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Coach Tim’s Session Notes

Not long in from a wonderful Academy session today.  We had a squad of 15 boys aged 11-13 that reported for the session.  It was a lovely morning in Belfast with blue skies & sun.

Structure your training sessions well

I always arrive 20 minutes before the players so I can set my coaching area up and everything runs smoothly.  I set up a coaching area measuring 38 x 20 yards using the throw in line & 18 yard line as a guide.  I used red cones placing one on the throw in line with another 5 yards heading towards the 18 yard line.  Width wise I then set another red cone down every 7 yards approx.  This set up a rectangle scoring grid.  Length wise I set down a yellow cone every 7 yards until I got 33 yards away when I set up another scoring zone (5 x 20 yards) using blue cones.  In the other half I had 2 full size portable goals placed on the half way line & the 6 yard line.  I used cones to make the pitch slightly smaller than the full width but left a 5 yard channel for my themed coaching game.  I also placed 2 dome cones in each corner of the pitch, while the Speed, Agility & Quickness (SAQ) was set up off pitch.  No waiting about for the players!  They moved from one area to the next.

On arrival my players know to get a ball and go for a light dribble.  We used the 'yellow' area for their warm up.  This is their own time as I encourage them to arrive early, get a ball, go for a dribble and have a chat with their team mates – always giving each other a high-5 on arrival.  I then welcome the group, give all the boys a high-5 and ask how they got on in their matches for their club sides.  I then give them a quick overview to the session ahead.  Players then focus and get to work.  They continue the warm up through a series of dribbling, skills, turns & keepie ups.  This morning they worked 3 v 1 keep ball.

By the time my warm up is complete each boy will have touched the ball several hundred times.  Yet how many youth set ups still keep the ball locked away and have their players run laps around a pitch!  There is time allowed for players to stretch & take on fluids.  I always like to use the ball and will always concentrate on possession games setting goals and keeping game realistic.

After the warm up I got my players organised into teams.  6 players remained in their orange Academy tops, while 6 put yellow bibs on & the 3 remaining players but blue bibs on to be the neutral players (although adapt to suit the size of your squad, I had to change from my original diagram below.)  I like to overload the attack, especially at the start of sessions to have a high success rate.  Basically the neutral players played with the team in possession offering 9 v 6.  I keep score to add a competitive edge, i.e. orange 2 up, orange 1 up, all square, etc.

Passing Skill & Possession

Passing Skill & Possession

Emphasis

Possession game improving passing, movement & support play with direction.

Set-Up

Session takes place on half a pitch with 2 end zones of 5 yards in length but same width as pitch.

Objectives

6 v 6 with 3 neutral players play on half a pitch.

On gaining possession of the ball each team must retain possession & attempt to move the ball into the opponent's end zone & one player must put their foot on the ball in that zone.

If a team is successful the opponents gain possession & attempt to score in the other end zone, so play is end to end.

Progressions

  1. Encourage variety of passing, i.e. short, long, ground, aerial, etc.
  2. Running with the ball to beat the opponent - encourage 1 v 1 duels.
  3. Play 1 or 2 touch.
  4. Extra point for set number of passes.
  5. Time limit to score or loss of possession.

Coaching

  • Quality passing.
  • Support & movement on / off ball.
  • Work rate on / off ball.
  • Encourage forward passing - penetration.
  • Speed - counter attack.
  • Direction & attacking purpose.
  • Communication.
  • Summary

    The session worked well, although the orange team hammered the yellow team.  They seemed to grasp the concept better.  They used possession well with a number of quick short balls mixed with a variety of driven passes.  Real joy to watch.

    After the players had a quick drink they went into their S.A.Q. working speed ladder, hurdles & hoops.  You can find more of my S.A.Q. plans on my coaching website, TrainingSoccer.Org.

    Keeping the possession theme in mind we moved onto the half pitch that I had set up at the start of the session.  I wanted to encourage switching the point of attack & width.  This is one of my favourite possession games.  As we now had 'target' players in the game I reverted to 7 v 7 + 1 neutral player.

    Shifting Point Of Attack

    Shifting Point Of Attack

    Emphasis

    Directional possession game with 4 mini goals.

    Set-Up

    The game takes place on half a pitch with a mini goal positioned in every corner.

    5 v 5 (+ 2).  Each team has a target player in opposite diagonal goals.

    Objectives

    Teams must keep possession from one target to the other.  To score you must pass the ball to one of the target players & they must return the ball to the same player or a team mate.

    Look to switch & attack the other goal.

    Progressions

    1. I personally love to see players run with the ball but to encourage passing limit the touches.
    2. Target players only allowed one touch.
    3. Target players switch with the person that passed it to them.
    4. Introduce neutral players that play with the team in possession.

    Coaching

    • Work rate & movement on / off the ball.
    • Quality passing.
    • Look to beat opponents by dribbling at speed & use of skills.
    • Be direct - look to penetrate.
    • Look to switch & keep the ball.
    • Communication & understanding.
    • Support & shape.
    Summary
    This proved to be a lot closer game than the first part of my session.  The players really enjoyed the session.  Very game realistic with everything from dribbling, passing, scoring, keeping possession, tackling, work rate & movement on & off the ball.  To see the positions that 12 year olds got into was quality.  They moved the ball so well creating 2 v 1 & 3 v 1 situations.  Their decision making was excellent today!
    To reward their hard work we got into a game.  Although I still used switching & width as the main coaching point.  We played 6 v 6 + 1 neutral player in the middle zone with a neutral winger on either channel.  If the boys scored from a cross the goal counted as 2.  Although I hate to 'over coach' so I don't force them to always pass the ball wide.  My reason for this?  Well if your striker is 1-on-1 with the keeper on a Saturday he's not going to pass it wide or stop so I try to play naturally as well.
    Again you can see from my diagram below that I can easily adapt if I have a player or two missing from my sessions.  Do the same as well.  Adapt to suit to your level, ability & numbers.

    8 V 8 Plus 2 Wingers

    8 v 8 Plus 2 Wingers

    Emphasis

    Encouraging attacking play through the wings.

    Set-Up

    Play takes place on half a pitch with 2 full size goals & goalkeepers.  A channel is marked out with cones on either wing & separated in two.

    Play 8 v 8 in either half (+ goalkeeper).  4 wide players are positioned in the channels, 2 playing in the attacking half for each team.

    Objectives

    The objective is to play the ball wide to one of the unmarked wingers.  The cross is then delivered to the forwards who look to finish at goal.

    Progressions

    1. Change roles.
    2. Add restrictions, i.e. limit touches.

    Coaching

    • Quality of crosses.
    • Movement of forwards.
    • Movement - check run, make space in front to receive.
    • Technique - stop just before receiving the ball.
    • Strength - shield the ball from the defender.
    • Awareness.
    • Quality passing.
    • Timing of run.
    • Attacking & defensive heading.
    • Quality finishing.
    • Communication.
    • Goalkeeper / distribution.
    Summary
    We changed the wingers & kept them neutral, i.e. they simply played with the team in possession so attacked either goal.  The boys organised themselves well.  I like to offer them some responsibility & both teams did very well.  They all had a nice balance, mainly playing a 2-2-1 & getting their width from the wide neutral players.
    We finished the session off with a great shooting drill.  For a bit of fun we did cross bar challenge & then a cool down.

    Let me know what you think of my session and if you try out the sessions how you and your team got on with them and what variations (if any) you made.  Remember you can have full access to all my session plans by clicking here!  As always please add your comments & if you like to use the session & share with others please credit my work with a link back to my blog or coaching website.

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