Archive for the ‘Books’ Category.

Running with the Ball

Everyone does dribbling exercises but you don’t see many coaches teaching their players to run with the ball. It might seem like this doesn’t have to be ‘taught’, players will just do it on their own. But their is a when, where and how to running with the ball.

This is an example of a session on running with the ball that was presented by John Shiels who was a coach with the  Manchester United Soccer Soccer. The session is part of our two book set, ‘Technical and Tactical Practices of the Pros

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Running with the Ball

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Play 5 v 2 with the objective of keeping possession.

Pass the ball around and look for good movement off the ball and good communication.

Can you split the defenders and pass through the middle, so taking out two players with one pass?

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Can you run the ball through the defenders?

Coaching Points
• Decision making
• Be positive
• Good first touch
• Accelerate through the middle

Emphasize points of either passing through defenders, or by your movement, encouraging defenders to come close to create space.

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Play two 5 v 2 games of keep-away. Organize the players to make X amount of passes. Once achieved, one player can run the ball across the middle area into zone B and start again.

Work as a team to get players to escape zone A.

Try to make a quick break. “A” zone players support escaping player by pushing up. “B” zone players support escape player by spreading and using space.

Escape players need to ensure they carry the ball at speed and be composed to make the right decision when entering zone B.

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Now introduce phase of play game. Play open game waiting for the ball to be fed into GK from wide player A. As the ball is caught by GK, midfield players move to clear area in front of the defense

Defenders spread the width of the field, with wide players prepared to receive, central players also ready to receive. As the ball comes from the GK’s left, they should bring the right back into action utilizing the entire width of the pitch.

The worst case scenario would be 4 v 3, but normally be 4 v 2. Fullbacks look to run the ball into space provided by midfield pushing on. Run with speed and keep head up as practiced in technique and skill sessions.

Coaching Points
• Work on running with the ball; teammates creating space for their own players
• Let players play and get the right attitude to run the ball into space
• Utilizing good technique – ball out of feet, balanced body, at speed, head up, awareness of options
• Let players gain confidence then talk about decision making when, where, how, why
• Keep asking open questions to assist the players’ understanding of the situation and develop their skill

Have a great day!

Tom

 

Creating a ‘False 9′

This excerpt is from one of our most popular titles, ‘The False 9‘. This is a unique offer of both an eBook and videos that compliment each other very well. Detailed diagrams and descriptions from the eBook are followed up with video analysis that present a complete picture of the techniques and tactics that are necessary to create a dynamic False 9.

This section is from the chapter on Functional Skill Exercises. These types of exercises are important to use in whichever system you use but the ones presented here are especially useful in training the skills necessary to play in the False 9 position.

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How to Create a Functional Skills Exercise

Functional Skills Exercises are passing exercises and drills that work the individual technical action. These are exercises that work specific actions within different size grids to create repetition with the technical action.

Functional Skills exercises are used to zoom in on a specific technical skill to create more repetition on that Technique. This could be players working with a ball, passing in twos or threes, or a full team with a number of balls passing and moving whilst repeating certain technical actions. Functional Skills Exercises are not built within tactical shape – they’re designed around, and are expected to focus on, a specific action.

Functional Skills Exercises are limited to 15 minutes and should not be used for a full session. These exercises are based on repetition and unless the session is progressed the learning outcomes are often poor. By progressing the session the player, will have opportunity to try out these skills progressively by receiving more pressure. The failing with using Functional Skills alone is the player can look technically sound but often they cannot reproduce the skill under pressure. If we progress the session, the player will also develop tactical knowledge. This will assist them in their movement, positioning and when to practise the given technical act or skill.

My reason for including Functional Skills is to not isolate many technical trainers who prefer using this type of training. I do however, recommend this is not over-used and is just a starting point to the training session.

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Functional Skills – Circle Passing

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Objective:
Timing of movement and explosive actions.

Exercise Description:
This game starts with 1 ball then we can add up to 3 balls. This covers a straight pass into 9 with a one-touch through ball and explosive actions. Outside player to move towards the ball and the player on their left will explode and receive the pass.

