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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

Pressing Issue

I’m a massive fan of possession type games in training.  All my teams over the years have been drilled with hearing, ‘KEEP IT’, ‘KEEP IT’, from me which relates to keeping control of the ball.  Keeping possession of the ball insures you keep control of the game.  This obviously leads you along the way to winning games by adding creativity in the final third & of course scoring!

Communicate to work as a team to press or screen

Although at a recent session of mine I had a player scream with frustration to his team mates to ‘press’.  The other team were keeping the ball so well but his team didn’t work as a unit.  While he was closing down players his team mates were not.  This made it easy for the team in possession but very frustrating for the player working so hard on his own!

I love asking my players open questions to get them thinking.  The age group varies from 11-13.  I asked the player what the problem was.  He answered correctly by informing the group that he was pressing the ball while his team didn’t.  With this in mind the following week I planned a session around it.

I love my teams to play with speed so I not only wanted to create a session that encouraged teams when to press or screen but if they were to win the ball encourage a point of attack developing to counter attacking.  One of the best examples in the Premiership is Manchester United that attack at such speed.  They win the ball & look to hurt & punish teams on the counter attack.  With the speed of the attacking players in front of the defence from Ashley Young, Nani, Cleverley, Rooney & Hernandez along with the pace of Evra & Fabio can rip teams apart.  So I wanted to add this into my session.

Warm Up

As my players arrive they each get a ball & go for a dribble.  They perform tricks, turns & juggle the ball.  This is their time to get warmed up & have a chat with their team mates.  I often then do group keepie up challenges & some 3 v 1 keep ball.  To lift the intensity we had a quick game of dribbling tag…

Dribbling Tag

Dribbling Tag

Emphasis

Fun dribbling warm up played like ‘TIG’.

Set-Up

Use cones to mark out a 20 x 20 yard area. Everyone has a ball. The person who is ‘IT’ carries a bib.

Objectives

The player who is ‘IT’ has to carry a bib & dribble their ball to try & catch someone as quickly as possible.

For younger players call the person who is ‘IT’, ‘TIGO’ (pronounce it T-GO.) I find it adds to the fun & banter!

Other players should avoid ‘TIGO’ & perform skills to get away from them. If ‘TIGO’ catches someone they simply pass the bib to them to carry & the game continues.

Progressions

  1. Make more than one person ‘TIGO’.

Coaching

  • Dribbling skills.
  • Turns & tricks.
  • Keep head up.
  • Awareness.
  • Attack space.
  • Change of speed.
After some stretching, water break & Speed, Agility & Quickness we got straight into the main session.  I always like to break sessions down, especially when working with children.  You can get the key message across then build the session up.  It is essential as coaches that we build & develop a session smoothly.  There is nothing worse than a session that jumps from one thing to another.  Pick your topic & build it up.
Press or Screen

I wanted to work on a session that allowed flexibility & communication for players to operate as a unit.  I wanted them to be disciplined.  A lot is made of Barcelona that they work to a strict 6 second transition game.  If they lose the ball they hunt in packs to win it back within 6 seconds.  If they fail to win the ball they retreat back into their positions & ask the opposing team to break them down.  They are disciplined & patient.
This game offers exactly that.  When to hold, screen to stop teams playing through the midfield unit & when to press & win the ball.  I was very pleased with the outcome.  Feel free to adapt.  I also carried the session out with 3 players across the middle…adapt to suit your system & players.

Press Or Screen

Press Or Screen

Emphasis

Decision making on when to win the ball & when to hold as a unit.

Set-Up

Set up a 20 x 15 yard area.  4 v 4 midfielders 5 yards apart with a forward centrally located outside the grid at either end.

Objectives

Object is to gain possession & pass the ball forward to forward before opposition.

Play starts with one group of midfielders simply passing the ball from right to left.

Progressions

  1. Vary the player who communicates in the centre.
  2. As the group develops make the area larger.
  3. Move the ball at different speeds & ask the attacking team to start switching, etc.

