techniques in modern soccer
In the last few years the game
has experienced important changes. Players are faster, stronger and armed with
advanced tactics, which make teams more competitive. Quickness seems to be one
of the main characteristic that has been developed more recently.
The game has become more sophisticated as a consequence of young skillful
players arising in recent years. Tactics and formations seem to be paramount,
however the evolution of the game and the new tendencies demonstrates again that
technique is a key part of the game. Over the next few issues of the Directors
Cut we will highlight some of the main techniques that are evident in today’s
world-class players and some example training sessions to help develop these
First touch and body shape to receive is key for good control. Often the best
players in control of the ball are those with excellent attitude and explosive
movements prior to receiving the ball. It is also important for the players to
experiment and make contact with the ball using different parts of the body:
inside, laces or outside of the foot are the main surfaces of contact but also
use other parts of the body i.e. the chest, thigh or the head.
The best way to secure possession in tight areas is to keep the ball on the
ground. Therefore, short passes at speed can assist in building strong offensive
style of play. Aerial balls and long passes will be harder to control. For this
reason accuracy and speed of the short pass is key in developing good ball
control. 'keep it simple'.
Practice to develop ball control:
Number of players:
15 players - 3
teams of 5 players
60x20 yards - 3
squares of 20x20 yards
Three teams of 5
players, each team allocated a square.
The blue team
keeps possession of the ball. 1 red "defender" from the square
beside enters with the intention of recovering the ball. Initially
this produces a 5v1 situation. When the blue team reaches 5
consecutive passes, a 2nd red player enters to create 5v2
The game finishes
when reaching either a 5v5 situation or when the red team recovers
and transfers the ball successfully to his/her original square. The
attacking team will score as many points as defenders are inside the
square when possession is lost.
When the team in
possession of the ball makes 5 passes one more defender is allowed
to enter into the square joining their teammates to recover the
The defending team
needs to recover and transfer the ball successfully to its own
square in order to change from defending team to attacking team.
inside the square means 1 point, 2 defenders 2 points etc.
After every 4
possessions change the team in the middle square. This team will be
in action 100% of the time without rest periods.
relation to the level of the players:
Only 2 touches
allowed. Score every 3 passes.
Only 1 touch
allowed. Reduce the space to 15x15 or 10x10 yards.
Soccer Sideline Etiquette
how to make
the game a more enjoyable experience
Here is a primer, a
reminder, of little things that we can do on the sidelines to make this soccer
season more pleasant for all concerned – most importantly, for the kids.
Some points to keep in mind
while watching from the sidelines during the coming season:
Let the coach’s coach.
If you are telling your son or daughter – or any other player for that
matter – to do something different from what the coach is telling them, you
create distraction and confusion.
It is very unnerving for
many young players to try and perform difficult tasks on the field on the
spur of the moment when parents are yelling at them from the sidelines. Let
the kids play. If they have been well coached, they should know what to do
on the field. If they make a mistake, chances are they will learn from it.
Do not discuss the play
of specific young players in front of other parents. How many times do you
hear comments such as, “I don’t know how that boy made this team….” or
“she’s just not fast enough…”. Too many parents act as though their child is
a ‘star,’ and the problem is someone else’s kid. Negative comments and
attitudes are hurtful, totally unnecessary and kill parent harmony, which is
often essential to youth team success.
Discourage such toxic
behavior by listening patiently to any negative comments that might be made,
then address issues in a positive way. Speak to the positive qualities of a
player, family or coach.
Do your level best not
to complain about your son or daughter’s coaches to other parents. Once that
starts, it is like a disease that spreads. Before you know it, parents are
talking constantly in a negative way behind a coach’s back. (As an aside, if
you have what you truly feel is a legitimate beef with your child’s coach –
either regarding game strategy or playing time, arrange an appointment to
meet privately, away from a soccer field.)
Make positive comments
from the sideline. Be encouraging. Young athletes do not need to be reminded
constantly about their perceived errors or mistakes. Their coaches will
instruct them, either during the game or at halftime, and during practices.
You can often see a young player make that extra effort when they hear
encouraging words from the sideline about their hustle.