Coaching Points:
• Speed dribble – Head up with lots of small touches
• Striking the ball – firm pass side-foot into selected end player
• Drop-off Pass – Move towards the ball and strike through the ball into the path of the runner

Explosive run – Break quickly, do not slow down, keep looking at the passer so you can see the pass.

Functional Skills – Creating opportunities

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Objective:
Improve passing options, ball speed, game tempo, timing of movement.

Exercise Description:
1. Players passing straight lines and follow the pass
2. Players pass to the diagonal cone and follow
3. Players pass a straight pass, bounce back then up

Coaching Points:
• On the balls of their feet
• Move towards the ball
• Slow down to cushion ball
• Standing leg slightly bent
• First touch out of the body
• Move towards the ball
• Head up and strike the ball back to teammate

This is only a very small part of a comprehensive look at the False 9. The eBook and videos go into great detail on the history of the position, the players that have made the most of the role, the teams that use it and how they use it as well as the training sessions and methods you can use to create this same success with your teams.

Whether you want your team to play with a False 9 or simply want to train players to be as versatile and dangerous as the most notable False 9 like, Cruyff, Messi, Fabregas and Eriksen this book will provide you with the blue print.

Have a great day!

Tom

 

Teaching Possession Play

Telling a team that they need to, ‘Keep possession’ is such an abstract and nonspecific concept for so many young players. Teaching them what it takes to keep the ball gives them specific things that they need to do in order to ensure that the team has the best chance to retain the ball.

In David Goldstein’s book, ‘Improving Your Team’s Possession Play‘ he outlines simple system that can be taught to players at any age or level of play. The core principle is that the player with the ball must have a, ‘Left, Right and Split’.

Here is an excerpt that explains this and the other important concepts of the book.

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So what is left/right/split support? It is simply that the person with the ball has someone on the left of them for support, someone on the right of them for support and someone working to Continue reading ‘Teaching Possession Play’ »

Dutch Up, Back and Through to Finish

Some  coaches may consider pattern play to be limiting. They say, ‘I don’t want my players to be robots that just pass and move in the patterns that I’ve taught them.’ I can understand this and I agree with it but where are our players supposed to get their creative ideas from?

We want our players to combine and be creative in attack but our challenge in the United States is that most of our players don’t watch the being played at the highest level every week. They don’t see the intricate patterns and movement of Barcelona  or the timing and runs of Manchester United’s Sergio Aguero’s. When it comes time for them to play they don’t have pictures or patterns to emulate. If we want our players to be creative we have to give them a framework to start with.

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Coaching Soccer Champions by Terry Michler, has some great patterns that build off of very simple foundations. You can add layers to them as the player become more comfortable with the basic set up. Here are a few examples:

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Up – back – deep – and go to goal in a half field area or less
This is the first of 12 progressions with the same starting action.
The back plays up to the midfielder and gets the ball back. He then plays a deep ball to the striker who dribbles to goal and shoots.

Coaching Points

  • Good sequence between the back and midfielder with crisp passing.
  • The midfielder should check and come back to the ball and lay it off to the back — in 1 touch.
  • The back then plays deep to the striker who receives ball and advances it to goal for a shot. Strikers should focus on scoring with every shot !

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Now when the striker advances to goal, the player must avoid the obstacle and then finish with goal-scoring attempt.

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Up – back – deep – give and go – and then shoot

The midfielder, after laying the ball off to the back, will turn and play a give and go with the striker.  The striker should shoot first time.  Encourage quick, crisp passes in the give and go sequence and the midfielder should be close to the striker.

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Progression

Place 1 obstacle for the give and go sequence and the other for the striker before shooting.  This will more closely resemble actual game play.  Ball control is essential as the play is now at speed and around fixed obstacles.

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Here’s the last pattern in the progression just to give you an idea of how the complexity can be increased as the players become familiar with the patterns.

Do you agree with me that teach patterns gives the players ideas and enhances creativity or do you feel that we are better off allowing the players to find combinations of their own?

Have a great day!

Tom

 

 

Position Specific Training

I think that much of our time as coaches is spent teaching all of the players the same thing. There is obviously a place for this at the younger ages when they just need to learn the basics. But in my opinion, as the player get to be 12 and 13 there is a place for position specific training.

