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Goalkeeper Training – The Forgotten Man? (Part 3)

During Part 2 we looked at reflex sessions along with pressure saves & crossing.  In grassroots football the goalkeeper is generally the forgotten man.  Simply the training they receive is in group format or via a shooting drill.  Obviously at this level resources are limited but to find someone to do a little work is better than forgetting about one of the most important people on the pitch.  Below I will share a copy of my session plan notes specifically for our keepers.  This is the final part of our 3 part series.

We will focus on goalkeeper games during part 3.

Goalkeeper Games

Distribution Games.

1. Object of the game is to score in the other goalkeepers net by throwing the ball. Goalkeeper 1 starts the game by throwing the ball towards goalkeeper 2 & their net. If goalkeeper 2 saves by catching the ball they are allowed maximum of 2 steps towards goalkeeper 1 before throwing the ball. If either goalkeeper tips ball or punches ball out of play the goalkeeper who had the shot gains possession.

Variations include kicking the ball from the hands, volley or drop kick the ball, kick the ball from the ground or play 2 goalkeepers in each goal & if 1 shoots wide or over they must complete a lap of playing area before continuing in the game.

Session 1

2. To practice good all round distribution of the ball set up areas so that the goalkeeper has targets to throw or kick the ball to.

Session 2

3. 3 players; A, B & C, & positioned along the half way line. They each have a supply of balls & stand beside a mini goal. Each take it in turn to cross the ball towards the goalkeeper. Once goalkeeper collects the ball they should look to distribute toward any of the 3 mini goals by throwing or kicking.

Coaching points include communication, distribution, winning the ball, work both feet, throwing & kicking technique & rapid build up.

You can develop by having players A, B & C dribble the ball & performing back passes for the goalkeeper to deal with in same way. You can add a second player to look to close the goalkeeper down automatically to help it become more realistic to a game. Finally, after collecting the ball the goalkeeper should look for a defender to play out to for them now to score into the mini goals.

Session 3

Crossing Games.

1. Goalkeeper 1 throws the ball to W1. W1, within 3 touches, crosses the ball long & high into the penalty area for goalkeeper 2 to collect. Distribute the ball to W2 to cross for goalkeeper 1.

3 important factors to handling crossing situations are; positioning, judgement & action (to attack cross or not). Goalkeepers positioning will vary according to the angle & distance of the cross. Goalkeepers should wait until the cross has been delivered & quickly decide whether to attack the cross or advise defenders to attack it.

Goalkeepers need much practice on positioning & decision making on crosses coming into the box. This practice is simply organised & allows goalkeepers to practice all that is mentioned above. Make sure that the winger varies the crosses, i.e. hard & low, near post, far post, etc.

Session 1

2. Players remain in zones. Goalkeeper delivers to W or to A1 & A2. A1 / A2 passes wide to W. W crosses the ball within 3 touches. Goalkeeper then communicates & decides whether to come & collect the cross or allow the defenders to deal with it.

This session adds to the previous one by testing the goalkeepers ability to deal with crosses while under pressure from opponents being marked by the keepers defenders. If is important that the goalkeeper communicates with the defence to remind them of their marking responsibilities as well as taking up a correct position. Then the keeper has to decide whether to attack the cross or advise his defenders to challenge. In taking the latter course, the goalkeeper needs to give clear information to attack the cross, shouting clearly & loudly, 'AWAY!' If the goalkeeper decides to attack the cross, they should shout loudly & clearly, 'KEEPER'S BALL!'

Session 2

Duel Games / Mini Games.

1. This session is to practice & improve a goalkeeper when faced by oncoming attacker in a 1 v 1 situation. The goalkeeper should always look to come off his line (although not to quickly as to avoid being chipped) & narrow the angle for the attacking player. The goalkeeper should not be easily tricked after a feint & should remain big & confident as to outwit the forward.

(S) plays the ball to X1 or X2. X1 or X2 runs with the ball through the cones & at the goalkeeper. The attacking player attempts to score past the goalkeeper in a 1 v 1 situation by shooting or to try & dribble past the keeper.

Session 1

Every club should allocate some time & personnel to work with the goalkeepers.  Whether that be to bring the goalkeeper in early of have a keeper group night it is essential that the last man in defense is not forgotten about.  I hope you have enjoyed my 3 part series.

Goalkeeper Training – The Forgotten Man? (Part 2)

During Part 1 we looked at warm ups & handling along with agility & goal line sessions.  In grassroots football the goalkeeper is generally the forgotten man.  Simply the training they receive is in group format or via a shooting drill.  Obviously at this level resources are limited but to find someone to do a little work is better than forgetting about one of the most important people on the pitch.  Below I will share a copy of my session plan notes specifically for our keepers.  This is the second of a 3 part series so please check back soon for part 3!

We will focus on reflex sessions along with pressure saves & crossing during part 2.

Reflex Sessions

The following sessions should be operated in sets of 10. Although please adapt to suit the age & fitness of goalkeeper.

1. X1 throws ball through on looking goalkeepers legs, goalkeeper then turns & X2 immediately shoots.

Session 1

2. X passes to right, goalkeeper dives to save & rolls back. Same process but to the left.

Session 2

3. Develop previous session by passing to either side. Coaching points will include not diving too early, sharp, adjust & try not to come forward.

4. Goalkeeper operates on knees in mini goals. S1 throws to X1 who volley's to alternative sides for goalkeeper to save & knock out. Same process but from S2, firm throws, react to re-bounds. Develop with goalkeeper on feet, use whole goal.

Session 4

5. Goalkeeper touching near post & looking at S1, then reacts to shot from X1.

Session 5

6. Goalkeeper is arms length from near post, on call quick feet, spring & dive to stop throw from server scoring. Develop to working on both sides of goal.

Develop again, after save goalkeeper is flat on ground on belly & reacts on call to save in other corner. Coaching points include spring & power.

Session 6

7. Server throws to top corner, goalkeeper leaps to save.

Pressure Saves & Crosses

1. S1 shoots, goalkeeper saves, moves to other goal, sets & saves from S2 then sets & saves from S3 in other goal. Coaching points include footwork, position, relax & save.