Avoid making any
negative comments about players on the other team. This should be simple: we
are talking about youngsters, not adults who are being paid to play
professionally. I recall being at a game some years ago, when a parent on
one team loudly made comments about errors made by a particular young player
on the other team. People on the other side of the field were stunned and
angry. Besides being tasteless and classless, these kinds of comments can be
hurtful to the young person involved and to their family as well
Try to keep interaction
with parents on the other team as healthy and positive as possible. Who’s
kidding whom? You want your child’s team to win. So do they. But that should
not make us take leave of our senses, especially our common sense. Be
courteous until it hurts; avoid the ‘tit for tat’ syndrome.
Parents on the ‘other’
team are not the enemy. Neither are the boys or girls on the other team. We
should work to check any negative feelings at the door before we hit the
What is the easiest
thing to do in the youth sports world? Criticize the referees. Oh, there are
times when calls are missed, absolutely. And that can, unfortunately,
directly affect the outcome of a contest. That said, by and large those who
officiate at youth soccer games are hardly over-compensated, and put forth
an honest – and often quite competent – effort. At worst, they at least try
to be fair and objective.
parking lot is not the time to ‘fan the flames.’ Whether it is a coach’s
decision, a referee’s call, a comment that was made, let it go. Don’t harass the
coach, an official or a parent on the other team after the game is over. Go
home, relax and unwind. Talk positively with your child. The ride home is
sometimes as important as the game itself. Make that time a good memory for your
son or daughter by discussing as many positives as you can about him/her, the
coach, teammates, etc.
On that note, outbursts
from parents on the sideline made toward the referees only signal to our own
children on the field that they can blame the refs for anything that goes
wrong. Blaming others is not a formula for success in sports.
Yelling out comments
such as “Good call, ref” or “Thanks ref” may only serve to alienate an
official. The refs always believe they made the proper call, that’s why they
made it. Trying to show superficial support because the call went ‘your’ way
is simply annoying to the officials, and to anyone within earshot.
Walking up and down all
game long along the sidelines, following the play, is unnerving to players
and totally unnecessary, particularly so if you are trying to yell out
instructions to various players, including your own son or daughter. It is
likely embarrassing to the players involved and simply counterproductive. If
you want to coach, obtain your coaching certification and apply for a job.
We all feel things and
are apt to be tempted to say things in the ‘heat of the moment’. But we
don’t excuse athletes for doing inappropriate things in the ‘heat of the
moment’ (there are penalties, suspensions, etc.), so we should apply similar
standards to our own sideline behavior. Quickly check yourself and ask:
“Will I be proud of what I am about to say or do when I reflect on it
Mental Focus for Soccer
“How do I stop being so nervous before
a big soccer game?”
This is a common
and sometimes frustrating issue experienced by even the most talented of soccer
players. But what you might not understand is that being nervous actually is a
good thing. That’s right! It means you care about what you are about to do, and
that is definitely something to be proud of. You may not realize it, but it’s
completely natural to feel nervous.
But you still might
find it hard to play under the kind of big-game pressure that causes
nervousness. The key to overcoming this feeling is to focus on what you can
control and limiting your concern on those issues out of your control. Do not
burden yourself with worries like, “What if this happens?” or “What if this
player is playing?” or “What if so and so is watching?” Do not worry about that
stuff! Focus on playing the game with patience and simplicity. You love
playing soccer, don’t you? Then, what’s there to worry about? Just play the
game and have fun doing it.
When you are playing a team
you know you should beat, you probably feel confident, don’t you? This is good
because you are confident in your abilities and in your team’s abilities as
well. But how do you play well in big games, against teams that are supposed to
be better than yours? Or how about when you are in a big playoff game, and
being watched by family and friends within a large crowd? This can be
nerve-racking, sure, but think about it this way: All these people are
supporting you and want you to do well. In fact, they know you’ll do well, and
are very proud that you made it to where you are. So think positively! This
will help you play better and relax.