Learning the roles and responsibilities of a particular position will allow the players to apply the technical skills that they’ve learned to the place on the field they will be playing. The options are different for a wide midfielder than they are for a center midfielder and the more comfortable we, as coaches, can Continue reading ‘Position Specific Training’ »

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.

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

Developing Soccer Intelligence

Soccer is a ‘Player Centered’ game. The players make the decisions as the game is played. Unlike our traditional American sports of football, baseball and basketball. In those sports the players rely heavily on the coaches for direction and decision making. The coaches call the play, give the sign for a certain pitch or run an in-bounds play that the team has worked on at practice.

By contrast, soccer is a free flowing, constantly changing game where the players have to decide what to do based on where they are, where their team mates are and where the opponents are at any given moment. There are no time outs and few stoppages that allow the coach to directly effect the play. The players must have the ability to Continue reading ‘Developing Soccer Intelligence’ »

The Triangle Midfield

The two most popular systems of play in the world at the moment are the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1. Both are predicated on creating a connection between a group of three midfielders. Getting these players to understand their roles and work together are the key factors that will contribute to the success or failure of the team.

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Our latest book, Triangle Midfield tells you everything you need to know about Continue reading ‘The Triangle Midfield’ »

Small-Sided Games in Training

Small-sided games are a great tool for player development. But as with any tool they must be used correctly to achieve the best results. It’s not enough to create two teams of eight and drop a ball. The more specifically you design the game, the more your players will benefit.

Most coaches will choose a game that focuses on the technical or tactical elements that were worked on earlier in the session but many miss the one factor that can be the difference between a session that translates into improved performance in the next match: the formation that the teams use during the small-sided game.

Playing small-sided games in the same formation that your team uses on game day means that the players will get used to the shape and angles of support of your formation and know more about what to expect from their teammates and the opponents.

Here’s an excerpt from, ‘Formation Based Soccer Training‘, that talks about this in more detail.

3 v 4 EXERCISES TO TRAIN THE 4-4-2 DIAMOND MIDFIELD, FLAT BACK, ZONAL DEFENDING

OBJECTIVE: HOLDING THE FLAT BACK SHAPE IN THE BACK, TRAINING ZONAL DEFENDING

Players and equipment: 7 players; square shaped grid large enough to play 3 v 4 to small, Pugg type nets; seven bibs, three one color and four a different color; two Pugg nets placed opposite each other at each end line.

Objective: To force the four players on one team (backs) when defending to stay compact playing flat and defending zonally; and to force the three players on the other team when playing offense to move the ball wide with centered balls to the vital area to create shots on goal.  This exercise is for the benefit of the defending players. Use four backs on one side. The other side should be the one attacking mid at the top of the diamond shaped midfield and the two front or the two outside midfielders and the one defensive mid at the bottom of the diamond. Remember, this is only a sample objective. The objective changes each time a training session theme changes but positional play remains the same.

Set up: Square shaped grid with small, Pugg type nets placed opposite each other at each end line large enough to play 3 v 4, two-way directional (about 40×40 yards). Two teams of three players on one team and four backs on the other team in different colored bibs playing against each other, no limit on touches. Place 3 soccer balls in each Pugg type net to be used to keep the game going after a shot on goal.

Exercise: Two teams in bibs, two-way directional competition to score to goal. Unlimited touches. Defending team must maintain flat shape. First team to reach three goals wins. Use multiple grids so all players are involved at one time.

Progression: From Pugg type nets to target players: Remove Pugg type nets and replace with a target player without a bib at each end line. The target player moves in the goal channel, behind the end line to stay open to collect a ball shot to him. The target player belongs to the team on his side of the grid. Rather than shooting to the Pugg type nets, each team now shoots or passes to the target on the opposite team who collects the ball and passes it back to a player on his team (the opposite team that passed the ball to him) to start play again. The pass made by the target player must be done quickly to keep the game moving.

To small cone goals: Leave the target player as is and add a cone about two yards to his right and another cone about two yards to his left creating a small goal area. The target player can move laterally within this small goal area to collect the ball. The purpose of this small goal is to give perspective to the shooter with an obstruction (the target) in goal. The shooter is to try to avoid the target rather than pass to the target as in the earlier progression. The target which could be a keeper using his hands or a field player not allowed to use his hands, tries to stop the shot on goal. He collects the ball and distributes to his team.

