Archive for the ‘General Coaching’ Category.

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

090914-1

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’ »

Teaching Build Up Play Progressively Part 1

I’ve written before about our club’s philosophy that encourages teams of all ages to play out of the back as often as possible. The key to implementing this with your team is to teach the players what visual cues to look for so that they can see patterns in the options that are available.

These are the exercises we’ve used to teach our young players how to build from the back.

Diamond Passing

DiamondPassing

This is a simple pass-follow-your-pass pattern but it’s an easy exercise that you can use to teach the players to create an angle for the passer, open their body to face both the passer and the player they will pass to, use their ‘back foot’ to control the ball toward their next pass and then pass to the next player.

There are multiple progressions to this basic pattern which also make it a good starting point.

4 v 1

4v1

Starting with a low level of pressure will give the players a chance to see their options clearly and also give them time to make the right pass.

The focus here is on creating the passing angles to support the player on the ball so that they always have a least two choices. If the defender takes away a pass to one side or the other the pass can still be made to the opposite side or through the middle to the far side.

4 v 2

4v2

Once the players can easily keep possession away from one defending it’s a natural progression to add a second defender. This limits the choices of the player on the ball. The defenders may be able to take away two of the passing options but if the support is good then there should always be a third option; a pass to the right, left or split.

4 v 4 + 3 Target to Target

4v4+3SplitGrid
This looks very similar to the players because the grid is divided into two zones. But the goal is to move the ball from the target on one end to the other.

4 v 4 + 3

4v4+3

By removing the separation this turns into a more open game but the players need to understand that to keep possession they must spread the field when they are in possession. At first it is helpful to give the players a certain quadrant to play in. This makes it easy to see where they should open up when their team gains possession and where they should pinch in when defending.

I end this session with a 6 v 6 game to see if the players can apply what they’ve been taught to a game.

In the next post we will build on the ideas taught in this practice and apply them to a formation in a match.

Have a great day!

Tom

Three Different Ways to Organize a Training Session

As a young coach I always organized my session in the same way: simple to complex. This is the way I was taught through the my USSF Licensing Courses and this was what I always stuck to. Only in the last few years have I found that there is more than one way to have an effective training session. The three methods I use now are: Simple to Complex, Whole/Part/Whole and a Multi-Themed Session.

Here is an excerpt from an excellent article that Sporting KC Goalkeeper Coach, John Pascarella wrote for the October 2013 edition of the WORLD CLASS COACHING Magazine. It explains the both the Simple to Complex and Whole/Part/Whole methods very well.

Oct2013

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Coaching Pedagogy

Pedagogy is simply the “ART” of coaching or teaching.   Neither coaching nor teaching is a true science.  If it were then any soccer coach could follow the specific formula and develop skill and tactical sense in players.  The fact is, coaches have to be able to feel and sense what players need and know how to get this information across to them.  They must adjust to the setting and personalities of their players.

Players all have different learning styles.  They don’t always understand things as we are trying to explain them.   It’s our job as coaches to “meet them where they’re at.”  In both coaching (and teaching) there are various methods or teaching tools that coaches can use as a progression to get players to understand and learn both skills and tactics.  You should pick and choose from your coaching pedagogy tool box as the situation dictates.

Simple to complex – This method is preferred by US Soccer, taking an idea or skill from its simplest form and slowly adding in more difficult aspects until you are teaching the entire skill or tactic as it appears in the real game.

Teaching the “Whole” – Can be used for simple skills.  For example, bouncing a basketball could be taught using the whole method.  In soccer, a simple inside the foot pass could be taught this way.

Teaching “Parts” – When a skill is complex or has numerous parts such as the triple jump, in track and field, it is easier to break it down into its more simplified parts instead of teaching it all at once.

Chaining/Linking – When you have a complex skill (like the triple jump example used above) you can take each part and teach them separately but in sequential order so as to link the separate parts of the skill into the whole.  Using the triple jump example you could initially teach the hop.  Then progress to the hop and step and finally linking it all together with the hop, step and jump.  Using a soccer example, let’s discuss the skill of teaching a player to receive the ball from one side of the field, open up and switch play with a long diagonal ball to the other side of the field.  You could first teach a player how to move so he can receive a pass on his back foot.  Then progress to taking it on the back foot to open up and move in the opposite direction.  Finally, you could add driving a diagonal ball to the opposite wing after first receiving and opening up to the opposite side

Whole/Part/Whole – This model is taught by the French Football Federation in their Elite Formation License.  Initially the athlete (or team) attempts the whole skill and the coach monitors to identify those parts of the skill that the athlete is not executing correctly. Part instruction can then be used to address the limitations and then the athlete can repeat the whole skill with the coach monitoring for any further limitations. In soccer, I believe, this is a great way to teach tactical ideas and principles of the game.

