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Jose Mourinho – Guest Blog by Ricky Clarke

Ricky Clarke is a recent graduate of the NSCAA Master Coach diploma.  The Master Coach program is the NSCAA's response to growing trend in coaching education, continuous self-improvement.  Ricky’s coaching resume is very impressive.  He holds the USSF National A’ License, USSF Youth License & the NSCAA’s Premier Diploma.  You can follow his journey at www.RickyMasterCoach.com where he interviews professional soccer players, coaches & provides FREE downloadable sessions for coaches. 

Below he has shared 2 sessions that he watched Jose Mourinho perform at a Real Madrid training camp in America during summer 2012.

JM

The Jose Mourinho Way – Part #1

The NSCAA and UCLA hosted a Special Topics Course Tactical Thinking with José Mourinho last weekend in Los Angeles. The NSCAA is based in Kansas City, Kan., the National Soccer Coaches Association of America is the largest soccer coaches’ organization in the world. Coaches from around the world travelled to California to hear the methodologies employed by the “Special One”.

The Jose Mourinho – Three Part Series

I’ve broken the course into three main parts. The first post will involve ideas used during his first training session (July 30th) as Real Madrid prepare to face L.A. Galaxy on Aug 4th. The second post will discuss the two hour lecture we experienced with Jose Mourinho and the entire Real Madrid first team coaching staff. Finally, the last post will outline ideas used in the second training session that afternoon (July 30th).  I’ll also attempt to conclude some thoughts on the weekend…it was an unbelievable experience!

REAL MADRID – TRAINING SESSION JULY 30TH  @ UCLA 

Jose Mourinho sessions were extremely well organized. Below, I’ve outlined the training session notes I took during our first training with Real Madrid. Some key notes were:

  1. All Real Madrid first team coaches were involved throughout the session. Whether it’s coaching, player management or moving equipment (even Jose did).
  2. Jose Mourinho used TWO full-sided fields every session.
  3. The players had very little downtime. Breaks in between coaching were short and the intensity remained consistent.
  4. Everything is timed, players are directed by one main time keeper.
  5. Each activity lasted less than 20 minutes.

NOTE - Players stretched and participated in a light jogging session for 10 minutes before starting the session. 

 Part 1 – Speed & Agility Shooting and Small Sided Games 

  • Players: Every player was involved
  • Time: 20 MINS. The team was split into 2 groups. The groups would switch very 4 minutes, this helped keep the intensity high.
  • Field: 1 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: The SSG was open, players could score in any goal, 1-touch play was encouraged, the playing area was very tight and compact. The game was intense and competitive, the players didn’t hold back.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection was encouraged, intensity was encouraged at all time.

Part 2 – Pattern Play with Central Midfield & Striker Combination 

  • Players: Every player was involved.
  • Time: 20 MINS
  • Conditions: Players were shown a set series of patterns, they were then encouraged to complete them at game speed.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection was encouraged, players performed at speed, intensity was encouraged at all time.
  • NOTE – groups would switch roles every 5 minutes. Jose Mourinho would spend time explaining the pattern, then watch and coach if needed.

Pattern #1 – Playing Through Central Midfield                  Pattern #2 – Playing out of the back

Part #3 – Small Sided Game & Functional Training of Mid-Fielders   

  • Players: 17 Players involved – 3 Players being training functionally away from the 7v7+3 game.
  • Time: 20 MINS (3 minute rotation for target players)
  • Conditions: Players were challenged to find targets before they could score. The area was tight and compact.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection was encouraged, 1-touch and combination play desired.

Game: 7V7 + 3 Targets 

Central Midfielders being functionally trained at the same time away from the field 

Part #4 – Cool Down and Stretch 

NOTE – In between rest breaks Mourinho and his staff always used these opportunities to man manage. They would pull players aside to discuss the session and their ideas. As you can see below, everyone cool’s down together.

Conclusions! 

Jose Mourinho once described Louis Van Gaal training sessions as:

“With Van Gaal i could arrive at the stadium a mere half an hour before the practice. I had nothing to worry about because the work was always completely defined. I knew everything we were going to do beforehand. From the practice objectives to the time for doing exercises, not forgetting the main points of methodology, nothing was left to chance and everything was programmed in great detail. All that was left for me – and for the other assistants in the different areas – was the training on the pitch. This meant that my work improved tremendously in terms of the quality because, as I mentioned, with Robson I didn’t get much practice as a coach on the pitch”

Source: Jose Mourinho – Written by Luis Lourenco

Now we know where he gets his organization from!

NEXT POST – JOSE MOURINHO “KEYS TO SUCCESS” PART #2

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho gives in

The Jose Mourinho Way – Part #3 

REAL MADRID – TRAINING SESSION JULY 30TH @UCLA (Second Session) 

Jose Mourinho sessions were extremely well organized. Below, I’ve outlined the training session notes I took during our first training with Real Madrid. Some key notes were:

  1. All Real Madrid first team coaches were involved throughout the session. Whether it’s coaching, player management or moving equipment (even Jose did).
  2. Jose Mourinho used TWO full-sided fields every session.
  3. The players had very little downtime. Breaks in between coaching were short and the intensity remained consistent.
  4. Everything is timed, players are directed by one main time keeper.
  5. Each activity lasted less than 20 minutes.
  6. This session involved varying levels of intensity and space, constant adaptation.

NOTE - Players stretched and participated in a light jogging session for 10 minutes before starting the session. 

Part #1 – Speed, Agility & 1V1′S 

This session involved numerous training exercises with varying degrees of intensity, they ranged  from tight spaces, shadow play and 1v1 environments.

  • Players: Every player was involved (GK’s trained in their own).
  • Time: 20 MINS. The team was split into 2 groups. The diagram shows one grid, but the session had two grids running.
  • Field: 1 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: Players would run into the grid through the sticks and over hurdles. The defenders needed to win the ball and keep possession until the whistle blew.
  • Coaching Points: Players were encouraged to shield the ball and keep possession. Some players looked dribble (Alonso & Ozil) away from pressure.

Part #2 Functional Training – Attacking Midfielders 

  • Players: Every player was involved (GK’s trained in their own).
  • Time: 20 MINS. The team was split into 2 groups. The diagram shows one grid, but the session had two grids running.
  • Field: 1 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: Attacking players had to combine going to goal. The offside was used to keep the game competitive and fair. If the defenders won the ball, they kept possession and use targets to create a 7v4 situation.
  • Coaching Points: Attacking players were encouraged to play 1-touch combinations in and around the PK spot area. Wingers would look to play a reverse pass if they got in behind the full-back. Attackers were encouraged to win the ball back “immediately” if they lost possession.

Part #3 – Possession with Targets 

  • Players: 20 Players – 1 Player functionally training away from the group.
  • Time: 20 minutes, each game 4 minute rotations.
  • Field: 1 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: Targets can only 1-touch. Once you combine with one target, you must find another target in a different grid.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection, movement to support, space awareness. Players always rotate roles (targets).

NOTE - The younger players were being functionally trained to cut inside and take a shot across the GK with a coach.

Part #4 – Pattern Play – Attacking Movement using a 1-4-3-3 

  • Players: 11 Players –  The remaining players practiced combining and going to goal.
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Field: 3/4 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: Players were shown two combinations by Jose Mourinho. Everything was expected to be performed at game speed with technical perfection.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection, movement to support, dynamic movement.

Pattern #1 – Wide forward moves inside, striker runs into space and crosses.

Pattern #2 – Wide player receives and plays a deep cross to the back post.

The training session finished with a 11v11 game on half a field (open play). NOTE – the players were extremely pissed when Jose finished the game. The sign of a good session, finishing it when the players are demanding more!

Please check our FREE Download section for the full session.  

Periodisation Training

Dutch man, Raymond Verheijen, is a very outspoken person who is confident in his methods.  The Russian fitness coach criticised many nations at this years European Championships about their pre-historic methods & daily double training sessions.  Russia was the only nation to train only once a day & they started the tournament excellent but then stuttered & didn't manage to qualify from their group.  He is a man that looks to evolve & is widely respected in the professional game having held roles at Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City & having been involved in the last 3 World Cups & 4 European Championships.  I attended one of his clinics in Northern Ireland earlier in the year & here is what I found out...

Periodisation in football

1. Football Philosophy

  • Traditional fitness --> Football  (isolation of fitness from football)
  • Periodisation football --> Fitness

2. Analysis of the Game

Raymond used a concept of showing actions per minute using a ‘X’ & used ‘----‘ to indicate reduction in actions per minute, i.e. X--- X----X-------------X

  • During game quality reduced (fatigue)
  • Less actions per minute during final stages

Ideal X---X---X---X---X (quality and duration, improvement & consistency)

Subjectivity in football is a problem, especially past performances.  Remove your opinion & stay objective, it’s not a “pub chat”.

“Subjectivity is the weakness of our profession”

Fatigue is non-contextual, but “actions per minute” is

Quality/Quantity Chart

Football                                                                X---x-----x                           X-----X (30sec)   X-X-X (15/30/45)

Analysis                                                                X---X---X---X                      X---X---X (15s)   X-(15)-X-(15)-X

Football                better football                  maintain good                   more actions      ability to maintain

Performance     actions                                  f’ball actions                       per min                 more act per min

Football                more explosive                 maintain exp                    quick recov        ability to maintain

Fitness                  f’ball action                         actions                                  between acts    quick recov bet acts

Football                football sprints                  football sprints                 games 4v4         games 11v11/8v8

Experience         with max recov                 with min rest                     and 3v3

Training                see following sections on breakdowns

Method

“We must communicate objectively to avoid confusion and misinterpretation, keeping it precise for the  players”

3. Football Performance

  • Better football action, better passing, pressing, defending (per minute)
  • To maintain more football activities (per minute)
  • Quality, quantity, maintain - BE MORE DEMANDING!

