Posts tagged ‘World Class Coaching’

How Do You Play 5 v 2

If there’s one standard possession game that just about every coach uses it must be 5 v 2.  It’s a great introduction to possession play because the intensity of the defending is easily controlled by the size of the area. The attackers have enough of an advantage that they can gain confidence from being successful but it is still a challenge. Once the players achieve a certain degree of comfort you can put a limit on their touches and challenge their ability to think quickly and read where the open pass is.

The most common way I’ve seen the game played is with five offensive players Continue reading ‘How Do You Play 5 v 2’ »

Advanced Tactics for the 4-2-3-1

The 4-2-3-1 formation has become the system of choice for many of the worlds top professional and national teams like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Brazil. As coaches at every level have watched these top teams play they have looked for ways to implement the system with their college, high school and youth teams.

The first step in introducing a new way of playing s to break the system down and identify the most important components. The was done very well by Continue reading ‘Advanced Tactics for the 4-2-3-1’ »

Club Technical Training

One of the benefits of coaching within a large club is the opportunity for continued coaching education from the Technical Director. The club I coach with is Sporting Blue Valley, an affiliate club of Sporting Kansas City of the MLS. Peter Vermes is the Technical Director and Head Coach for Sporting Kansas City but also oversees Sporting Blue Valley as it’s Technical Director.

At least one each season Vermes will conduct a session with all of the coaches in the club that covers a specific topic. This not only serves to emphasize the technical or tactical areas that he and the Technical Staff feel are important but also gives the coaches examples of exercises that can be used if future training sessions.

An example of one of these sessions will appear in the February edition of WORLD CLASS COACHING Magazine that will be added to the Member Drills Database. Here is a part of that session on passing and receiving.


Two players stand 5 yards apart and pass the ball back and forth with two touches from one player’s right foot to the other player’s right foot and left foot to left foot.

Coaching Points

  • Be on your toes and ready to move
  • Move to meet the ball, pass and return to your starting position
  • Focus on proper technique with each settle and pass


  • Receive with one foot and pass with the other
  • One-touch

Passing and Receiving Technique #1

Player 2 starts between two cones while Player 1 stands with the ball 5 yards away at a single cone.  As Player 1 passes to the right, Player 2 moves to settle the ball and pass it back to Player 1.  After passing, Player 2 shuffles across to the left and receives another pass, settles it and passes back.  Switch Player 1 and 2 after 20 seconds to a minute depending on the age and fitness level of your players.

Coaching Points

  • Settle and pass the ball with your “outside” foot
  • Both players much focus on the technique of each settle and pass
  • Don’t Kill the Cones!

**To adjust this exercises for younger players, have the server roll the ball with his hands until they are able to control and pass accurately enough for Player 2 to receive good passes.

Passing and Receiving Technique #2

Next, the server uses his hands to throw the ball for Player 2 to volley back with the inside of the foot

Have the players count how many balls are not played back to the servers hands and have them complete some type of penalty (ie pushups) for each mistake.  This will focus the players and motive them focus on their technique.


  • Control with the thigh and volley back with the inside of the foot
  • Control with the chest and volley back with the inside of the foot

Look for the rest of this session in the February Edition of WORLD CLASS COACHING in the Member Drills Database.

Have a great day!


The Three Phases of Learning

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’ »

ACL Injury Overview (Research Review)

Today’s post if from our Conditioning Expert, Scott Moody with Soccer FIT Academy. This post was interesting to me as a coach but also as a father of a high school aged soccer player. I’m all for anything that can help reduce the risk of injury while also improving performance.

In the past, we have put up several posts on ACL injury, rehab and risk reduction exercises, but I ran across a summary of research articles (Serpell, Scarvell, et al 3160-3176) compiled in the NSCA’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that I wanted to break down for you. The following is a brief breakdown Continue reading ‘ACL Injury Overview (Research Review)’ »

Warm-Up for Shooting

One of the perks of being apart of WORLD CLASS COACHING is that I have access to a large library of training sessions from some of the top professional, collegiate, and youth coaches. We have published books and DVDs on every aspect and topic of coaching.

I often refer to our DVD especially for new ways to approach topics to keep my coaching fresh and interesting to the players I work with. I think we’re all probably guilty of using the same few drills or exercises for a specific technique over and over. This can be a good thing because it allows us to focus on teaching the game rather than having to spend a lot of time teaching the drill. But changing things up on occasion can breath new life into a stale session and motivate players to perform at a higher level with the addition of new challenges.

In the past if I was looking for a new warm-up for a shooting practice I would have to scan through three or four DVDs to find what I’m looking for. This changed recently with the addition of our new Video Library. It contains more than 400 clips from many of our most popular DVD titles covering a wide range of techniques and tactics. Now I can search this library and find a clip instantly. I can even log in and view the videos on my Android phone (it also works with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad).