It’s this last piece, the coaching of tactical ideas and principles of the game, I would like to discuss further, using US Soccer’s simple to complex methodology and comparing it to the FFF’s model of Whole/Part/Whole.

Different strokes for different folks

Differing processes with the same ultimate goal is the way I would describe differing coaching methodologies.  US Soccer believes that taking the concept from smaller, simpler steps and progressing to more game realistic activities is the most efficient way to teach the game.  The FFF believes you should start with the whole game (although this may be a modified version of the real game) then break it down into its smaller parts before finally progressing to the whole game again – often a different game than you began with but still focusing on the same basic theme.

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I will most commonly use the Whole/Part/Whole method as the second training session in a week. During Monday’s session I will move from simple to complex in order to teach the skill or tactical concept. Then on Wednesday I’ll begin with the Phase of Play exercise or Small- Sided game we finished the Monday session with. I’ll have a couple of ideas of how what we still need to work on but I’ll also watch to see what the players still have difficulty with and often work on that rather than what I had planned.

The third format I use for my training session is a Mutli-Themed approach. This has worked best for teaching individual skills over the coarse of a season through our club’s Technical Training Days and as a late season session when I don’t want to introduce anything new but I want the players to be sharp in all of the areas we’ve worked on throughout the coarse of the season.

A Multi-Themed session might include a dribbling warm-up, Dutch Square passing sequence, Possession Game, Passing (or Dribbling) to Shoot and end with a Small-Sided game. This is a great ‘sharpener’ right before an important end of the season tournament.

There is obviously more than one correct way to do anything and I’m sure many of you have different ways that you organize your sessions. I’d love to read about them in the comments section below. If you have an innovative idea or approach we may even invite you to write an article on the subject for our magazine.

Have a great day!

Tom

Being Creative with Free Kicks

When you see a free kick with in shooting range in a game today you just see a shooter, a wall and a goalkeeper.

These are great examples of an ability to strike a ball but how many times do they end up like this?

Ok, maybe not as bad as some of those but you know what I mean. Wouldn’t it be better to teach our players two or three free kicks that they can use anywhere near goal. Maybe one from the middle, one from a wider area and one from a little further from goal.

They don’t have to be overly complicated or take a lot of training time to master but they would involve a little creativity and disguise.

The best example would be the free kick executed by USA vs Belgium in the World Cup. Here it is from two different angles both at full speed and in slow motion.

There are three things that contribute to making this a good free kick. One, it looks like the players are lining up to shoot. Two, there’s an attacking player in the wall. Three, a player runs free around the outside to create an angle for the pass. The only thing missing is the finish!

I found one other example of this free kick.

So, what do you think? Should we just line up and shoot the ball when we can? Or should we teach our players how to be a little creative in these situations. There are valid arguments on each side. I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section below.

Have a great day!

Tom

Goalie Wars

Goalkeepers have often been overlooked and under appreciated. In recent years, a competition that focuses on the special skills of goalkeepers has become increasingly popular. Goalie Wars tournaments started as a part of Goalkeeper camps but have started to be held as stand-alone events.

The rules are simple, two goalies are positioned 20-30 yards apart and they shoot, dropkick, throw or punt the ball to try to score on the other goalkeeper. They play two halves of three to five minutes.

Here’s a example Continue reading ‘Goalie Wars’ »

Preseason Sessions with a New Team

When I start coaching a new team I try to schedule a four day camp before our normal training schedule begins. Having four straight days with the team allows us all to get to know each other and lets me see what kind of players I’ll be working with.

The sessions I present depend on the age and level of experience of the players. This year I started coaching a U12 girls team so the examples I give here will be based on that age group. They are a very competitive group of girls that have all played at a high level locally so I also take that into consideration while planning the sessions.

Regardless of the age group I like to start out the first day with Continue reading ‘Preseason Sessions with a New Team’ »

Tell Them or Ask Them?

I recently came across a blog post that touched on a topic that I wrote about a number of years ago. The difference between ‘telling’ a player what to do and ‘asking’ them what they should do is the difference between the player making the right choice once and the player understanding why it’s the right choice.

Here is a link to the post. I would credit the author but I couldn’t find their information on the site.

Each weekend I coach five or six games. Because I Continue reading ‘Tell Them or Ask Them?’ »

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’ »