Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Warming Up Goalkeepers

As the weeks have passed since the season has started, I have recognized from watching various warm-ups before a game, that there are area's of concern when dealing with a goalkeeper's warm-up/preparation. I am not in anyway implying that every warm-up should change, but see minor areas that could be avoided to ensure your Gk has the best opportunity to prepare for a game. What I have provided below is a generic warm-up that may be of use to you (some in which you may already adopt in your warm-up). We need to educate every player on the team as to the importance of warming-up correctly and a Gk is no exception to that rule.

Generic Goalkeeping Warm Up

Time available – 40-45 minutes?

Factors to consider
•How much space is available?
•How much time do you have?
•Are there 2 Gk’s working together?
•Is the Assistant coach warming up the Gk?
•What age-group does this apply to – U-12+ (adaptations to the warm-up can be made for younger age-groups)

Stage 1 (0-10 minutes)

•Jog (with team) Dynamic stretching (avoid static stretching in this period) Ball Familiarity (allow Gk to individually work with a ball)
•Varied movement (forwards/backwards/side-steps/sprints)

Stage 2 (10-15 minutes)

•Collapse saves (sitting/kneeling/standing)
•Receiving low/mid/high delivered balls

Stage 3 (15-30 minutes)

•Receiving crosses (either thrown or kicked)
•Shot stopping from angles/in front of goal (include forwards/wide midfielders here?)
•Kicking/Punts

Stage 4 (30-40 minutes)

•Team interaction

It is recommended that a Gk complete a least 8-10 repetitions of each activity (from each side – right/left) to ensure that the movement is rehearsed.

Older age-group Gk’s (for example U-14+) need the time to mentally prepare for a game and should focus their warm-up on specifics (as listed above). Involving Gk’s in activities that have no relevance to goalkeeping will not best prepare the individual for the game ahead.

Having the Gk in goal and the rest of the team 10-15 yards away taking constant shots will not motivate the goalkeeper into a state of readiness. Take the Gk to the side of the goal to work on specifics while the team does this activity, then bring the Gk back in when an activity that will provide an equal opportunity for success is used.

One area you may be question is that your Gk is also an outfield player and will swap with another team-mate at half-time, so why focus on the format listed above? The major reason I can give for this is that if we do not educate the Gk's right and they lose the desire to play in goal, who do we look to when players start to focus on specific positions? Our actions may have resulted in no one wanting to play the position due to a lack of knowledge on our part and a sense of under-achievement from the Gk's perspective.

I hope you find this useful.


Rick Smith
UEFA A Goalkeeping License
Rio Rancho Soccer Club Director of Goalkeeping

Monday, 15 November 2010

Preventing Bunching When in Possession


Objective: To encourage players to spread out when in possession

Warm Up: Follow the Leader - This session starts to give the players ownership for the decisions they make. Players stand in pairs, or groups of three with a leader in front. The lead player calls what action players must use to move to around the designated area. They are asked to incorporate as many of the warm up moves we have used in recent weeks (skip, run, jump, high kness, butt flicks etc). No matter what action is suggested by the leader, both he and the other players must carry it out. Reverse the roles at regular intervals.

Short Passing - The players are asked to get into pairs, or threes and to get a cone each and one ball for each group. The players are then asked to go a find some space put the cones on the floor and to start passing the ball to each other. Progressed to receiving on one-side of the cone and passing on the other, by getting the ball out of their feet on the first touch.

Work in small groups: Target Game - Set up an area approx 30 x 20 (dependant upon age and experience, with an end zone at either end. Players will be taken through a series of progressions that will take them from passing the ball by hand to using their feet. Split the players into small groups 3 or 4 players  with one ball for each group. I like to play this on one pitch to create the "chaos" of a normal game.
  1. Then challenge them to move the ball from one end zone to the other by throwing and catching the ball with the emphasis on the players moving into space, but being close enough to receive a pass. Once they reach an end zone they turn and attack the other.
  2. This can then be progressed to rolling the ball along the ground, because they can make longer passes this way the players need to make different decisions about space and distance.
  3. Next the progression is to get the players to put the ball on the floor and have the players pass the ball to each other.
For each of these steps the objective is to pass the ball to a player running into the end zone.


Work in small areas: Target Game -  Dependant on the number of players you have you may have to use more than one pitch. Using the same set up we now start to introduce some opposition into the games. Initially starting off with 1 defender for each group (i.e 3v1 or 4v1). This can become quite tiring for the defender so rotate them regularly. We then work through the same progressions as above:

  1. Challenge them to move the ball from one end zone to the other by throwing and catching the ball with the emphasis on the players moving into space, but being close enough to receive a pass. Once they reach an end zone they turn and attack the other.
  2. This can then be progressed to rolling the ball along the ground, because they can make longer passes this way the players need to make different decisions about space and distance.
  3. Next the progression is to get the players to put the ball on the floor and have the players pass the ball to each other.
You can reward the defenders with a point for each time they recover the ball and return it to an end zone, where play restarts.

Group Work: Normal Match –  Focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players passing well and moving into space when their team is in possession

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Player Development

Here are some messages I believe every adult involved in youth soccer should know:
  • Give the players time.
  • Dont shout from the touchline. You dont shout at kids when they are learning to read, so why is it appropriate when they are learning to play a game.
  • Let players unwind and reflect before you start talking about what they could have done differently in the game.
  • They are children so they do not see things like you. Try getting down to their level and watching the game - you will see something different
  • Learning is long term not short term.
  • Making mistakes and understanding consequences is an important part of their development.
  • A game is short term. If the adults make all the decisions for the players by telling when to shoot, pass, tackle etc you disempower them for short term rewards (A win!)
  • Disempowering players means they never learn to be self-reliant and trust themselves.
  • Player performance moves upwards and downwards in cycles, just like your performance would at work. 
If every adult at youth games understood and took action on these points the game would be more enjoyable for the players. Unfortunately even adults who are aware of this information choose to ignore it because "Its what they have always done" or "Its expected".

Can you add anymore? If so, please leave a comment

Saturday, 6 November 2010

20 Ways to make a session easier or harder

I have put together a list of high level progressions/conditions for games. I wasn't looking for specifics like 1 touch, 2 touch etc (I have grouped these as number of touches) in the list below, just an overview of how to change things during a session when you are looking to mak it harder or easier.

Space

1. Make the area smaller or larger

2. Make the area wider or narrower 

3. Add target areas

4. Add safe zones

5. Change the shape of the pitch

Task

1. Get them moving the ball using their hands

2. Number of Touches

3. Restrict players to using their left or right Foot (Stronger/Weaker)

4. Allow them to communication or play in silence

5. Make play directional or multi-directional

6. Play a number or a sequence of passes

7. Specify the type of pass or shot

Equipment

1. Change the ball size

2. Play with or without bibs

3. Add or remove cones or gates

4. Introduce obstacles

5. Change the goals (Larger, smaller. Greater, fewer or style)

People

1. Add or decrease the number of players

2. Use neutral players (inside or Outside)

3. Play with even or overloaded groups