Tag Archives for " Training "

Shooting at the End of Every Practice

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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Encouraging Combination Play

For me, the beginning of the season revolves around getting a group of players to work together within a framework of a system. Lately that system has been the 4-3-3. This involves teaching each player the role and responsibility of their position: How the defenders work together to stop attacks and win the ball. How the midfielders connect the team together. How the attackers create goalscoring opportunities. All of this gives the players a starting point but the most important learning comes next.

Helping the players to think and act creatively within the framework of the system is what will

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The Importance of Teaching Individual Defending

I think coaches spend a lot more time teaching offensive skills and techniques than they do teaching young players how do defend individually and in small groups. The attacking techniques of dribbling, passing and shooting are easy to create training sessions around and they are definitely the sexier skills of the game. But teaching a young player to defend a 1 v 1 effectively is vital to their development as a player.

This point was driven home to me last weekend as my teams played their first games of the new season. We had worked on all of the attacking skills but spent no time learning how to defend correctly. There are so many topics to cover that you just can't do it all in two weeks of training sessions before the first game. So this week

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Juggling - Developmentally Important or Just a Nice Trick

Our club recently established a set of benchmarks for how many times the players should be able to juggle at a given age. Here are those targets:

U8 - 10 with feet only - 10 with thighs only - 4 with head only
U9 - 20 with feet only - 20 with thighs only - 6 with head only
U10 - 10 with feet only - 10 with thighs only - 12 with head only
U11 - 80 with feet only - 80 with thighs only - 24 with head only
U12 - 100+ with feet only - 100+ with thighs only - 50+ with head only

Unfortunately, most of our players in the club are below these standards so we'll be working to improve that this year.

When you talk about juggling with coaches you usually

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Speed Training Exercises

We all have such limited time to impact the technical, tactical and physical abilities of our players that finding ways to integrate each of these into our training sessions is very important. If we were training four or five times a week we could afford to practice them in isolation but most of the coaches reading this won't have that luxury.

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Nature or Nurture?

This week's post is an excerpt from our latest book, "Developing the Complete Tactical Player". This unique book focuses on methods to train players to develop tactical knowledge, faster decision making and smarter use of the ball. I think we can all agree that this is an aspect sorely missing in many of our players but can make all the difference in taking them to an elite level.

This brief excerpt looks at

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Preparing for State Cup

It's hard to believe that the end of the soccer year is coming so quickly. Our State Cup is June 1/2/3 so were in review mode to prepare for the biggest tournament of the year. We want to do our best to be successful because the winners of State Cup attend the Regional Tournament to play against the best teams in our Region. The players learn so much for that type of experience that I want the girls to have that opportunity.

We've covered a lot this year and I've really seen

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Finishing from Volleys and Headers

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.

Another area that I've wanted to address

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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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Beating the Offside Trap Follow-Up

In a post last December I talked about how I was working with my team to understand the different ways to beat the offside trap. Some of the ideas and exercises I use are from the book, 'Offside!'.

A reader suggested that runs from the midfield was another way to effectively defeat the trap. Here's what David Williams says about these types of runs in, 'Offside!':

"Tell the loan striker to restrict his runs forward

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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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Shooting Drills Competition Winner

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.

Shooting Competition - First Time Shooting

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Integrating the Goalkeeper into Team Training

I don't think most coaches give a lot of thought to the needs of their goalkeepers when they sit down to plan their session. They're usually just another player in the team for most of the session and then go in goal when it comes time to shoot or play a game. While it's important for all goalkeepers, especially young goalkeepers, to work with the ball at their feet they also need to train with the team in functional exercises. This establishes a link between the goalkeeper rest of the team that will translate to game day.

A book that got me thinking about this subject is, "Team Training for the Goalkeeper" by John Murphy. In this book Murphy gives examples for training your goalkeepers with the team in all phases of training. Warm-up, Functional Training, Possession, Small-Sided Games, Phase of Play exercises and 11 v 11 setting are all discussed. He also includes full sessions that integrate the goalkeeper throughout the session.

Here are a few warm-up exercises

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Beating the Offside Trap

I've never been a fan of teaching youth teams to operate an offside trap. My feeling is that the time spent teaching this tactic is far better spent training players to better understand defending. You're also leaving the success or failure of your defense in the hands of the referees. Even with very good referees, your only one missed call away from a breakaway and likely goal.

I do believe that it's a good idea to spend some time teaching your players how to beat the offside trap. This knowledge is not only useful against trapping teams but also against teams that play a regular pressure-cover-balance defense. A book I've taken some ideas from is, 'Offside! - How to Coach It, How to Use It, How to Counter It.' This book does a great job of explaining how teach the tactic as well as how to beat it.

