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.