I learn more about coaching soccer every single day that I’m involved in the game. And that’s why I’m obsessed with it. Take this week for instance. Started on Sunday with a combination of “Family Fun Day” and our Little Vikings Clinic. I was involved in coaching the 4 and 5 year olds, introducing them […]
Latest From the Blog
I learn more about coaching soccer every single day that I’m involved in the game. And that’s why I’m obsessed with it.
Take this week for instance. Started on Sunday with a combination of “Family Fun Day” and our Little Vikings Clinic. I was involved in coaching the 4 and 5 year olds, introducing them to the game of soccer and my 5 year old and the other youngsters begin to become comfortable with a ball at their feet.
Over on the other half of the field my 8 year old was playing with his buddies from the club alongside his mum, other friends and their families.
It was amazing to see people of all ages, abilities and skill levels on the same turf field playing soccer for an hour. No drills, no lines, no flags, cones etc. Just learning and playing soccer in its purest form. A very nice reminder.
Then on Monday night I was working with my 2005 and 2007 Boys’s Teams for AYSO United. Obviously a much more serious situation, but we made it fun for them too. Instead of our normal practice made up of warm up, technical work, functional work and then a scrimmage (grab your FREE Soccer Practice Planner to help you put together a “normal” practice), we just played a game for the entire practice.
For the 2007s I had enough players to make three 7on7 teams, so we just rotated through (orange vs blue, then orange vs white, then white vs blue etc.) I refereed the game which allowed me to talk to players on the fly as well as create some situations with some “dodgy” referee calls.
It was necessary to bring the players in every now and then to make a point from what I saw.
Here’s the 5 lessons we learned:
- You cannot be offside if you are in your own half when the ball is played forward. You cannot be offside direct from a throw in.
- If you lose possession of the ball, you work harder than anyone to help the team win the ball back.
- Play the simple pass.
- Goalkeepers should not stand on their line, they need to come out to play a “sweeper keeper” role
- On throw ins, don’t throw the ball into the middle, look for a forward throw into space, or a throw to the defender in space to begin to switch play.
And that was plenty for them to digest.
All taught and learned while playing the game with no lines, cones or drills involved at all.
Then I moved on to the 2005 Boys. I had them play 7 players against the 2006 Boys who played with 9 players. Boy did we get a surprise off the bat. The 2006s played the 2005s off the pitch in the first 5 minutes. A good wake up call for the older boys.
Here’s what all three teams (2005, 2006 & 2007) need to work on:
- Slowing the game down
- Playing with their heads up
- Movement off the ball into space to give the player receiving the ball options
All too often as the player received the ball, his teammates watched to see what he was going to do with it…instead of the other way round….get what I mean?
So, all in all just two days on the soccer field taught me a ton:
- Still nothing teaches the game better than the game itself
- Never assume anything
- Some players step up in games
- Some players get lost/hide in games
- Soccer is for recreation and fun. Nobody on these fields is going to win a World Cup.
- I am blessed at 50 years old to be on a soccer field with talented players and players just playing the game for the fun of it.
As you can see, I learn more about coaching soccer every single day.
“Never work with animals or children” is a famous quote from W.C. Fields.
And at last night’s two practices, I now understand where he was coming from!
We took a week off for Spring Break and I couldn’t wait to get back on the pitch with my 2005 and 2007 boys’ teams.
What a let down.
For some reason both teams were lethargic and simply not “up for it.”
Maybe a little too much familiarity. Maybe a bit of cockiness. Maybe the honeymoon period of joining a new team and club has worn off.
So, I ran through our usual technical work. The 6 Turns, the “Iniesta,” our move, “touch touch” and then some of our 3 pass combinations (ABBA, ABAC, ABCA, ABCB, ABCD).
So, I decided to set up 4on4 games for my 2007s and an 8on8 game for my 2005s.
And I just let them play.
I did my very best to just observe them and not “interfere.”
But again, they disappointed as they ran around like “headless chickens.”
So I imposed the condition of “two touch” and that seemed to help.
With the older boys especially, I had to really have them concentrate on slowing their game down. Get a rhythm of “touch, pass,” “touch, pass,” “touch, pass…”
And finally we started to make progress.
At the end of practice I felt a little better and then I put it into perspective by remembering the quote from W.C.Fields, “Never work with animals or children.” He was right and tonight was testament to that.
Problem is, my job is to work with children, so I just need to realize every now and then that they are just children and there will be times when they don’t perform or put the effort in that I was hoping for.
But when push comes to shove, we were out on the soccer field playing the best game on the planet. What more could I ask for?
Don’t forget to grab your FREE Soccer Practice Planner so that next time you are planning your soccer practice you’ll be able to use it and save time and stress.
I have been reading this book, “The Numbers Game” which explains Why Everything You Know About Football (Soccer) Is Wrong.
When I say I’ve been “reading” this book, it’s been more like “devouring” the book. It’s been shocking, informative and depressing all at once!
Well, it’s claim to explain “Why Everything You Know About Football (Soccer) Is Wrong” is vehemently backed up with stats and research from all over the world.
It asks many wonderful questions such as: “Do teams that score the most goals always win the league?” “Do the teams that concede the fewest goals win titles?”
Here’s another beaut: “Does the number of goals a team scores increase with the number of corners it wins?”
Here’s some other gems:
“Any given shot has a one in eight chance of hitting the back of the net.”
