Monday, 28 November 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

Line Soccer 1v1 - Split players into pairs, if you have an odd number have odd number make a group of 3 which consists of one stronger player and two less developed ones. the two less developed ones play at the same time, when in defending or attacking. Players stand on a goal line opposite each other. Get them to imagine they are in game, they have got the ball in midfield and they need to beat the opponent in front of them by using a change of direction or feint.  

Playing 1v1 they are trying to beat their opponent and dribble across the line of cones their opponent started get a point.

Line Soccer Overload - This is just a simple progression of the previous activity. Using the middle and the attacking third play 2v1 or 3v2 through two of the channels/rectangles.. The pitch is deliberately long and narrow to produce more 1v1 opportunities and options for the player in possession to dribble when there is space.

One team will be the attacking team the other will play as the defending team. Explain to the players that the attacking team are trying to get the dribble the ball across the end line.. The defending team are trying to get the ball into midfield and score by dribbling across the opposite end line, recreating the scenario of getting the ball away from danger and towards the opponents goal. Change the roles over so both teams get to play as attackers and defenders, also consider swapping groups - so the players get to play against different opponents. Encourage players to try and beat their opponents..

Line Soccer – The players are then split into two teams, 4v4, 5x5 or 6v5, whatever suits your group. The four central cones and the goals used for the previous drill are removed.

The game is played the same as the previous activity, but with the use of the whole pitch and the support of extra players, but no goalkeepers. Players score goals for getting the ball across the end line, if they can dribble the ball into the goal they get an extra point.

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

Friday, 11 November 2011

Non Competitive Games - Do they work?

I have spent the last 16 months coaching teams at the under 8  age group within the revised FA framework of no league tables. Whats your experience, does it work? Are coaches more aware of long term player development? Are adults changing their behaviour at youth football games?

If I had been asked this question towards the end of last season I probably would have said that the changes have had a positive effect. 10 weeks into this season and I'm not so sure. One thing has changed for me since then, this year we are playing against effectively 'A' teams, last season we where playing against 'B' teams and although there still aren't any points at stake, the adults (coaches and parents) involved with 'A' teams have a greater desire to win games.

Most weeks I see coaches rely on a single player to influence the game for them, to the extent that they take all the set pieces, including the goal kicks for the keeper. the corners from both sides, a free kick anywhere on the pitch becomes a shooting opportunity. I still see players not getting even half a game, I still see 7 and 8 year old players being chastised for making mistakes that the grown ups would never had made if they had been playing....yeah right!! 

I started coaching 8 years ago and the same problems still exist now that existed then. Is it any wonder when, in my experience, there are still far more old level 1 courses available than the new FA youth modules for coaches taking their first steps. A new approach to coaching kids that is being promoted by the FA. 

I was talking too a dad at my sons school the other day, his son plays for a team that are having a lot of success winning games, but at the expense of long term player development., he summed up youth coaching for me in the UK, when he said "His (the coach) heart is in the right place". There are coaches who are doing things with good intentions, but the reality is that he possibly doesn't understand how children learn or the physiological aspects of coaching children and the benefits that a focus on long term development can have on young players. They stopped learning when they finished there course.

So do Non-competitive games help? For me not much has changed, taking away league tables hasnt changed the behaviour of those that needed to change. Hardly surprising when the name alone doesn't work. There is no such thing as a non-competitive game for most kids, kids want to win, whether on the park or in the playground. The problem comes when adults feel the need to help them win. But for all the problems that exist I wouldn't want the tables brought back. 

I wont pretend that it is easy for coaches to follow a path of long term player development, with parents moaning about why Johnny isn't playing striker and why Jimmy is getting to play the whole game despite being the best player, having to put up with  fellow coaches boasting about their league position at club meetings. 

But having had success, if you can call winning leagues with kids a success, by putting development before results at an early age in the years before playing 11 a side and then seeing the team win promotion 3 years running and with most of them playing at Alliance league level now I will continue down the not so trodden path of LTPD whilst playing competitive league organised games and hopefully look back in a few years and see I made the right decision again. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Scoring the Chelsea Way

Objective: To encourage players to take shooting chances.

This session is adapted from a session used by Chelsea development coaches.

Warm Up:  Shooting Gallery -  More often than not most of the players will grab a ball when they get to training and either start shooting at a keeper and blasting the ball at each other over varying distances. So I thought I would start this session off by giving them what they want. In this drill the players get a lot of time on the ball to perfect the technique. when shooting get the players to look at the target on the run up and put accuracy before power. The players at either end of the shooting lane take turns at shooting, making sure they give the keeper time to turn, Keep at least a 2 yard gap between goals and don't let players get too close when taking shots. 

You can make it easier by not using a keeper. You can make it harder by having someone serve the ball to the shot taker. 

Work in small groups: Racing through on Goal - The central player passes through one of the gates for the striker to run, control and then shoot into the corner of the goal (across the goalkeeper). The practice works to the right and then left, by ensuring players rotate starting positions they get to work on shooting with both feet

To make it easier use a cone instead of a goalkeeper and to make it harder introduce a defender to chase the striker.

Combination Play - Player A dribbles towards the goal completing a skill and shoots
at goal (across the goalkeeper). Player B then passes to Player A and runs to receive a
return pass to shoot at goal. Player B now becomes a defender as Player C dribbles towards the goal. Player C know has the option of shooting themselves or using Player A (playing 2v1) 

The coach should ensure players get to play from each of the starting points. To make the drill easier remove the goalkeeper, to make it harder add a defender for each stage.

Work in small areas:  Chelsea Game -  Playing 4v4 or 5v5 in one half of the pitch. one team are trying to combine quickly to score a goal. The other team are trying to play a through ball in order to get a player running through on goal 1v1 to score against the goalkeeper. Don't forget to swap over the teams objectives.

Group Work: Normal Match – Follow this with a normal game. Focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players taking their opportunites to shoot at goal.