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.

 

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