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.

 

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

Principles of Attack

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Below is a basic summary of the principles of attack. These principles can frame all soccer activities. All coaches should know these principles and use them to inform how they think about practices and games. Furthermore, this vocabulary should be integrated into coaching as much as possible.

Penetration: Trying to score, moving the ball forward as quickly as possible; for example, it could be a forward pass or dribbling the ball forwards.

Support: Moving to help the player with the ball; for example, usually going toward the player with the ball or making an angle for a pass.

Mobility: Moving with or without the ball to unbalance the defense; for example, this can be multidirectional and can be directly or indirectly involved with play.

Width: Creating space from side to side on the field. This usually involves a player/players going towards the touchline, although width can be created anywhere on the field.

Depth: Creating space from front to back on the field. This usually involves players being in advance and behind the ball when your team is in possession.

Improvisation: Coming up with solutions to problems “on the go.” This is where players creatively problem-solve during games/practices and is arguably the most difficult offensive principle to teach.

Coaches should focus on one attacking principle at a time when teaching. What often happens is that we start coaching everything and it becomes very confusing for both players and coaches. I would suggest building an entire practice around one principle. For example, to do a session on dribbling, you might start with the Gate Dribbling Game, then play the End Zone Game (work through the progressions), then finish with a Scrimmage, but you would only coach/ask guided discovery questions related to penetration (as it relates to dribbling).

My new book, It Pays to Win on Offense: A game-based approach to developing soccer players that score and create lots of goals, is over 100 pages of games and activities that focus exclusively on how to coach attacking principles.

Light crew: What to do when only a few players turn up to practice?

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At some point, it’s happened to every coach at every level: only a few players turn up to practice. After the practice plan goes out the window, how do you still put on an engaging and meaningful session in which your players can get better?

This happened today at one of the sessions I visited. We played World Cup the entire practice with just 5 u10 players.

With one player going in goal (and rotating after each game), we started with every player for himself, sometimes rolling two balls out at a time (initial rounds were played to 2 goals).

After a few rounds, we played with two teams of two and went through the following progressions/tweaks after each round:

– First team to score 2 goals
– First team to score 2 goals, but goals could only be scored with left foot
– First team to score 3 goals; goals with left foot counted double
– First team to score 3 goals; goals from outside the 6 yard box counted double
– First team to score 2 goals; goals can only be scored with a first time finish
– First team to score 3 goals; goals scored off a first time finish count double
– First team to score 3 goals; goals scored from outside the 6 yard box count double; goals scored off a first time finish count double; first time finishes from outside the 6 yard box count triple

We played with each set of rules 1-3 times (to allow rotation of goalkeeper and mixing of the teams) with a lot of success. I asked guided discovery questions at water breaks or in natural breaks (e.g. After a goal had been scored or between rounds).

I would recommend this set up for 3-7 players and it is very easy to implement.

What sessions do you run when you have a light crew?

~James

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.