4. Football Fitness

  • Build football fitness into technical and tactical aspects of training
  • Less Space & Time à Execute Actions Faster à More Explosive Football Actions
  • We can learn from the fitness world but take it back to football & make it applicable

5. Football Conditioning Exercises

Traditional athletic approach

  • Start run when you want
  • Moment of action
  • Direction of action
  • Speed of action

A study was conducted over 15 metres with 1 player isolated running the distance.  They compared this to 2 players running against each other.  Finally, the coach held the hands of either player with a ball between them.  This offered a resistance & when the coach played the ball between the players the player that won the ball got to score.  He called this part the ‘environmental trigger as it was within a football context

This offered a closer realism to the game & players worked harder as there was a reward at the end of it so their performance increased.  Making simple adjustments like this to your training will improve the overall results, better training instead of more training.

After the initial power point presentation Raymond then took a practical.  He worked with the Northern Ireland U16 squad.  Upon arrival the players had received a warm up from their coach.  Raymond set up a pitch with 2 full size goals.  The pitch was split into 3 sections of 15 yards each.  He wanted the players to sprint, jog then walk before receiving a 15 yard pass from him.  He wanted the players to receive on the half turn before striking at the goal.  The players started with a chip into the keepers hands before he developed intensity.

Set 1 – Max Rest (with a finish on goal)

A)    5m football sprints

B)    10-15m football sprints

C)    20-25m football sprints

Set 2 – Progress to Short Rest (noticed a drop in & i.e X---X-----X------x---------x---------------------x)

Notes – look at quality with rest and then without rest and ability to maintain

The session then developed to the 2 players against each other with resistance from the coach holding their hands.  He operated this from either end & in groups of 8.  He had a lot of fun with the players by trying to trick them before making contact with the ball.  You can increase the distance set over 30, 45 & 60 yards.  So with the group of 16, 8 worked while the other 8 operated 6 v 2 for an active recovery.  If you have an odd number place a cone down mid way & the player must get to the ball before it passes the cone.

Raymond then operated a game on a 75 x 48 yard pitch.  He played 6 v 6 rotating with another team of 6 - play 2 minutes then switch.  The progressions he added included developing shape / tactics (3 v 2) then the team without the ball had to press.  While the team with the ball always played out from the back, i.e. goalkeeper played out so players always looked to drop / width.

  • Free play (low intensity)
  • Tactical (higher intensity)

Small sided games = overload body in actions per minute = BODY ADAPT!

Verheijen had a great method to replicate actions per minute in a game.  This was shown on a chart like this; X-X-X------X, 'X' indicates actions per minute while '-' indicated less actions per minute.

As coaches we should look to replicate problems from games to training & keep realistic.  For example if the movement per minute not as it should be look to press / transition.  Break it down to work 11 v 11 or 8 v 8 etc. 

  • 10 minutes X - X - X - X
  • 20 minutes X - X - X - X
  • 30 minutes X - X - X - X
  • 40 minutes X - X - X- - - - - X

In the above example the body says no but the coach says yes!  Body will adapt.

The Game     X - - - X - - - - X - - - - - X

Higher Level  X - X - X - X - X - X - X

Based on the higher level example above.  To improve the first actions per minute is through football sprints with max rest.  Then to develop is through games, i.e. 4 v 4 / 3 v 3.  Coming to the latter stages 11 v 11 / 8 v 8 or 5 v 5 / 7 v 7 will improve as will football sprints with minimum rest.

He talked about coaching the moment where the X---X---X------------X----X gets missed out, this was especially prevalent in the 2nd half of the games when the boys were unable to press or transition.  It allowed RV to push/coach the player to maintain his actions for a longer period of time. 

6. Training Methods

  • Football sprints with maximum rest

a) 6-10 football sprints x 5 metres / 30 second rest

    4-8 football sprints x 15 metres / 45 second rest

    2-6 football sprints x 25 metres / 60 second rest

Step 1 - 6 x 5     4 x 15     2 x 25

Step 2 - 7 x 5     4 x 15     2 x 25

Step 3 - 7 x 5     5 x 15     2 x 25

Step 4 - 7 x 5     5 x 15     3 x 25

Step 5 - 8 x 5     5 x 15     3 x 25

Step 6 - 8 x 5     6 x 15     3 x 25

etc.

Step 13 - 10 x 5     8 x 15     6 x 25

b) 2-4 series x 6-10 football sprints x 15 metres / 10 second rest

c) 2-6 games x 1-3 minutes work / 3-1 minutes recovery / 4 series

Step 1 - 2-6 games     4 v 4 / 3 v 3      1 minute work     3 minute rest      x 4

Step 2 -                                                                            2.5 minute rest

Step 3 -                                                                               2 minute rest

Step 4 -                                                                            1.5 minute rest

Step 5 -                                                                               1 minute rest

Step 6 -                                                                            0.5 minute rest

etc.

d) Extensive endurance rest

2-6 games x 10-15 minutes work / 2 minute series rest

Step 1 - 2x10 minutes     11 v 11 / 8 v 8      2 minutes rest      x 4

Step 2 - 2x11 minutes

Step 3 - 2x12 minutes

Step 4 - 2x13 minutes

Step 5 - 2x14 minutes

Step 6 - 2x15 minutes

Step 7 - 3x11 minutes

Step 8 - 3x12 minutes

Step 9 - 3x13 minutes

Step 10- 3x14 minutes

Step 11- 3x15 minutes

Step 12- 4x12 minutes


4-6 games x 4-8 minutes / 2 minute rest

Step 1 - 4 x 4 minutes 2 minutes rest

Step 2 - 4 x 4.5 minutes

Step 3 - 4 x 5 minutes

Step 4 - 4 x 5.5 minutes

Step 5 - 4 x 6 minutes

Step 6 - 4 x 6.5 minutes

Step 7 - 4 x 7 minutes

Step 8 - 4 x 7.5 minutes

Step 9 - 4 x 8 minutes

7. Pitch Size

11 v 11 - 10 outfield players - 100 x 60 metres

10 v 10 - 9 outfield players - 90 x 54 metres

9 v 9 - 8 outfield players - 80 x 48 metres

8 v 8 - 7 outfield players - 70 x 42 metres (50m)

7 v 7 - 6 outfield players - 60 x 36 metres (40m)

6 v 6 - 5 outfield players - 50 x 30 metres (40m)

5 v 5 - 4 outfield players - 40 x 24 metres (30m)

4 v 4 - 3 outfield players - 30 x 18 metres

3 v 3 - 2 outfield players - 20 x 12 metres

2 v 2 - 1 outfield players - 10 x 6 metres (15x10m)

1 v 1 - 1 outfield players - 10 x 6 metres

8. Periodisation Model

Day / Training Week X

  • Saturday - Game
  • Sunday - Recovery Training (subs F.C.T.)
  • Monday - Day off
  • Tuesday - Tactical Training (am - Strength)
  • Wednesday - Conditioning Training
  • Thursday - Tactical Training
  • Friday - Tactical Training
  • Saturday - Game

Day / Neutral Week

  • Saturday - Game
  • Sunday - Recovery Training (subs F.C.T.)
  • Monday - Tactical
  • Tuesday - Game
  • Wednesday - Recovery Training
  • Thursday - Day Off or Tactical Training
  • Friday - Tactical Training
  • Saturday - Game

Mid week game = skip conditioning session

Part Time / Training Week

  • Saturday - Game
  • Sunday - 
  • Monday - 
  • Tuesday - Full Conditioning Work
  • Wednesday -
  • Thursday - Tactical Training
  • Friday - 
  • Saturday - Game

Periodisation Model

Week to Week on FCT day

3 Blocks x 2 weeks = 6 weeks total

                1                              2                              3                              4                              5                              6

 

Explosivity Prep Exercises            F’ball Sprints with min                    F’ball Sprints with max

                                                                                Rest (10”)                                            Rest (60”)

** For Pre-season**

                11v11 / 8v8                                         7v7 / 6v6 / 5v5                                   4v4 / 3v3

**Zero Pts **

                3x12’                     3x13’                     4x5’                        4x5.5’                    2x6x                       2x6x

                                                                                                                                                1’W/3’R                1’W/2.5’R

ß---------------------------------------------------------CYCLE 1-----------------------------------------------------------à

 

2.            3x13’                     3x14’                     4x5.5’                                                    2x6x

                                                                                                                                                1’W/2.5’R

3.

4.

5.

6.            4x13’                     4x14’                     4x7.5’                    4x8’                        2x6x                       2x6x      

                                                                                                                                                1’W/45”R             1’W/30”R

Explosivity Prep Exercises  (prep for min rest)

TR 1/2                   6 x 60m                 60%                        60”R

TR 3/4                   7 x 50m                 70%                        50”R

TR 5/6                   8 x 40m                 80%                        40”R                      

TR 7/8                   9 x 30m                 90%                        30”R

TR 9/10                 10 x 20m              100%                     20”R

**                           2 x 6 15m             100%                     10”R       = stage 1 of min rest football sprints

** Prepare for 10” rest = lactic acid prep exercise and therefore injury prevention

101%                     ^ Football Sprints (max rest) 4v4/3v3

I

I

                Intensity              I

I

I

                100%                     ---------------------- > Football Sprints (min rest) 11v11 / 8v8

                                                                Maintain/Volume

Where to make zero pt??  e.g. 36min net playing time equates to 3x12’ = starting point

9. Lower Level --> Higher Level of Play

  • Youth Academy --> 1st Team
  • Higher level play = High speed of game
  • Intensity increases
  • Volume...?
  • Higher intensity = smaller volume
  • Higher level of play

--> Gradual increase for youth players to develop body.

10. Playing Style --> Fitness

Raymond offered examples of playing styles.  Below offers what he had to improve on in major competitions with each country & how he did.

World Cup 2002 - Korea

1st Half

Very high intensity of play X - X - X - X - X

2nd Half

Dramatic drop in work rate X - X - X - X - X - - - X - - - - X - - - - - X

Solution

More 11 v 11 / 10 v 10 --> 8 v 8 training.  4 x 10 minutes, 5 x 10 minutes, 6 x 10 minutes, etc.

Euro 2008 - Russia

1st Half

Relatively low intensity of play

2nd Half

No drop in work rate, low tempo

Solution

Improve actions per minute through small sided games.

11. Principles of Periodisation

Speed of actions!

