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Football coach joins Telegraph team to help boost apprenticeship drive

At TWSports.Org we always look to support young coaches & offer opportunities of on the job experience.  We also have internal training along with club visits across Europe.  Below you can read our feature in the Belfast Telegraph.

Feature in the Belfast Telegraph

On-the-job training…an open goal if you want to get ahead

There’s nothing better than getting on-the-job training & real life experience.

That’s the view of Tim Wareing of TW Sports, whose business has become the latest to back the Belfast Telegraph’s campaign to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days.

The ethos of learning & training on the job is one which applies to the sports field as well as more every day workplaces.

Indeed Mr Wareing (33) started his career training to be a travel agent, which he combined with NVQ II & III classes at then Castlereagh College.

But his business, which has become his life’s work, is training football coaches & providing soccer programmes for young kids, including toddlers.

He is also the author of Toddler Soccer, The Essential Guide To A Toddlers First Steps In Soccer.

Mr Wareing, who has been recognised by Invest NI for his entrepreneurial achievements said he had been impressed by the commitment to sport & learning shown by the young people who have been trained by him.

That led him to be a firm believer in apprenticeships.

“I’d definitely back the Belfast Telegraph’s campaign to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days, because I’m a big advocate of learning on the job.  To take someone & give them experience on the job as well as getting them the teaching is wonderful.

“When you combine the passion people have for football with learning, it’s a great combination.”

Mr Wareing coached at Lisburn Distillery between the ages of 24 & 30 & also became the club’s academy director.  He achieved his UEFA European A coaching licence at 24, but his career began differently.

“My background when I left school was in travel, but when I was made redundant at the age of 26 I set up TW Sports.”

Yet working at Globetrotter Travel hasn’t been wasted in his present business environment.

“It was this position in an independent agency that offered me the experience of how to operate a business – dealing with the public, making reservations, customer care, marketing & all the other jobs that operating a small to medium-sized business.”

Now he is happy to ensure other people can get equally valuable training working alongside with him.

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.

    Coach Tim’s Academy Session

    I thought I would share my own Academy session that I performed with my squad last Sunday.  We had a squad of 14 boys aged 11-13 that reported for the session.  Typical Belfast weather – rain & high winds!  With this in mind I wanted a session that would always involve the players and that was easy to manage in terms of setting up and developing.

    As soon as my players arrive a ball is at their feet

    I always arrive 20 minutes before the players so I can set my coaching area up and everything runs smoothly.  On Sunday I set up 4 grids measuring 15 x 15 yards with a 5 x 5 yard safety area between them.  This offered me an overall 35 x 35 yard coaching area which is what we would develop to.  One session to the next only involved lifting a few cones – no waiting about for the players!  Inside each grid I set up a 4 x 4 yard triangle.

    On arrival my players know to get a ball and go for a light dribble in one of the allocated grids.  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.  I like to run through the ‘Ronaldo 7′ and then organise them to juggle the ball in groups.

    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.  We then run through our Speed, Agility & Quickness routine.  We use a series of movements through the speed ladder, hurdles and hoops.  Players again take a drink before returning for the first part of our technical session.  I always like to use the ball and will always concentrate on possession games setting goals and keeping game realistic.

    You will see from my first game we use the grids wisely.  I ended up having one grid spare.  In two other grids we had 4 v 1 and in the other grid we had 3 v 1.  This was intresting as I rotated so that all groups had the opportunity to try 3 v 1 as it was more challenging.  I always like to insure success in all my sessions but then like to challenge so feel free to make the triangle smaller (i did) or change it from 4 v 1 to 3 v 1 or maybe 4 v 2?  Have fun, this is a great session to develop movement and work rate off the ball along with passing and supporting runs to passing and touch.

    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.
    I then developed the session.  As I had set up 4 grids with the safty area of 5 yards between each grid it left a 5 x 5 yard box in the centre and a 35 x 35 yard area to work in.  I simply had to lift the 3 cones from the triangle in each grid and we could move straight on to this session.  This offered a smooth transition with little to no standing about for the players (another pet hate of mine!)
    You’ll see from my session plan below that this game is 5 v 3 with the 5 in possession trying to play to the 2 target players in the box.  With the 4 players I had over I had them play as wall players.  they played with the team in possession.  If the defenders won the ball the wall players played with them.  For 5 passes they were rewarded with 1 goal, this offers incentives to both the defenders as well as the attackers.  I rotated the players so everyone played in each role.  Remember the target players inside the box are replaced by the player who plays the ball to them.  My players carried this out great!

    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.
    I then finished the session off with a 7 v 7 game into full size goals on a slightly smaller half a pitch.  I simply asked them to get a basic shape and enjoy themselves.  Only changes I add from a ‘normal game’ is keeper must roll out and play from the back.  Throw in’s are replaced with pass in’s or dribble in’s.
    I do think it is important that players can have some freedom to play without continual instructions and ‘orders’ from the coach.  We then finished off with 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!