Session 1

2. S1 throws to S2 who shoots against GK1 or GK2. Coaching points include alertness, reaction & cover re-bounds.

Session 2

Late Reaction Saves.

1. Goalkeeper looks the other way & on command turns & saves. Serve from penalty spot to 18 yard line. Coaching points include goalkeeper to be on toes, sight of ball, attack it & save it.

Crosses.

1. S1 throws ball into X1, X2 & X3 who all put pressure on the goalkeeper. Object of the game is for the goalkeeper to collect cross or punch clear out of danger zone. Coaching points include the goalkeeper being slightly off line (2-3 yards), face the ball, correct timing, catch ball at highest point, be decisive & positive in attacking the ball, call loud & early if goalkeeper is coming for the ball, if not shout away - defenders need to know, communicate, be confident & positive.

Session 1

Every club should allocate some time & personnel to work with the goalkeepers.  Whether that be to bring the goalkeeper in early of have a keeper group night it is essential that the last man in defense is not forgotten about.  Join us next month for part 3.

Goalkeeper Training – The Forgotten Man? (Part 1)

In grassroots football the goalkeeper is generally the forgotten man.  Simply the training they receive is in group format or via a shooting drill.  Obviously at this level resources are limited but to find someone to do a little work is better than forgetting about one of the most important people on the pitch.  Below I will share a copy of my session plan notes specifically for our keepers.  This is the first of a 3 part series so please check back soon for part 2!

We will focus on how a goalkeeper should warm up & I've also included details on agility & goal line sessions during part 1.

Warm Up & Ball Handling Sessions

1. Bounce ball, on command carry out:

  • Roll ball in front & dive on it.
  • Throw ball into air & jump & catch it.
  • Put ball in between legs & dive & catch.

2. Goalkeeper 1 kicks ball into hands of goalkeeper 3 who catches & kicks ball back, same then with goalkeeper 2. Rotate so that each goalkeeper is working. Coaching points are - stance, handling & speed.

Session 2

3. Develop by serving the ball high in the air so that goalkeeper 3 can take short steps & jump high to catch the ball finishing with stretch.

4. Operate sessions 2 & 3 again but vary starting position so goalkeepers can work on foot work & turning.

Session 4

5. Goalkeeper 1 throws to goalkeeper 2 who dives to right, catches & throws back while getting straight back up to dive again - carry out 10 times. Coaching points are - foot work, handling, speed, return ball & get back up in one motion.

Session 5

Agility & Goal Line Sessions

The following sessions should be operated in sets of 12 developing to 20. Although please adapt to suit the age & fitness of goalkeeper.

1. Goalkeeper sits on bum with legs bent & loose, partner then serves ball so goalkeeper can stretch & catch ball over head & return. Coaching points is speed & technique, i.e. operate session like sit up.

2. Rowing, feet off ground, partner throws ball goalkeeper catches with knees up to chest & returns with legs out. Coaching point is co-ordination, i.e. operate session like rowing machine.

3. Goalkeeper on bum, partner throws ball to left & right so goalkeeper can catch & throw back. Coaching points include agility, service, catching & to keep loose.

4. Develop above session, dive from left to right - keep ball off the ground. Main coaching point is to keep ball in front of body line.

Every club should allocate some time & personnel to work with the goalkeepers.  Whether that be to bring the goalkeeper in early of have a keeper group night it is essential that the last man in defense is not forgotten about.  Join us next month for part 2.

Possession With A Focus On Width

UEFA A Licence Coach, Tim Wareing, operates his Academy in Belfast.  The ex Academy Director of Irish League side, Lisburn Distillery, shares his latest elite session with The Soccer Store.  All the equipment that Tim uses can be purchased direct from The Soccer Store.

As soon as the players report in for training they each get a football.  The first 10 minutes is for them to juggle the ball, dribble & perform skills.  It also offers time for them to catch up with team mates.  The Academy is open to all players & many will play for different clubs across Northern Ireland.  After this period I will come in & increase the tempo.  On Sunday I put them through the 'Ronaldo 7' which is a series of 7 skills performed stationary with the ball.  We then played a game of 'Every Man For Themselves'.  Simply half the boys will have balls to dribble & protect while the other half attempt to steal & keep.  This insures maximum exposure with the ball & increases the tempo.  After some stretches & water the players went through S.A.Q. (Speed, Agility & Quickness training using speed ladder, hurdles & hoops) before I progressed the session.

I wanted to keep the high tempo but at the same time recreate game like scenarios.  The below session comes from the outspoken Dutch man, Raymond Verheijen, who is a master on periodisation training.  Many of my sessions will focus on possession type games.

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.

Another important factor to remember is to keep a similar theme to your session so you build it up nicely & each session relates to the last one.  To develop I focused on a session I viewed from Arsenal Football Club.  This starts to add a bit more shape & encourages the central players to be the playmakers linking in with the wall players.  You can offer an opportunity for all players to sample each role or if you have an established team or working with an adult team simply play each player in their position.

Arsenal's 6 V 4 + 2

Arsenal's 6 v 4 + 2

Emphasis

Keep ball game with play makers linking with wall players.

Set-Up

Session takes place in a 30 x 25 yard grid with a supply of balls on the outside.

Full build up with 12 players involved.  Positional game with 6 outfield players, 2 midfielders in the middle against the 4 defenders, represents a real game-like environment.

Objectives

6 wall players look to keep the ball through linking with the floaters (play makers) in the middle.

Encourage your players to think about the set up.  From the bottom of the diagram to the top you can see the basic formation of left back, centre back & right back.  In front of them left & right winger with forward at the top...playmaker / centre midfielders working to link all in the middle.

Keep score.  1 point for 5 successful passes, bonus 2 points for a split pass made between the defenders & 5 bonus points for a nutmeg.

Likewise, if the defenders win the ball they get a point.  If they keep it for 5 successful passes in the middle they get a bonus point & the same points for a nutmeg!

Progressions

  1. Change players roles throughout.
  2. Limit outside players to 2 touch.
  3. Floaters in middle only allowed 1 touch.
  4. Change scoring system.