“Historical records show that 48% of games are home wins, 26% are draws (ties)and 26% are away victories.”
What about this one….”Scoring an additional ten goals reduced a club’s expected number of defeats per season by 1.76; conceding ten fewer goals reduced defeats in the Premier League by 2.35 matches. So when it came to avoiding defeat, the goals the club didn’t concede were each 33%more valuable than the goals they scored.”
Food for thought, eh?
So, my simple recommendation is: GRAB THIS BOOK NOW!
As I’m reading this book, my mind is a whir. I’m already thinking how I am going to change my practices, tactics, heck, even my approach to the game. (That is for those games/teams in which I am focusing on “winning” as opposed to “development.”)
Once you’ve had your soccer juices stimulated by this book, you’re going to want to get right out there on the practice field and start implementing your new found discoveries. Use my FREE Soccer Practice Planner to put together your practices in 3 minutes or less:
Tonight at practice I suddenly asked myself, “Are kids programmed to play soccer wrong?”
What do I mean by that?
Well, it’s Spring Break here and we had a lower turnout than usual for our practices. So we decided to make four teams and play a round robin of small sided games (SSGs) on two fields. The idea was to just let the kids play their socks off for about 75 minutes.
It was astonishing to me. It was if they had been programmed to play soccer wrong. By that I mean instead of spreading out and creating space, they bunched together around the ball. Instead of passing and moving into space, they passed and then stood still as spectators. Instead of looking up and playing the simplest pass when under pressure, they kept their heads down and just ran into trouble and lost the ball. When they lost the ball they often watched and expected someone else to get it back.
The list goes on and on.
Now, you’re probably thinking its down to my horrible coaching. Maybe.
Or maybe it’s because they have very little understanding of the game because they hardly watch it. They probably go to one live game a year (if that) and they don’t watch much soccer on TV. So when we are explaining about space and time, it’s literally like we are from a different planet.
Humans ARE wired wrong for soccer. If a human sees another human that needs help, what are we programmed to do? Yes, that’s right, rush towards the human.
If a soccer player needs help, we ought to do the opposite, run away from the human into space away from all other humans….right?
So when a young player has the ball, even when it is clear that they are on the same team, our young players naturally gravitate to the player with the ball to try and “help” them.
I decided that it was needed to quickly jump in and remind them of width and depth and to play the simplest pass when in doubt. Thankfully that made a big difference.
Then I wondered how me and my mates figured this out when we taught ourselves soccer, playing in the streets and parks with no parents, no coaches, no goals, no flags, no cones, no pinnies etc.
I guess by watching it at every single opportunity on the telly and by having a season ticket to our home town professional team, we learned the game by watching it and then trying to recreate it ourselves. We did not play soccer wrong because we constantly had visual reminders of how the professionals played the game.
Food for thought.
By the way, if you haven’t grabbed my FREE Soccer Practice Planner, click below and download it. It will save you a bunch of time and stress when planning your next soccer practice.
I’ve been working with my various teams and focusing on Three Soccer Building Blocks
- 1on1 Dribble(s)
- Three Pass Combinations (there’s only 5 of them.)
This is where I’m going with this. The player has the ball and he/she is under pressure. They use on of their turns to get away from the defender and find some space.
They then use that time and space to pass the ball with their team in order to produce a 1on1 situation for themselves or a teammate.
They then use their 1on1 dribble to beat that defender and produce a shot, a pass or the opportunity to run with the ball and advance towards the goal.
Three Soccer Building Blocks. Sounds too simple, right?
And that’s exactly why my whole new system is called, “Soccer Coaching Made Simple.”
The only other thing I need to add at this stage is obviously shooting and finishing.
I’ll focus on all the defending aspects later.
But for now, if I can help my players be comfortable on the ball, be able to turn into space, play a good pass, recognize and implement simple 3 pass combos and then be able to beat a defender 1on1 to produce something, then I’ll be tickled pink.
I use my Soccer Practice Planner to achieve all of this and plan out each practice to focus on the Three Soccer Building Blocks. It makes my life simple and less stressful.
As you can see from the graphic, I’ve divided the game of soccer into three phases:
- When your team has the ball
- When the other team has the ball
- When no team has the ball.
So when putting together your Soccer Practice Plan, the first decision is which one of the above will your practice focus on.
Then once you’ve chosen the phase, then you need to choose the topic. For example, if you’ve chosen to focus on when your team has the ball, you then have three more choices:
- To try and score
- If you can’t immediately score, how can you advance the ball towards the other team’s goal
- If you can’t immediately score and you can’t immediately advance the ball, can you at least keep possession of the ball.
The final choice is what topic you are going to use to achieve the above? For example, you’ve decided that your next practice will focus on when you have the ball and that your objective is to try and score. So then you need to choose which topic to focus on to try and score e.g.
- Quick play in and around the penalty box
- Crossing and finishing
- Set plays
So, once you’ve decided on the phase of the game (in this case you have the ball) and you’ve chosen the topic (to try and score) and you’ve decided how to achieve the goal (quick play in and around the box) all you need to do is use your Soccer Practice Planner to put the session together. – “Soccer Coaching Made Simple.”
My goal is that I am going to be able to walk up to any soccer practice on any field in the world and after watching for less than a few minutes, be able to identify exactly what the coach is working on. Imagine how simple soccer coaching can become!