Here are some quick
points to keep in mind when playing to stay mentally connected to the game:
be cheeky (take chances in the attacking
third - take players on)
know where you want to play the ball before
you get it
play simple one and two touch soccer (pass and
work hard and get stuck in when you need to on
ask for the ball all the time (communicate)
make direct and decisive runs
recognize where you are on the field and where
your options are
have fun and encourage your teammates (you all
want to win)
forget your mistakes and make up for them with
keep your head up
play until the final whistle
think positive - don't be too hard on yourself
allow yourself to get into the game with a few
easy passes and then build off of that play crisp and sharp passes (play
Improving your players mental strength,
Champions are not made in gyms; champions are
made from something they have deep inside of them, a desire, a dream, and a
vision. “They have to have the skill and the will but the will must be stronger
than the skill.” (Muhammad Ali)
In soccer, as in most sports, the differences
in skill and ability levels between players who have reached the elite leagues
be it as a top amateur, semi-professional or professional - is far less
pronounced than it is among young players.
In the majority of cases talent will have been
spotted and nurtured early, Intense and high-level coaching over a number of
years will have improved technique and skill and a thorough understanding of
tactics and excellent physically fitness that sets them aside from the
enthusiastic weekend player.
So what is it that gives some players the edge over the others? What is it that
lets them hold their nerve in a penalty shootout, shut out on and off the pitch
distractions and climb right up to the top of the pile?
Mental strength is as every bit as vital as
physical strength; it is what ultimately defines winners and losers.
So called, choking in sport is the result
of the intense pressure a player perceives themselves to be under. This
pressure results in judgment failure which leads to unforced errors.
It also takes a physical toll, manifesting
itself with an increased heart rate and muscle tightening.
Basic mental skills involve becoming aware of one's ideal internal state,
then developing techniques for creating, monitoring and maintaining this
state during important performances.
Example techniques for preparing players
for high pressure situations:
- Visualizing or imagining the moment.
Get the player to imagine the experience of scoring a penalty to win in
a shoot-out in a final or seal the championship.
- When practicing PK’s simulate the
pressure as far as possible. Create noise, get opponents to try and
distract the subject, and put him off verbally and mentally.
Match day nerves
- A common sporting term for a player
who appears totally determined and fully focused on the challenge facing
them is that they are in the zone.
- Many sports psychologists believe a
certain level of nervousness before a game is a good thing. In broad
terms, channeled correctly it is a stimulus towards optimum performance.
However if it becomes anxiety and nerves, the players vacate the zone
and do not perform to their potential.
GET YOUR PLAYERS TO
UNDERSTAND AND JUMP INTO THE ZONE!!!!!
SOCCER FOOD AND NUTRITION
The food groups
A soccer player’s diet needs to be high in complex carbohydrates including
moderate amounts of protein, salt, sugars, and sodium. Their diet should be low
in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
All this may sound quite complicated, but yet
it is quite simple. A player can easily follow simple guidelines by eating a
balanced diet, including a variety of foods from each of the five major food
groups nutritionists recognize: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and meat.
Active, soccer-playing kids should get around 50 to 60% of their total calories
in the form of carbohydrates. They are the fuel that makes muscles go. This
means around 3.0 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.
Carbohydrates should be the largest part of a
players meals before and after training or matches. A player should even plan
to boost carbohydrate intake during a game with a sports drink, also important
for source for rehydration.
The best type of carbohydrates are rich in
nutrients and obtained from complex (starchy) carbohydrates found in vegetables,
breads, cereals, pasta, and rice, rather than the simple (sweet) carbohydrates
found in milk and fruits.
Many people mistakenly think a diet rich in protein found in milk and meat helps
build muscle and physical performance. In fact a well balanced diet has only 10
to 15% of its calories in the form of protein. Excess protein will stress the
Kidneys and lead to dehydration and calcium loss. Muscle size is dependent on
sufficient calories from a balanced diet, physical maturity, genetics and
Fat in moderation remains an important part of a balanced diet for a soccer
player. Approximately 20% to 30% of a players calories should come from fat.
Fat is important for many of the body’s functions including a secondary source
of energy to fuel muscles, brain and nerve functions, as well as, providing
essential vitamins (i.e., A, E, D, K and Omega 3 fatty acids) to help the body
recover quickly by reducing inflammation and swelling from injuries.
