Tag Archives for " Competitive "

The V-Wing

By Jason Stockmann -

I’ve mentioned before that I like to design goalie drills that also use field players or a field drill that actively incorporates a goalie. These type of drills work well for any number of players, can be ideal when maybe only 1 or 2 coaches are present and add to team cohesion by increasing the trust between field players and the goalies.

Today we use this field player-goalie formula to train angles. Specifically, we will be concerned with helping our keepers learn to identify where to place themselves when a player is both coming into and shooting from the penalty box. We want to look at things like getting the right distance between the ball, the goal and any other players that may be open as well as when and how much to commit to going after the ball.

The drill I offer up today is one I call “The V-Wing” and it offers the

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Shoot 'n Save

By Jason Stockmann -

Getting players to help each other train while at a practice is an invaluable tool for multiple reasons. First and foremost, from a coaching perspective, it can relieve some of the time-crunch pressures we face by letting some players do their own thing while we focus on other aspects; it also lets us impart a sense of responsibility for personal development on the players themselves. From their perspective, this responsibility looks like a bit of freedom and control over their own soccer destiny…and it is a fun and subtle method to increase team cohesion.

I’m a firm believer that this player-to-player training is especially helpful when it is done with goalkeepers. Whether at a practice or during pre-game warmups, two goalies working with each other not only potentially frees up coaching resources, but

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Ajax Shooting Game

Like many coaches I focus on one particular aspect of the game during each training session. Sure, I try to train the technical, tactical, physical and psychological components around the specific skill so that the practice is as economical as possible. But in the past if my focus was on passing and receiving I wouldn't have thought about ending the session with any type of shooting.

When WORLD CLASS COACHING conducted a tour of Dutch club a few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend. While visiting the Ajax Academy I watched a session presented by

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Changing Your 4v4 Games

Small-sided games are an excellent way to give your players a lot of touches while retaining the core elements of the game. In my opinion the 4 v 4 format is the best of all. It has everything the full sided game has but it allows for a lot more touches and opportunities for each player to contribute to the game. There's no where to hide in a 4 v 4 game.

Obviously, different methods of scoring drastically change way your players approach game. I like to challenge the players with different environments that challenge them to come up with solutions to the problems the game presents


We have three different books that I look to for new ideas when it comes to small-sided games. One of them is 'Coaching Soccer Champions'. The author, Terry Michler, is the winningest high school coach in the country. He's been the Head Coach

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1 v 1 Continuous Game

I recently did a podcast episode on 1 v 1 Training For Every Situation on CoachingSoccerWeekly.com. One of the games I use a lot is a continuous game. The players love it because it is fast paced and fun.

I like it because the players have to transition quickly between attack and defense. There is also an emphasis on quick attacking that I've seen transfer well into match situations.


The attacker must get the ball into the

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Turning and Dribbling Square

By Alex Trukan

This exercise is an ideal combination of development of technical aspects altogether with conditioning. Turning and Dribbling Square practice is especially suitable for younger age groups but its progression that involves competition will make any player motivated. From a physical perspective, the exercise is aimed at improving short sprinting speed with the ball.

Set-Up and directions

Organise a square of 10x10 yards. Min. 4 players should start outside the area with one ball each. Square size can be adapted to the number and level of players. It is recommended to have no more than 4 players on each side. Each group of players takes turns in dribbling to the opposite side, turning, and dribbling back to the original side.


As we can see on the diagram below, when one

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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

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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

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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

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What Can Soccer Learn from Basketball?

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

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Should We End Heading in Youth Soccer?

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

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Attacking Patterns in the 4-3-3

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

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Teaching the Movement of the Forwards 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

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Using Small-Sided Games to Develop Players

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

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Progressing Sessions as Players Improve

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

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Testing to Evaluate Player Ability and Development

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

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FC Barcelona - Style and Domination

FC Barcelona has become the world’s top club and has set the standard for all other clubs to follow.  With more than a dozen major championships and counting over the past four years, the team has achieved remarkable success in La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League and also the FIFA World Club Championships.  Further, the bulk of the 2010 World Cup Champion Spanish National Team mainstays call Barcelona their home club.

What has prompted this run?  Certainly talented players including the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and others are critical to the team’s stunning run.  However, the Barcelona model is much more complex, as the coaching, philosophy, tactics, team culture and more all contribute to the spectacular results and consistency that have been the hallmark of the club in recent years.