  • Football is an intensity sport...
  • ...not an endurance sport
  • Increase the intensity of a session
  • ...not the number of sessions per week
  • Better 4 sessions @ 100% intensity
  • ...than 6 sessions @ 80% intensity

Football Philosophy

  1. Traditionally = Fitness --> Football / More = Better (quantity)
  2. Periodisation Football --> Fitness / Less = More (quality)

1. Traditional = Quick build up

  • 2-3 weeks physical training dominant
  • 2-3 weeks tactical
  • Quick build up = short term fitness
  • Fitness drop in November / December & April / May
  • Quick build up = more injuries
  • Less training / games with strongest teams
  • Quick build up = fatigue in pre-season

Most important - Team development, playing style & understanding

2. Periodisation = Gradual build up

  • 6 weeks football (conditioning) training
  • Gradual build up = long term fitness
  • Fitness increases during season / no drop
  • Gradual build up = almost no injuries
  • More training / games with strongest team
  • During injury slow loss of fitness
  • Gradual build up = no fatigue in pre-season
  • Same fitness level as quick build up!

Part time pre-season

Week 1

Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday (3 training sessions)

Week 2

Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday Game (2 training sessions + 1 game)

Observations

Periodisation in Football

  • Football specific (just play & learn the game)
  • Gradual physical development (long term fitness)
  • Periodisation = less injuries (more player development)
  • Academy Structure (periodisation long term process)
  • Talent Integration in first team (smaller training volume)

Football coaches are the best fitness coaches.

'Football is an intensity sport - not an endurance sport.  Less is more!'

'Better training instead of more training.'

Raymond Verheijen with Tim Wareing

Coach Tim’s Shooting Session

For all those 'coaches' who insist lining 20 kids up to lay a ball off for you to do a flick & for them to shoot then wait 5 minutes before getting their second go please read my session notes below & watch the video!

These outdated methods need to change & parents need to watch out for them.  A line of 20 kids offers 20 shots really means that your child receives 2 touches while the coach receives 20 touches every cycle...lol says it all!

Coach Tim's Shooting Session

Watch the video highlights

Coach Tim's Shooting Session

Emphasis

Great session to work on passing, touch & finishing.

Set-Up

Session takes place around the 18 yard box.  Set 4 cones up as shown in the diagram.  Players positioned at the cones on the goal line should each have a ball.

The same amount of players stand at the cone facing them.  The beauty of this session is it cuts down on long lines & moves fast.

Objectives

Player B checks before receiving a pass from player A.  Player B meets the ball before playing a return pass to player A who moves away from the cone to receive.

Player B then makes an angled run to receive the pass from player A.  Once received player B finishes with a shot at goal.

Players then switch roles.  Rotate from either side.

Progressions

  1. Have players operate from either side so they use both feet.
  2. Vary distance & technique of pass & shot.

Coaching

  • Check run before receiving pass, i.e. move away from cone, push off with arm & meet ball.
  • Quality passing - weight & accuracy.
  • Meet the ball.
  • Quality lay off.
  • Movement & communication.
  • Shooting technique - body over ball, standing foot alongside ball, eyes on the ball + head steady, toes of the striking foot point down towards ground, strike across middle of the ball with laces.
  • Quality finishing - follow shots in.
  • Work both feet.
  • Goalkeeping technique.

Want more info?  You can access over 450 of my session plans by clicking here!  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube

Valencia Coaching Clinic

The Spanish philosophy & training methods are high in demand with them being current World Cup & European Championship winners.  Along with the success of fellow club sides Real Madrid & Barcelona.  Valencia visited Belfast to operate clinics for local children & coaches.  TW Sports hosted an event in conjunction with organisers Saffron Sport.  Below you can read about the clinic along with some background about this famous Spanish club.

From left; Manel (Valencia), Tim Wareing (Director of TW Sports), Glenn Murray (TW Sports coach) & Jose (Valencia)

Valencia

Although Valencia deserve the credit as much as Barca & Real.  They play in La Liga & are one of the most successful & biggest clubs in Spanish football & European football.  Valencia have won six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey trophies, two Fairs Cups (which was the predecessor to the UEFA Cup), one UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, & two UEFA Super Cups. They have also reached two UEFA Champions League finals in a row, losing to La Liga rivals Real Madrid in 2000 & then to German club Bayern Munich on penalties after a 1–1 draw in 2001.  Valencia were also members of the G-14 group of leading European football clubs.  In total, Valencia have reached seven major European finals, winning four of them.

In the all-time La Liga table, Valencia is in third position behind FC Barcelona & Real Madrid.  In terms of continental titles, Valencia is again the third-most successful behind the two, with these three being the only Spanish clubs to have won five or more continental trophies.

Valencia were founded in 1919 & have played their home games at the 55,000-seater Mestalla since 1923.  They are due to move into the new 75,000-seater Nou Mestalla in the north-west of the city in 2013.  Valencia have a long-standing rivalry with Levante UD, also located in the City of Valencia, & with two others club in the Valencian Community region, Hercules CF & Villarreal CF.

Valencia are the third most supported football club in Spain, behind only Barcelona & Real Madrid.  It is also one of the biggest clubs in the world in terms of number of associates (registered paying supporters), with more than 50,000 season ticket holders & another 20,000+ season ticket holders on the waiting list, who can be accommodated in the new 75,000-seater stadium.

Session Plan

Registration for players & coaches took place from 9.30-10am.  The Valencia coaches, Jose & Manel, arrived early to set up.  Over 30 local children & coaches attended the event.  Many from my Academy attended along with some of my coaching team.  It was nice to see many other children from our Mini Soccer programme come along with children from other local grassroots & Irish League sides.  As always Northern Ireland mentality means so many other children & coaches don't bother to attend an excellent opportunity like this!  Was great to see a coach travel up from down south to attend the clinic too.

After a light warm up & fun game of tig in the 18 yard box they then divided the players to operate keep ball.  This took place in a series of small 5 x 5 yard areas playing 4 v 1.  The duration of the warm up & introduction was approximately 35 minutes before stopping for water.  After this Jose & Manel split the groups.  They worked with 14 children in each group.

Jose briefing the players using the i-pad

Pressing & Come Back

Jose used an i-pad to explain the session & draw out the session plan using a football pitch app.  The players embraced the new technology & way of explaining.  We would see them refer back & use the i-pad on a regular basis to get across explanations to the players throughout the day.  The session took place on half a pitch with full size goals.  The pitch was divided in half & goalkeepers were used.  The basic set up was 3 defenders in one half with 3 attackers in the other half.

One team had to always keep their defenders in that half while the other team had freedom for the defenders to join in with the attackers.  The scenario Jose was trying to create was a tight game whereby one team was winning 1-0 & wanted to keep it tight while the other team were chasing the game.  This was a nice session & you could see the players looking to press as a unit.

Jose would add different restrictions to challenge the players.  The session operated for 30 minutes before players stopped for water & swapped groups.  We then followed the same group to see Manel's session.

 

Shifting

Manel worked on half a pitch with 2 full size goals & quartered the pitch.  He was concentrating on 'shifting'.  He used the i-pad to help explain to the players what he wanted.  Players were not allowed to tackle, only intercept.  The team out of possession was encouraged to pressure ball while the team in possession started with 3 touch play.  The main concept was when the ball was lost players were told to drop back & shift in relation to the ball.

This was a nice game that developed players understanding of their role when not in possession of the ball.  The Spanish teams don't get enough credit for their hard work & pressing to win the ball back.  This session offered an opportunity to the players to see how disciplined the Spanish are in relation to what each players role is when not in possession of the ball.

FIFA Street

The session took us up to lunch at 11.45am.  The players were given an hour to eat & rest.  After lunch Jose & Manel selected 4 teams to play 'Fifa Street'.  This offered players freedom to play.  They didn't shout or tell them how to play the players were simply given control & freedom of their games.  The only rules were maximum of 2 minute matches or goal the winner.  Winning team stayed on or if it was a draw both teams replaced.  The only other requirement was to make a pass before scoring in the other half.  They used the 18 yard box as the pitch & 5 aside goals.

This was probably the only bit I didn't like in terms that 2 teams were always off & 'ineffective'.  I would personally prefer to have all teams involved.  Although thinking about it & putting myself into their shoes in Valencia it is very hot & they want teams to receive recovery so I guess this is why they did it.  From my time in Holland & Portugal the European approach is that they like players to watch players.  They feel it offers opportunities to learn & if a player likes a move that a team mate tries they are more likely try to replicate it with possible variations.

From the small sided games they then operated a circle drill.  3 players were in the middle trying to gain possession of the ball while the outside players had to make 10 passes with a restriction to 1 or 2 touches.  They rotated players in the middle every 30 seconds.  This led us into the final part of the session for the day.

Local coaches observe & take notes

Space Management

Jose took the final session of the day based on space management.  On half a pitch with 2 full size goals he set up 5 different coloured boxes.  He had one in every corner with a central box.  The main objective was to pass into 2 boxes then play off central box before scoring.

This encouraged players to look for space & use width.  Jose would also at times call out certain colours if he wanted to dictate play more.  The players worked hard at this & I really liked the session as it focused on players finding space & good ball retention.

You can watch some footage I recorded of Jose & Manel working with the group by clicking here.

Interview

After the session I had an opportunity to interview Jose & Manel.  We spoke about youth development in Spain & Valencia's philosophy as well as covering touch line behaviour comparisons & on training methods.  You can watch the interview here.

Review

I'm passionate about sharing ideas & continuing my education in football.  What a treat to spend a day with Valencia & I can't thank Jose & Manel enough for their time & insight.

They coached within the game & only in snippets.  This got players thinking for themselves.  Coaching really isn't a case of screaming all the time & telling players what to do.  Let players search for the solution themselves & you'll notice a real difference long term.

Massive thanks to Saffron Sport for organising & Gareth for offering us opportunity to host the day.  Thanks of course to everyone who supported the event & for my coach, Glenn, for his assistance on the day.

If you want to hear about future pro club clinics or club visits please keep in contact & connect with us.

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Periodisation, Possession & Switching Play

Sundays Academy session was influenced by Raymond Verheije (current periodisation coach for Russia) & notes I'd found on some session plans from Jose Mourinho.  I adapted them to suit my group & to keep the session along the same feel so it had natural progressions.  The players enjoyed & responded well to the session.  It challenged them which is always the outcome we want as coaches for them to problem solve.  The quality improved as the session developed.