Coaching

  • Concentrate on closing down – ‘PRESS’.  When a player goes to win possession players around them close space – tuck in.  Don’t dive in!
  • Then, ‘SCREEN’.  Basically players don’t allow the ball to be played forward – looking over their shoulder to stop the ball being played to the target.  Adjust!
  • 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.
Develop

I wanted to develop the session & offer players more freedom but at the same time keep the intensity.   This next session helped keep it game related while setting targets & incentives to keep the ball & also to win the ball.  Again adapt the session to suit your team & requirements.  Possibly set a time limit to win the ball back?

Pass, Move & Support

Pass, Move & Support

Emphasis

Possession game with the focus on a switch of play.

Set-Up

Play takes place on a 60 x 40 yard grid which is split down the middle.

Objectives

6 v 5 in one half.  The team with 6 attackers look to keep possession.  The 5 defenders look to win the ball.

Attackers should pass the ball quickly & accurately amongst themselves, passing & moving as required.  On gaining possession the opponents should switch the ball to the awaiting player & move quickly into the other half to support them.

On loosing possession, 5 players should switch so that it is 6 v 5 again.  This will again leave 1 target player in the other half.

The player left on their own should always adjust their position so to make themselves available.

Offer a goal for set number of passes achieved.

Progressions

  1. Have 2 players wait in the other half to increase success of session, i.e. 6 v 4.
  2. Adjust size of grid to suit players ability.

Coaching

  • Work rate & movement on / off ball.
  • Quality passing.
  • Good support & angled runs.
  • Communication.
  • Speed of play.
  • Pressure.
Coaching in a Game…

The importance of taking everything from your session & applying it into a conditioned game is so important.  On a recent trip to Braga I watched this game with one of the youth teams.  I loved the concept.  It has everything that we are working to.  It also encourages the players never to give the ball away.  If they lose possession of the ball they lose their attack…they have to stop & watch the other team attack & then they have to defend the next time the ball comes into their half.

Regardless whether it is Northern Ireland, England, Portugal or Spain…players hate losing the ball!  One very talented kid was in a team that kept losing the ball.  You could see the frustration in him that his team mates continued to make mistakes.  Although I don’t speak Portuguese I had a very good idea what he was shouting at his team mates when they lost possession of the ball!!

As you develop this game you can then allow the team that lost possession to gain it back before the other team leaves the half.  This keeps it very game realistic & players working very hard in possession of the ball & without.

Braga’s Concentration Of Transition

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.

Cool Down & Debrief…

I always have one of my players organise a cool down from the previous week so they lead their team mates at the end of each session.  This offers them confidence & a feel of leadership.  We then discuss the main points from the session.  Of course before we start the cool down I always offer the players time to play a normal game with no conditions.

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.

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

‘Coach Tim can we watch Chelsea on our London tour?’…’For £1,800.00 we can’…

…Live football is getting further away from the normal fan, the family & it is simply losing touch with the passionate fans.  As clubs look to charge big money to help pay the crazy wages of their so called super stars they would rather the real supporters & families stay at home.  Why?  Well they would rather sell their seats as hospitality & make more £££…’it is an expensive business’ as Chelsea FC box office informed me on a recent telephone conversation.

The Background…

Is football clubs out pricing themselves for the next generation of fans?

My Twitter friend, Hugo Langton, has kindly organised a tour to London for my academy to play against his.  We also play Fulham.  Keen to organise activities & more great experiences for my players I wanted to take them to a Barclays Premier League game.  As a cross community group from Northern Ireland with children coming from different backgrounds I thought I’d do my best to see what clubs could offer them an experience of watching a live Premiership game.  After checking the fixtures (along with 2 of the boys in the Academy supporting Chelsea!) I sent an email to Chelsea FC to see if they could provide tickets for their home game against West Brom.  What I am about to share with you will show the amazing difference in how clubs operate…

After receiving no reply from my email to Chelsea FC I thought I would phone them.  I phoned the box office & spoke with a member of their staff.  I explained who we were & what we wanted to do.  She quickly informed me that Chelsea FC offer no group discount.  I then asked her what tickets she had available for their game against West Brom.  She informed me she had seats available at the top of the Matthew Harding stand.  Obviously not the best seats in the house but the main thing was for our kids to experience a live Premiership game.  So how much would these tickets at the top of the stand cost us?  ‘£70.00 per ticket Mr Wareing.’