Tips on eating and drinking before and after
- Build up calorie intake in the days
leading up to a match. This ensures a players muscles contain a good store
of glycogen, the agent that powers the body.
- On the day of a game remember soccer is a
stop and go sport requiring fluids and carbohydrates throughout the day.
- The night before and 2 hours before a game
focus on carbohydrates, moderate protein, low fat foods and fluids. Foods
on this list would include; pasta with vegetables and chicken, fruit,
skimmed milk, cereal, yogurt, toast and juice.
- Help the body’s muscles recover fast by
eating or drinking high carbohydrate snacks within 30 minutes after the
- Studies show sports drinks are more
effective and often more readily taken than water as a preventative for
fatigue and dehydration. A player should drink around five to nine ounces
of a suitable fluid every 20 minutes or so during a match or training.
Fluid intake should occur after the exercise as well to help with the body’s
Illness: Avoidance & Prevention
As we move into the summer months we need to pay close attention
to the effects heat can have the body of a young player.
have recently provided the below information to our entire Snohomish United
Coaching Staff as part of their continued education. I feel this information
should be common knowledge as there are so many false training ideals in terms
of acclimatizing players for warmer playing conditions. Enjoy and read the
Heat Illness can be categorized in order of increasing severity
as dehydration, muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. The warning
signs, symptoms, treatments, and return to activity protocols will be discussed
later in this article but suffice it to say that heat stroke can result in
permanent disability or death and the related liability implications for the
sports or recreation organization and its people.
From a physiological point of view, any factor that causes core
body temperatures to rise to high levels can lead to decreased athletic
performance or heat stress. These factors include high physical exertion
levels/duration/infrequent hydration breaks, high environmental temperatures,
high humidity which decreases evaporation, low sweat levels (dehydration), lack
of heat acclimatization, heat retaining clothing and protective equipment, and
physical conditions which make certain individuals more susceptible to heat
High Physical Exertion Levels, Long Durations & Infrequent
The risk of heat illness increases for sports and activities that
have higher physical exertion levels, longer durations, and infrequent
opportunities for hydration breaks. As a result, athletic administrators and
officials must take additional safeguards to protect athletes engaging in these
sports and activities.
Examples of sports with high physical exertion levels include
football, basketball, soccer, wrestling, boxing, and track and field. Examples
of sports with longer durations include pre-season football practice, distance
running, cycling, tennis, and baseball. Examples of sports with infrequent
hydration breaks include soccer, lacrosse, and distance running.
Heat & Humidity
The risk of heat illness rises with increasing temperatures and
relative humidity. Higher relative humidity levels reduce evaporative cooling.
Evaporation of sweat is the primary cooling mechanism of the body.
The following chart is helpful to athletic administrators and
officials in making decisions in order to protect against heat illness:
Athletes should receive a 5-10 minute rest and fluid break after every 25 to
30 minutes of activity.
Athletes should receive a 5-10 minute rest and fluid break after every 20 to
25 minutes of activity. Athletes should be in shorts and t-shirts only.
Dehydration of 1% to 2% of body weight can make an athlete feel
bad and can decrease athletic performance. Dehydration of 3% can further impact
physiologic function and increases the risk of more serious heat illnesses.
Preventing dehydration is perhaps the most important factor in preventing heat
illness. The early warning signs of dehydration include dark yellow urine, loss
of energy, dizziness, cramps, loss of coordination, headaches and unusual
To follow are tips for preventing dehydration:
Athletes reach dehydration levels more quickly if they begin
their workout dehydrated. Athletes should pre-hydrate and should not wait
until they feel thirsty because by that time it will be too late. Higher
heat/humidity, exertion levels, and duration of exercise require higher
amounts of pre-hydration. At a minimum, athletes should drink 8 to 16 oz.
of liquid (preferably a sports drink) one hour prior to exercise.
Fluids should be easily accessible during workouts,
practices, and games. Athletes should be encouraged to drink to excess of
thirst to minimize losses in body weight but should not over drink either.