We always have to remember we are coaches & we need to plan a session but also have the freedom to change or develop where need be.  At this time of year it is difficult to establish how many players I will have to work with.  This sometimes bugs the life out of some coaches but we should be able to adapt.  Always remember the fun stories of Paul Cooper (from GUBOG) when he told us about the coach that had the 12 players for his session then little Jimmy walks over the hill & he is pulling his hair out as he is 'one player over'.  Crazy.  The session plans I will share with you below allow many changes from playing 5 v 5 to 8 v 8 in sessions to adding a neutral player in the session.  Always adapt.  For the record I had 15 players in.

After my initial warm up of dribbling & ball familiarisation exercises we performed a series of group juggling games.  The first 20 minutes is light & allows players to loosen up which is important as they are different ages & have different needs.  Some have also started the pre-historic 'pre' pre-season sessions of 3 hours of physical abuse!  So we have to be careful.

5 V 2 Periodisation Game

5 v 2 Periodisation Game

Emphasis

Ball possession based around periodisation.  Overload then build up to 5 v 5.

Set-Up

Session takes place on a 20 x 20 yard area.  5 attackers v 2 defenders.  Have 3 players waiting to be fed into session to build up to 5 v 5.  The coach should have a supply of balls to keep the game moving.

Objectives

Simple possession game where players develop their skills of passing & supporting each other.  Players in possession should try to pass to teammates.

Simple, early passes should be delivered & after having delivered the pass, players should adjust their positions so as to receive a return pass if necessary.

The team that starts with 2 players receive an additional player every 30 seconds.  The coach lets them know when to join in every 30 seconds as follows;

0.00 - 5 v 2 (2 touch)

0.30 - 5 v 3 (3 touch)

1.00 - 5 v 4

1.30 - 5 v 5

Progressions

  1. Set target of passes to be awarded a goal.
  2. One / two touch play.
  3. Add target players on the outside of the grid.
  4. Rotate groups to suit squad size, i.e. 3 groups of 5, work 2 & rest 1.

Coaching

  • Movement on / off ball.
  • Work rate on / off ball.
  • Create angles.
  • Protect ball.
  • Communication.
  • Quality passing.
  • Positioning.
  • Passing combinations.

This was a nice session & due to timing the session we worked in periods of 2 minutes with recovery.  Quality rather than quantity.  We started with an overload 5 v 2.  The first group was slow to get going as their decision making & poor movement off the ball to create an angle for team mates was lacking.  With having 3 groups of 5 players there was opportunity to work 2, rest 1 & the quality improved second time round.  The group that wasn't involved worked with my assistant 3 v 2.

I always like to have my coaching area set up so there is no waiting for the players.  The first 2 parts of my session worked easily in a 20 x 20 yard area in one of the corners of my 40 x 30 yard pitch.  After concentrating on possession I wanted to continue the theme but encourage a point of attack along with the focus on switching.  This worked perfect.  With my group of 15 I had the option of playing with 10 (3 v 3 with 2 sets of outside players) & rest 5 players then rotate.  Rather than doing this I decided to adapt & play 5 v 5 in the middle with one neutral playing with team in possession.  They looked to combine & attack either side of the pitch to their wide man.  The person that made the pass to the side player replaced them keeping the game competitive & played to a high intensity.

3 V 3 Playing To End Lines

3 v 3 Playing To End Lines

Emphasis

Possession game focusing on shifting the point of attack & switching play.

Set-Up

Vary the size of the grid to suit your players & what you want from the session.  Larger grid offers further distance for players to cover but smaller sized grid offers less space for turning & keeps the session game realistic.  Players have less time on the ball & will help decision making.

I've carried this session out in a 20 x 20 yard grid.  The players have to play quick & always look over their shoulder before receiving!

Have a supply of balls with the players on the outside to keep a high tempo to the session.

Objectives

Team that has the ball tries to keep possession by playing from one side of the pitch to the other.

A point is awarded for each successful pass to an outside player then switch to other side.  Teams can play off same side to keep possession but are only awarded a point for each successful switch.

Keep score to add a competitive side to the game.

Develop so player that passes to outside player replaces them - always rotate!

Progressions

  1. Increase / decrease size of grid.
  2. Limit touches.
  3. Change scoring to encourage passing sequence or certain passage of play.

Coaching

  • Movement.
  • Quick combination play.
  • Change of direction with the ball.
  • Communication.
  • Support play.
  • Decision making.

This was carried out to a very high standard & I was extremely happy with the quality of play.  I wanted to build & progress this along with focusing on the killer pass.  I still wanted to continue the theme of width but wanted to see the ball played into an attacking area that focused on the weight & timing of pass & run.

Switching Point Of Attack Encouraging Width Through Full Backs

Switching Point Of Attack Encouraging Width Through Full backs

Emphasis

Attacking play through encouraging width & support from full backs.

Set-Up

40 x 30 yard pitch, with 5 yard end zone at either end & 5 yard channel for full backs to operate in.

5 v 5 is played in middle with a neutral full back on either channel.

Have a supply of balls around the perimeter of the pitch.

Objectives

5 v 5 is played in the main playing area with 2 unopposed full backs in either channel that are neutral & play with the team in possession.

Score by playing the ball into the scoring zone, player must not arrive before the ball but must time their run to control in end zone.

Attack either end & use either full back to keep possession & encourage width.

Progressions

  1. Rotate players roles.
  2. Restrict touches for full backs.
  3. Add a neutral player in the main playing zone.

Coaching

  • Forward runs.
  • Timing of runs.
  • Create space.
  • Quality passing - weight & accuracy + forward pass.
  • Movement & work rate on / off ball.
  • Decision making.
  • Combination passing.
  • Communication & understanding.

Again I adapted to suit my group size.  I played 6 v 6 in the middle zone along with a neutral player.  With adding the neutral full backs on either side this offered all 15 players involved.  1 or 2 players struggled with the timing of their runs at the start.  For example they arrived into the scoring zone before the ball.  I wanted to keep the session game realistic so added the off side rule for any player arriving into the end zone before the ball.  Again I was happy with how the players performed.  Only on a few occasions did I decide to stop the play to really get across my coaching point.  In most cases it was due to giving away possession too easy through making a difficult pass when a better option was on, i.e. the full back or playing back & starting again.

As always I wanted to take the technical & theme based session into a tactical game.  The introduction of 6 small sided goals still offered the focus on switching play & the players enjoyed finishing with a game.  This also offers players an opportunity to problem solve themselves without a coach going in & stopping it every few minutes.

8 V 8 Game With Focus On Width & 3 Goals

8 v 8 Game With Focus On Width & 3 Goals

Emphasis

8 v 8 game with focus on width & 3 goals.  Team shape & changing the point of attack encouraging play through full backs.

Set-Up

30 x 40 yard area.  8 v 8 + a neutral full back on either side of pitch.  3 mini goals are positioned on either side of the pitch.

Supply of balls spread around pitch & with coach.

Objectives

Each team has 3 goals to attack & 3 to defend.

Look to score in any 3 goals with support from fullback encouraging width & changing the point of attack.

Look for good rhythm in possession, when to switch & when not to.  Also when to penetrate & when to be patient.

Progressions

  1. Rotate players roles & organisation.
  2. To encourage sharper passing limit number of touches on ball.

Coaching

  • Width - look to switch (when & when not).
  • Use of full back.
  • Create attacking options.
  • Decision making.
  • Shape.
  • Work rate & movement on / off ball.
  • Quality passing & finishing - don't force it.
  • Positional play.
  • Communication & understanding.

After the session we had a quick debrief & cool down.  Always ask your players open questions so they can start thinking for themselves rather than always offering the answers & solutions.  We need to create a new breed of young players that think for themselves & play with flair, creativity & freedom.

Let me know how you get on if you use with your own team.  Always feel free to re-post & share as long as you link back to my blog.

Want more info?  You can access over 450 of my session plans by clicking here!  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube

TWAcademy.Org Tour To West Bromwich Albion

It was a chance phone call at the start of the season that set up this weekend to West Bromwich Albion on the last weekend of the Premiership.  Rewind to August & we had organised our Academy tour to London to see our friend Hugo Langton & his academy along with playing a game against Fulham.  Through Chelsea being awkward & West Brom being so accommodating we finished the season with the Baggies!

TW Academy outside the Academy Dome

We had tried to organise tickets for the Chelsea v West Brom Premier League game at Stamford Bridge.  Although Chelsea would not offer any tickets for less than £75 per person!  No child discount, no group discount & stuck up in the second tier of the Matthew Harding stand.  They suggested contacting West Brom.  I remember to this day phoning West Brom & selecting the foundation at 5.20pm to get the most helpful & accommodating woman called Jan.  It was Jan that offered us a fantastic match day experience at the Hawthorns along with great assistance & hard work by Rich.

West Bromwich Albion

The club is also known as West Brom, The Baggies, The Throstles, Albion or WBA.  They are an English professional football club based in West Bromwich in the West Midlands.  The club was formed in 1878 & have played at their home ground since 1900.

Albion were one of the founding members of The Football League in 1888 & have spent the majority of their existence in the top tier of English football.  They have been champions of England once, in 1919–20, but have had more success in the FA Cup, with five wins.  The first came in 1888, the year the league was founded, & the most recent in 1968, their last major trophy.  They also won the Football League Cup at the first attempt in 1966.  The club's longest consecutive period in the top division was between 1949 to 1973, & from 1986 to 2002 they spent their longest ever period out of the top division.  The 2011–12 season is their sixth season in the Premier League since 2002.

The team has played in blue & white stripes for most of the club's history.  Albion have a number of long-standing rivalries with other Midlands clubs; their traditional rivals have always been Aston Villa, but more recently their major rivalry has been with Wolverhampton Wanderers, with whom they contest the Black Country derby.

The Hawthorns

The speed with which the club became established following its foundation is illustrated by the fact that it outgrew four successive grounds in its first seven years.  The first was Cooper's Hill, where they played from 1878 to 1879.  From 1879 to 1881 they appear to have alternated between Cooper's Hill & Dartmouth Park.  During the 1881–82 season they played at Bunn's Field, also known as The Birches.  This had a capacity of between 1,500 & 2,000, & was Albion's first enclosed ground, allowing the club to charge an entrance fee for the first time.  From 1882 to 1885, as the popularity of football increased, Albion rented the Four Acres ground from the well-established West Bromwich Dartmouth Cricket Club.  But they quickly outgrew this new home & soon needed to move again.  From 1885 to 1900 Albion played at Stoney Lane; their tenure of this ground was arguably the most successful period in the club's history, as they won the FA Cup twice & were runners-up three times.

