Monday, 19 September 2011

How to teach Speed of Play?

Guest blogger Jared Montz is a former pro soccer player and founder of At they make better soccer players through free online training videos. Their mission is to teach players that if you Believe in it® and back that up with hard work, anything in life is possible. Friend Jared on Facebook and Twitter 

How to teach Speed of Play?

Do you wish your players made better passes? Do you want your players to make smarter decisions and increase their speed of play?

Coaches tell their players they need to increase their speed of play and they need to know what they are going to do with the ball before they get it. Telling a player is one thing, teaching them HOW to increase their speed of play is another.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing I teach my Online Soccer Academy players is to check their shoulders before receiving a pass. I believe this should come as natural as picking your foot up to receive a pass.

When a player checks their shoulder they are looking for defenders, attackers, space, runs, maybe the goalie is out and they can shoot early, etc. If a defender is coming pass it back, if no defenders are around you then turn and go forward. It sounds easy right, but it’s not easy to make it look easy.

Why do players looked rushed and frantic on the ball?

This happens because players feel like defenders are closing them down when they are not because they are not aware of their surroundings. As a coach you are on the sideline screaming, “Time, you have time!!!!!”

For the player they don’t realize they have time because they are NOT CHECKING THEIR SHOULDERS and they are only focusing on receiving the pass. As a coach you need to teach them this and make it a habit from an early age.

Watch my Online Soccer Academy training video above and you will learn a simple exercise your players can do to increase their speed of play. In my opinion this can be taught to players as early as seven years old.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Taking on and Beating Opponenets

Objective: To encourage players to take on opponents in 1v1 situations

Set up the playing area using the magic rectangle below, which will limit the number of cones that need to be moved throughout the session. The magic rectangle also provides a good visual aid for young players when advising which area to go to, or when describing what they have too achieve. Although the intention is to play in the four numbered areas, if you get more players or need to split groups, you can use the five grids that are created in the middle.

Warm Up: Ball Work - With a ball each players are asked to perform tricks and turns will moving around the whole pitch. Players are taken through a series of change of direction moves. For example, drag backs, step overs, sticky tape etc. Player are encouraged to run at the other players and perform the move.

Work in small groups: Attacker v Defender - 1 ball between 2 players. 4-6 players per rectangle. One player has the ball and plays as the attacker and his job is to move at speed while dribbling in the grid, keeping his body between the defender and the ball the whole time. This is not just about speed, it is about learning to hide the ball from your opponent. His partner who is the defender has to stay close enough to touch and counts the number of times he touches the defender. Rotate the roles after a minute. This can be quite tiring for younger players.

Dribbling under pressure - With 4-5 players per rectangle a but one of the players has a ball. The player without a ball acts as a defender and chases dribblers. Once they win the ball the player who is tackled becomes the defender. Encourage players to use the feints and changes of direction they used in the warm to beat the defender.

Work in small areas: Line Dribbling Game - Players are split into groups of 4 or 6 per rectangle and compete against each other 2v2 or 3v3 in each rectangle. As the goal line is right across the pitch as in Rugby, the defending team have a large amount of pitch to defend. It also of course means you have a large goal to score in. The idea is to combine with your partner, or go 1v1 against your opponent to score by stopping the ball on the end line. You can work with attackers by talking about support and timing of pass, or you can work on defending and ensure one man goes to the ball, the other protects the space behind/marks. Or just let them play!

Its also easy now to progress the game so that the players in rectangle 2 play against those in rectangle 1 across the pitch and the same for those playing in rectangles 3 and 4. With a bit of forethought at the beginning of the session as to which players go to which rectangle - it can still be competitive and not dominated by one group.

Group Work: Normal Match – Follow this with a normal game. Focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players dribbling and taking players on 1v1.