Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Barcelona Training Week


Tapio is a typical parent coach currently coaching U13's in South-West Finland. He started football coaching six years ago, when his sons' team needed an assistant coach. A year ago he took full responsibility for that team. Tapio has completed some Finnish FA coaching courses, but in his own words "they have not provided very much useful information". So he has been learning about coaching from internet and looking at how other coaches do their job. 

The greatest influence in his coaching has been reading Horst Wein's books, and he was lucky enough to participate in a course of his a year ago. Last week he participated in course run by SoccerServices, below are his notes on from that a great Barcelona training week, which I hope you find as interesting as I did:


Joan Vila, one of the founders of Soccer Services, is currently FCB “director of methodology”, I understood he is responsible for the training methods and practices (but he is not coaching himself) from the smallest kids up to the second team. Joan wasn’t present, but two other founders were.



Horst Wein has been working in Barcelona area, and his work was referred to often. Especially considering at which age it is best to teach which topics. The phrase “player development process” was mentioned often.



They said it seems in Spanish football all works well, but the reality is different. There are still playing formats of 7vs7 and 11vs11 available for most of the kids - that is too hard a better model would be 3v3>4v4>7v7>9v9>11v11.

They do not want to win games with junior teams. They want to develop players. Player development is divided in three stages: before 9 years of age is the egocentric stage, 10 to 14 years of age is the summative stage, over 15 collective stage As an example, u8 kids should not learn passing: They still live in egocentric phase. It is me and the ball or 1vs1.This is important for these kids, this is what they will learn easily. 10-14 year old players are best able to learn combination play with their team mates. They still think of themselves mostly, but they can see team-mates as opportunities. 15 years and older they should learn special skills for position, they are ready for collective benefits.

This development model tries to optimize learning at each age. 999 out of 1000 players learn best this way.

- Teach skills that the player is the most eager to learn and practice at his current age
- Prevent teaching skills that are too complex to that age > learning is not so effective > practice time wasted
- Prevent teaching skills that are too easy and already learned > learning is not effective > practice time wasted

Position rotation of players should happen until 15 years.

What to coach:
6-7:
- running with the ball
- ball protection
- tackling
- dribbling
- (less) control of orientation (body position related to ball, field and other players)
- (less) kicking the ball

8-9:
same as 6-7, but more emphasis on control of orientation (body position with regards to play)

10-11:
- dribbling
- control of orientation
- supporting
- marking
- covering
- passing
- shooting
- unchecking (get rid of your marker)
- positioning in the zone (zonal play)
- wideness
- depth
- (less) header
- (less) crossing

12-13:
- passing
- header
- crossing

Note that passing as a concept includes the whole team work in relation to opponent.

If you train according to this, you will not necessarily win the matches early on. But the players and the team will be much better eventually.

The coach should coach the same topic(s) for e.g. 3 months, until the players learn it. Then move to next topic. Do not coach the previous topic anymore. This approach was new to me and most of the fellow coaches:
- they coach the same topic area for like 100 or 150 sessions (can be 3 sessions in one practice hour). Then they move to next topic area.
- the training is based on games. Always games, designed to learn the topic.
- only coach what your theme is: e.g. if your theme is passing/creating space, you don’t then coach the defenders, you don’t coach using wrong foot, etc. You only coach the topic.
- the coaching is done by asking questions from a single player who did not succeed (not the whole group). it is not allowed to tell the solution to the player: the player must think himself. It is much better to ask 20 times and let the player think compared to just providing a solution.
- the players will not be bored, because you only play 15-20 minutes of each game, then you change the game. But the coaching theme should be the same (e.g. passing/creating space)

Almost everything can be coached with three basic game formats:
- keep the ball game (with extra players)
- wave (attack with extra player towards a single goal)
- 2 goal game with extra players
- extra rules can be added, and there can be also special zones, e.g. for keeping the playing wide

Some notes from FCB playing style:
- keep the ball, don’t loose it
- look for space, look for numeric advantage
- play from left in order to attack from right (fool the defense)
- play from wings in order to attack from the middle (fool the defense)
- team maturity can be measured by the number of REASONABLE back passes
- pass back in order to create space and depth (when the ball is played to front, the depth is temporarily lost)
- direct passes and indirect passes (via 3rd team mate)
- constant support to the player in ball possession
- strikers need to keep the game deep and wide
- midfielders needed inside to provide passing options and to occupy space
- Diamond is the basic structure in the game and in practices. Triangle is not that good.
- Important in all the practice games, especially the keep-the-ball games: ALWAYS have a player in the middle also, to learn how the midfield is played.