The boys behind the goal on the Stadium Tour at the Hawthorns

By 1900, when the lease on Stoney Lane expired, the club needed a bigger ground yet again & so made its last move to date.  All of Albion's previous grounds had been close to the centre of West Bromwich, but on this occasion they took up a site on the town's border with Handsworth.  The new ground was named The Hawthorns, after the hawthorn bushes that covered the area & were cleared to make way for it.  Albion drew 1–1 with Derby County in the first match at the stadium, on 3 September 1900.  The record attendance at The Hawthorns was on 6 March 1937, when 64,815 spectators saw Albion beat Arsenal 3–1 in the FA Cup quarter-final.  The Hawthorns became an all-seater stadium in the 1990s, in order to comply with the recommendations of the Taylor Report.  Its capacity today is 26,272, the four stands being known respectively as the Birmingham Road End, Smethwick End, East Stand and West Stand.  At an altitude of 551 feet (168 m) above sea level, The Hawthorns is the highest of all the 92 Premier League & Football League grounds.

Club Badge

Albion's main club badge dates back to the late 1880s, when the club's secretary Tom Smith suggested that a throstle sitting on a crossbar be adopted for the badge.  Since then, the club badge has always featured a throstle, usually on a blue and white striped shield, although the crossbar was replaced with a hawthorn branch at some point after the club's move to The Hawthorns.  The throstle was chosen because the public house in which the team used to change kept a pet thrush in a cage.  It also gave rise to Albion's early nickname, The Throstles.  As late as the 1930s, a caged throstle was placed beside the touchline during matches & it was said that it only used to sing if Albion were winning.  In 1979 an effigy of a throstle was erected above the half-time scoreboard of the Woodman corner at The Hawthorns, & was returned to the same area of the ground following redevelopment in the early 2000s.

The badge has been subject to various revisions through the years, meaning that the club were unable to register it as a trademark.  As a result of this, the badge was re-designed in 2006, incorporating the name of the club for the first time.  The new badge gave Albion the legal protection they sought.

The teams line up before kick off

Saturday night friendly in the Academy Dome

The success of the Academy teams reaching finals meant our scheduled game against West Brom had to be cancelled.  Although through the special effort of Rich he managed to organise a game against his own team that finished the season as league runners up & cup winners.  Another bonus was he secured the Academy Dome to play the game in!

What an experience for our boys to play in a Premier League Academy facility.  It was also great to have the Academy Dome, Foundation & The Hawthorn Stadium all in the one location.  This was something I liked at Stoke City & previous visits to the likes of European giants, Barcelona & Ajax.  I think it adds as an extra motivation to really make it as a kid developing through the ranks when you see the stadium every day from where you train.

We played 3 periods of 25 minutes.  The first period was very close with both teams playing some attractive football.  A well taken goal from young Ryan McCrory put TW Academy 1-0 up.  His finish was a quality lob over the keeper.  The second period seen another 2 well taken goals from TW Academy through Reese & Curtis Ritchie making it 3-0.

It was also encouraging seeing Rich, like ourselves, insuring that all players were involved & received similar playing times.  The changes that were made seen TW slightly stronger in the third period with John-Lee grabbing a hat trick, Connor Maxwell getting on the score sheet along with Ryan McCrory adding to his tally.

It was a game played in terrific spirits & I was very impressed with the organisation.  Not only did Rich organise the Academy Dome & referee but supplied us with equipment to warm up along with plenty of water & cups for the players.  Although to have a physio present was crucial after Andy McIvor had a bad fall & needed extensive treatment.  It was reassuring that he could be checked over by her.  Again these are all things that people take for granted, but believe me, I know how much planning & organising that has to go in to bring it all together & I can't thank Rich enough!

Here is some highlights from the game - watch the video!

Match Day Experience

The teams meet before kick off; West Brom v Arsenal

What terrific value West Brom offered us.  For only £25 we received a match ticket to see West Brom play Arsenal, a stadium tour, fun training session & small sided games in the Academy Dome along with a packed lunch!

After a cooked breakfast in our hotel we enjoyed the short stroll over to the Hawthorns to meet Rich.  He welcomed us & placed all our bags securely away in an office so we didn't have to worry about carrying them all day.  We started the morning with a tour around the Hawthorns.  The highlight was to get pitch side & sit on the bench!  Rich was very informative but insured he kept interesting for parents & children.  After the tour we had an opportunity to see around the club shop & purchase some West Brom goodies!

We then transferred back over to the Academy Dome.  Rich took the boys for a fun warm up & kept it very light after the game from the previous night.  He then soon divided the boys & operated small sided games.  We then seen first hand to what level the club works in the community.  The Dome was packed with other clubs & teams doing the same package.  Not forgetting that they had to be split, so while we were all playing football there was another group doing the stadium tour...there must have been several hundred children on the match day experience!  We were even treated to a display of talent from Connor's dad - watch the video!

After the session we all received a packed lunch.  This included a sandwich, drink, piece of fruit, chocolate bar & crisps.  We were able to eat this before taking our seats for the game.  What great seats we received as well!  We were in the third row & touching distance of the players.  It really was a special atmosphere as it was the final day of the season & many West Brom supporters came in fancy dress (Batman& Robin insured we got across the road safely & into the stadium!)

West Brom wanted to finish on a victory as Roy Hodgson was leaving for his new role as England Manager, while Arsenal needed the victory to guarantee Champions League football next season.

It was a terrific start to the game.  After an early mistake by the West Brom keeper Arsenal went 1-0 up.  Then the Baggies fought back to go 2-1 up!  The atmosphere was electric!  Arsenal equalised before half time making the score 2-2.  It really was an unbelievable half of football & such a treat to see these Premiership stars live & be so close to the action.

TW Academy Director, Tim Wareing, with Darren Moore

The second half started well & Arsenal went 3-2 up.  After a lengthy stoppage West Brom offered everything going forward & forced what seemed to be 5 or 6 corners in a row but couldn't find that equaliser.  We had to sneak away just before the final whistle so that Rich could grab our bags for us & we transferred back to the airport for our return flight to Belfast.

We captured highlights from a special day at the Hawthorns - watch the video!

On returning to the Academy Dome to collect our bags we bumped into Baggies hero, Darren Moore, who signed autographs & was happy to have his photo taken with us all.

Clubs don't receive enough credit for opportunities like these.  People sometimes take things for granted but to receive what we did for such a low price is special.  To head to an Irish League game can cost in the region of £10-£12 per adult & £5-£7 per child.  To think what West Brom offered us for only £25 really does show you the lengths they work too.

Thanks

Our thanks goes to West Bromwich Albion FC for such a fantastic experience & for their hospitality - especially to Jan & Rich.  Also to all the parents & children that supported the tour.  A lot of organising goes into these great opportunities & pro club visits & shouldn't be taken for granted.  The Academy was launched in 2010 & boys have had the opportunity to travel to Holland to play PSV Eindhoven & Helmond Sport including playing in an all seater stadium along with visits to PSV & Ajax's stadiums.  We then travelled to London & played against Fulham before having a bumper April & May.  This offered opportunities to players from the academy to travel to Premier League side, Stoke City, for training & a game before a visit to Carrington & Manchester United.  Of course we can't forget about the terrific game & clinic against SC Braga in Belfast!

For those that want more information about the Academy & to request a trial please contact Tim Wareing on; 07740120788 or email.  Remember this does not effect the club you play for.  We offer additional training to develop your child's technique & game understanding helping to offer the all important 10,000 hour theory - 1 or 2 sessions per week is not enough.

Manchester United Visit

April really was a terrific month of experiences & club visits.  We kicked off with welcoming Braga to Belfast then travelled to Stoke City & Manchester United.  To be honest Manchester was planned as a birthday present for my son & we organised to travel with friends but with having a couple of contacts there from the @Coaching Family on Twitter I couldn't resist to organise to meet up with them.  It was another memorable trip!

Carson & Cameron pitchside at Old Trafford

United Experience

We brought the boys down to Old Trafford for a stadium tour.  This was terrific for them as they got to see around the ground, sit in the changing rooms & walk down the tunnel onto pitch side before taking their seats on the bench!   They also got to learn about the history of the club from the Munich disaster through to the the successes on the pitch.  It was great to see around the museum & trophy rooms along with seeing an area dedicated to Paul Scholes.

After the tour we visited the club shop & the boys were able to get some United gear.  Quite amazing what you can get a Manchester United badge onto nowadays!

Packed up we departed for the Trafford Centre.  For those that don't know this is a massive shopping complex with entertainment & restaurants.  After visiting the week previous I wasn't keen to do the shops again lol.  Fortunately the boys entertained themselves in the arcade before we met with Pavl & Andy...known as @betterfootball & @Hiltaldo from Twitter.  Pavl interviewed me last year when I published my second book, '1-on-1 Coaching The Secrets To Improve ALL Football Players - GUARANTEED!'  You can hear the interview here.

We caught up over a drink & some lunch.  It is fascinating meeting coaches this way.  You meet so many quality coaches online & it is great to meet them in the flesh.  What was terrific was having the opportunity to follow Pavl & Andy up to Carrington, Manchester United's training ground.  Andy organises a community programme every Friday evening at Carrington.  This allows children to come in for coaching & games.   They cater from 5 year olds up to 14 / 15 year olds.  There is also a dedicated goalkeepers clinic & coach assessments that take place.  We met with Bill who holds the UEFA A Licence & is also a coach assessor.  I was impressed by the team along with the facilities of course.

Cameron & Carson getting a game inside Carrington!

Upon driving up to Carrington you pass Manchester City's training complex as well as Sale Rugby Club.  Arriving at Manchester United you wouldn't really know it was there training complex at the end of a country road.  Only for a sign up saying about first team players signing autographs you probably wouldn't think it was Carrington!  After driving down a narrow road we parked & then walked over to the complex.  This is when you know it is Manchester United!

