Archive for the ‘General Coaching’ Category.

Breaking Down the Technique of Shooting

A player’s shooting technique is a bit like a golfer’s swing; there is a generally accepted way to shoot a soccer ball but there are also individual differences that can exist without a negative effect on the final product.

Even though there we can accept individual difference, I think it’s important to give young players a template to work from. This session is designed to give a player the key points so that they check for breakdowns in these areas if they are not hitting the ball with the kind of power or accuracy they are looking for.

Volleys in Pairs

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I start with volleys and focus on Continue reading ‘Breaking Down the Technique of Shooting’ »

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

 

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

 

 

Technical Passing Practices Using Different Shapes

Once we’ve taught players the proper technical components of passing (foot next to the ball, toes out and up, ankle locked, pass through the middle of the ball) then the natural progression is to have the players pass and move in a pattern in order to accommodate team of players and to replicate the shapes found inside of the game.

The most widely used shape is probably the classic ‘Dutch Square’

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Continue reading ‘Technical Passing Practices Using Different Shapes’ »

From Futsal to Soccer

Rather than standing in lines and running around cones, it’s through playing futsal that many elite level players, particularly in Brazil and Spain, developed their silky ball skills, smooth passing and lightning quick decision making. Players love small sided games, and the benefits are obvious. Players get more time on the ball, more touches and the intense nature of futsal puts them under more pressure to be perform. It’s a wonder it’s taken so long for coaches to realize the benefits of harnessing futsal in their training programs.

From-Futsal-to-Soccer-sidexside-500 Continue reading ‘From Futsal to Soccer’ »

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’ »

A First Touch with a Purpose

The most important touch is a player’s first touch. If that touch is a positive touch away from pressure and in the direction that they want to play there is a much greater chance of keeping possession. When the first touch is poor, into pressure and away from support, the chances of losing the ball are much greater. If your player’s first touch is putting them into a tackle, it was a poor first touch.

The key to having a good first touch is giving that touch a purpose. Too often players are only concerned with Continue reading ‘A First Touch with a Purpose’ »

Teaching Build Up Play Progressively Part 2

This session builds on the one I described in last week’s post. The focus of this session on taking the shapes and patterns that were taught in the last session and making them more function.

This is a session I did with my U9 team. In our area we play 6 v 6 at this age so that’s how we set up the game related patterns.

2 v 2 + 3

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This is really a 5 v 2 game at it’s heart. The idea is to Continue reading ‘Teaching Build Up Play Progressively Part 2’ »