Typical practice session:
- warm-up
- keep-the-ball game 20min
- wave game 20min
- 2 goal game 20 min

They spent a lot of time to organize the game so that the players play as they wanted so that they can then start coaching the theme they had planned. Often they adjusted the game rules for 10 minutes before the actual coaching started. Especially in the beginning they commented the playing speed of the kids in the sessions was too fast. “Calm down, think!” “Don’t run, think! Where is the best position?”


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Taking on and Beating Opponents


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

The set up: Magic Rectangle - The overall pitch size is 40x30 with the central third being 16 yards long.







Ball Work - This takes place in the central rectangle, players are asked to go and stand along the line of yellow and red cones or the orange and blue cones - there choice. Players are then asked to dribble the ball across to the opposite line of cones performing various feints or change of direction moves that the coach has chosen from this blog post, at least once.

Players work back and forwards between the lines of cones and change to the next skill on the coaches request. Allow them at least 4 or 5 attempts at each skill.before changing


1v1 Games: The diagram below shows the following four 1v1 games which are worked through with the team in order. Try and change the players around after each game. If you have more than 8 players just use more of the rectangles.




Game 1- Leg GoalsIn pairs, one player with ball, in each grid. The blue player has ball and must dribble ball around grid trying to kick it into the legs of the red player. The red player must avoid being hit by using quick feet. The blue player gets 2 minutes to get as many points as they can then change over so the red players have the ball.

Game 2 - Keep Ball: The Blue player dribbles the ball and tries to shield the ball from the red player who must either put the ball out of play or regain possession for a point. Play for 2 minutes then change over and make the red player keep the ball.

Game 3 - Line Soccer: Players stand on a goal line opposite each other The red player passes ball to the blue player who must then try to beat the red player and score a point by stopping the ball on the opposite line. How many goals can the blue player score in 2 minutes before the roles are reversed?

Game 4 - 3 Way Goals: The red player passes to the blue player who then has to beat the red player to either of the 3 corners. 1 point to corner goals 3 points for the goal behind the defenders starting position. Play for 2 minutes then reverse the roles.


4v4 Goalkeeper Game: Two teams play normal game rules with Goalkeepers. To start the game both keepers have a ball in their hand. The coach will then call the colour of the team which is to start the match. The other keeper must quickly put their own ball in their net. Once a goal has been scored the keeper who concedes starts with a throw out. Reward creativity by giving extra points for skills/ tricks.


Follow this with a normal game. Focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players taking players on to create scoring opportunities

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Taking on and Beating Opponents


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



Setting up the cones in advance has the added benefit of allowing the players to imagine the cones as opponents when doing the ball mastery work during the warm up.

Warm Up: Ball Work - This takes place in the central rectangle, players are asked to go and stand along the line of yellow and red cones or the orange and blue cones - there choice. Players are then asked to dribble the ball across to the opposite line of cones performing various feints or change of direction moves that the coach has chosen from this blog post, at least once.

Players work back and forwards between the lines of cones and change to the next skill on the coaches request. Allow them at least 4 or 5 attempts at each skill.before changing

Work in small groups: Four Goal Game - This is a great game for improving basic techniques and vision. The use of four goals means that players will learn to use the space,  as a result the game should increase awareness and encourage players to play with their heads up, rather than looking down at the ball all the time.

Start off with 1v1 but with 8/10 players in the central third. The objective for the players is to beat their opponent and dribble through one of the goals. Once a goal is scored the player should leave the ball for his opponent and allow him space to dribble the ball onto the pitch. You can make this game easier by allowing players to score in any of the goals rather having the game directional.

Then progress the game to 2v2 as this will encourage players to switch play and look for space. Then onto 4v4.

Work in small areas: Dribbling to score



This game is played 3v3 or 4v4 in the middle third with a keeper in each goal. The objective is the same as the four goal game above, except this time the player that goes through the cones with the ball is allowed to go 1 on 1 against the keeper, to try and score. You can make this game harder by allowing one of the defender into the attacking third to tackle the striker. 

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.