Coaching

  • Work rate on / off ball.
  • Movement on / off ball.
  • Communication.
  • Quality passing.
  • Passing combination.
  • Use the whole area.
  • Shape.
  • Positioning.
  • Losing the defender.
  • Receiving the ball side on.
  • Defenders should stay compact - play in a diamond shape.  They should play pressure, 2 support players & a cover man (sweeper).

The goal of my session was to build into a game.  The game below works perfect as it keeps the theme of possession going but encourages width.  As always don't get too caught up in the training game.  For example, although you want to encourage the ball to go wide if the ball is played through the centre encourage the forward player to have an attempt at goal rather than always going wide to the winger.

Wingers Game

Wingers Game

Emphasis

Encouraging attacking play through the wings.

Set-Up

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

Play 3 v 2 in either half (+ goalkeeper).  4 wide players are positioned in the channels, 2 playing in the attacking half for each team.

Objectives

The objective is to play the ball from the back, where the 3 defenders should have comfortable possession against the 2 attackers.

The ball should be played to one of the forwards who passes wide to one of the unmarked wingers.  The cross is then delivered to the 2 forwards who look to finish at goal.

Progressions

  1. A defender can join the attack along with the other winger being allowed to leave their zone & come into the central area.
  2. Change roles.

Coaching

  • Quality of crosses.
  • Movement of forwards.
  • Movement - check run, make space in front to receive.
  • Technique - stop just before receiving the ball.
  • Strength - shield the ball from the defender.
  • Awareness.
  • Quality passing.
  • Timing of run.
  • Quality finishing.
  • Communication.

The football played was terrific.  I always allow the players their own time at the end to play a game with no restrictions.  It was encouraging to see the main points we worked on carried out.  Some of the football was a joy to watch.

Another important factor is to be flexible in your sessions.  I had no goalkeepers present so used 4 mini goals (2 either end) & positioned them 5 yards in from each touchline.  This again reinforced width & switching.  Likewise adapt to suit the players you have in.  Although the above game is based on 14 outfield players I only had 12 present.  I simply played with 1 wide player on each wing who played as a neutral player.

Enjoy the session & let us know how you found it!

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

Session Notes

Here is my session notes from a recent academy session.  After the players warmed up with the ball through dribbling & juggling we transferred into some fun warm up activities.  This developed into a terrific passing, receiving & turning exercise that I received from Rene Meulensteen from Manchester United.

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction

Emphasis

Fun warm up concentrating on speed of thought & reaction speed.

Set-Up

Vary size of grid but generally 20 x 20 yard grid is nice size.

Adapt depending on your squad size.  The diagram is based on a squad of 14.

Objectives

Players should inter link arms in groups of 3 to create chains.  In the diagram you can see 4 chains of players leaving two players free in the middle.

Player 1 tries to get on the end of a chain before player 2 catches them.  If player 1 links onto player C from the red chain then player 2 tries to catch player A from the reds before he reacts & then they try to join another chain.

Progressions

  1. Introduce a ball.

Coaching

  • Speed.
  • Reaction.
  • Communication.

This always offers great fun & laughs with the players & is a simple warm up session.  We then developed to increase the tempo & introduce the ball as early as possible with the session below...

Quick Feet

Quick Feet

Emphasis

Quick feet & reaction.

Set-Up

Place a number of random cones set out in the middle of the area.  Have 4 groups spaced around each side of the square about 10-15 yards away.

Objectives

On the coaches call, the first player from each group attempt to get across the coned area.

Players must side step the other players & use quick feet to avoid touching the cones on their way across.

Progressions

  1. Introduce a ball for each player.
  2. Set up goals in each corner.  After players dribble through the cones they finish with a strike at goal.
  3. You can introduce goalkeepers & defenders.  If on grass use poles rather than cones in the middle.

Coaching

  • Quick side stepping.
  • Reaction movement.
  • Good ball control.

We progressed to a great session that was created by Manchester United first team coach, Rene Meulensteen.  This is terrific for passing, receiving, turning, timing & understanding.  There is 2 great progressions to the below session that we will share at a later date.

Link Up Play - Receiving & Turning

Link Up Play - Receiving & Turning

Emphasis

Receiving, passing, turning & link up 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 passing but smaller sized grid offers less space for turning & keeps the session game realistic.

I've carried this session out in a 12 x 12 yard grid.  Great - especially when the session develops & 4 players have to turn with the ball & deliver it to another wall player!

Objectives

The outside red players pass to the red players inside the grid.  They return the pass then switch to the opposite player on the other side.  The yellow players carry out the same process.  Aim for 1 touch passing.

Session develops from red pass to red / yellow pass to yellow to red receives from yellow & yellow from red etc.

Timing of pass, look over shoulder, turn & receive is essential from all players so the session doesn't break down!

Rotate & switch the players roles.

Progressions

  1. Players in the middle turn whilst receiving & play to the player on the opposite side of the grid.
  2. Players receive take the ball across then take the player on in 1 v 1 on the other side of the grid.

Coaching

  • Movement.
  • Accuracy.
  • Change of direction with / without ball.
  • Awareness & communication.
  • Timing.

The players then transferred to my Academy assistant for some tactical training through small sided games.

Coaches, always adapt.  My diagrams above will show a certain amount of players but if you don’t have enough – adapt!  Adjust the size of the pitch too.  Insure your players enjoy the training but demand a lot of hard work from them at the same time.

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

Passing Sequences & Movement Off The Ball

Sundays Academy session concentrated heavily on passing sequences & movement off the ball.  It was a nice session that developed well from the typical drills to offering players a bit more freedom & creativity to develop passing combinations & support play.  We used Barcelona as a prime example.  Their build up play can be patient then all of a sudden carve a team open.  Short passing through likes of Xavi or Iniesta then the through ball to Messi.

As always we filmed the session.  I was happy with everything up to my possession game.  The idea of the possession game was to take the idea of the passing short & keeping possession to a set number of passes before switching the ball to another grid.  I must admit I didn't get the results from it that I intended but as coaches it is important to realise this & adapt.  Either by making a change to the game or simply bin the idea!  Never continually force the players to do something that is not achieving what you have set out to do.  I quickly assessed this & knew it was time to switch the session.  My Academy assistant had the next stage of the session set up & transferred the players over.

Warm up...