To full sized goals with no keeper: Replace the target and small cone goals with a full sized goal with no keeper. The full sized goals are at each end line.

To full sized goals with keepers: Add a keeper in each goal.

The square shaped grid marked with cones or disks remains the same for each of these 3 v 4 exercises.

Or, use four backs, flat, and two outside midfielders with a defensive mid at the bottom of triangle.

Next, restrict touches for the 3 attacking players to two touch.

Have a Great Day!

Tom

Spanish Training Games

The key to seeing improvement in your team is for your training activities to relate to the game as closely as possible. You can spend weeks teaching your players to understand and perform a complex drill full of movement and rotation but if they can’t relate the activity to what they do in the game it’s just a waste of training time. Sure, they’ll get better at the drill but it won’t improve their performance on game day.

That’s the beauty of straightforward training games; you can spend your time teaching the game not teaching the drill. Then on game day you can see the players use the skills and tactics they learned in training to improve their chances of success.

In our latest book, Coaching Spanish Soccer, the author, Jodi Pascual, discusses the methods and tactics used to create successful Spanish teams and players. He also shows practical examples of drills, exercises and games that they use with players both young and old. The drills are not complicated but the key is how they relate back to the game. Here’s an excerpt from the book that shows an example:

The next activity is another “rondo”, but this, more than a warm-up, is a real “positional SSG” with implications in the way the team plays. This one is 4v1 in a 5×5 grid. Again, at high level is played with just 1 touch, so, the same we told before can be applied here, about awareness and/or decision making; of course, technique is also very important: you can be ready but, if your technique is not good, you won’t be successful when passing. This is used a lot to improve the quality of the first touch (no matter if it’s a pass or a control of the ball). As we said, this game has real implications on the way of playing. Why? Easy: Imagine that the player at the bottom is one of the CB; the players on the side are the other CB and one of the FB and, the player at the TOP is one of your DM. This first diagram just show the drill, and nothing else; just how to an activity.

This is the game as itself (4v1); now, we’ll show a new picture, with names written on it; probably, it’s easier to understand the idea of this exercise and how it can be used. I think that all of us have seen several times this disposition on the pitch, and also this kind of movements with the ball.

Here is the result: the four players (3 Defenders and 1 Midfielder) can play the ball in this “keep away” game but, as written, it’s a real part of the time. You have seen the players several times positioned in that way and the ball moving from one to another: also, if the man at the bottom was Casillas and the two men wide were Piqué and Puyol, with Alonso at the top, we would find that this is a normal build up from the back for Spain.

The next situation is closer to opponent’s goal, but with the same set-up: one player at the bottom, two on the sides, and one at the top. Exactly the same as before, but with names and situation of the pitch changed. But, the important thing is that this drill (as many others), can be used no matter your formation or where you are on the pitch. Change players, go right, left, up or down, but you’ll also find this disposition several times on a pitch during a match. And that’s the important thing.

We are now going to a drill than that can be considered a progression from the last one; in this case, it’s a 4v2; quite similar, but players are working in pairs; this means that the chasing players, no matter who of them can get the ball, will go to be players and, for the same, if a player loses the ball is he a his mated the ones that goes in. It’s a easy drill to introduce the concept of “team”; it’s not my self alone: it’s me and my partner. If the pressure over the carrier/kicker is good and the second (cover), is well positioned, it’s possible to recover the ball easily or, force the team with ball to a mistake. And, at the same time, as you can see, the concept of pressure/cover is easily introduced.

In this case, the grid will be no larger than 10×10. If it’s bigger, too much space for the “chasers” and it will be quite difficult to get the ball; for very advanced and experienced players, a smaller grid can be possible. As written, 1 or 2 touches (maximum) for the players, unless they are young and beginners and we want to show them about these concepts. As before, this drill is still a “positional” one, so, the players must stay on the line and can’t go in dribbling or whatever. Again, the accuracy of the pass is a key for the success of the drill.

This is just one of the drills from Coaching Spanish Soccer.

Have a Great Day!

Tom