At your next game, please stop the yelling. I beg of you. On Sunday I was coaching our boys 2006 team in a 7 on 7 game. The coaches were stationed down the middle of two fields facing their respective fields and teams. So, in a confined area there were 7-8 coaches bellowing at their […]
Latest From the Blog
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!
Firstly, welcome to the Soccer Coaching Blog!
If you are a volunteer youth soccer coach who stepped up and decided to coach your kid’s soccer team, then firstly let me say a big “Thank You” on behalf of the world’s most beautiful game.
I’ve been blessed to be involved in soccer my entire life and it’s been an absolute pleasure to play, coach and referee the game.
And then I started to coach my son’s U6 AYSO soccer team…and that was the most stressful time I’ve ever spent on the soccer field!
So my hat’s off to you. You took on the challenge of coaching youth soccer and maybe you haven’t ever played or coached the game before. If I found it stressful, I can’t imagine how tough it has been for you.
So that’s why I started the Soccer Coaching Blog. My goal is to help you plan your soccer practices in a matter of minutes, get out there on the field and enjoy yourself as you try to herd a bunch of cats and help them fall in love with the game.
Each week I will post articles and videos that will help simplify the game and give you tools, tips and techniques to coach recreational youth soccer. You’re not going to turn your team into the next FC Barcelona, but you just might learn from me how to keep the game simple and help your soccer players learn the fundamentals of soccer.
I’m not a big believer in soccer drills. I try to avoid using flags, cones or any kind of equipment for that matter. I learned to play soccer on the streets and in the parks with a ball and jackets for the goalposts… simple and beautiful.
So, please be an active participant in the Soccer Coaching Blog. Leave comments, ask questions, challenge me and share your “A ha” moments too.
Again, thank you for coaching youth soccer.