Here’s the warm-up I found from former US Woman’s National Team Assistant, Lauren Gregg.

Balls traveling into stride, balls traveling away from stride, movements with back to goal, balls coming out of the air.

Groups of four (2 players in the middle – one is a defender, one is an attacker) check away, receive pass, set, hit the target

Coaching Points

  • Check back at an angle
  • Receiving player – don’t check square, check at an angle where you can see goal, teammate, and defender at the same time
  • Player receiving form the setter get on a 45 degree angle to strike into the target
  • Look over your shoulder
  • Not square – got to be at a 45 degree angle
  • If you need to take a touch to clean it up then do that.


  • Checking player now has the option to turn, dummy, or set
  • Coaching Points
  • Check to the ball with some urgency
  • Look over shoulder for defender
  • Targets adjust
  • Defender’s defend like you mean it
  • You only need a half step to shoot
  • Receive with foot furthest from the defender

Check out the new Video Library have access to hundreds of drills, exercises and small-sided games on every technical and tactical topic.

Have a great day!


Sole of the Foot Control

With the outdoor season coming to an end in the Midwest of the United States, I’m turning my attention Futsal training. For anyone not familiar with Futsal, it’s played with a ball that is one size smaller than the ball the players use outdoor (U9-U12 play with a size three ball while U13 and above play with a size four). The ball is also constructed to have a low bounce to help keep it on the floor. The game is played on the same surface as a basketball court so the ball moves very quickly. These characteristics mean that it is sometimes easier to control with the sole of the foot rather than the inside of the foot.

During the outdoor season I discourage players from using the sole of their foot to receive the ball because of the uneven surface and the bounce of the ball. So during the first couple of practices I spend a lot of the time working on receiving and dribbling the ball with the sole of the foot.

Dribbling a Futsal Ball

This is a simple exercises to get the players comfortable with the different ball. To begin with they dribble with both feet, then only with their favorite foot, then with their not-so-favorite foot. I do this instead of right foot and left foot so that the players always get to start with their stronger foot before trying with the weaker foot. I encourage them to use the inside, outside and sole of their foot.

Next I introduce three sole of the foot moves: pull back behind the leg, pull back and go (also called a ‘V’ by some) and finally a stop, hop a go. The last is basically a hesitation move where the player drags the ball back as if to stop but then keeps their foot on the ball and rolls it forward. To begin, the players use the space between the cones to practice the moves. Eventually, they use the cones as defenders.

As a progression you can have three or four players stand on the cones with one foot and try to tackle with the other. Once this is easy for the players you can remove the cones and add an active defender to pressure the players.

Passing in Pairs

This is also a simple exercise. The key is to teach the players how to properly receive the ball with the sole of their foot.

Coaching Points

  • Toe up, heel down
  • Roll the ball out of your feet to set up the pass

Stepping on the ball is often the best way to control it as moves quickly across the court but it is also important to keep the ball moving to protect it from pressuring defenders.

I finish the session with a long scrimmage to go over the different rules for Futsal such as kick-ins, goalie throws and substitution rules.

How do your sessions change when moving from outdoor to indoor?

Have a great day!


Maintaining Soccer Fitness Indoor

The indoor season provides a change of pace and focus that I think is good for player development but you don’t want to completely lose the base of fitness that was built during the outdoor season. The challenge is that you have a limited amount of space to work with when you’re training indoor. We use a school gym, and a small one at that. I look for exercises that mimic the movement patterns of the game while using space as economically as possible.


The warm-up below is from Dave Tenney and included in our Ultimate Soccer Conditioning Training Pack. It includes all of the movements that occur in a game and can be adjusted to focus on whatever area is important to the coach.


Movement Progression
Exercise #1
Setup – jog, shuffle, spring, jog

Coaching Points
Decelerate – slow, stop, prevent muscle pulls

Exercise #2
Setup – back peddle, sprint, turn inside sprint, stop, job

Coaching Point
At the highest level turning is the difference between making it and not
making it .

Exercise #3
Setup – shuffle, spring, turn sprint, stop, jog
Open gate

The series of runs can also be done with a ball to add a technical element. Another progression is to add passing and movement as shown below.

Exercise #4
Setup – pass, set, play target – back to beginning

Coaching Points
• Part of speed is getting a rhythm of passing
• Hard pass vs. lay off
• Be precise
• Long pass is with inside of the foot
• Soccer fitness is the ability to be fast, be fast often and the ability to
recover between moments when you were fast.

These and many more conditions sessions are included in the Ultimate Soccer Conditioning Training Pack.

Have a Great Day!


Unique Small-Sided Games

I continue to run one practice per week outdoor with my older teams during the winter months when weather permits. This means that we are often training when the it’s pretty cold. On very cold days I organize small-sided games to keep the players moving and loose. They get a lot more out of playing games than they would if I tried to coach specific concepts.

