Building your team

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I read this op-ed in the Manchester Evening News earlier today that discussed how Jose Mourinho should build his defense around Luke Shaw (a left back), and it got me thinking:

  • Do you build a unit (attackers, midfielders, defenders) around your best player, regardless of whether he plays centrally? I coached a team once with a dominant right winger, and the team was certainly set up to support her. However, for the vast majority of my coaching career, I built around a strong spine (the central positions).
  • In the modern game, is the outside back position arguably the most important? He has to defend, attack, and usually provides the width for the team. Or is this only the case in dominant teams (teams that see a lot of the ball and can maintain possession).
  • Is the modern outside back more of a defender or an attacker? How does your answer to this question inform how you set up your team and who you choose to play in these positions?

Best,

James

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.

 

Possession is King? My Liverpool-Man United Match Analysis

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LUFC vs. MUFC Match Analysis on 3.22.15

Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1 on Sunday in a well-fought match. According to some analysis I cribbed from FourFourTwo’s Stats Zone, Man United dominated in a number of key areas:

  • Goals scored (the big one!)
  • Passes completed (over 100 more passes than LUFC and with a higher completion percentage: 81.9% vs. 75.1%)
  • Passes completed in the attacking third (almost double LUFC’s number and with a higher completion rate: 68.8% vs. 55.9%)
  • Possession (58.4% vs. 41.6%)

Although MUFC attempted more take ons (19 vs. 15), LUFC had a higher percentage of successful ones (60% vs. 52.6%). Furthermore, when you look at take ons in the attacking third, LUFC attempted double MUFC’s (12 vs. 6) with a higher percentage of successful ones (33.3% vs. 16.7%).

In terms of crosses, MUFC attempted more (14 vs. 8) and had a higher percentage of success (14.3% vs. 0%).

All in all, MUFC dominated possession of the ball (ironically, more so in the first half when LUFC had 11 players!), while LUFC had the edge in take ons (1v1 offensive duels). Whether you think MUFC deserved the win, they scored more goals and missed a late penalty.

How do you train your teams to create and score more goals? Check out my latest book, It Pays to Win on Offense: A Game-based Approach to Developing Players that Score and Create lots of Goals.

What Makes a Great Warmup Game in Youth Soccer?

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Why should warm-ups be the same every day? Many coaches consider this part of practice “lost time,” but they don’t know that they are already setting the tone for the session. In my experience, the best warmup games activate the primary muscle group the players will be using, gets them in a competitive mindset, and connects to your session’s topic. Also, they should be fun and include lots of movement!

For example, if I am planning on doing an attacking dribbling that day, I might start with Freeze Tag, Sharks and Minnows, or Gladiator.

My new book, It Pays to Win on Offense: A game-based approach to developing soccer players that score and create lots of goals, contains 7 warmup games that are lots of fun and easy to set up.