Shocking…

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!  I asked about child discount but was quickly informed there was none!  So for each father to take their son to the Chelsea game it would cost £140!  Some of the dads have 2 children on the tour – it would cost £210!  This is before the match programme, food, drink & the normal visit to the club shop.  For me to take my party of 14 children & 11 adults it would cost a staggering £1,750.00! This is for 1 game, 90 minutes & not meaning any disrespect to West Brom but you would hardly call it a premium game.  I was so frustrated & asked the box office that surely they would have cheaper tickets or assist a group of children?  Well her reply was casual & how Chelsea FC operate, ‘It’s an expensive business.’ For an extra £48 it would offer some of the best seats in the house, a 4 course meal, drinks & entertainment.  Although the best line hadn’t come.  When I pressed for Chelsea to be more accommodating I was then informed to phone West Brom!  Yes, you are reading that right.  Even though it is Chelsea’s house & I want to visit they informed me to contact the away side for better priced tickets!

I was so disgusted I phoned the main number I could find for Chelsea FC, I got as far as reception.  I suggested I spoke to the community department or someone further up.  I simply wasted my time, not that Chelsea FC minded – they had me on their premium line!  So my last resort was to send an email.

The email to Chelsea FC…

Subject: Disappointed

‘Dear Sirs,

I contacted Chelsea FC on Monday 1 August after receiving no reply from previous emails regarding tickets.  I spoke with the Box Office explaining that I was bringing over my academy side from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  We are coming to London from Friday 19 – Sunday 21 August & playing a series of games including Fulham FC Academy.

I have a party of 25 including 14 children along with parents & coaches.  The academy is mixed.  It brings children from both sides of the community together; catholic & protestant.  There is also a mix in terms of personal background.  Some come from dis-advantaged areas with some parents out of work.

To my disgust Chelsea FC would only offer £70 tickets for the live Sky game against West Brom.  When I asked for child discount & / or group discount I was shocked to hear that there was none / nor any group discount!  For a father & son to go & see Chelsea play West Brom it would cost £140!  Worse when you look at an overall total being £1,800.00 to attend one game of football!

I asked to speak to the ‘Community Department’ but was informed I’d have to send an email.  Although the girl from reception sympathized it did very little to help get children from Northern Ireland to a game…many never seeing a live Premiership game before.  What I found even more shocking was that the only suggestion was to phone West Brom FC!  Bloody hell it is your house, your stadium yet I have to phone the away side to see if we can come in a more affordable way!

I have played football all my life.  Supported Manchester United all my life & have attended many games over the years.  I’m also a football coach holding my UEFA A Licence qualification.  I have travelled, visited & shared many ideas with professional clubs over my 15 years experience.  This has taken me throughout England & Scotland then to Holland with PSV Eindhoven & Ajax to Portugal with Benfica & Braga.  I have also spent a week with FC Barcelona.  I have never come across a more unwelcoming, rip off club than Chelsea!  I am completely disgusted at the price you charge a community group to come & watch a ‘low’ key game.  No disrespect to West Brom but it is hardly a ‘Grade A’ game!

I believe Chelsea FC should review their policies.  I for one, along with a number of Chelsea supporting boys from the Academy, have been left very disappointed!

I await with interest your response to my email.  Oh by the way.  I did contact West Brom.  I was put through to their community department & got to speak to a lovely woman who took my details to see what she could do for us.  She also informed me that they offer a match day experience for youth groups of £25 per person to attend a match & also receive a coaching session before hand.  Then a stadium tour after…maybe Chelsea should look at this!’
Chelsea FC responce…

The only credit I will offer Chelsea FC is that they phoned me the very next morning.  ‘Graham’ informed me they have a family stand that normally fills instantly which means that premium tickets, like the ones we were offered, is generally all that is available for general sale.  He also informed me that they do a lot in the local community & they have done a lot of free coaching in Asia (that I am sure is to boast shirt sales!) & that they offer ‘cheap’ tickets for Carling Cup & the FA Cup.

