Archive for the ‘Drills/Exercises’ Category.

The Foundation of Solid Team 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.

John Walker presented an excellent session on Continue reading ‘The Foundation of Solid Team Defending’ »

Moving to Create Options

If players don’t move without the ball they won’t create options for the player with the ball. I’ve found this training session to be an excellent one to teach players how to make runs for their teammate with the ball.

The three runs that this session focuses on are checking, drifting and Continue reading ‘Moving to Create Options’ »

The Most Efficient Form of Conditioning

We all have such limited time to impact the technical, tactical and physical abilities of our players that finding ways to integrate each of these into our training sessions is very important. If we were training four or five times a week we could afford to practice them in isolation but most of the coaches reading this won’t have that luxury. Continue reading ‘The Most Efficient Form of Conditioning’ »

1 v 1 to 3 v 3 Continuous Game

I like using continuous games because they are high energy, engage the players and create a very competitive environment. If you keep score then the game can replicate the pressure of the actual game.


This game is best played with at least six players on each team. To start the coach passes a ball into the middle and Continue reading ‘1 v 1 to 3 v 3 Continuous Game’ »

3 v 2 Defending

This week’s post is from Don Herlan, author of Smedley’s Drills Volumes 1-4 and Smedley’s Defending 20.

This is a drill that I stole from the men’s basketball coach at St. Francis University back when I coached there. He was working with his players on defending the fast break, and I thought that I could use this same drill to work on tandem defense. And it worked great. To me, this is a classic example of what makes for a good drill—there is enthusiasm, there is learning, and there is a total involvement on the part of the players. And like all effective drills, the longer it runs, the better it gets.

‘Numbers down’ drills like this one will get the defenders a ton of repetitions with 3 v 2, 2 v 1, and 1 v 1 situations. And it is essential that they learn how to deal with the dilemma of being a man down until help arrives. Also, they will get to see all kinds of looks and combinations from the attackers—overlaps, takeovers, switches, thru runs—while having to go 1 v 1 with the dribbler at the same time. When this drill is run at top speed, it becomes incredibly game-like and valuable for the defenders.

*Note for the coaches: It takes a little while to get this drill set up and organized, and a few of the players may be a little confused at first about switching in and out of the Continue reading ‘3 v 2 Defending’ »

Different Diamond Passing Drill

Teaching players the technical skills of the game is the most important job of a coach who is working with young players. Finding new and creative ways to help the players groove passing technique is one of the more challenging things to do. The players need hundreds of repetitions of the correct technique before their muscles can repeat the motion accurately. There’s only so long that two players can stand across from each other and pass the ball back and forth before they’ll grow bored and loose focus. But if you move too quickly into competitive passing and possession games, which are fun and engaging, then the players won’t use the correct technique and they’ll end up repeating poor passes. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes permanent.

So new ways to present the same technical challenge becomes the objective. One of the variations I’ve used is from a session that I found in our, ‘Training Sessions of Europe’s Top Teams‘. It’s a session that Jan Prujin of Ajax F.C. Continue reading ‘Different Diamond Passing Drill’ »

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’ »