Finishing in the Box: Sample Activity from the Volunteer Soccer Coach

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Session #5: Finishing in the Box
Activity #3: 2v1 Continuous*Stacked

activity3_session5

Time: Approximately 20 minutes.

Area: If you have a marked 18-yard box, use it and then mark out another one with cones to create a 36 x 44 yard (L x W) playing grid.

Activity: Divide the players into 2 even teams. Have one team line up opposite each other (see the diagram) behind the 2 cones level with the edge of the 6-yard box. Have the other team do the same on the other side. The balls should be divided equally and diagonally (per the diagram). To begin, you can play the ball into the middle. Players go to the other line once they have had their turn (e.g., attacker goes to the other attacker line). Any time the ball crosses a line (side, end, goal), the team whose possession it would be restarts the game from their side with a new pair (the defending pair stays in). Also, any time a ball crosses the end line from a shot (including a goal), the shooter must run around the corner while the 2 defenders drop out (the attacking team now becomes the numbers down defending team), and a new attack begins by 2 forwards to make it 2v1 (with the recovering defender who just shot the ball running around the corner). Play first team to a set number of goals (e.g., 5, 7, 9) and give the losing team a consequence. After the consequence, you can ask the guided discovery questions, while the players catch their breath. This game will take a few rounds for the players to understand. It is very important that you are consistent with the rules. I find it helps to communicate early and often; for example, if the ball goes out of play, I will say “red team’s ball.” Also, if someone forgets to run, I will remind that player (e.g., “Janie, you have to run”). If she influences the play, I will award a penalty kick to the other team, which will transition back into 2v1 continuous immediately following the kick.    

Possible Progressions:

  • Move the balls to the other side (move the players, too, so the wide player is always on the “weak side”).
  • Give 2 points for first time finishes (encourages combination plays, crosses, etc.).

 

Volunteer Soccer Coach Image

Are you a volunteer soccer coach with a full time job outside football? Then this book is for you! Minimizing jargon and looking to maximize the limited contact time you have with your players, The Volunteer Soccer Coach is a must-read practical book for coaches of all levels.  Utilising a game-based approach to soccer – where individuals actually play games rather than growing old in semi-static drills – author James Jordan offers 75 cutting-edge exercises across 15 detailed session plans which help players develop an attacking mindset, improve their skills, and, most of all, nurture a love for soccer.

It Pays to Win On Defense: A Game-based Soccer Training Approach to Developing Highly Effective Defenders

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It Pays to Win on Defense

Recently named to US Youth Soccer’s Recommended Reading List, “It Pays to Win on Defense” is a book for soccer coaches who are looking for the most effective way to engage all of their players all of the time in order to teach them how to best keep the ball out of their own team’s goal! The book provides an all-encompassing framework for instilling the skills and mindset necessary for highly effective defenders. By combining educational theory and making everything a competition, coaches can maximize their practice time and teach that defending concepts are not just limited to certain players (e.g. the centre backs or the defensive midfielders). As I tell my teams, when we don’t have the ball, EVERYONE is a defender. Therefore, EVERY player on your team needs to know how to defend and defend well!

Positive Change in US Youth Soccer

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Beginning in August, 2017, there are changes coming to US Youth Soccer…

Recently, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) announced changes to encourage youth soccer development. You can read the official press release here

The two key changes are as follows: 

Birth-year registration

  • Will now be aligned with the calendar year (January to December) rather than school year.
  • The example given is that “a U15 player (players 15 years old or younger) would have a birth year of 2000 for the 2015 registration year.”

  • This applies to all age groups and is being done to combat the “relative age effect” which has been shown to give competitive advantage to players who are physically older than their peers. 

Number of players and size of the field

  • The field dimensions for players in the U6-U12 age groups will be smaller than they are currently, as will the number of players on the field.

  • The size of the field and the number of players on the field will increase from 4v4 to 7v7 to 9v9 until players reach U13 when they will play 11v11. 

In this post, I will focus on the second change – that of smaller fields and fewer numbers on the field. 

This doesn’t mean fewer players get to play; on the contrary, now a coach can set up 2 games happening simultaneously to get more players more touches on the ball. 

Click here for the USSF analysis of why small-side match standards will benefit players. In short, though: 

  • Fewer players on the field means more touches on the ball and increased touches translates to more individual skill.

  • Players who are more skilled may become more confident and comfortable when in possession of the ball.

  • The ratio of players to field size is designed to assist players with making the right kind of decisions and improving awareness.

  • This approach builds on itself as players get older and start playing with more players on bigger fields.

  • And as players get older, the building block approach also allows them to better integrate into a team model where they develop partnerships with the other players that make up the team.

Why this might be a great idea

Manchester United recently completed a study of playing 4v4 rather than 8v8 in youth soccer. The results are staggering and have profound implications for youth soccer coaches.