Control Game With Keepers

Control Game With Keepers

Emphasis

Passing, control / first touch, communication & catching for goalkeeper.

Set-Up

Players spread out around half a pitch in a circle.  All players on the outside have a ball.  One outfield player works inside the circle without a ball & with a goalkeeper.

Objectives

In turn outfield players drive the ball in toward the middle player.  They must control for the keeper to combine & catch.  For each successful touch by the outfield player & catch by the keeper they receive a point.

Keeper should throw the ball back to the server.

Progressions

  1. Rotate outfield player in centre.
  2. Operate as a competition.
  3. Set a time limit.
  4. Vary the service.
  5. Limit the outfield player in the centre to one touch.
  6. Condition what part of the body they must use.
  7. Get the inside player to work the keeper by not offering them 'presents'.  Make them work to catch the ball.

Coaching

  • Quality passing from servers.
  • Good first touch.
  • Communication.
  • Catching technique.
  • Distribution.

Again we operated with a few variations.  We started with the player in the middle taking turn to rotate with outside player while juggling the ball.  This developed to adding 2 players to take it in turn to remain in the middle of the circle to combine together.  This is ideal to work with an outfield player & goalkeeper.

The Technical Bit...

We then got players to work in groups of 3 with 2 balls.  This was to get their footwork & passing going to a nice high tempo.  Nice session to improve peripheral vision & of course when we talk about that the player that springs to mind is Paul Scholes.  Did you know he used to do a warm up with his eyes before every match?!

The Paul Scholes Passing Session

The Paul Scholes Passing Session

Emphasis

Paul Scholes of Manchester United is renowned for his vision.  His ability of passing the ball over 40 yards at ease is superb to watch.  What makes Paul Scholes a world class player is his vision.

This session is perfect to improve your players' peripheral vision.  This is a part of vision that occurs outside the very centre of gaze.

Set-Up

3 players stand in a triangle.  The player at the top of the triangle stands in between the 2 players with the ball.

You can use cones if necessary.

Objectives

The players with a ball, in turn, pass to the target.  They must pass the ball across the targets body so they pass back with the inside of their foot.

The target player works both feet but should stand with open body looking straight down the middle of the facing players.  They should look to play one touch & increase the speed of play.

The player at the top of the triangle works for 30 seconds - 1 minute then changes.

Progressions

  1. Instead of letting the ball come across your body & passing with the inside of your foot, vary to pass near side & with the outside of your foot.
  2. Increase / decrease distance between players.

Coaching

  • Stand open body.
  • Weight & accuracy of pass.
  • First touch.
  • Peripheral vision.
  • Communication & understanding.

This then led in nicely to our passing drill.  When you watch the video you will see I had 2 grids set up to suit my group size.  This also formed the basis for my development in the Barca Passing Sequence before using the set up for the final possession game.  Use your set up wisely.  No waiting about for players & it doesn't put you under pressure either!

Passing Drill

Passing Drill

Emphasis

Pass, move & support session.

Set-Up

20 x 20 yard grid with 2 players & one ball at one corner & then another player at each corner.

Objectives

Player passes to next corner & follows their pass for lay off & return the pass, one-two.

Progressions

  1. Change of direction to use other foot.
  2. Skip out the return pass & play direct to the next corner, i.e. play 'give & go'.  (See diagram.)

Coaching

  • Good passing.
  • First touch & lay off.
  • Movement, don't wait on pass.
  • Timing & weight of pass.
  • Communication.

This is what I call my boring passing drill.  It simply was to get the players used to playing the ball...also checking before receiving & some basic combinations like '1-2's' & 'give-&-gos'.  This developed on to the next development that allowed the players a bit more freedom.

Barca Passing Sequence

Barca Passing Sequence

Emphasis

Emphasis is based on pass & move that the great Barcelona demonstrate with the likes of Iniesta, Xavi & Messi.  Looking for the short pass, short pass then killer through ball.

Set-Up

Set up as per diagram, 2 cones facing each other approx 20 yards apart.  Have a supply of balls at either end.

Objectives

First passing sequence with the red players;

  • Player A makes the first pass to player B who has checked & moved away.
  • Player B then lays the ball off to player C.
  • Player A then over laps player B to receive the pass in space from player C.
  • Player A then passes to player D.
  • Player D operates the same sequence but as a mirror image.

Second passing sequence with the yellow players;

  • Player A makes the first pass to player B who has checked & moved away.  Player A then follows their pass.
  • Player B then lays the ball off to player C.
  • Player B then over laps player C to receive the pass in space from player A.
  • Player B then passes to player D.
  • Player D operates the same sequence but as a mirror image.

Progressions

  1. Vary distance & technique of pass.
  2. Look at creating different passing movements.
  3. Finish with a shot at goal.

Coaching

  • Communication & understanding.  Player should shout, 'set'.
  • Players should use 1 or 2 touches only & use both feet.
  • Play 'side on'.
  • Movement on / off ball.
  • Speed of play.
  • Quality passing, weight & accuracy.

Really happy with the session & players find it easy to identify by using pro players / teams to explain.  How many times do you see Xavi, Iniesta & Messi combine like this?  To finish of my part of the academy session I took everything that we had worked with into a possession game focusing on switching the ball.

The Tactical Bit...

Break Out Game

Break Out Game

Emphasis

Possession game encouraging movement off the ball & support play.

Set-Up

Session takes place in a 50 x 20 yard area.  3 sections are divided inside this area.  First section is 20 x 20, second section is 10 x 20 & third section is 20 x 20.

Objectives

Play takes place in the first section with a 5 v 2 possession game.  After set number of passes have been reached the ball should be passed into section 2 for a team mate to run onto.

They then pass & link up in section 3 to continue the possession game of 5 v 2.

For each successful attack the attackers receive a goal.  If the defenders should win possession they receive a goal for 3 consecutive passes.

Progressions

  1. Rotate players roles.
  2. 1 or 2 touch passing.
  3. Ball must be chipped into area 2.
  4. Extra players introduced.
  5. Area made smaller to demand better control & movement.

Coaching

  • Work rate on / off ball.
  • Quality passing.
  • Look for space.
  • Width & support.
  • Look to switch.
  • Communication & understanding.

