Get Over the Halfway Line Scrimmage: Sample Activity from the Volunteer Soccer Coach

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Session #15: Introduction to Getting Numbers in the Attack –
End of Practice Scrimmage: Get Over the Halfway Line!

eop_session15

Time: Approximately 30 minutes (or whatever is left of practice).

Area: As per the diagram, extend the 18-yard box out to the sidelines. This makes for a shorter, but wider playing area – perfect for working on crossing and finishing.

Activity: Use (or make) a halfway line and state that all players (except the goalkeeper) must be past it in order for a goal to count. This simple rule, more than anything, has the ability to teach players to get up and support the attack. Don’t scream and shout at your players to “push up” over the halfway line. Just watch and listen. The first time that a team scores a goal and it doesn’t count because one of the attacking team’s defenders was in his own half, players on that team will start telling each other to “step” and “get up”. It works like magic! Play even numbers and arrange teams in a formation that reflects your desired game day formation.

Progressions:

  • If you catch a member of the opposing team in their attacking half, the goal counts double.
  • Add a neutral(s), so the attacking team is always numbers up (producing more scoring opportunities).
  • Put field players on touch restrictions (e.g., 3 touch max).

 

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.

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.

The Gate Dribbling Game: Sample Activity from the Volunteer Soccer Coach

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Session #1: Dribbling to Keep Possession:
Activity #2: The Gate Dribbling Game with Pressureactivity2_session1

Time: Approximately 15 minutes.

Area: 25 x 25 yards (L x W) or larger depending on how many players you have.

Activity: This activity is a progression from the previous one, which will allow you to give your players a quick water break and then get straight back into action. This time, start with a “bandit” whose job is to stop players from dribbling through the gates. Change the bandit every 30-45 seconds (get them to keep score of how many balls they kicked away).

Possible Progressions:

  • Add a restriction whereby players can only dribble with their left foot (or right foot).
  • Add another bandit (2 bandits at a time).
  • Replace some of the gates with pinnies (or different colored cones) and say that players must go through a cone gate followed by a pinnie gate (or different colored cone gate).
  • Add another bandit (3 bandits at a time).
  • Make the gates smaller and/or reduce the number of gates.
  • Add another bandit (4 bandits at a time).
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 Coachis 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.

 

Coaching – How much is too much?

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I saw the above infographic on Twitter yesterday (@LBfutbol) and it got me thinking about coaching youth soccer here in the states. In America, I feel that we live in a society that places a large emphasis (and value) on rationalization and specialization. These two movements intersect in American youth soccer in a number of significant ways.

  • Does it not make sense for parents to get their son/daughter playing soccer from the earliest age?
  • Is it not logical for them to desire a safe and structured playing space for their son/daughter?
  • Should parents not want the “best” coaching possible?
  • Is it not logical that these parents want coaches with playing pedigree and coaching “qualifications”?
  • Does it not make sense that those coaches who have playing pedigree and coaching qualifications (badges, diplomas, licenses, etc.) should want to be well compensated for their time?
  • Is it not right, then, that parents should demand “quality coaching” as a return on their investment?
  • Do many coaches not feel the need to “perform” their coaching role to justify their position?
  • Is not a large part of this performance “doing” something, “saying” something?
  • Is this a good use of practice time?
  • Given the attached infographic, would coaches be preparing their players for the games more by allowing their players to play more?

If you are interested in implementing a game-based approach to soccer training, check out my book, 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 Offense is currently sitting at #5 in the Top Sellers for Soccer Coaching e-books on Amazon.

Also available is my new book: It Pays to Win on Defense: A Game-based Soccer Training Approach to Developing Highly Effective Defenders,

Focus, Focus, Focus: Doing More by Doing Less in Coaching Youth Soccer

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As coaches, we seem to have a natural impulse to correct everything on the field, all of the time! We also want to construct amazing and imaginative practices and end up having to 10 minutes to just explain it!

In this post, I will demonstrate how you can use Target Ball once per week for 20-30 minutes per session for 10 weeks and focus on something different every time. I have found Target Ball to be hugely popular for U8 players and above. Because they get used to the game, you can set it up quickly and get into playing with minimum fuss.

Here is the basic progression I would use (change them as you like, but you will see they go from simple to more complex concepts/skills. Also, you can and should still use the Target Ball progressions (as outlined in this previous post).

So, you should only stop the game in order to coach the focus for that week. This is where you can use the Guided Discovery Questions and highlight players doing it right (or “catching them being good”):

Week 1: Side foot passing technique
Week 2: Shooting with the side foot
Week 3: Making the field bigger on offense (spreading out)
Week 4: Possession
Week 5: Switching the point of the attack
Week 6: 1v1 attacking
Week 7: 1v1 defending
Week 8: Position of the weak side defender(s)
Week 9: Getting the defense to step up from the back
Week 10: Pressing high up the field

Of course, these are just sample topics, but the point is that if you want your players to really learn something, you have to keep your message focused on ONE THING! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for practices; find a game they like and use it as a vehicle to teach soccer concepts/skills…one at a time.