There are a number of different ways that you can combat the trap. I focus on four

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Defending the Wide Areas in a 4-3-3

My primary concern about changing to a 4-3-3 system was how to deal with players attacking from wide areas. With only three midfielders, all of whom play centrally, I was worried that this would be an area that other teams could exploit. So making sure we had a plan to deal with this problem became a primary concern.

One of the strengths of the 4-4-2 system is it's ability to create 2 v 1 situations on the wings. So if we're going to play from a 4-3-3, how will

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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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Possession Games

With only two practices per week with my teams I've found that it works best to focus on a technical topic (Running with the Ball, Dribbling, Control, Shooting) during our first practice of the week and then Passing and Possession progressing to a small-sided game during the second session. We also do one shooting exercise toward the end of practice just to keep a focus on that before the weekend.

I'm always looking for variations on possessions games to focus on different aspects of possession and to keep the practice fresh. I was reminded of one recently when I was looking through one of our best selling books, 'Players' Roles and Responsibilities in Systems of Play'. By creating target areas in each corner

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Keeping Technical Passing Exercises Fresh

Teaching players the technical skills of the game is the most important job of a coach who is working with young players. Finding new and creative ways to help the players groove passing technique is one of the more challenging things to do. The players need hundreds of repetitions of the correct technique before their muscles can repeat the motion accurately. There's only so long that two players can stand across from each other and pass the ball back and forth before they'll grow bored and loose focus. But if you move too quickly into competitive passing and possession games, which are fun and engaging, then the players won't use the correct technique and they'll end up repeating poor passes. Remember, practice doesn't make perfect; practice makes permanent.

So new ways to present the same technical challenge becomes the objective. One of the variations I've used is from a session that I found in our, 'Training Sessions of Europe's Top Teams'. It's a session that Jan Prujin of Ajax F.C.

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Diamond Drills

One of the perks of my job is that I get to see the sessions of some of the top coaches from around the world and then I can do that session with my youth teams. Sometimes I adjust the size of the areas or add neutral players to make the session work for my players but they are able to benefit from the basic ideas and the kids enjoy hearing that they're doing the same practice as professional or youth players from prominent clubs around the world.

I was looking through, 'Training Sessions of English Professional League Team', and came across a session from Sheffield United's U15 team. I've done a number of different diamond drills with my team and the variations in this

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Soccer Speed – Running Form Video

This weeks post is from Scott Moody, our Conditioning Experts at Soccer F.I.T. Academy.

I seem to get questions regarding teaching running (sprinting) mechanics (form) to young soccer players every week. Parents and coaches are continuously asking me to work with an athletes sprint form, and they bring up Ronaldo as being a player they would like to emulate. They mention his form and technique, his explosiveness and his speed on the pitch as key aspects that they would like to see developed in their young players. In this 15 minute video, Ronaldo’s form is broken down in sprinting and jumping exercises and compared with champion sprinters. I think you will enjoy this…

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Building Conditioning Into Regular Training Routines

There are many ways to work on a soccer teams fitness.  These can range from sprints, to longer runs to ladder work, to plyometrics, to resistance work to weights to any number of other activities.  One thing that is often forgotten is much of the fitness work can be built into the various games and activities.

One of the most valuable games I like to play with teams is the 5 yard sprint rule after every pass.  This can be a 3 v 3 scrimmage up to full sided 11 v 11.  It’s a regular game with the only restriction being that after every pass there must be a hard 5 yard sprint by the passer.  Any passer who doesn’t sprint after

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Shooting - Small-Sided Games

Actual game situations provide the best training for shooting and finishing once a technical foundation has been established. I highlighted by favorite shooting game, Halfline, in a previous post. Here's a link to that post.

There are many ways to organize small-sided games so that the emphasis is on shooting. Here are a few from our book, 'Coaching Soccer Through Small-Sided Games.'

This game was from a session observed during pre-season training in Ft. Lauderdale, February 2000.

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Shooting - Three and Four Line Exercises

One of my favorite books is, 'Training Creative Goalscorers'. The book is by Chelsea FC Academy Coach, Michael Beale. The focus of this book is on training shooting and finishing in functional situations that also involve an activity after shooting like defending the next player or playing a give-and-go with another player. These are the

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Shooting Exercises - Wall Ball

During the month of June I highlighted my four favorite 1 v 1 training methods. In July I'll thought I'd go through the progression I use for shooting. The exercises are normally part of a complete session but are shown here on their own to focus on them. The first time I work on shooting

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