With being a player short I operated 4 v 2 in each end zone.  Although this offered no real incentive for the defending team.  I adapted the game so we had 3 teams, i.e. 3 teams of 4 players.  The focus was still on 4 v 2 in each end zone.  If the orange team kept the ball for 5 passes in their zone they would transfer the ball to the yellow team in the other end zone to do the same.  If the 2 players from the blue team won the ball from the yellows the other 2 blue players would switch from the other end zone to join them while 2 yellow players would switch grids, i.e. it was the yellow team trying to win the ball back as their punishment while the blue team tried to complete 5 passes before combining with the orange team.

The players found this quite confusing & as I was not getting the results I wanted from the game I decided to finish this part of the session early.  As coaches never be afraid to change or move on.  Don't force players to continually do something that no one is benefiting from!  My Academy assistant was then ready to transfer the players over to work on playing through the midfield.  We then finished with some free play.

Coaches, always adapt.  My diagrams above will show a certain amount of players but if you don’t have enough – adapt!  Adjust the size of the pitch too.  Insure your players enjoy the training but demand a lot of hard work from them at the same time.

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

Possession

Last Sunday I concentrated heavily on ball retention at my Academy.  The session had a mix of ball mastery, 1 v 1 duels developing nicely to 3 v 1.  Progressions challenged the players but still remained on topic.  You'll see from the video footage that the set up meant no standing about for the players.  They moved from one session to the next.  Very happy with the session.

The other nice thing about filming the sessions, apart from sharing with you, is that I can review my own session & player performance.  When watching back at the 3 v 1 session I was not happy with the tempo...as I walked around other grids offering coaching points one or two players got lazy in the grid I had started with - the camera never misses a thing!  While I edit the videos to share the session plans I think I'll not edit the videos so players can watch their performance.  This is perfect to increase their performance & decision making.

Warm Up...

Barca Keepie Ups

Barca Keepie Ups

Emphasis

Fun game for players to 'show off' their juggling skills!

Set-Up

Split players into groups.  They make a circle & join hands.  One ball per group.  Mark out an area using cones where groups have to start from & finish.

Objectives

Groups must perform keepie ups & move from one side of the area to the other.  They can then race back to the starting point.

The ball must be kept off the ground while performing keepie ups between each other.

Progressions

  1. Rather than move from one side of the coaching area to the other have groups perform in the same area joining hands.  If a player mis controls they leave the circle.  Play until there is a winner.

Coaching

  • Be confident & comfortable on the ball.
  • Keep body relaxed.
  • Keep eye on the ball.
  • Good control over ball.
  • Communication.

You'll see from the video we operated 2 variations.  One where the players stand stationary joining hands then develop to moving with the ball.  This is something we will operate on near a weekly basis to improve their juggling & ball control.  Don't be put off doing these type of games from a young age...you will see improvement on a week to week basis!

The Technical Bit...

My Academy Assistant, Lee Hodge, then performed an excellent ball mastery & passing session.  Watch the ball skills session here & his passing session here.

To increase the tempo we developed to a fun 1 v 1 session that I call Power Ball after the Gladiator game.

Power Ball!

Power Ball!

Emphasis

Like the Gladiators game but instead of carrying the ball & throwing into baskets, players dribble the ball & try to shoot them into mini goals.

The emphasis is on 1 v 1 defending.

Set-Up

The game takes place inside a 30 x 30 yard grid with 6 mini goals placed equally around the outside.  You can adapt the size of the pitch to suit your group.

A large supply of balls is placed inside a small square in the middle of the grid.

Objectives

Two equal teams compete to concede the least amount of goals.

One team play as forwards & continually dribble balls out of the central area aiming to beat the defenders & score.

Defenders must try & stop the attackers.  The session starts with as many balls as possible & in a 1 v 1 environment.

Once it gets down to the last couple of balls the attackers look to combine.  Defenders must also operate as a unit.

Teams change roles for the next game.

Progressions

  1. Players changes roles.
  2. Attackers can change point of attack & dribble towards another goal to see how defender adapts.
  3. Defenders protect one goal so must communicate to pass attackers on to a team mate.  This will help improve communication, understanding, balance & covering.

Coaching

For defenders;

  • Deny time & space for opponents.
  • Pressure first touch.
  • Close down space quickly.
  • Jockey opponents.
  • Force player wide - away from goal.
  • Tackle opponent correctly - not from behind, make contact with ball & ensure correct timing.
  • Don't go to ground unless the ball is played to a team mate or out of play.
  • Balance & covering.
  • Defending as a unit.
  • When to mark - when to drop off.
  • Showing a player inside - outside.

For attackers;

  • Speed of play - run at the defenders.
  • Turns & skills.
  • Good close control of the ball.
  • Decision making.
  • Quality finishing.
  • Be confident & direct.
  • Follow in shots.

The boys automatically looked to combine with each other in the last game of Power Ball so the overall session developed well with the introduction of 3 v 1.  I had set up four 10 x 10 yard grids with a 5 yard safety area between each.  This offered a perfect 25 x 25 yard pitch for Power Ball then the 4 grids were set up to walk in to.  This is an important factor as coaches...prepare your set up wisely as players hate standing about!

3 V 1

3 V 1

Emphasis

Keep the ball, movement off the ball.

Set-Up

3 attackers play against 1 defender in a 10 x 10 yard grid.

Objectives

Attackers try to keep the ball from the defender for as long as possible. When attacker is dispossessed they replace the defender or have everyone take a go & play a set time.

Progressions

  1. Larger / smaller area depending on ability.
  2. Record set number of passes without interception & compare with other groups.

Coaching

  • Interpassing within a triangle shape.
  • First touch on the ball.
  • Support movement.
  • Quality passing.
  • Communication.

It is essential to develop & challenge the players while keeping a similar feel to each session.  I loved the idea of adding a triangle in the middle to challenge the players work rate & movement on & off the ball while making supporting runs for each other & playing that great through ball.

Movement 'Off The Ball' In A Passing & Support Game

Movement 'Off The Ball' In A Passing & Support Game

Emphasis

Focus on improving movement 'off' the ball.  Session to work on passing, movement off the ball, fitness & looking for the penetrating pass.