The Use of Small Sided Games for Technical and Tactical Development in U6-U10 by Adrian Parrish

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The content of this post is excerpted from an NSCAA coaching webinar presentation write up. The NSCAA is the world’s largest soccer coaching organization. Find out more information about the NSCAA at http://www.nscaa.com.

About Adrian Parrish, Technical Director, Kentucky Youth Soccer Association

Adrian joined Kentucky Youth Soccer in October of 2005 as the Association’s third full time Director of Coaching. In this role, Parrish is responsible for the Coaching Education Program and the management of the Olympic Development Program. Adrian was the former DOC for Amherst Soccer Association in Buffalo, and Coaching Education Instructor for New York State. Adrian, a native from Louth in England has played extensively at youth level and played with Boston United, a semi-professional team playing in the league below the Football League. Adrian possesses a USSF “A” License and the US Youth Soccer National Youth License. He is currently the US Youth Soccer Region II Coaching Chair, is a Region II Boys ODP staff coach, a USSF Coaching Educator and on the US Youth Soccer National staff.

Summary of Presentation

At the start of Adrian’s presentation he compared two common terms one hears regularly in coaching – a ‘drill’ and a ‘game.’ Adrian suggested that a drill is associated more with a regimented activity that has a definitive and prescribed response, often with players waiting in lines for their turn. With young players it is important to play games and stay away from drill-like activities. Similar to the other presenters, Adrian mentioned a coach should be prepared to see large disparities in player ability and cognitive understanding between individuals in the same age group.

Adrian mentioned the idea of a slanting line approach – whereby a coach is able to offer challenging activities to children of varying abilities within the same session, by manipulating variables such as differences in technique and pressures of time and space. Another concept he introduced is anchoring an activity – an approach where the coach remains in the same space, but manipulates different components of the game to change the emphasis and challenge to the players. Before describing the practical activities, Adrian referred to ‘marrying techniques with tactics’ – suggesting that a coach can find opportunities to teach basic tactical concepts while focusing primarily on technical training. To do so, he suggested that a coach should use low order and high order guided discovery questions.

Adrian shared 6 activities that progressed in complexity and challenge.

Common to all activities however were a number of objectives:

1. High-energy – in the vast majority of occasions, the best approach with young players is to get them active as quickly as possible and to manage the session in short duration bouts of high-energy activity interspersed with drink breaks and short rest periods.

2. Soccer realism – a responsibility of the coach is to correct movements that are not realistic to playing the game. For example, in the first activity – tail tag – Adrian suggested that players should be encouraged to face each other as it is unrealistic that in a game a player will run aimlessly with his or her back to the play.

3. Become a storyteller – being able to relate to young players is essential particularly with the U6 and U8 age groups. To this end, Adrian advised coaches to become familiar with activities built on characters and stories children watch and listen to on TV and in books.

4. Technical emphasis – Adrian provided a cautionary note suggesting that we should avoid getting caught in a trap as children moved from the U6 to U8 and U8 to U10 age groups. Some coaches transition too quickly with young players from almost exclusive focus on technique to spending an inordinate amount of time working on tactics and correcting issues with game performance.

5. Challenging activities – finding the right balance between activities that players can perform too easily and those that invariably result in failure is important. It should be noted that a growing body of research suggests young players need to be challenged and in doing so they will experience necessary failure as they strive to reach a higher level of performance.

6. Move from simple to complex – it is easier for coach to manipulate variables to increase the difficulty of an activity than try to recover from setting the bar too high for the players at the beginning. Once the coach becomes intimately familiar with the ability levels of individuals and the group, it also becomes easier to select content that caters for the majority of players.

7. Add a scoring mechanism – challenging players to complete a set number of repetitions, beat a time restriction or better a previous score are all ways to help players focus and add a modicum of pressure.

“New Ball” Scrimmage Game for U6 and Below

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New BallArea: Full field (if you have it), or half field (put a cone goal on the halfway line).

Activity:

  • Whenever a ball goes out of play or a goal is scored, a coach announces “New Ball!” and rolls another ball into play.
  • The ‘new ball’ should be rolled to neutral space or toward the disadvantaged team.
  • After a goal, roll the new ball in near the center of the field toward the team that was scored against.
  • Do not bounce the “new ball” as it is difficult for these players to judge a bouncing ball at this age.
  • Favor the team on the wrong end of a one sided game.
  • Favor individual players who are not becoming involved in the game.
  • Have parents retrieve lost balls and return them to the coach who just rolled the new ball in so he/she now has 2 balls once more!
  • Play 3-4 minute halves with a halftime break.
  • This is a fast paced game and they will tire! Remember to put the players in different color pinnies/bibs.
  • Modify as necessary!

Guided Discovery Questions: To be asked one at a time to give the players a rest, or during a water break.

  • Great goal! What part of your foot did you use to score it? Can anyone else do that? Show me!
  • Great move? Show me again. Can anyone else do that? Show me!
  • How did you score that goal? Did you run fast or slow?
  • How do you stop the other team from scoring? Show me!