The facilities are unreal.  The glass fronted complex we walked into is the famous complex where you see press gathering on a Friday for Sir Alex Ferguson's press conference.  That takes place up the stairs in front of the sponsor board.  Any other time though it is best known as the parents lounge.  Tea, coffee, juice & wifi is available while children can go on ahead & train!  On the same level you have viewing galleries & the story of how the youth academy was developed over the years.

On the ground floor at reception you are met with a large photo of Sir Matt Busby & Sir Alex Ferguson looking over you.  2 of the most famous & most successful managers at the club & across Europe.  They both invested heavily & believed in youth over the years.  As you walk down the corridors you are met with terrific pictures on the wall from our very own George Best & Norman Whiteside through to Bobby Charlton, David Beckham & Ryan Giggs.  There is a number of changing rooms then the entrance to the indoor 4G pitch.  We were told the first team don't like training on it & the surface was replaced.  Apparently this was due to a photo shoot being done with Park ji sung.  After the shoot the company knocked over one of the lights which smashed.  Due to them not being able to guarantee that all the glass was lifted they had to replace the whole pitch!  United at this stage then added to the amount to introduce the latest in 4G surfaces.  Although the first team still prefer to train outside even in the harsh winter weather.

Outside there is a full size 3G pitch & grass pitches as far as the eye can see.  There is a separate complex that houses the first team.  Unfortunately we never seen inside the complex but were informed it was the first team changing area, management offices, rehab area & gym.

What was a real treat was when our boys were asked to join in & play!  Cameron enjoyed playing with some of the coaches while Carson was straight in playing with the young kids.  Carson attends are Toddler Soccer programme & couldn't believe the opportunity to play at Carrington!  I shot a video of our experience at Old Trafford & Carrington & you can watch it here.

This was a remarkable experience for me & the boys.  I honestly can't thank Pavl, Andy & Bill enough for a wonderful time at Carrington.  I hope to return very soon.

Bolton Wanderers

With Mark who organised the tickets - he's a top man!

Another Twitter friend @JnrFootyCoach organised tickets for Bolton v Swansea at the Reebok Stadium.  Mark & his son & friend came down to meet us & organised tickets.  It is amazing how you just click.  The boys got on like a house on fire & mixed really well.  I enjoyed talking away to Mark who was telling me about his wee team he coached & it being their last game of the season.  He is a forward thinking coach & child centered letting the kids play & develop.

Bolton Wanderers offer grassroots clubs tickets for only £10!  It is a fantastic offer to see a Premier League game live.  The Reebok Stadium is a lovely ground.  There was great entertainment outside the ground before heading in for the game.

Swansea have performed excellent in their first season in the Premiership.  Playing some wonderful football they deserve to be were they are.  They took the lead early on with an amazing goal flying into the roof of the net that we were sat behind.  Bolton find themselves at the wrong end of the table & in the relegation battle.  To be fair they played some good football as well & deserved to equalise before half time.  Although that would be the end of the scoring as the game remained 1-1.

Watching the managers you could see Brendon Rodgers taking notes on a regular basis.  He's a manager I have a lot of respect for & funny enough comes from an area only 40 minutes away from me.  Aaron Danks, a coach from West Bromwich Albion, attended a recent clinic of his.  It was terrific to read some of his comments that stick in my mind; Rodgers philosophy on developing players, 'people don't care what you know, until they know that you care.'

'Every player I see has 4 magic words imprinted on their forehead - 'Make Me Feel Important'.'  He then went on to say about when he was out of work & trying to break down barriers, ' Don't wait, CREATE.'

We got ourselves back to our hotel & relaxed by watching the el Classico on Sam's laptop with a few beers.  It was great to reflect on another terrific day.  Sam was great doing all the driving & having the car with the kids was a great help.  We missed Coach Ronnie on Saturday.  He went to visit his son who now leaves just outside Manchester.  We would meet back up with the two of them at the United game on Sunday.  His son, Jonathan, played for me at Lisburn Distillery when I was under 18 manager & then reserve team manager.  He also played a couple of games for the first team.  Like his dad, Mr dependable, someone you can always rely on both on & off the pitch.

Our boys had done terrific.  Cameron really enjoying his birthday & young Carson kept up the pace so well for only being 4.  They mixed well together & always kept themselves occupied with the DS or i-pad during the travelling!

Manchester United

My son & I at Old Trafford

Our final day away had arrived & we had another visit to Old Trafford to look forward to.  This time we were watching their Premier League game against Everton.  It was a wet Manchester morning so we had to take cover in the club shop.  It was great to meet up with an old school friend of mine who now lives in Manchester.  Sam & the boys went on in to grab there seats while I had a coffee & catch up with Rob.  Ronnie & his son arrived & then we made our way in to the ground.

Our seats were in the Stretford End beside the tunnel.  The area we were in was the family stand.  It was great the activities & games they had going on in the concourse area of the stand for the kids.  We then settled down to enjoy the game & what a game it was!  We went 1-0 down to a Jelavic headed goal.  I must give the big man credit as never realised how good his movement was off the ball until I seen him at a live game.  Rooney though equalised for the Champions before half time.

The main action was saved for the second half.  Wellbeck scored a wonder goal at our end before Nani made it 3-1.  I managed to get his goal on camera & it was amazing to see the celebrations.  It was also funny to see young Carson sitting playing on his dad's i-phone while 76,000 fans were going crazy!  But this is United & we never make things easy for ourselves.  Everton pulled another back to make it 3-2.  When Rooney made it 4-2 against his old club we never thought for one minute that the score would finish 4-4 but it did!  SO the title race is going right to the last weekend of the premiership by the looks of it.  We were glad to be there!  Here is footage from the games, click here.

What an amazing trip & experience.  I can't thank everyone that played a part enough.  From Sam doing the driving to Pavl, Andy & Bill at United to Mark organising the tickets for Bolton.  The internet is an amazing place to meet amazing people!

Stoke City Experience

I had the pleasure to travel over to Stoke City FC with 3 boys from our elite squad.  This was a terrific experience for the boys to see a Premier League club & it's academy set up.  Their U10 coach, Will Ryder, hosted us during our stay & I must say what a positive experience we all had.

Belfast Departure

We all met at Belfast International Airport for the 7am departure to Manchester.  A nice early start that had Ryan, Stephen & Tom all kitted out in their black TW Academy tracksuit along with white polo.  They all said goodbye to their parents & I became their surrogate father for the next 4 days lol.  We got straight through security & boarded the plane.  We enjoyed a pleasant flight over to Manchester on a lovely morning.  We used the time to chat about the experience telling them to be focused but to truly enjoy the experience.

The Stoke U10 Academy Manager, Will, arrived to collect us at Manchester & transfer us to his home in Stoke.  It was an enjoyable journey that offered an opportunity to get to know Will.  Straight away I found him to be very professional but with a warm personality that put the boys at ease.  It's funny as over the years I sometimes would meet very stuffy coaches who seem to be above themselves & I wonder how they can relate to kids.  To meet a guy from a top premiership club that had such a welcoming & down to earth attitude was refreshing.  But that's enough man love for Will haha.

Tom, Will, Ryan & Stephen training with Stoke City's Britannia Stadium in the background

Arrival & Small Group Session

We got settled in to his house & had a drink before preparing to go out for a morning small group session with Will.  The session took place on grass outside the Academy Dome which incidentally is just across from the Britannia Stadium.  What a back drop to have while you train!  It was a great opportunity to watch another coach work with a small group.  As many of you know it is something I work on a daily basis with - 1-on-1 coaching & small group coaching.

The boys had a terrific time concentrating on ball familiarisation, Speed, Agility & Quickness (SAQ), passing & then into finishing.  I filmed highlights from the session & you can see Will & the boys work by clicking here.  This is something I do until the cows come home.  You can never do enough ball work!  Will also had one of his academy development players arrive in to take the group up to 4.

When you watch the video you will see that Will has a great way with working with players.  I believe we share similar philosophies.  It is refreshing to see a coach work heavily on technique through demonstration, snippets of guidance & always positive encouragement.

 

First Team Training Complex & the Academy

After the session the boys got to see the Academy indoor 3G Dome & parents lounge.  We then transferred over to the first team training ground.  Will's U10 team had a friendly against the only team that Stoke have an official link with.  They were over from Orlando.

It was terrific to see around the first team complex & to see one of the academy teams in action.  At this age group they played on a smaller pitch with smaller nets.  On all occasions the keeper looked to pass the ball out & play from the back.  The defenders were comfortable on the ball & we witnessed some lovely passages of play & individual skill.  The players looked to take players on & the coaches only added encouragement & short snippets of advice to the players.

The weather decided to put on a performance as well & wanted to make sure every condition got a game!  We had warm sunshine, cloud, rain to a heavy downpour of hail stones!!

Picture with the boys in Stoke City first team training complex

I captured highlights from the game & the Stoke City first team training complex & you can watch the highlights by clicking here.  All the pitches were immaculate & their was a mix of a couple of full sized pitches for the first team, the reserve team pitch, academy pitches full size & a number of marked out smaller sized pitches.  There was also a full size 3G pitch.

The complex was over two levels.  On ground level there was reception, changing rooms, gym & a rehab room complete with mini pool.  On the first floor there was offices, including the first team manager Tony Pulis' office!  The canteen was also situated on this level.  Many may remember big Peter Crouch walking across this area on Sky Sports transfer deadline day!

We had our photo taken in here beside the Stoke City badge.  What was also present on all the walls was photos from the current stars of the first team to famous older players from yesteryear.  This included Gordon Banks & 'the dribbler', Sir Stanley Matthews!

I was very impressed with the facilities & the welcome we received.  There was always a smile & hello from coaches, players, staff or parents.  The boys loved the experience!  Not a bad first day to train, watch a game & be shown around the first team training complex!

The Britannia Stadium

We enjoyed a private tour of the Britannia Stadium

The Britannia Stadium is an all-seater that can accommodate 27,598 spectators (reduced from 28,384 due to segregation.)  The name is taken from the sponsors of the Stadium the Britannia Co-operative Bank.  Along with hosting football matches, the stadium has played host to performers such as Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams & Elton John.  The ground also holds conference & banqueting suites, the Delilah's Bar, & a club shop selling Stoke City merchandise.