During exercise, athletes should drink, at a minimum, 4 to 8 oz. every
15-20 minutes. Sports drinks are preferred over water since the
carbohydrates in sports drinks provide energy and electrolytes (i.e. sodium
and potassium) to encourage voluntary drinking and to minimize muscle
After exercise, athletes should rehydrate as soon as possible
(completely within two hours) with a volume that exceeds the amount of
weight loss. As a general rule, athletes should drink at least 16 oz. after
exercise to counteract the consequential urine losses incurred during the
rapid rehydration process. Scales should be accessible to measure and
monitor post exercise weight with pre exercise weight. Athletes who lose
five percent or more of their body weight over a period of several days
should be medically evaluated with activity restrictions until rehydration
has occurred. Urine volume and color is another measure of general
hydration. If output is plentiful and if the color is pale yellow, the
athlete is not dehydrated.
Acclimatization is the process through which the body deals with
being introduced to a hot environment. Exercise intensity and duration should
be gradually increased over the first two to three days of training as this is
the time period in which most serious cases of heat illness occur.
The body’s sweat rate increases after 10 to 14 days of heat
exposure. As a result, a greater fluid intake will be required after
acclimatization. In addition, increased sodium intake may be necessary during
the first 3 to 5 days of heat exposure since the initial increased sweat rate
will result in more sodium loss. After 5 to 10 days, the sodium concentration
in sweat will decrease and additional sodium supplementation should not be
If sodium supplementation is needed early during the heat
acclimatization process (or due to recurring muscle cramps) it is best
administered by a dilution into a sports drink. For example, _ tsp. of table
salt should be dissolved in approximately 32 oz of sports drink and consumed
early in the exercise session.
Heat Retaining Clothing & Protective Equipment
Excessive clothing increase heat stress
both interfering with evaporation of sweat and inhibiting pathways for heat
loss. Dark colored clothing increases the body’s absorption of solar radiation.
Stretch materials such as “under armor” can add another layer of insulation to
The following tips are recommended:
Minimize the amount of equipment and clothing worn by
athletes on hot and humid days – particularly during an acclimatization
Frequent rest periods should be scheduled so that equipment
and clothing can be loosened to allow heat loss.
Avoid wearing dark colors on hot days.
Factors That Make Athletes More Susceptible to Heat Illness
The following internal factors make certain athletes more
susceptible to heat illness:
Higher percentage of body fat
Lower level of physical fitness
Past history of heat illness
Inadequate heat acclimatization
Dehydration or Over-hydration
Medications such as antihistamines and diuretics
Certain dietary supplements (ex: ephedra)
Fever or gastrointestinal illness
Certain skin conditions such as sunburn or rash
Athletes who push themselves hard
Athletes who are reluctant to report problems
Many of these predisposing factors are discoverable by a well
designed pre-participation medical screening form while others are discoverable
by close observation.
Stages of Heat Illness, Warning Signs Treatment, & Return to
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat illness and are commonly related to
low sodium and chloride levels. Warning signs and symptoms include intense
muscle pain not associated with pulling or straining a muscle and persistent
contractions during or after exercise.
Heat cramps should be treated by stopping activity and gently
stretching and massaging the affected area. The athlete should immediately
consume a sports drink containing sodium.
The athlete can return to play when the cramp has gone away
when he/she feels and acts like playing again.
Heat Exhaustion is a moderate heat illness that occurs when an athlete
continues to be physically active after starting to suffer from heat stress.
The signs and symptoms include dehydration, chills,
dizziness, fainting, loss of coordination, profuse sweating or pale skin,
stomach/intestinal cramps, persistent muscle cramps, headache, nausea,
vomiting, or diarrhea.
Heat exhaustion should be treated by moving the athlete to a
shaded or air conditioned area and removing any extra clothing or equipment.
The athlete should lie down with legs raised above heart level. The athlete
should be cooled by fans and/or cold towels. If not nauseated or vomiting,
chilled water or a sports drink should be consumed. If the condition does
not improve rapidly, the athlete should be transported for emergency medical
The athlete should not be allowed to play again until all
symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration are no longer present. Play or
practice in the heat should be postponed until at least the next day and
possibly longer depending in the severity of the heat exhaustion. If
emergency medical treatment was received, the athlete should not be allowed
to return without specific return to play instructions from the doctor.
