just a hand-held version of the bungee cord and net. More portable than it’s larger cousin but much less versatile.

Kwick Kicker

 

Soccer Wave

http://soccerwave.com/

This one popped up a number of years ago (with a pretty young looking Clint Dempsey as the pitch-man) and is a fairly unique concept. It’s advantage is that is generates a very consistent service that allows for a lot of repetitions without the need for a server.

Futouch

http://finezallc.com

Soccer Tennis is universally popular game but it’s often played with lines rather than an actual net. These very portable nets allow you to create an environment that is a lot more fun than just playing over a line.

There’s an overview of the most popular home training tools. Picking one of these up for the summer will help encourage kids to keep their foot on the ball all summer long.

List any other products that you like in the comments section below.

Have a great day!

Tom