I informed Graham that it all sounds very good but how does this help a group from Northern Ireland that can only attend the West Brom game that weekend?  Unfortunately we can’t offer anything apart from the £70 tickets.  That was that.  Nothing.  Not even a suggestion of come along for a stadium tour or anything else.  It left me feeling very bitter towards Chelsea.

West Brom FC…

I did take Chelsea FC Box Office advice & phoned West Brom.  I decided to click on the number to speak to the community department.  It was 4.53pm on a Monday afternoon yet a lovely woman called Jan answered my call.

During the next 20 minute call I found out the following;

  • Jan purchased tickets for the West Brom end at Chelsea for herself & son.  Her son’s ticket only cost £25!  She was shocked & angered at how Chelsea FC dealt with my request.
  • She informed me that West Brom offer visiting youth groups a £25 match day ticket.  I butted in saying that was great but Jan told me to ‘hold on luvy, I haven’t finished’.  This £25 offered a coaching session by a West Brom coach, the Premier League game & a stadium tour!  Bloody hell, this is how all Premier League clubs should operate.
  • Jan took my details & informed me she would contact Chelsea FC along with other London clubs that may accommodate us.

This was customer service.  I felt important & that Jan couldn’t do enough for me.  I have a new love for West Brom FC!  I am also going to look at taking my academy side over to a West Brom game this season!  I haven’t heard back from Jan yet but for sure will add comments to this blog piece to keep you all updated.

Other London Clubs at home…

My next move was to check to see what other Premiership, Championship & League 1 clubs were at home on Saturday 20 August or Sunday 21 August.

Premiership

  • Arsenal vs Liverpool
  • Chelsea vs West Brom

Championship

  • Reading vs Barnsley
  • West Ham vs Leeds

League 1

  • Charlton vs Scunthorpe
  • MK Dons vs Chesterfield

I sent the following email on Tuesday 2 August at 2am…

Subject: Youth Academy from Belfast to attend a game…

‘Dear Sirs

My name is Tim Wareing & I am a UEFA A Licence football coach from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I operate my own academy & have organised a tour to London from Friday 19 – Sunday 21 August 2011.  Our Academy will play Fulham FC & the North Kent Academy.  We would love to attend a game, take a stadium tour & if possible organise a game against your academy, development centre or avail of a coaching session with one of your youth coaches?

We are available Saturday afternoon, evening & have the whole day free on the Sunday.  Our hotel is based in south London.  We had contacted Chelsea FC to attend their game against West Brom but have been quoted £70 per ticket with no child reduction!  To take our group of 25 to the game would cost, £1,800.00!!!!!!!  No thanks!  I have been very disappointed with Chelsea & their lack of community support for youth groups.

I have a party of 25 including 14 children along with parents & coaches.  The academy is mixed.  It brings children from both sides of the community together; catholic & protestant.  There is also a mix in terms of personal background.  Some come from dis-advantaged areas with some parents out of work.


I would appreciate if you could help source match tickets & / or a friendly or coaching session on the Sunday morning / early afternoon.  I see from your fixtures you are due to play XXX

Thank you for your time reading this & I look forward to your speedy, but favourable reply.’
The response…
Arsenal…First of all I struggled to find an email address on the club website for tickets.  I ended up having to send the request through to ‘disability@arsenalXXXX’.  They don’t seem to welcome supporters to get in touch with them.  Arsenal seem to want people to find the answer to their query on a ‘frequently asked questions’ section on their site!
I got this reply on Thursday 4 August at 2.10pm (2 day response)

‘Dear Mr Wareing,

Many thanks for your recent email which was forwarded on to the Arsenal Academy.

I am sorry but we are unable to help you with your request for match tickets.

On behalf of Arsenal FC may I take this opportunity to wish you an enjoyable and successful visit to London.’