The highest attendance being recorded at the stadium was 28,218 for the sell-out fixture against Everton in their FA Cup 3rd Round tie in 2002.  The first goal in the stadium was scored by Graham Kavanaghfor Stoke in a league cup game against Rochdale.  The club had played at the Victoria Ground until 1997.  Club legend Sir Stanley Matthews ashes were buried beneath the centre circle of the pitch following his death in February 2000; he had officially opened the stadium on 30 August 1997.

The Stoke City fans were awarded with the loudest supporters in the Premier League last season!  We were shown the executive boxes before being taken down to the changing rooms.  We all left our mark there lol before heading down the tunnel & out on to the pitch.  We got some great photos & memories that we'll never forget.  Those that clicked on the above video link will also see the stadium tour after the academy game & first team training complex.

Before leaving the stadium we made sure we grabbed some Stoke City training gear & were all kitted out!

Stoke City Development Game

After returning home to eat & relax we prepared for a game that night.  The boys would feature for Stoke City's Leicester Development squad playing against Stoke City Development squad.  This is the stepping stone to being selected for the academy.

Ryan, Tom & Stephen line up for Stoke!

The match was played at a local club called the Stoke Domino's.  They have a fantastic set up that reminded me of a typical Dutch grassroots / semi pro club.  While the boys got ready I grabbed a coffee in the club house & had a walk around the facility.  I met with a parent whose son had traveled over from Asia.  He played in the academy game the previous day.  It was fascinating speaking to them & hearing about their experiences back home.  He was a talent.

The game was played on a smaller pitch with reduced size nets.  The pitch size was perfect for a 9 v 9 game.  The coaches on the night decided to play 11 v 11.  Personally I thought it was too tight a pitch but on a positive it meant that Ryan, Stephen & Tom all got full games.  They played 4 periods which allowed the coaches time to speak & organise the players.

The boys played in the Leicester Stoke Development side & played some great football.  They were very unlucky not to score with Tom going close while a team mate hit the post.  It was in the second period that Stoke City went 1-0 up.  During the third period the boys did excellent.  First of all Ryan came up with a terrific bit of individual play by flicking the ball up & over the Stoke defender before sending a looping shot over the keeper to equalise!  We captured the goal on camera.  Although no sooner had kick off taken place that Tom picked the ball up & sent a thunder bolt into the roof of the net to put the Leicester Stoke side up 2-1!

This was great personal achievement by the boys as Ryan & Tom had scored at Stoke while Stephen grabbed the goal against Braga before flying out!  Disappointingly I missed Tom's goal on the camera : (

The third period seen Stoke Development equalise at 2-2 & that would be how the scores remained.  Was made up for the boys to play in the Stoke top & have such a memorable experience!  Watch the match highlights here!

Indoor Tournament

On Friday there was a meeting for all academy staff based on the new EPPP coming in so it changed the schedule of the day.  The boys enjoyed playing an indoor tournament in the Stoke City Academy 3G Dome.  The bonus was it included a lot of players from the actual academy so the standard was very high.  It was non stop action & I enjoyed watching the game before having a walk around the facility & the local area which was beside the stadium.

I really do like the idea of clubs having their training bases close to their stadium...what motivation must it offer players - especially young ones.  Barcelona & Ajax are two great examples of this.

As Will attended the meeting that night it offered us some down time in the house to reflect on the experience.  I think I was buzzing as much as the boys!  To see the various training sites, stadium & for the boys to be involved in training & games...along with grabbing a goal each!  These experiences should be jumped on.  We need more children from Northern Ireland to sample being around the professional environment that a Premier League club offers.

Return leg

On our final day Will dropped us down to the Trafford Centre in Manchester.  We enjoyed some food together before the boys seemed to change into woman & went shopping!  Never been into so many shops in my life.  Will played a game for his club before returning to collect us & take us to Manchester airport.

I can't thank Will & Stoke enough for what was an awesome experience.  Will opened up his home for us, as did Stoke City, & it will be a memory I'll never forget about not to mention the boys.  We hope to link up & offer a clinic in Northern Ireland by Will as well as a return visit to Stoke City.

Athletic Bilbao’s Iraola skill against Manchester United – It’s Simply Ball Mastery & Repetition!

Manchester United have not only been knocked out of Europe but were outclassed by a classy Spanish side that everyone is talking about!  I'm not going to jump on the band wagon of talking about Llorente or Muniain but the defender, Iraola.  It was he who produced a moment of brilliance that made the United back line, including Rio Ferdinand, look like idiots.  Dare I say it but it looked like George Best dancing around players & sticking them on their backsides!

Now I am a massive United fan but I'll be honest, I wanted to see that ball hit the back of the net as the skill was unbelievable!  To really know what I'm talking about here is the run.  Anybody reading my blog will know how critical I am of how some grassroots coaches have not evolved.  Over the years & many clubs visits across Europe I pick up a number of fresh ideas.  Funny enough I am going to use an example of how Iraola's skill came about through a Manchester United coach...

Manchester United coach, Rene Meulensteen, originally arrived at the club to work as the skills coach.  Sir Alex Ferguson was that impressed with the Dutch man he got him to work with the first team players.  It was this role that he worked a lot with Cristiano Ronaldo.  The work he carried out with Ronaldo was practiced by all United Academy players.  Because the feet are the most distant part of the body from the brain, players need to learn, through repetition, to operate them without thinking, through instinct or improvisation.  I took this concept & tweaked to suit my players.  We call it the Ronaldo 7 - 7 different moves with the ball stationary.  This improves speed of mind & feet through repetition & ball mastery.

I carry this out at nearly all my classes as a warm up.  While many teams take their players for a warm up by doing laps around the pitch shouting out, 'right hand down', 'left hand down', 'up & head the ball'.  I prefer to operate dribbling, tricks, turns, juggling the ball & the Ronaldo 7.  The advantage is that, through using the 'Ronaldo 7' in a warm up, it increases the body's temperature & allows maximum touches of the ball.  In fact, the players could touch the ball several hundred times, much more beneficial than jogging around the side of a pitch!  It is simply improving the player's touch & co-ordination.  I feature this all in my new book.

Ronaldo 7

Ronaldo 7

Emphasis

The 'Ronaldo 7' originated from the great Manchester United Coach, Rene Meulensteen, & of course Ronaldo.

The Dutch coach was brought to United to operate as the Skills coach.  He used Ronaldo & his squad number to demonstrate 7 different skills.

The idea is that your feet is the furthest thing away from your brain.  So through repetition you will operate things without thinking - instinct or to improvise.

The other bonus is though using the 'Ronaldo 7' in a warm up it increases the bodies temperature along with maximum touches of the ball.  In fact your players could touch the ball several hundred times - much more beneficial than jogging around the side of a pitch!  It is simply improving the players touch & co-ordination.

Set-Up

Easy - give the player a ball!

Objectives

For the player to carry out 7 different skills at a high tempo.  The player & ball should not move from their starting position.

The Ronaldo 7 is made up of the following moves;

  1. Toe Taps - Place the sole of the foot on top of the ball then look to alternate feet.  Switching from left foot to right foot.  Look to increase speed.
  2. Sides - Play the ball between left & right foot by passing with the inside of each foot.  Look to increase speed but keeping the ball under control at all times.
  3. Sticky Tape - Start with the sole of the right foot on top of the ball.  Look to roll your foot from one side of the ball to the other.  Try to get your foot as close to the ground as possible but don't touch the ground or let go of the ball.  Depending what is most comfortable balance stationary on your left foot or hop.  Change feet after set time.
  4. Laces, front roll, drag back - Start of all right foot.  Use the laces to hit the ball in front of you, then drag back with the sole of your right foot.  Continue at speed.  Switch over to your left foot.  Then after set time look to mix.  Kick the ball with laces of your right foot, drag back with the sole of your left foot.  Kick out with the laces of your left foot, drag back with the sole of your right foot.  Repeat at speed.
  5. Step Over - Ball is stationary.  Right foot should step over the ball from the outside over, adjust footing then repeat with left foot.  Continue at speed.  Insure you don't touch the ball or move from the spot.
  6. Ronaldo Scissors  - The famous Ronaldo skill!  Right foot should come around the inside of the ball then make a complete circle around it.  Repeat with the left foot.  Continue at speed, again don't touch the ball & keep in the same area.
  7. Tap Dance - Fun co-ordination one to finish on.  Front part of each foot touches the ball.  Left foot, right foot, left foot twists around the back of right leg to touch the ball.  Right foot, left foot, right foot twists around the back of left leg to touch the ball.  Repeat at speed.

Progressions

  1. Time each skill.
  2. Add different skills.

Coaching

  • Touch.
  • Perfecting skills.
  • Speed.
  • Co-ordination.

So next time your players arrive for a warm up get them with the ball from the start & watch the motivation go into over drive!  If they ask why do they do it every session & why they should practice at home, well tell them to click on this video!

Let me know how you get on if you use with your own team.  Always feel free to re-post & share as long as you link back to my blog.

Want more info?  You can access over 450 of my session plans by clicking here!  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube

The State of the Game

People like to make it a crime in Northern Ireland that I charge for children to access my football coaching.  Never mind I have spent thousands of pounds to develop myself & undertake my coaching qualifications along with the sacrifice I have made in my life to get to where I am.  A meeting last week reminded me that the future of the local game & the development in our young players is in the hands of semi to non qualified volunteers.  In this life you get what you pay for...

When will attitudes change in youth football?

Lisburn Distillery

4 years ago I left my post as Academy Director at Irish Premier League side, Lisburn Distillery.  I spent 6 happy years at the club but left disappointed that I'd not been allowed to complete my project.  I don't think people will ever understand the hurt that you receive as I put my life & soul into it.

At the same time you have to be true to yourself.  I left due to funding & a lack of contact time with the players.  This is such a regular occurrence in Northern Ireland.  I had my players in twice a week for training along with their match.  The majority of players also attended one of my development centres.  I wanted them in another night so we would see them 4-5 times per week but the club wanted them down to one night a week due to funding.  So we want to develop elite players in Northern Ireland by training them once a week?  Then they wanted to cut my expenses too.  This would have resulted in it costing me money to work for the club.