On Average 4v4 versus 8v8 had:

  • 135% more passes
  • 260% more Scoring Attempts
  • 500% more Goals Scored
  • 225% more 1v1 Encounters
  • 280% more Dribbling Skills (tricks)

If you are looking for some ideas on how to better integrate small sided games into your practices, check out my books, both of which employ a game-based soccer philosophy.

US Youth Soccer Recommended Reading List

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Hi all,

It’s been a while, but I have been busy prepping for my new class at school. I just found out today that both of my books have been added to the US Youth Soccer Recommended Reading list.

If you have read either of my books, please click here and consider leaving a review.

I am currently working on a book of practice sessions utilizing game-based soccer activities.

It Pays to Win on Offense: A Game-based Approach to Developing  Soccer Players that Score and Create Lots of Goals

It Pays to Win on Defense: A Game-based Soccer Approach to Developing Highly Effective Defenders

Best,

James

Setting the Tone for Practice

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I believe that the warm-up sets the tone for practice. If you can have a quality warm-up, it gets everybody buzzing for the rest of the session. How do you achieve this? I have found that there are usually one or two players on a team that can be energizers for the group. An energizer pumps up her teammates and raises the energy level. Thus, when selecting a warm-up activity, pick one that your energizers will love.

I remember coaching a young lady named Jasmine Pratts. If anyone had the mindset of a defender, she did! She loved to defend. What I mean by that is, she had the mentality that she was going to stop you from playing your game. She would bump, nudge, capitalize on a bad touch, and if she got you in her sights, she wouldn’t leave you alone. Of course, I started her as a forward her freshman year! Shows what I know! She didn’t play her sophomore year, but she returned as a junior and was simply outstanding. Jasmine was an older player on a team primarily composed of freshmen. We were young, scrappy, and we had the kind of talent that on its day could be amazing. Because we were young, though, we had our bad days, too.

In April of that year, we went to Augusta and played a very strong Westminster team with a number of girls who would later play in excellent college programs (University of GA, University of Florida, and Wellesley College to name a few). We got pounded 8-1…that’s right, we lost by 7 goals to a team that would score 100 that year. It was a long bus ride home. How do you recover from a loss like that? Well, it starts in the warm-up of the next practice and you have to get your energizers doing their job. What did we play? Knockout (Sharks and Minnows in this book). This was Jasmine’s favorite game because she would hound you until she kicked your ball out – in fact, she took pleasure in it and she got everyone else moving, forgetting the disaster of the previous game.

Anyway, we got things back together and went on a run to the state championship game, squeezing through the semi final with a 1-0 win. Guess who we were slated to play…Westminster. The team that just 6 weeks earlier had demolished us! You can talk tactics all day long, but when the whistle blows, the players are on their own. This was the game where Jasmine stepped up and marked their star forward out of the game. I have never seen something like it before or since of how such a strong player was effectively taken out of the game. The girl did not get a kick. Jasmine epitomized the mindset I am trying to communicate in my new book. The score of the game? We won 5-1…It pays to win on defense!

Best,
James Jordan

New book: It Pays to Win on Defense: A Game-based Soccer Training Approach to Developing Highly Effective Defenders

Latest Book Now Available: It Pays to Win on Defense

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My latest book, It Pays to Win on Defense: A Game-based Soccer Training Approach to Developing Highly Effective Defendersis now available from the Amazon Kindle Store.

In It Pays to Win on Defense, I profile new players and have added some new games to the ones I offered in It Pays to Win on Offense.

Basically, It Pays to Win on Defense is a book for soccer coaches who are looking for the most effective way to engage all of their players all of the time in order to teach them how to best keep the ball out of their own team’s goal! The book provides an all-encompassing framework for instilling the skills and mindset necessary for highly effective defenders. By combining educational theory and making everything a competition, coaches can maximize their practice time and teach that defending concepts are not just limited to certain players (e.g. the centre backs or the defensive midfielders). As I tell my teams, when we don’t have the ball, EVERYONE is a defender. Therefore, EVERY player on your team needs to know how to defend and defend well!

Whether you are an experienced coach or a volunteer parent just starting out, there is something for everyone in this book. “It Pays to Win on Defense” includes 50 games that bring defending situations to the fore, hundreds of guided discovery questions, and many regressions/progressions to tweak every activity to match your specific training needs.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Best,
James

Updates to It Pays to Win on Offense

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In getting some great feedback from my beta readers for my upcoming book, It Pays to Win on Defense (see picture below), which will be released on Wednesday, I went back and updated It Pays to Win on Offense

Many of you downloaded It Pays to Win on Offense when I offered it for free (and quite a few of you have paid for it since then). Please go ahead and download the latest version to get benefits of my updates – Amazon lets you do it for free if you already own the book. Of course, if you don’t yet own It Pays to Win on Offense, go ahead and get it!

Best,
James 

Available in 2 days….