Set-Up

Play takes place in a 15 x 15 yard area with a 4 yard equilateral triangle in the middle made up of cones.  There are 5 players in the activity with one being a defender & the other four being on offense.

Objectives

The 4 players try to maintain possession while also looking to score goals by playing the ball through the triangle to their team mates.  The defender is NOT allowed inside the triangle so they must be constantly working their way around the triangle trying to cut of the penetrating passes.

What makes this such an interesting activity is the required movement off the ball by the offensive players.  On every pass they are moving in order to get into a better position to either make a penetrating pass or receive one.

Play this game for a 5 minute period with each player having a one minute turn in defence.  It gets the players working hard, thinking & competing while having fun trying to beat their team mates.  The player who gives up the fewest number of goals in defence wins.

There is a tendency in this game for the offensive players to get to close to the triangle which takes away the passing angles.  This is easy to correct & is a good learning opportunity for the players.

Progressions

  1. Change to 4 v 2, or 2 v 2 v 2.  Keep the overload initially until players get good at this before you move on.  Experiment with numbers increasing the difficulty of the session as you go.

Coaching

  • Creating space for yourself or for a team mate by movement off the ball.
  • Quality of passing (weight, accuracy & timing.)
  • Quality of control & first touch.
  • Effective maintenance of possession,
  • Communication.

The Tactical Bit...

Now we wanted to take what the players had worked on & develop it into a tactical game then some small sided games focusing on ball retention with good movement off the ball.  This then assisted in better 1 v 1's, passing & all the other components we wanted like support, depth & penetration.

Target Passing & Possession Game

Target Passing & Possession Game

Emphasis

Passing & possession game to play to target player.

Set-Up

Play takes place inside a 35 x 35 yard area with a smaller 6 x 6 yard square in the centre.

Objectives

The 5 yellow players pass the ball & look to keep possession from the 3 red players.  The object is to pass the ball to the 2 yellow players inside the square.

The 3 defenders work as a unit to stop the attacking players passing to the smaller square.

Apart from the 2 players inside the square, no one is allowed to enter the smaller area.

Progressions

  1. If the defenders win the ball offer them a goal for set number of passes that they retain possession.
  2. Players inside the smaller square follow their pass out of the square & the player making the pass replaces them.
  3. Play 4 v 4 with both teams looking to play the ball into the smaller square to the target players.

Coaching

  • Keep possession - be patient.
  • Pass & move.
  • Good supporting angles.
  • Work rate & movement on / off the ball.
  • Communication.
  • For defenders look to press.
  • Intercept / block passes.
  • Anticipate.

The players really got the concept & played some terrific football.  With having the 6 small goals still placed around the outside we developed the game & set a challenge for each team.  As you can see from the video the orange team had to pass to their play maker & then he was able to accelerate out of the central area & combine to score in any 1 of the 6 goals.  If the yellow team gained possession they could attack & score in any of the goals.

I always want the players to take that focus into small sided games.  I also feel after 75 minutes of listening to us coaches it's important for them to have some free time to simply play.  We will on occasion offer coaching points & communicate with players but generally we let the game be the teacher & offer them some free time.

The 4 Goal Game was great as it worked on all aspects & switching.  The Real Madrid game is one of my favourite small sided games along with the players!

Small Sided Games...

4 Goal Game Encouraging Switching Of Play & Width

4 Goal Game Encouraging Switching Of Play & Width

Emphasis

To improve width, support & switching of play.

Set-Up

20 x 30 yard pitch with 4 mini goals placed in each corner of each wing.

Have a supply of balls in each goal.

Objectives

Players are encouraged to switch the point of attack from one side of the pitch to the other.

Don't force play, if one goal is well defended look to switch at speed & attack the other goal.

Progressions

  1. Adapt the size of the pitch to suit the ability of the group.
  2. Introduce a neutral player.

Coaching

Attacking

  • Relaxed on ball.
  • Quality dribbling, skills & turns.
  • Quality passing - correct weight & accuracy.  Vary passing, pass into space.
  • Angle of pass.
  • Attack at speed.
  • Don't force - look to switch.
  • Use the width.
  • Good technique.
  • Work rate & movement on / off ball.
  • Decision making.
  • Communication & understanding.

Defending

  • Win the ball back as quickly as possible.
  • Work as unit - offer cover in the space behind.
  • Look to close the player down but don't dive in.
  • Look to close the space & hunt in packs forcing the attacking team into errors.

The Real Madrid Game

The Real Madrid Game

Emphasis

Excellent game encouraging players to go wide.

Set-Up

40 x 25 yard pitch with 2 mini soccer goals.  4 v 4 is played with goalkeepers being an added option.

The 2 mini soccer goals are placed in the centre of the pitch, back to back.

Have a supply of balls in either goal & around the perimeter.

Objectives

The big difference with this game is that the goals are positioned in the centre of the pitch, back to back.

One team defends the goal that is facing south & score in the goal facing north.  The other team do the opposite.

You must have at least one player in each half at all times & you can't kick the ball over the goals into the other half.  The ball must be played around the goals.

The game encourages players to take up wide positions to get around the goals.  Players naturally form into a diamond shape with two players going wide, one attacking & one playing out from the back.

The game also encourages playing from the back as the keeper can't kick it long over the goals.  Also, with the unusual pitch lay out & goal positions it really makes the players think.

Progressions

  1. Introduce more players.

Coaching

  • React quickly when your team first attacks & look to get an early shot at goal.
  • Always follow in for rebounds.
  • Shooting technique.
  • Shape - width.
  • Diamond shape.
  • Play from the back.
  • Concentration, vision & insight.
  • Team work.
  • Understanding.
  • Communication.

Coaches, always adapt.  My diagrams above will show a certain amount of players but if you don’t have enough – adapt!  Adjust the size of the pitch too.  Insure your players enjoy the training but demand a lot of hard work from them at the same time.

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

Transition

When you mention Barcelona everyone automatically thinks about the attractive football they play.  But have you thought about how good they are closing down, applying pressure to win the ball & how disciplined they are?  They all work as a unit to win the ball back in 6-7 seconds.  If they fail to do so they retreat into their set playing positions & ask the team to break them down often forcing them into errors.  Like a strategic army fighting a war Barcelona should receive as much credit to the discipline & quality they have without the ball.