How can we produce better players unless we increase the contact time & give them access to the best youth coaches & development programme?  It's a bit like the millions of pounds the Government waste into researching child obesity.  They come back with their findings that if children eat less & exercise more it will reduce their weight & increase their life expectancy.  Bloody hell, now there's a plan...I can just imagine the length of time it took the Government to come back with those findings & the amount of public money it wasted.

I suppose it's the same here when the powers that be looked at building a National Stadium somewhere & wasted millions of public money talking about it for nothing to happen on the proposed site.  The same way that many Council's stop me from hiring a venue or charge me £100 per 45 minute slot to operate a Toddler or Mini Soccer centre.  It's a load of crap.

So getting back to producing elite players.  If we offer the best youth coaches & increase the contact time we have with players that is going to create better players.  What a simple little concept but we have to make it difficult by finding excuses to not do it.

The Irish Premiership

I had a meeting with an Irish Premiership side recently.  On paper they want to re-structure their academy & to be fair they have a nice plan but it's only on paper...implementation is the key.  I met with them, they seemed quite genuine when they said they were happy to receive an application from myself & highlighted my experience & qualifications.  After 15 minutes of talking we hit a dead end, 'You do realise that this position is voluntary?'  Now at this point you would think they would try to offer some small weekly allowance to get you on board...you know something to help cover a little of your time or the very least petrol / mobile phone expense?  Or maybe suggest using their website, match day programme or signage at the stadium to promote my business as another leverage.  No!  Nothing!  Not a penny!

'Well what is you do? '  I asked.  'I'm a painter & decorator' came the reply.  'Ok, I've heard good things about you.  I'd like to bring you to my house & tell you what I want you to do to create a lovely looking house.  I'm going to give you some freedom as well for you to put your own identity on my house.  But just one thing, I have no money.  Sure your qualified at what you do & have invested years to get to where you are now but I'm sure you'll do it for nothing as your passionate?'

Funny, I'm still waiting for my house to be decorated...I think I'm just going to have to bring some cowboy in.  He'll do the job for nothing.  Although he's not educated, qualified & not suitable to let free on my house but it will get the job done.  Does this story sound familiar?  Why as coaches do people expect us to do it for nothing?  Whose going to pay my bills & support my wife & 3 children?

Pay peanuts get monkeys...

So while clubs get anyone to come in & manage their youth teams the end result is the same.  I've never seen youth football so poor in Northern Ireland.  People will say it's better, we have small sided game centres but for every one success story there will be 12  horror stories.  The 5 & 7-aside games are flawed.  They play on an adults 5-aside pitch with the massive wide goals.  Kids as young as 5 & 6 chase one ball from one end of the pitch to the other.  You'll have some poor sod in goals (who wants to do nets at the age of 5 & 6??) while 8 others chase the ball into the corner while the other keeper stands doing nothing.  Then someone boots the ball to the other end & some idiot coach shouts, 'WELL PLAYED, NOW GET OUT!'  At the same time you have about 30-50 parents, grand parents all huddled round the pitch screaming & shouting at these little kids.  What is worse is the clubs to provide a team put anyone in charge.  In most cases an un-qualified parent.  This is the worst thing a club can do as it's the most important age group & should have the best coaches at this age group!  The other problem you have is teams meeting an hour before kick off.  Assuming some of these young children have 30-45 minutes to travel to get there & then home you will find that 2-3 hours are wasted travelling or standing about for 30 minutes of football...well that is if they get a full game!

Why not split the pitch in half & play left to right using small pugg goals & NO goalkeepers & play 4 v 4.  Then simply rotate games so that kids get more football & more variation as well as developing.  Better still, just organise it yourself internally like I did at Distillery!

I see so many of my little toddlers who have been with me from the age of 2 go from my Toddler Soccer to the Premier League...oh wait, sorry, I mean the little 5-aside league.  This is what is ruining the game & the fun for kids.  The people that brought this in to 'develop' the kids have created a monster.  When I was at Distillery I was questioned at bringing kids in at 6.  I was passionate that it was going to happen & pushed it through.  Although I managed it in a completely different way to how people are today.

Challenge your players but concentrate on the technical side of the game & always use the ball!

All the children received was good quality coaching.  Always with the ball.  Dribbling, tricks, keepie ups, 1 v 1's & small sided games.  It was all controlled by me & all internal.  We didn't play any opposition simply created internal 4 v 4 game days.  We educated the parents too.  It was perfect.  After a year we invited opposition in as long as they played to our rules of 4 v 4 & 5 v 5.  When we actually came round to playing in organised game centres with kids our own age we beat them 7, 8 & 9-0 & in some cases 19-0!  So here was the next problem.

We have become so structured it stops development...

My boys were learning nothing as they weren't being challenged.  It certainly wasn't doing the teams we played any good getting beat by that amount.  It proved my development programme worked.  I asked to play a year up.  Honestly, the reply I got back from the 'Development Officer' you'd think I was announcing World War III!  It wasn't allowed to happen on the grounds of health & safety - BULL!  How did you develop when you were a kid?  On the streets playing against better, stronger & older kids so you always excelled at your own age.  I went ahead & put them up a year & told a wee white lie.  Haha, you normally have the sad coaches playing over aged players to gain an advantage - we were having to 'cheat' by playing under age players!

When we look back on it now we can see how it has developed those young players.  They are all playing at the so called 'top' clubs in Northern Ireland.  But even that I've done that many will argue against it & the overall enjoyment & development is suffering.

Parents you need to take a stand!

If you think the coach shouting at your kid is good, think again!  They are stopping your child from playing.  Let's think about it.  Your son does something bad, you shout at them so you hope they don't do it again?  Well, same on the football pitch.  Your child tries something & it doesn't come off so a fully grown man shouts at him...the result?  The child won't play with freedom & creativity...simply play in a comfort zone & won't take risks.  We prefer to educate rather than shout.

I've raised the point already about travelling & standing about prior to the match.  Next time your child plays count how many times he touches the ball.  Why not take a stop watch & time how long the ball is at their feet?  You'll be shocked!  Go ahead - do it!  Then do the same in training.  If you have a coach that does laps around the pitch I'd have to ask questions on how that is going to develop his technical ability at football.  My son goes to piano lessons, if the teacher made him run round the piano I'd take him out the class!

Does your coach operate line drills, doggy style runs or lectures?  Or if you son gets hurt does your coach run on to the pitch with a bottle of water!!!  It needs to change.  Start off with the 3 L's - get away from; laps, lines & lectures!  In Northern Ireland coaches that say, 'We'll burn the kids out' actually mean they can't be bothered planning sessions.  It's games that do the damage.  A match on a Saturday, a match for the school, a match for a County & a match in training!  Kids can train every day it it is all based around the technical side of the game.

A scout informed me that 98% of Northern Ireland kids return home from pro clubs across the water.  People talk about 1% of kids making it through the academy system.  It's such a small percentage of children that actually make it as a professional.  But we're not going to get any kids playing across the water in the near future unless we increase the level of coaching here & the amount of contact time we have with our kids!

Don't be a yes man & stick to your beliefs...

There is a small group of coaches who I have met that think similar to me.  The powers that be hate them.  Look at Paul Cooper from Give Us Back Our Game.  They stopped his funding & wanted to get rid of him.  What a gent.  The stuff that Brooking is coming out with at the FA now is what Paul was saying years ago.  Paul was part of the studies at Manchester University with his business partner Rick Fenalgio that studied Manchester United's 4 v 4 study.  Less kids on the pitch = more touches, more dribbles, more passes, more tricks, more shots, more goals = higher technical ability & development of a player.  The Dutch have been doing this for years.

Only last week was one of my coaches met by 2 coaches from the Irish Football Association.  'You work for Tim Wareing?  We (the Irish Football Association) don't like him.'

My coach asked them had they seen me coach, 'No...just what we heard.'  You see you have the robots.  They can't think for themselves & just follow the crowd.  Jealousy is a wonderful thing.  They talk about you as they fear you.  This is what holds back football in the UK.  We have coaches that are only out for themselves.  The fear of someone knowing more than them stops them from asking questions.  We have far too many clubs.  Then each club has 10 mini clubs within them as no one wants to support each other.

Commission...

I believe coaches should be paid on commission (as should pro players!)  I run my own business so I need to insure the coaching is carried out to a high standard as well as the running of my business.  This is how we are all paid.  I don't get Government grants or tax payers money!  Whereas we have 'Development Coaches', 'County Coaches', etc. etc. in the IFA / FA.  Now before my little friend pipes up.  I am not speaking about everyone.  I know some great coaches that work in the IFA / FA.  But you can bet your house on it that there is many 'jobs for the boys'.  At the minute they all get paid the agreed amount regardless of performance.  Change that to a commission based approach & the standard will improve throughout!  Imagine if clubs followed the same route & paid to have the best youth coaches.  What would it do to our local & national game?

Can we evolve?  Our cultural is mixed.  It's getting a balance.  Pay for coaches to work with the best but look for passionate coaches that want to improve & have an open mind.  I have great coaches that work for me.  Pro Licence, UEFA A & B Licence coaches & a number of great young coaches.  With a team of 37 coaches I find them to be generally reliable & turn up for sessions as they are paid.  I operate free staff training every 6 weeks...the numbers are generally about 10-12 attending!  We don't have that cultural that we want to learn.

Professional Level

You want your child to ride a horse, play an instrument, learn how to swim or play golf you demand an expert.  Why not in football?  1-2 hours poor coaching is not enough.  We need to change & fast.  If not we're going to slide down the FIFA rankings even more.  87th position in the rankings?  I've still not got over us not being able to beat a country that has more sheep than people!  I'm fed up of the excuses that we are a small nation...look at some of the nations that are above us; Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago & the likes of Iraq...

Let's embrace change & come out the dark ages.  When a junior referee can make £100 on a Saturday while a coach makes nothing we have problems...but we're a small country who can't train excellence in youth more than 4 times a week because of 'burn out' & finance...this is bull...we waste over £5 million of tax payers money on 15 leisure centres in Belfast a year...yes you read that right...give me £20k a year & a leisure centre & I'll train kids 4 times a week.  But that wouldn't work as people don't work together in NI - just slate them unless you're a yes man that keeps doing the same crap that was going on 25 years ago.  1986 is a distant memory.

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