Posts tagged ‘Youth Soccer’

A Letter to Parents

I have nephews that play competitive baseball and my sister told me about a letter a coach sent to the parents of  his youth baseball team before the season. She described how  it covered the different roles and responsibilities of the parents, coaches and players. The parallels to youth soccer were instantly obvious. She found a link to it on the web site of a Kansas City youth baseball organization run by a former professional baseball player, Kevin Seitzer.

As we come to the end of one year and approach tryouts for next year, I though that this letter might help other coaches communicate their expectations move effectively to the parents and players on their teams.
Continue reading ‘A Letter to Parents’ »

Just Let Them Play

I sat down to plan my U8 and U10 practices the other day and while going through my old sessions and thinking about previous games I realized that it would be a great day to just let them play. We didn’t have any games the following weekend and there hadn’t been a practice this season that I just let them go at it.

I regularly have the boys play various 1v1 games and we always finish with a small-sided game at the end of training but every once in a while I like to plan an entire session around playing competitive 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 games. This gives the players a break from the usual format and gives them a chance to use all of the skills that we’ve been working to improve. They love it because Continue reading ‘Just Let Them Play’ »

The Most Important Age Group

When I visited the Ajax Academy they were in the final phase of selection their U8 Academy team. The process began with more than a hundred players and they had narrowed this down to the final 30. When we spoke to the coaches they emphasized that this was their most important age group. They said that this was the future of Ajax and they took great care to make sure that they selected players carefully and then assigned excellent coaches to look after their development.

The U8 teams are the foundation of any club. Without a strong development plan and coaching structure the future of the club is in jeopardy. I think that most people would agree with this. Why then Continue reading ‘The Most Important Age Group’ »

“Silent” Coaching Weekend

A recent email from a local club renewed an ongoing discussion in our community about over-coaching. The email discussed the upcoming, “Silent” Coaching Weekend. Here’ the email that the Director of Coaching sent to coaches and parents in the club:

“Silent” Coaching Weekend this spring is May 11 and 12. This is our second weekend after a successful effort in the Fall.

 The goals we had for the Fall were to empower the players to make decisions for themselves without being micro-managed by the coaches (and parents) for every decision throughout the game. We want to continue that theme and provide another weekend to give the game to players.

Our expectations for coaches are that they will Continue reading ‘“Silent” Coaching Weekend’ »

Developing Confidence in Young Players

This weeks post is inspired by a post from our Soccer Conditioning Expert, Scott Moody with Soccer FIT. He talks about the spiral that occurs as a result of a player either being confident or lacking confidence. Players that lack confidence will also lack motivation, be more reluctant to try and as a result have perform low level of skill. This will confirm the players lack of confidence and the spiral continues. But we, as coaches, can turn this spiral in the opposite direction by encouraging them to attempt a small part of the skill, praise them when they Continue reading ‘Developing Confidence in Young Players’ »

3 Simple Rules for Youth Coaches

As a coach I focus most of my session planning and design around the techniques and tactics that my players need to improve their performance and reach their goals. Reading this post from Scott Moody, our Conditioning Expert at the Soccer FIT Academy, I was reminded that it is not enough to coach the physical and mental part of the game. It’s my responsibility to trigger the players imagination and passion for the game so that they will continue to enjoy the process of training and playing. Without this passion they are more likely to give up playing because Continue reading ‘3 Simple Rules for Youth Coaches’ »

Switching to a 4-2-3-1

There is no one formation that will work for all teams. Most coaches understand and accept this. But I also believe that no one formation is always best for a team.

Prior to the start of the season my U16 girls team experimented with a number of different formations: 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2. The 4-4-2 formation proved to be the best fit for us given the talents and qualities of our players.

The team had a fairly successful fall season. They finished second in their league and competed well in tournaments. In the winter league we were placed in a division with teams that were simply more talented. The girls played hard and to the best of their ability but we were simply out classed.

The last game of the season we played a team that was a three time State Champion and Regional Runner up. The girls and I both knew that it would be a difficult game. To give us the best Continue reading ‘Switching to a 4-2-3-1’ »

Spanish Training Games

The key to seeing improvement in your team is for your training activities to relate to the game as closely as possible. You can spend weeks teaching your players to understand and perform a complex drill full of movement and rotation but if they can’t relate the activity to what they do in the game it’s just a waste of training time. Sure, they’ll get better at the drill but it won’t improve their performance on game day.

That’s the beauty of straightforward training games; you can spend your time teaching the game not teaching the drill. Then on game day you can see the players use the skills and tactics they learned in training to improve their chances of success.

In our latest book, Coaching Spanish Soccer, the author, Jodi Pascual, discusses the methods and tactics used to create successful Spanish teams and players. He also shows practical examples of drills, exercises and games that they use with players both young and old. The drills are not complicated but the key is how they relate back to the game. Here’s an excerpt from the book that shows an example:

The next activity is another “rondo”, but this, more than a warm-up, is a real “positional SSG” with implications in the way the team plays. This one is 4v1 in a 5×5 grid. Again, at high level is played with just 1 touch, so, the same we told before can be applied here, about awareness and/or decision making; of course, technique is also very important: you can be ready but, if your technique is not good, you won’t be successful when passing. This is used a lot to improve the quality of the first touch (no matter if it’s a pass or a control of the ball). As we said, this game has real implications on the way of playing. Why? Easy: Imagine that the player at the bottom is one of the CB; the players on the side are the other CB and one of the FB and, the player at the TOP is one of your DM. This first diagram just show the drill, and nothing else; just how to an activity.

This is the game as itself (4v1); now, we’ll show a new picture, with names written on it; probably, it’s easier to understand the idea of this exercise and how it can be used. I think that all of us have seen several times this disposition on the pitch, and also this kind of movements with the ball.

Here is the result: the four players (3 Defenders and 1 Midfielder) can play the ball in this “keep away” game but, as written, it’s a real part of the time. You have seen the players several times positioned in that way and the ball moving from one to another: also, if the man at the bottom was Casillas and the two men wide were Piqué and Puyol, with Alonso at the top, we would find that this is a normal build up from the back for Spain.

The next situation is closer to opponent’s goal, but with the same set-up: one player at the bottom, two on the sides, and one at the top. Exactly the same as before, but with names and situation of the pitch changed. But, the important thing is that this drill (as many others), can be used no matter your formation or where you are on the pitch. Change players, go right, left, up or down, but you’ll also find this disposition several times on a pitch during a match. And that’s the important thing.

We are now going to a drill than that can be considered a progression from the last one; in this case, it’s a 4v2; quite similar, but players are working in pairs; this means that the chasing players, no matter who of them can get the ball, will go to be players and, for the same, if a player loses the ball is he a his mated the ones that goes in. It’s a easy drill to introduce the concept of “team”; it’s not my self alone: it’s me and my partner. If the pressure over the carrier/kicker is good and the second (cover), is well positioned, it’s possible to recover the ball easily or, force the team with ball to a mistake. And, at the same time, as you can see, the concept of pressure/cover is easily introduced.

In this case, the grid will be no larger than 10×10. If it’s bigger, too much space for the “chasers” and it will be quite difficult to get the ball; for very advanced and experienced players, a smaller grid can be possible. As written, 1 or 2 touches (maximum) for the players, unless they are young and beginners and we want to show them about these concepts. As before, this drill is still a “positional” one, so, the players must stay on the line and can’t go in dribbling or whatever. Again, the accuracy of the pass is a key for the success of the drill.

This is just one of the drills from Coaching Spanish Soccer.

Have a Great Day!


1 v 1 Training

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’ »

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!