Heat stroke is a severe illness that occurs when exposure to heat overwhelms
the body’s cooling mechanism leading to soaring body temperatures that can
result in permanent disability or death if left untreated.
The signs and symptoms include core body temperature (rectal)
that exceeds 104° F, altered consciousness, seizures, confusion, emotional
instability, irrational behavior, or decreased mental activity. Other signs
and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, hot
skin (dry or wet), increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and fast
Heat stroke should be treated by calling 911 for transport to
a local hospital. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, begin
aggressive whole body cooling by removing extra clothing and equipment and
by immersing in a tub of cold water if available. In the alternative, use
fans, ice, or cold towels placed over as much of the body as possible.
The athlete should not be allowed to return until his doctor
approves and provides specific return to play instructions. The athlete
should return to physical activity slowly and under the watchful eye of a
trainer or other health care professional.
The planning process should take into account the following
considerations to reduce the instances and severity of heat illness where the
temperature and humidity are above predetermined levels:
Educate administrators, officials, and coaches on all aspects
of heat illness.
Practices and games may need to be postponed and rescheduled
to avoid peak temperatures.
Practices may be modified to shorten their duration,
intensity, and equipment usage.
Mandatory non-routine fluid breaks should be scheduled during
practice and games.
The normal work/rest ratios may need to be modified during
games or practice.
Water and/or sports drinks should be readily available.
Game rules can be modified to allow unlimited substitution.
Pre-participation screening including questions about fluid
intake, weight changes, medications, history of prior heat illness, etc. to
identify athletes that are at higher risk.
Goalkeeper Basics 1
There was a time, not so long
ago, when the role of the goalkeeper was considered to be less important than
that of the other players on the team. Nowadays though, the situation has
changed considerably. In the modern game, all players are considered to be on
an equal footing, irrespective of the position they occupy. Despite this,
however, there are many specialists who feel that the goalkeeper has a special
place in the team, since they are possibly the only one whose performance can
determine whether their team wins or loses a match.
In this article, we will be looking at some basic goalkeeping techniques.
The feet should be approximately
shoulder width apart
The weight should be on the front
half of the feet ensuring a balanced position
The body weight needs to be
The knees need to be slightly
flexed with the hips square to the ball.
Keep the head still and keep ‘the
nose in front of the toes’.
The elbows need to be narrow with
the chest facing the ball.
The hands need to be front of the
bodyline and approximately ball width apart.
‘Prepare the hands early’.
These are general guidelines. Q’s will be
posed as to what is the correct hand position. The
goalkeeper will naturally use a position that feels
comfortable and therefore they will vary. As a general
‘If the goalkeeper feels comfortable and has
a good and consistent handling of the ball then it is not a
problem. However, if handling techniques are inconsistent
then hand position may need changing’.
The ‘Set position’ will obviously alter
slightly due to the physiological make-up of the goalkeeper
but generally the principles remain the same.
The goalkeepers starting position in
relation to the ball.
Movement into line of the ball.
The Set Position as the ball is struck.
The assessment as to which technique will
be most appropriate.
- The hands need to be brought from being in front of the
line of the ball into the line of trajectory of the ball with
The hands are prepared with the palms
facing the ball
with the fingers spread and the thumbs forming
the ‘W’ shape.
The elbows need to be slightly
flexed to act as ‘shock absorbers’
when the contact of the hands is made with the ball.
The contact with the ball needs to be
made approximately ’15-18
inches’ in front of the body.
‘Soft hands- Strong Wrists’.
‘Keep the eyes on the back of the ball’.
The goalkeepers’ head is not still and the head retracts as the
catch is made, thus making the goalkeeper unbalanced.The goalkeepers’ elbows are not flexed enough, which
‘flattens’ the hand shape which often leads to the ball catching the end of the
Tomorrow’s player – shaped from today’s
Sport in general and especially soccer has
a very important educative role in the learning and development process of
youngsters. Soccer not only provides an opportunity for youngsters to
develop their skills that are particular to the game; it also helps them to
develop their personality, and their psychological and social skills.