Reading…Received a reply on Wednesday that looked promising but haven’t had any further contact?  * UPDATE * I received a telephone call from Reading on Friday 5 August.  They are able to offer us a ‘Match Day Experience’ with group discount.  £20 for adults, £15 for 17-21 year olds & £7.50 for U16′s.  This allows pitch side access for photos & a tour around the ground along with the game.  They are also looking to source a game for us on the Sunday against their Academy!

‘Hi Shelley please could you sort out reasonable priced tickets for Tim and I will speak to Chris/Ryan about a game.

Thanks very much

Kind Regards

XXX

Office Manager’

West Ham…I had already contacted West Ham & again I received the same automated email the next day from my email.  It basically informed me that members get first choice.  If there was tickets left they could offer us them but to do that I need to supply them with my credit card!  No thanks!  So the club that have just been relegated & boast about their youth academy but do very little in terms to assist other elite youth players.  Here is that email…

‘Dear supporter

Thank you for your recently enquiry,

We can offer you the chance to purchase these tickets, however our members have priority purchasing so if this fixture sells out to our members we will not be able to complete your purchase.

We would require;

1)Seating details where you would like to sit , please note that for bulk booking we can usually only offer band 2-3 in the West or East or Bobby Moore Upper , these will be situated in the corners of the stand

2)The age bracket of the people attending the fixture and how many are coming

3)A full postal address so we can send the tickets to you as soon as they have been processed

4)Full payment details

We will ask if you could forward the relevant information via post and then we will try and allocate these seats for you once the game goes on general sale

You can also telephone the call centre 0n 0871 222 2700 via option 3 and the customer service team will be able to process these for you, however they will not be able to sell these seats until the game has reached general sale dates can be found on the website for the upcoming fixture, some may not be on the website as of yet, but please revisit nearer the fixture as the website will be updated as soon as we have the information

Fixture information and pricing

The fixtures currently available can be found here; http://www.whufc.com/page/TicketNews/

If the fixture you require is not on the above link then we do not have the information available at this time, please check back nearer the fixture as these are usually made available 6-8 weeks prior to the fixture .

Ticket prices can be found here;

http://www.whufc.com/page/MatchTickets/0,,12562,00.html

We hope this information helps and you manage to gain the tickets you desire

Kind regards

Ticket office’

Charlton…They replied on Wednesday at 4pm with the most positive response…

‘Dear Tim

Thanks for getting in touch.

We would really like to welcome your group to our game against Scunthorpe on 20th August 2011.  We would be able to offer you our group rate of £5.00 per person (including adults) for this game.  If you give me a call on xxxxxxxxxx, I can organise this for you.

Kind regards.

XXX

Club Development

Charlton Athletic Football Club’

MK Dons…* UPDATE * Received a reply on Friday 5 August…

‘Hi Tim,

Thanks for the e-mail.

I have forwarded your e-mail on to relevant members of staff regarding the ticketing request.

Unfortunately, the Academy department is unable to help with your request as we have pre season games; however, we hope our SET department may be able to help with a coaching session.

I have asked the relevant members of staff to respond to you.

Many Thanks’

Our Academy tour last year to Holland offered us great rates for stadium tour & a game at PSV Eindhoven

Summary…

It is amazing the difference in how clubs operate.  I have an individual in Hugo Langton who has done everything possible to welcome us & set the whole trip up.  I have a professional club in Fulham who have accepted an invitation to play us at their first team training ground.  Then we have clubs who either don’t reply, let a computer service reply or simply do everything possible not to welcome us.
As a life long football fan and as a professional coach for 15 years I have seen how clubs work so different.  Last year in Holland we could not have been made more welcome.  Playing matches against professional sides, stadium tours, training ground visits, live match…you name it.  Different mentality!
What happens when these arrogant clubs lose their ‘sugar daddy’, get relegated or money simply dries up?  Will they then go back looking for the real fans?

Do you coach enough 1 v 1′s?

