I would say that most coaches believe that it’s very important for all soccer players to be very comfortable with the ball at their feet. How they go about developing this confidence varies widely from one coach to another. Some will focus on fast footwork exercises, others will use cones or other obstacles to encourage players to keep the ball under control.
I’ve had the most success using fakes and moves to train ball control, creativity and 1 v 1 ability at the same time. The moves engage the player’s imaginations and make it fun to practice. I discussed which Continue reading ‘1 v 1 Training’ »
When I’m adding a new drill, exercise or small-sided game to a training session I know that the players will go through three separate phases of learning; first, they need to focus on the framework and rules of the activity, then they can pay attention to the technique that the activity requires. Only then can they play with the necessary speed and intensity that will replicate a game situation.
One of the biggest mistakes I see from coaches is a lack of attention and patience to the first two phases so that they can get to the final phase. They push players to play quickly and game like before they Continue reading ‘The Three Phases of Learning’ »
This is the first time I’ve coached a team with two players that think of themselves as full-time goalkeepers. We came to an understanding before the season began as to how playing time would be divided. We also decided which events they would have a chance to play on the field when they were not in goal. In other events they would play one half in goal and not play in the other half.
This has worked well in large part because everyone has known what to expect and there have been no surprises. I also think it has been very good for both goalkeepers because there is an element of competition that Continue reading ‘Training a Team with Two Goalkeepers’ »
The post below from our Conditioning Expert Scott Moody with Soccer FIT got me thinking about how we inspire our young soccer players in the United States. As the quality and reputation of the MLS grows and more American players find success in the top leagues around the world, dreaming of a future in professional soccer is becoming an ever more realistic goal. Sure, reaching that level is a long shot as it always has been for kids playing basketball in school yards around the country but not so long ago it was almost impossible.
The dream of playing professionally will help young players develop to the very limit of their potential. They won’t all make it to Continue reading ‘What Can Soccer Learn from Basketball?’ »
A youth soccer league in Connecticut recently banned heading in it’s program. I read the story a couple of weeks ago on NBC Sports, ‘Off the Bench’ blog. It came to mind this morning as I was talking to a mother of one of my U14 players. Her daughter took a hard fall after fighting for a header over the weekend. She complained of a headache the rest of the day and the doctor confirmed today that she has a mild concussion.
Personally I feel that heading is an integral part of the game and youth players should be taught how to do it properly and safely. That doesn’t Continue reading ‘Should We End Heading in Youth Soccer?’ »
Can you teach creativity? Some coaches believe that players are either creative or their not. Certainly there are players that we can all name that appear to be, ‘naturally’ creative but I believe that most players need to learn to be creative.
I don’t think that you could have put Mozart in front of a piano at seven years old and he could just start playing. Learning the basic patterns and structures is vital first step in the process. Once you understand the framework and basic skills you can start to put things together in new an innovative ways.
I take this same approach when working with my teams when it comes to ideas for attacking. I like to give them a number of different attacking patterns to work on before freeing them to see what the defense is giving them and deciding how they can take advantage of it.
Since this is the first year I’ve implemented a 4-3-3 formation with any of my teams, I turned to an expert for idea on both the attacking and defensive Continue reading ‘Attacking Patterns in the 4-3-3’ »
As I’ve written about several times, I’ve been going through the process of training one of my teams to play the 4-3-3 formation. I’ve always used a 4-4-2 or a 3-4-3 in the past so this has been a learning experience for me as well as the players.
I began with the defensive phase of the game to give the team a foundation to build on. They now have a good understanding of their responsibilities when we don’t have the ball and that has made us a tough team create chances against. As a part of this we’ve worked a great deal on getting our wing backs involved by pushing them forward when we win the ball. This put emphasis on our wide play and we’ve been able to generate a lot of our offense by attacking the flanks with both our wing backs and wingers.
The area that we have been lacking Continue reading ‘Teaching the Movement of the Forwards in the 4-3-3’ »
Most coaches use small-sided games as part of their training sessions. Sometimes this is limited to a 10 minute scrimmage at the end of the session.
During the spring season I will often run an entire session that revolves around two or three small-sided games to reinforce technical or tactical topics that we have covered a number of times during the fall and winter. As the session continues the players move in and out of the two or three different games. Each one has a slightly different challenge for the players to solve. The players enjoy the change of pace and the games help the players connect the skills we’ve developed to the game itself.
I’m always on the lookout for games that are a bit different. A book that we recently released has given me a number of good games that my players have really enjoyed. Check it out here.
Developing Creativity Through Small-Sided Games, is written by Brazilian soccer coach, Eduardo Andriatti Paulo. He feels that the Brazilian system has moved away from Continue reading ‘Using Small-Sided Games to Develop Players’ »
One of the most important decisions we make as coaches is when to move through the various stages of skill development with our players. Move on too soon before the technique is mastered and the players performance becomes sloppy and inconsistent. If you wait too long to challenge the players with the next level of a skill or tactic and they will become bored and unmotivated so they just go through the motions. This will also hurt they’re performance because they’ll begin to develop bad habit through lazy practice. We’ve all seen a team that can keep great possession in a 5 v 2 exercise but lose composure (and possession) when the pressure is greater in a game situation.
Just as importantly, we have to decide what is the best way to progress a given skill or tactical idea. Most coaches will progress Continue reading ‘Progressing Sessions as Players Improve’ »
As a coach I’m always evaluating my players but mostly on a subjective level. I do some 1v1 and 2v2 statistical evaluations that I wrote about in a previous post but that’s the only objective information I’ve used to in the past.
This spring our club has implemented the SoccerFIT Game Speed Assessment for all of our teams. The test looks at three specific categories – Speed/Agility, Soccer Fitness and Technical Skill. The ideal situation is to see a balance between these unique areas but in most cases players will be stronger in one or two and weaker in the others. Here’s an example of a report that you would receive after entering your data from the tests:
There are 15 different test Continue reading ‘Testing to Evaluate Player Ability and Development’ »