Archive for the ‘Drills/Exercises’ Category.

Changing Your 4v4 Games

Small-sided games are an excellent way to give your players a lot of touches while retaining the core elements of the game. In my opinion the 4 v 4 format is the best of all. It has everything the full sided game has but it allows for a lot more touches and opportunities for each player to contribute to the game. There’s no where to hide in a 4 v 4 game.

Obviously, different methods of scoring drastically change way your players approach game. I like to challenge the players with different environments that challenge them to come up with solutions to the problems the game presents.

We have three different books that I look to for new ideas when it comes to small-sided games. One of them is ‘Coaching Soccer Champions‘. The author, Terry Michler, is the winningest high school coach in the country. He’s been the Head Coach Continue reading ‘Changing Your 4v4 Games’ »

1 v 1 Continuous Game

I recently did a podcast episode on 1 v 1 Training For Every Situation on One of the games I use a lot is a continuous game. The players love it because it is fast paced and fun.

I like it because the players have to transition quickly between attack and defense. There is also an emphasis on quick attacking that I’ve seen transfer well into match situations.


The attacker must get the ball into the Continue reading ‘1 v 1 Continuous Game’ »

Continuous Goal Scoring Progression

As the year progresses I like to add more functional activities to replace purely technical exercises. Not only do the players enjoy activities that are game related more I’ve also seen a greater transfer of training when I use them.

I prefer drills, exercises and games that are progressive; moving from low pressure to full pressure. They allow the player to have initial success but then be challenged by the ever increase pressure of Continue reading ‘Continuous Goal Scoring Progression’ »

Competitive Shooting Activity

When WORLD CLASS COACHING conducted a tour of Dutch club a few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend. While visiting the Ajax Academy I watched a session presented by Robin Pronk, coach of the U17 Boys Academy team. The focus of his session was on passing combinations but after going through a number of progressions that lead to a small-sided game the team then moved to a series of shooting competitions.

Shooting Game
The teams from the 7 v 7 scrimmage are used for this Continue reading ‘Competitive Shooting Activity’ »

Teaching Individual Defending

I think coaches spend a lot more time teaching offensive skills and techniques than they do teaching young players how do defend individually and in small groups. The attacking techniques of dribbling, passing and shooting are easy to create training sessions around and they are definitely the sexier skills of the game. But teaching a young player to defend a 1 v 1 effectively is vital to their development as a player.

This point was driven home to me last weekend as my teams played their first games of the new season. We had worked on all of the attacking skills but spent no time learning how to defend correctly. There are so many topics to cover that you just can’t do it all in two weeks of training sessions before the first game. So this week Continue reading ‘Teaching Individual Defending’ »

Relating Diamond Drills to the Game

I use diamond passing drills as often as possible in my sessions because of how closely they resemble the shape of the game. They relate to every age and and every level of the game.

They are the most powerful when you’re able to connect the passing movements in the drill with the movements on the field in a game situation.

This progression of exercises increase in complexity and finishes by putting the patterns on a field using the formation the team will be using in the game.

Diamond Drill – Passing & Turning
In the following diagrams, five players are lined up in a diamond formation 20 yards apart. Each drill begins with X1 starting with the ball.
• X1 begins by passing to X2 and follows the pass
• X2 moves away, first to create space in front, and then checks back
• X2 turns with the ball around the OUTSIDE of the cone
• X2 then passes to X3, and follows the pass
• X3 moves away and then checks in
• Repeat sequence

Diamond Drill Passing &Turning – Variation
Players must now Continue reading ‘Relating Diamond Drills to the Game’ »

Five Goal Warm-Up Game

Lately I’ve begun many of my training sessions with a game. Not necessarily as a Whole – Part – Whole practice progression but just as a way to engage the players from the start and get them energized and excited to at training.

This is a game that I’ve used as a warm-up and in the main part of the session. I like it because of how many different things you can coach depending on your focus. As with most small-sided games, the kids really enjoy playing it so they get a lot out of it.

Here is how the field is set up:

The size of the field and goals can vary based on the Continue reading ‘Five Goal Warm-Up Game’ »

Train Midfielders and Defenders to Pass to Feet or Space

With only two practices per week with my teams I’ve found that it works best to focus on a technical topic (Running with the Ball, Dribbling, Control, Shooting) during our first practice of the week and then Passing and Possession progressing to a small-sided game during the second session. We also do one shooting exercise toward the end of practice just to keep a focus on that before the weekend.

I’m always looking for variations on possessions games to focus on different aspects of possession and to keep the practice fresh. I was reminded of one recently when I was looking through one of our best selling books, ‘Players’ Roles and Responsibilities in Systems of Play‘. By creating target areas in each corner Continue reading ‘Train Midfielders and Defenders to Pass to Feet or Space’ »

Improving Possession Play

Getting our players to make runs off the ball is difficult if they don’t know where or how to run. Giving the players options to choose from will take some of the decision making out of the process.

I’ve started to teach my young players three different runs that create the foundation of our player movement. They are also somewhat progressive so that if one doesn’t create an option then they can move to the next one or the one after that before coming back to the first one again.

This concept is from David Goldstein’s Improving Your Team’s Possession Play.


The three runs that this session focuses on are checking, drifting and Continue reading ‘Improving Possession Play’ »

Training Indoors for Outdoor Games

As the winter indoor season comes to an end coaches start to look at transitioning to the outdoor game while we’re still forced to do most of our training indoor. This is a challenge as they prepare for outdoor leagues and tournaments just around the corner.

I’m fortunate to train my teams on two basketball courts that are side by side. This allows us to start to spread things out a bit and get the players looking for longer passes in open space.

Here are a couple of games that I used last week to start the transition.


After warming up and playing some 4 v 2 possession games we moved to Continue reading ‘Training Indoors for Outdoor Games’ »