Playing small-sided game should not be a matter of dividing up into two teams and throwing the ball out. My favorite small-sided games are those that demand specific skills or tactics to be successful. These are the games that really teach players something rather than just have them use the skills and knowledge they already possess.

Here are three small-sided games that are a bit different than those you may have seen before but they are trying to draw out something very specific from the players. These games come from, ‘Brazilian Training Games’. This is my favorite resource for unique small-sided games. This book has given me many good games that have worked well with my teams.

GAME 16 – Transition – 3 Games

Organization: 2 teams – 6v6 to 9v9 + goalie

Description: 3 games are played in a progression. The coach controls and changes the games with a whistle or a signal.

Game 1: Regular game in half of the field with 2 regular goals. Vertically
Game 2: Horizontally 4 goals games with each scoring in 2 goals.
Game 3: In the whole field a possession game is played with each team trying to get 5 consecutive passes = 1 point.

Observation: in both situations (game 2 and 3) the goalies become field players

Coaching Points:
– Positional adjustment
– Fast transition offensive thru defensive situation and vice- versa
– Communication

Variation:  2 or 3 touch on the ball restriction

Equipment: balls, discs, small goals

GAME 17 – Transition – 3 Games + Colored Balls

Organization: 2 teams – 6v6 to 8v8 + goalie

Description: Same game as #16, in this case the coach will add 3 balls with different colors developing 3 specific rules.
– 2 touches = white ball
– Ball on the ground = gray ball
– Weak foot = black ball

Coaching Points:
– Communication
– Speed of thought
– Speed of improvisation

Equipment: colored balls, discs and small goals

GAME 18 – Transition – 3 Games + Handball

Organization: 2 teams – 6v6 to 8v8 + goalie

Description: 3 games will be play in a progression. The coach control and change the games with a whistle or a signal.
Game 1: Handball Goal Vertically (played with the hands)
Game 2: Horizontally 6 goals games with each team scoring in 3 goals.
Game 3: In the whole field a possession game is played with each team trying to get 5 consecutive passes = 1 point.

Coaching Points:
– Positional Adjustment
– Communication
– Speed of thought

Equipment: Discs, small goals and balls

Training a Team with Two Goalkeepers

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 is usual among field players but doesn’t often happen with goalkeepers because a youth team usually only has one. They are aware of how the other goalkeeper is doing in a exercise or game and they push themselves to be as good or better. This is in spite of the fact that they  have had strictly even playing time up to this point. They know that there will come a point in the season, around the time of State Cup, that the goalkeeper that has proved themselves to be more consistent will get to play more in important games.

One of the keepers had never played on the field before this year and that opportunity has not only helped her with her foot skills but also taught her the game from the perspective of a defender. She has grown in confidence to the point where she looks like she belongs as much on the field as she does in goal.

Having two goalkeepers has helped the team in a number of ways as well. It gives us a sense of security because we know if one of the goalkeepers picks up an injury the other one is there to take her place instead of having to use a field player. Fortunately, both have remained healthy but in a long year of competition I would expect one to be out for a game or two sooner or later. The greater benefit has been in training. Having two goalkeepers makes for more realistic and competitive exercises and small-sided games. With only one keeper, the team she is on has a distinct advantage over the team that has to put a field players in goal. This also takes a developmental opportunity away from the field player because she is practicing something she would almost never do.

I’ve enjoyed incorporating specific sessions aimed at the goalkeepers into our practice routine. The book, ‘Team Training for the Goalkeeper‘ has been an excellent resource for me to find sessions that benefit the team but especially the keepers. Here are two small-sided games that we’ve used with a lot of success.

Small-sided game 3 – GK dealing with pullbacks
Organization: 30×60 / 5v5 w/ 4 targets (in 5×5 boxes), two goalkeepers and full goals / ball starts w/ GK1 / combines w/ team 1 and targets to score / goal must come from a ball pulled back from one of the two targets

Coaching Position: Behind the goal

GK Coaching Points
Angle play: prioritize front post
Stand up / be big
Low hand save with cutbacks across goal
Contingencies (rebounds)

Team can use targets but not required to score a goal

Can play the same game to emphasize the goalkeeper’s distribution decisions and techniques in counter attacks / goalkeeper’s first look is to the targets – develop mentality to exploit opponent’s with distribution patterns

Small-sided Game 4: GK dealing with crosses
Organization: 4v4 w/ goalkeepers and full goals / four wingers / 36×44 w/ 5 yard wide channels / Game starts with a free cross into GK1 / game begins with the condition that a goal must come directly from a cross

Coaching Position: Behind the goal or wide of the exercise to see starting positions, decision making and recovery movements

GK Coaching Points
Starting positions in relationship to the ball
Stay or go decision
Angles of approach
Catch/box decision

Crosses can only come from the defensive half (deep crosses) or attacking half

Do your teams usually have one goalkeeper or two? At what age do you think having two makes sense for the goalkeepers and the team?

Have a Great Day!