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.
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:
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.
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 !
Now when the striker advances to goal, the player must avoid the obstacle and then finish with goal-scoring attempt.
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.
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.
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?
I usually end each session with a shooting exercise that incorporates aspects of the practice theme. One of the formats I often us is a simple three line set-up. I like this because you can do a wide variety of things from these basic starting position. The players are comfortable because we use this set-up often but I can make adjustments to place the emphasis where I want it.
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 ‘Progressive Finishing Game’ »
I’ve always had a standing challenge to my teams (U13 and below), if they score a headed goal, I buy ice cream for the next practice. It’s been a way to encourage the players to try and score with their head if they can. This has been most successful with the girls teams I have coached. The extra incentive has become something that the team rallies around.
After spending a few weeks working on our combination play to score we played very well in our next games. Two of our three goals came from combinations in the middle of the field.
It was difficult to choose a winner in our recent shooting drills competition because we received so many good entries. In the end we picked this exercise from Dennis Hillyard of New York. We were looking for drills that were easy to understand, used equipment all coaches have access to, provided a lot of repetitions for the players, were scalable to larger and smaller numbers and provided progressions that could be used as the players develop. This exercise meets all of those criteria.
Welcome to the FineSoccer Drills Newsletter. Today’s featured activities work on crossing and finishing. There is a series of activities you can use in the DVD Winning Crossing & Finishing.
The field is 50 x 40 (the size can vary depending upon the level of the players) with goals on each end, a keeper in each goal, a server on each sideline and a line beside each goal.
The ball starts with one of the keepers and he throws the ball to one of the wide servers.
The first player in the line beside his goal sprints toward the other goal to receive an early serve for a first time shot
As soon as the shot it hit the keeper in that goal grabs a ball (or uses the same one if the ball was saved) and does the same thing in the opposite direction.
Next you can do the same thing but now have 2 runners. Now the runners have to get organized for near post and far post runs.
You can also add a defender so the defender takes one of the runners and the server finds the other runner.
After doing this for awhile the next step is to play a small sided scrimmage on this same field but now, every time the keeper gets the ball he plays it wide and runs are made for the early serve. You can also add the rule that whenever a team wins the ball they must play the ball wide within 3 touches and then runs and a serve is made (you would have a server from each team on each side).
This is a great way to work on keeper distribution, runs, crosses and finishes.