How many coaches in the UK (& parents!) do you hear on the touch line shout, ‘PASS!’ or even worse, ‘GET RID OF IT!’  Why do we never hear & encourage players to, ‘TAKE HIM ON!’?  It all comes down to our cultural & how we develop young players.  If we are not encouraging enough 1 v 1′s in training it certainly isn’t going to happen on the pitch.

1 v 1 high pressure drills are great

As football fans what do we love to see?  Well I love to see players dribble & take players on.  That is why so many of the legends of the game stand out simply for that reason.  George Best & Pele are to stand out players & more recently in the modern game we have players like Giggs, Ronaldo & Messi.  So with this in mind we should spend more time working on dribbling & 1 v 1 scenario’s in training.

I know a number of coaches that stop doing 1 v 1′s after kids are 10 because they feel they want to go on to ‘more advanced’ drills.  1 v 1′s are not only great to develop dribbling, skills & taking someone on but they are great for speed, fitness & development.  It’s not only junior teams performing 1 v 1′s but top European Clubs have their players working on them.  On my last club visit to SC Braga we watched the senior team perform 1 v 1′s, 2 v 1′s & 2 v 2′s.  They really worked the players in a tight area working on dribbling, skill, touch, speed & decision making.  Players obviously enjoy 1 v 1′s – especially if you have a target or goal at the end!

When I visited Barcelona they had all their youth teams performing 1 v 1.  It is such a simple game but simply played on different levels.  For example one of the Barca sessions involved players working in partners with a ball.  One would start with the ball on the throw in line with his partner facing him a couple of yards away.  They both nodded & played 1 v 1.  The attacker would try to dribble to the far side while the defender looked to gain possession at attack the line he was facing.  Simple?  Of course.  Effective?  Yes.  Result?  Players enjoy the session & Barcelona’s methods have been known to develop the odd good player ; )

Below you will find my session plan that focus on 1 v 1′s developing on to possession games that encourage 1 v 1 duels.

Please remember to stop long lines forming!  It is my one pet hate!  Set up a number of areas so you can divide your players.  It is fine to have a few players in a line as that will act as recovery for the players.  Also let the players see & feel your excitement.  If you see a player perform a great skill to beat the defender really applaud & cheer.  Don’t be a stuck up, boring coach – get down to the kids level & have fun!

1 V 1 Dribbling Game

1 V 1 Dribbling Game

Emphasis

Beat the defender.

Set-Up

One end line marked out with 2 cones 5 yards apart.  Also angle another 2 end lines either side at an angle.

Objectives

Attacker starts approximately 10 yards away from the end line.  They run with the ball trying to beat the defender & dribble through one of the end lines.  2 points through the central end line, 1 point for other angled end lines.

Defender wins 1 point for kicking the ball out or 2 points for winning the ball & playing to next attacker in line.

Avoid long lines!  Set up a couple of areas the same as above if you are working with large numbers.

Progressions

  1. Increase / decrease area depending on group size & success rate.
  2. Encourage attacking players to perform skills to beat the defender.

Coaching

  • Assertive, determined dribbling in tight space.
  • Speed of approach with the ball.
  • Good ball control.
Summary

This is a nice session for players to come into after a warm up (with the ball of course!)  I always feel the players motivation is better if there is a goal or reward at the end of it.  I simply operated the session as ‘every man for themself’!  They kept score from all successful 1 v 1 duels & were also able to add the points from any successful defending.
I then like to develop the session into a small sided game.  Basically taking the technical side of the session into a more tactical game.

Improving Passing & Movement

Improving Passing & Movement

Emphasis

Possession game focusing on passing, support & individual play.

Set-Up

40 x 40 yard area, 5 v 5 inside the grid with 3 neutral players.  Have a supply of balls around the outside of the grid to keep the game flowing.

Objectives

5 v 5 match inside the grid with 3 neutral players combining with the team in possession to make it 8 v 5.

A goal is scored by stopping the ball on your opponents end line (red top, blue bottom.)

Play 5 minute games or shorter depending on the fitness of the group.