Teams are at their most vulnerable in terms of losing the ball in the first few seconds after gaining possession.  It is this transition period that we are looking at, both in terms of winning the ball back quickly & then keeping it.

The key is the first 6 seconds after losing the ball.  This period is when the opposition have not yet switched from defensive to possession mode.

The other key period is those 6 seconds after you have won the ball back & need to maintain possession during that critical period when your team is changing shape & finding space (going wide & deep.)  This is what I focused my academy session on last Sunday & you can see that exactly from my session plans & videos below...especially if you watch the shape some of my players take automatically after winning the ball in the Braga transition game.

Warm up & technical bit...

After some dribbling, juggling & ball mastery the players moved into the following session...

Control

Control

Emphasis

Control & movement session.

Set-Up

Divide players in half.  Set a series of cones down, one down every 5 yards.

One player per cone with a ball.  Place the same amount of cones out facing the players 5 yards away.  The other half of the group line up at one end without a ball.

The other cones should be angled mid-way between the first row.

Bib groups off so it is easier for turnaround.

Objectives

One group serve while the other group control & return the ball.

Players go one by one, they move half way toward server, control & retreat backwards around cone & onto the next player.  Each player in line should be ready to go so that all players go in & out together.

After one circuit is complete players should reverse roles, i.e. first player in line changes with first server.  The server will then move to the starting cone.

Progressions

  1. Passing (one touch.)
  2. Volley (side on, then laces.)
  3. Heading.
  4. Chest / volley.
  5. Thigh / volley.
  6. Chest / thigh / volley.

Coaching

  • Good service.
  • First touch & return pass.
  • Quick movement & proper footwork.
  • Timed movement, so players go in & out together.
  • Communication.

The tactical bit...

This was a nice small sided game to get the boys disciplined to close down the ball well & hunt in packs.  They get used to forcing the opposition to make an error & communicate so if they can't win the ball inside 6 seconds they retreat back into their shape asking the opposition to try & break them down.  Insure someone counts out aloud, '1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6' so they get used to the time & award a point for each success.

6 Second Transition Game

Watch the video highlights

6 Second Transition Game

Emphasis

Teams are at their most vulnerable in terms of losing the ball in the first few seconds after gaining possession.  It is this transition period that we are looking at, both in terms of winning the ball back quickly & then keeping it.

The key is the first 6 seconds after losing the ball.  This period is when the opposition have not yet switched from defensive to possession mode.

The other key period is those 6 seconds after you have won the ball back & need to maintain possession during that critical period when your team is changing shape & finding space (going wide & deep.)

Set-Up

40 x 25 yard pitch with 2 mini soccer goals.  You can play 4 v 4 - 6 v 6 depending on the amount of players you have available.

Have a supply of balls in either goal.  Play starts with the goalkeeper rolling it out.

Objectives

In this game when a team lose possession they have 6 seconds to win the ball back (the coach counts this out loud.)  If they win it back in that time they are awarded a point (a goal.)

The idea is to double team & work frantically to get the ball back in the allotted time frame.  If they fail to achieve this they must then go to the centre & make sure they close all the gaps & limit the space for the opposition.

If they do win the ball back within 6 seconds, if they are high up the pitch they must look for an immediate goal scoring opportunity.  If they are in a more crowded midfield area they must look for an 'outman' who can get hold of the ball & maintain possession through the crucial 6 second period.

Progressions

  1. Adapt amount of players & size of pitch.
  2. Award bonus points for set amount of passes / time opposition keep the ball.

Coaching

Trying to win possession;

  • Concentrate on closing down - 'PRESS'.  When a player goes to win possession players around them close space - tuck in.  Don't dive in!
  • Keep shape, apply pressure while others react & drop off but cover space in behind.
  • Communication.
  • Nearest player pressures the ball.
  • On the call, 'PRESS', all players should look to win the ball off the opposition.

In possession;

  • Quality passing - weight & accuracy.
  • Decision making.
  • Support play.
  • Work rate on / off ball.
  • Receive ball side on.
  • Head up.
  • Play simple pass.
  • Look for space.
  • Use of width & depth.

Develop to...

After the 6 second transition game this worked great.  The players really enjoyed the session & it encouraged good ball retention.  The team that won the ball & used it well were not only rewarded with bonus points but got to continue to attack!  Make poor decisions or lose the ball & you're out the game!  Start off simple & don't allow the team that lost the ball to win it back in their own half.  As the players get used to the concept develop so that teams can win the ball back before the other team leave the half.

Braga's Concentration Of Transition

Watch the video highlights

Braga's Concentration of Transition

Emphasis

To win ball & counter attack at speed.

Set-Up

Play takes place on half a pitch with 2 full size goals & the pitch split in half by cones.

A supply of balls are placed in each goal with a keeper at either end.  Organise 3 teams of 6.  A team of white is in one half with 6 red v 6 yellow in the other half.

Objectives

Red attack yellow.  If yellow gain possession of the ball the red team stop while the yellow team attack the white team in the other half.

Teams continue to attack until they lose the ball.

The session is based around transition.

Progressions

  1. The team that loses possession can try to regain the ball before it leaves their half.

Coaching

Trying to win possession;

  • Concentrate on closing down - 'PRESS'.  When a player goes to win possession players around them close space - tuck in.  Don't dive in!
  • Keep shape, apply pressure while others react & drop off but cover space in behind.
  • Communication.
  • Nearest player pressures the ball.
  • On the call, 'PRESS', all players should look to win the ball off the opposition.
  • Recovery run.

In possession;

  • Break & attack at speed.
  • Quality passing - weight & accuracy.
  • Decision making.
  • Support play.
  • Work rate on / off ball.
  • Receive ball side on.
  • Head up.
  • Play simple pass or run with ball.
  • Look for space.
  • Use of width & depth.

Finish off with some free play & a cool down along with a debrief.

Coaches, always adapt.  My diagrams above will show a certain amount of players but if you don’t have enough – adapt!  Adjust the size of the pitch too.  Insure your players enjoy the training but demand a lot of hard work from them at the same time.