A new book that we've just released call, FC Barcelona: Style and Domination, A Tactical Analysis of FC Barcelona examines the special qualities and practices that have been critical to the club’s recent success.  From a profile of the manager and summary of the club’s overall

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Finishing In a Competitive Environment

Welcome to the FineSoccer Drills Newsletter.  Today’s activity involves finishing in a competitive environment.

Start with a 30 x 30 grid with two full sized goals and a keeper in each goal.  It’s 2 v 2 in the middle and in each attacking half there is a player on each sideline and a player on each part of the end line

In the diagram above the black team is attacking the top goal and the yellow team is

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Attacking Against the 4-3-3

Every formation weakness that other teams will look to exploit. It's important to know what other teams might try so that you can prepare your team to deal with them. With this in mind, I read David Platt's, 'How to Play Against and Beat the 4-3-3'. Platt suggests that the best way to deal with a team that is adept at playing the 4-3-3 is to play a variation of the same system, the 4-3-2-1.

This excerpt of the book focuses on how to attack against the 4-3-3 beginning in the back and working through midfield.

Playing with a 4-3-3 system enables that team to be press high up the pitch and limit the ability to play out from the back.  Clearly this is something

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Defending Against the 3-5-2

Every systems has it's strengths and weaknesses. In previous posts I've described why I feel that the 4-3-3 is a great system to teach players the game. While I believe in playing our own best game regardless of what the opposition is trying to do, playing against other systems provides challenges that the players need to learn to deal with. In the next few weeks I'll show you how I've taught my teams to handle these differences.

Teams that know you are playing with three in the midfield might try to overwhelm these players by having five in the

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Transitional Possession Game

This is my favorite possession game because it includes so many aspects of the game as well as a great fitness component. It's also very scalable to the number of players you have as well as the ability level of the players.

Two teams of players are assigned one half of the field. They're also numbered

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Shooting from Central Areas in a 4-3-3

I've written about my teams transition to playing a 4-3-3 in previous posts. The process has been going really well. I've been very pleased with how we are defending with the system. This was a concern for me because I could see how we were going to be able to deal with the other team's wide players. The girls have done well sharing this responsibility between the winger, attacking midfielders and wing backs.

We've been able to create a lot of offense using the wingers and wing backs getting forward. The player we haven't used much is our center forward. The spaces in the middle have been so congested that it's been easier to get the ball wide and attack from there.

This week I want to work on attacking combinations in the middle of the field. We have a number of good resources for this type of session. An article in the September Magazine Update to our Member Drills Database includes a great session from Jan Pruijn of Ajax International. The session was originally presented at the Nebraska WORLD CLASS COACHING International Coaching Seminar held last February in Lincoln, NE.

Another great resource is Player's Roles in the 4-3-3. One of the two books focuses on

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Transitioning to a 4-3-3

This summer I spent a good bit of time reading through the U.S. Soccer Federations latest recommendations and coaching curriculum. There really isn't anything new or ground breaking presented but the one thing that caught my attention was the recommendation that teams playing 11 v 11 should consider playing in a 4-3-3 formation.

I've never put too much emphasis on the formation my teams played. I focused on how the team played within the formation which was usually a 4-4-2 or occasionally a 3-4-3. Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the 4-3-3 I realized how much the players could learn from the fluid nature of the system. There are so many decisions for the players to

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Our Game - Immersion v Submersion

Today’s post is by our Conditioning Experts at SoccerFIT and their partner Tristan Tillette. Tillette serves as Director of Performance at Elite Sports in Birmingham, AL and On-Line Training Director of AthleteFIT.com

This is the second post of the OUR GAME series – discussing the physical, technical, and psychological development of our youth as it pertains to the rest of the world.

The date is May 30th, 2011 and Barcelona is king of the futbol world.  They “el rondo”ed Man U and Sir Alex on their home turf.  The Catalans have become rock stars on the world's stage of the world’s game . Soccer Ga Ga’s if you will . Their style, flair, and creativity gives every second on the pitch a “what will they do next” type of feel. While their talent and skill is to die for, their passion joy is to LIVE for!  What makes Barca BARCA isn’t their skill and flash but their love for the game and a deep commitment to the club and each other. Every player – from “the Flea” to the U9 keeper – is submerged in the culture of FC Barcelona .

That brings me to this point – What will it take for this unconditional love for the game,  for the club, and for each other to swim it’s way across the Atlantic and infiltrate our soccer landscape?

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