While most youth soccer clubs try to cover
the basic training and introduction to the game through games and
co-ordination exercises, a substantial amount of work still has to be
achieved with the development and education of tomorrow’s youth players
while they are at their “building” stages 7 – 12 years of age.
This is the “golden age” for developing
technical skills, as well as the technical/tactical rudiments of the game
and even basic psychology skills. All of the basics of technique, individual
tactical awareness and the fundamental principles of the game should be
trained at this age, as well as mental attitudes, such as concentration,
self-confidence, perseverance, willpower, etc….
The work done at this “golden age”
therefore has to be optimized, and the coaches/educators who work with the
players have to be passionate about their educative role. Several players
today have achieved their fame because of the education/training that they
received at this introductory level.
With a solid base to work from players can
then matriculate towards the performance stages of their development and
education where a greater emphasis is placed on the athletic and physical
preparation of players as well as on their mental approach and tactical
preparation – all fundamental requirements for playing the game at the top
The training and developing of future
professional players is, of course, fully justified and imperative, because
it ensures that they are better prepared to face playing at the top level.
It is, however, also essential to remember
that the game of soccer has a wider role to play and that it has to include
basic educative values as part of its agenda. Soccer has to provide a real
School of Life, a school that is prepared to train and develop not only the
elite players of tomorrow, but also all of those youngsters who are
passionate about the game and who form the base of the soccer pyramid that
the game needs to ensure its continued progress.
Evaluating your coaching methods!
In general we design our coaching sessions to improve how our
teams play and perform as individuals and as a team. We measure the improvement
and success of our training during games and scrimmages as we all know the game
is the “Best Teacher and Evaluator”. When assessing our coaching and training
sessions, we all too often attribute any effective learning down to our
excellent coaching ability and any ineffective learning and training sessions
are blamed on the players!
Can you evaluate the
effectiveness of your coaching?
Most coaches attempt
to obtain and assimilate as much knowledge as possible. How well do you
prioritize and simplify the knowledge that you have acquired? Do you have an
effective and enthusiastic manner?
Enthusiasm is effective but the
coach must work hard to know more about his/her players and involve them as much
as possible and in as many of the team decisions to get total buy-in.
A good coach is one who
encourages their players to make decisions themselves and who prevents them from
becoming too dependent on them. This emphasis on coaching styles is not only to
develop more effective communication skills but also to encourage a more
Is the organization of your
practices characterized by simplicity and clarity?
Many soccer coaches
are concerned with the desire for variety, and for the quest for new practices.
This is commendable if associated with a search for different coaching styles
and methods in order to improve. Too often, however, change can be for change’s
sake with an undue emphasis placed upon how the session is organized as
opposed to how the session is coached.
It will be of benefit for all
coaches to evaluate how they organize their coaching sessions. Traditionally,
coaches have tended to use a session structure which moves from a warm-up, to a
skill aspect, to a game. Sometimes it is a good idea to use a different
approach. Therefore, Coaches are encouraged to evaluate and experiment with
other formats. Some are outlined below:
Whole Part-Whole Method:
After the warm-up go
directly into a game. After highlighting the perceived weakness go into some
small group work to improve the highlighted area. Then go back into the game.
Through this whole part-whole method the players are more likely to understand
the context in which the highlighted area has relevance and perhaps more
importantly, they understand why they need the practice and can become more
motivated to improve.
The coach gives the players some key points to check when practicing on a
highlighted area during and away from training sessions. This is most
appropriate for the development of technique and can take the form of single
challenges or tests.
Here the coach organizes the players in pairs; One player is the ‘coach’ and the
other is ‘learner’. This form of coaching is particularly useful for teenagers
as it helps to develop communication skills, awareness of others, patience and
Players – particularly young
players – not only learn from watching outstanding performers they also learn by
watching each other. Teenagers are particularly prone to peer pressure. This
can be harnessed purposefully by encouraging the teen player(s) to coach each
other jointly to solve a particular problem. The key to Buddy Teaching is that
the coach must work with the Buddy Teacher and not with the player who is
The overall aim is to develop
thinking players who will practice away from the coach. Remember, a good
coaching approach may involve saying nothing.
players are already in a really effective learning situation by themselves the
trick is, can you see it!.