Progressions

  1. Limit the touches.
  2. Bonus points for special combination, i.e. 1-2 or overlap.
  3. Attack either end, i.e. after scoring & giving possession to the other team you can keep it & attack the other line.
  4. Attack either side (all 4 sides of the square) but introduce mini goals to limit the area you can score along the line.

Coaching

  • Pass & move.
  • When to play & when to pass, beat the opponent on your own or with a 1-2 combination.
  • Quality passing.
  • Support play.
  • Work rate & movement on / off ball.
  • Communication.
Summary

As always I am flexible with how I set my sessions up.  As I was working more on 1 v 1 play I made the pitch smaller & tighter to try & create more 1 v 1 scenarios.  I had 16 boys report for training so I adapted the game to play 5 v 5 + 1 neutral player inside the area.  Another team of 5 played as wall players & simply played with the team in possession.  There was obviously an overload in attack but I don’t mind this as it offers success but at the same time it makes the team without possession work hard to win it back.  It also teaches how important ball retention is!  I played 4 minute high tempo periods.
I enjoyed this session as one team stood out for me in terms of being the most successful at the game.  What was their secret?  They were brave, if you like, took risks.  They weren’t afraid to take players on.  They also learnt by beating a defender they always then had a man over & they used it to their advantage.  Their decision making & movement on & off the ball was terrific.
It is also nice to offer players a goal to hit.  I added a simple 1 v 1 shooting session that is shown below.  I operated this using 2 goals so it kept the lines to a minimum & kept players moving.

1 V 1 Shooting

1 v 1 Shooting

Emphasis

1 v 1 with passing, dribbling, feinting, shooting & defending.

Set-Up

A group of players with a supply of balls position themselves behind a cone on the goal line midway between the goal & 18 yard line.

Another group of players position themselves behind a cone just outside the ‘D’.

Objectives

Player A passes the ball to player B.  Player B dribbles towards the goal, tries to feint player A & score.

If player B scores, or if player A wins the ball, play starts again with two new players.

Progressions

  1. Players rotate positions so that they both get an opportunity to attack & defend.
  2. Limit time to encourage speed.

Coaching

  • Accurate passing.
  • Feint & skills to beat the defender.
  • Speed.
  • Shooting technique.
  • Follow shots in.
  • Defensive technique.
  • Close down attacker but don’t dive in – jockey.
  • Position your body so that you can force attacker wide of goal.
  • Keep eye on ball & be patient.
  • Decision making.
Summary

This then led my session to the tactical game.  I refer to Barcelona a lot – but for good reason.  Not only is their ball retention superb but on the occasions they lose possession just watch how hard & quickly they look to win the ball back.  This is not pointed out enough.  The stars of Barca don’t receive enough credit for the work rate they put in to win the ball back.  For players to do this it must be coached, you must also add an incentive & reward for it being carried out right.
Below you will find my transition game to encourage my players to win the ball back as quickly as possible.

6 Second Transition Game

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 – 11 v 11 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.
Summary

My players love sessions like this as much as I do.  They receive so many touches of the ball.  The full session was carried out to such a high standard.  Always remember to reward your players with free play.  I offered 15 minutes free play at the end before carrying out a cool down.

Remember you can have full access to all my session plans by clicking here!  As always please add your comments & if you like to use the session & share with others please credit my work with a link back to my blog or coaching website.

Coach Tim’s Session Notes

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

Structure your training sessions well

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

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

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

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

Passing Skill & Possession

Passing Skill & Possession

Emphasis

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

Set-Up

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

Objectives

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

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

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

Progressions

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

Coaching

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

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

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

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

    Shifting Point Of Attack

    Shifting Point Of Attack

    Emphasis

    Directional possession game with 4 mini goals.

    Set-Up

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

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

    Objectives

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

    Look to switch & attack the other goal.

    Progressions

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

    Coaching

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

    8 V 8 Plus 2 Wingers

    8 v 8 Plus 2 Wingers

    Emphasis

    Encouraging attacking play through the wings.

    Set-Up

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

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

    Objectives

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

    Progressions

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

    Coaching

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

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

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