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

Passing Time

Here is my session plan notes from my Academy session a few weeks ago.  The focus was on passing.  I started with basic technique to working in groups of 3 & developing into some free play & a tactical game focusing on the technical sessions.

Warm Up...

I like my warm ups to introduce the ball straight away.  My players know on arrival to get a ball & go for a dribble & have some fun.  You see the main use of a ball net for me is to carry the balls from my van to the pitch.  Unlike other 'coaches' I don't use it to keep all my balls sitting in it as some sort of blackmail that if they listen & do laps for a warm up their reward will to be to open the bag & get a ball!

Barca Keepie Ups

Barca Keepie Ups

Emphasis

Fun game for players to 'show off' their juggling skills!

Set-Up

Split players into groups.  They make a circle & join hands.  One ball per group.  Mark out an area using cones where groups have to start from & finish.

Objectives

Groups must perform keepie ups & move from one side of the area to the other.  They can then race back to the starting point.

The ball must be kept off the ground while performing keepie ups between each other.

Progressions

  1. Rather than move from one side of the coaching area to the other have groups perform in the same area joining hands.  If a player mis controls they leave the circle.  Play until there is a winner.

Coaching

  • Be confident & comfortable on the ball.
  • Keep body relaxed.
  • Keep eye on the ball.
  • Good control over ball.
  • Communication.

Fun & increase the tempo...

After the fun juggling exercise I introduce another enjoyable session (although without a ball - shock!) that helps to get your players switched on & increase the tempo & concentration...try this & even join in for a bit of fun!

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction

Emphasis

Fun warm up concentrating on speed of thought & reaction speed.

Set-Up

Vary size of grid but generally 20 x 20 yard grid is nice size.

Adapt depending on your squad size.  The diagram is based on a squad of 14.

Objectives

Players should inter link arms in groups of 3 to create chains.  In the diagram you can see 4 chains of players leaving two players free in the middle.

Player 1 tries to get on the end of a chain before player 2 catches them.  If player 1 links onto player C from the red chain then player 2 tries to catch player A from the reds before he reacts & then they try to join another chain.

Progressions

  1. Introduce a ball.

Coaching

  • Speed.
  • Reaction.
  • Communication.

The technical bit...

We started with the basics with this boring drill but is great to remind young players how to pass a ball.  For older players it's nice to offer something simple for them to touch & pass the ball many times.

Passing / Receiving Through Targets

Passing / Receiving Through Targets

Emphasis

Passing accuracy.

Set-Up

One ball between two players.  Players should face each other 5-10 yards away from each other with a mini gate set up in the middle.  The gate should be approx a yard wide.

Objectives

X1 passes to X2 through the gate placed in between the players.  X2 controls the ball & passes it back through the gates to X1.  Players count how many passes go through the gates successfully in the time limit.

Progressions

  1. Condition passing foot.
  2. Players have to control with the left & play with right foot & vice versa.
  3. Reduce time.
  4. Increase the distance.
  5. If players miss a gate - there score returns to zero - keep count.

Coaching

  • Use inside of the foot.
  • Lock ankle square to the target.
  • On toes to receive a pass - move into line with the ball.
  • Communication - call partners name.
  • Try to be quick but maintain accuracy.
  • Help partner with straight passes.

Develop to...

This allows players freedom for passing combinations to having some fun with long range passing & being able to 'ping' a ball to one of their team mates.

Combination Play

Combination Play

Emphasis

Combination passing.

Set-Up

Players spread out over half a pitch.  1 ball between 3 players.

Objectives

Players begin with playing any combination of passes to each other & moving anywhere through the half of the field.

Progressions

  1. 1 player must now play a series of give-and-go with the other 2 players.
  2. Once a player has performed a give-and-go, 1 of the other players does a takeover (1 play dribbles the ball toward another player & then leaves the ball for the other player to take.)  This will alternate the passer each time.
  3. Players make the following combinations; short pass, long pass, take-over.
  4. Finish with players being given free roles & allowing to make / receive a pass from anyone.

Coaching

  • Communication & understanding.
  • Players should use 1 or 2 touches only & use both feet.
  • Speed of play.
  • Quality passing, weight & accuracy.

The Tactical bit...

We take what we have worked on from the technical sessions into a game scenario.

5 Goal Game

5 Goal Game

Emphasis

Possession & combination game focusing on changing the point of attack.

Set-Up

2 equal teams play on half a pitch.  5 mini goals / gates are set up within the area using poles or dome cones.

You can adapt the size of the area & the amount of mini goals set up to suit your group.

Objectives

Teams combine to score a point through dribbling through the gates, passing through the gates or score a bonus point by playing a 1-2 / give-&-go through the gates.

Players are not allowed to score back-to-back goals in the same gate.

Progressions

  1. Add more mini goals / gates.
  2. Colour code certain gates, i.e. gates on the wing to encourage good width.

Coaching

  • Good first touch.
  • Quality passing.
  • Movement & work rate on / off ball.
  • Don't force it through gate, look to open up & switch.
  • Always receive ball side on.
  • Awareness.
  • Communication.

Free Play...

Allow time for your players to finish with a small sided game at the end of the session.

Cool Down...

Football Tennis

Football Tennis

Emphasis

Fun cool down concentrating on control & first touch.

Set-Up

6 v 6 on a 30 x 20 yard grid with tennis net in middle or series of 6ft spiked poles. Obviously change the numbers / grid size to suit your group.

 

Objectives

Fun game of footy tennis. One team serves the ball out of their hands from the back of the grid. The ball is allowed one bounce before it has to be returned to the opposition.

Players can combine with each other before returning to the other side of the grid.

Can use any part of the body apart from your hands.

First team to 10 wins.

Progressions

  1. Players must juggle the balls a certain amount of time before returning.
  2. Certain amount of players must touch / combine before returning the ball.

Coaching

  • First touch.
  • Control.
  • Keep eye on ball.
  • Keep body relaxed.
  • Work as team.
  • Communication.

Coaches, always adapt.  My diagrams above will show a certain amount of players but if you don’t have enough – adapt!  Adjust the size of the pitch too.  Insure your players enjoy the training but demand a lot of hard work from them at the same time.

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