    U12 Training Session

    I took a session for a local U12 side last week.  I always prefer my sessions to run smoothly so players aren’t standing about but also that each session is based around the same theme.  Last Thursday was an awful night.  Strong winds and rain so essential that the players were kept busy and always moving.  Likewise, having your coaching area set up so players can move from one thing to the next without you having to have them stand about and take time to re-set your coaching area.  I like to see all players with a ball during the warm up dribbling, performing skills and juggling the ball.

    My warm up started with all players in a 10 x 10 yard grid with a ball.  I made a further 4 different coloured 10 x 10 grids in either corner.  This concept is taken from my great Dutch friend, Bert-Jan Heijmans.  All players remained in the centre grid dribbling the ball, perfoming skills & juggling the ball.  I then performed the ‘Ronaldo 7′ which is 7 different skills performed while the ball is stationary.  The idea is that your feet is furthest away from your brain so through repetition will lead to improvement on speed, reaction and the idea of performing skills on the pitch ‘without thinking about it’ or if you prefer, instinct.

    I then worked on a spatial awareness game.  I had 16 players in the centre zone so I wanted them to react on my whistle and dribble at speed to either of the 4 outside grids.  If done correctly we would have 4 players in each grid.  The players had great success from this.  You can also operate a number of  ‘mini games’ within each grid like ’3 v 1′ or ‘Ball Hunter’.

    My diagram below doesn’t exactly show what I have explained as it is another variation on my session.  If you add another grid in the middle and obviously base on the idea that the players will be split equally amongst the grids.

    Dribbling Grid Game

    Dribbling Grid Game

    Emphasis

    Dribbling, spatial awareness & listening skills game.

    Set-Up

    Great game if you are on your own as a coach or waiting for another group to finish before your allocated time meaning no set up time or little preparation.

    Start the session inside a 10 x 10 yard grid using all the same colour of cones (although in my diagram you can’t see this the grid should appear in the middle with the other 4 grids on the outside.) All players have a ball & dribble around. While the players are doing that set up another 10 x 10 yard grid alongside it, but leaving a 10 yard safety area. This time use a different colour of cones.

    Encourage players to look for space & perform skills. Again leave another 10 yard safety area & set up a third 10 x 10 yard area using another colour but keeping inside a ‘square’ shape. Finally set up a forth 10 x 10 yard area using a forth different colour of cones.

    Objectives

    With four different coloured 10 x 10 yard areas set up on the outside players should dribble within the centre grid.  On the coaches call players should dribble at speed to the outside grids.  I worked with 16 players so ideally there should be 4 players in each grid (unlike my diagram!)  On the next call players return to the centre grid.

    This is an excellent session for players to improve their decision making & getting their head up.

    Progressions

    1. Play mini games when players are in the outside grids like ’3 v 1′ & ‘Ball Hunter’.

    Coaching

    • Dribbling skills.
    • Tricks.
    • Head up.
    • Look for space.
    • Change of direction / speed.
    • Awareness.
    • Listening skills.

    Set up well so players don't stand about

    It is essential to plan and set your session up so that it runs smoothly and players aren’t standing about getting cold, distracted & bored!
    I wanted to work on 1 v 1′s and continue the theme of dribbling, skills, turns and work at a high tempo.  My next session was easily combined into the set up from the first part of my session.
    With having 4 grids set up on the outside all I had to do at the start of the session was leave a couple of extra cones down in each grid for the mini goals.
    Players then worked in their groups of 4, playing 1 v 1.  This in turn kept the high tempo but also allowed enough recovery for each player.
    Having mini goals on either side of the grid insures players can change direction to beat & fool the defender.  Although if the defender should gain possession they then become the attacker.
    Rotate players so that everyone has an opportunity to play both as an attacker and a defender.  I named the session after PSV as I viewed it at their Academy!

    PSV 1 V 1

    PSV 1 v 1

    Emphasis

    1 v 1 duel, beat the defender with a move at speed.

    This is a simple session that I viewed at the PSV training ground.  The Academy played this at a high tempo.

    Don’t have long lines although work in groups of 4-5 players per grid so each player receives a recovery period.

    Set-Up

    Set up 10 x 10 yard grids with a safety area between each one.

    Players should position themselves at the top of the grid in the centre facing the defender at the bottom of the grid.

    A mini goal should be placed on either side of the grid.

    Objectives

    Defender starts with the ball (red player).  They make a firm pass to the attacker (yellow player).

    The attacker should meet the ball & both players come to the middle of the grid.  The attacker performs a skill & attacks one of the goals while the defender applies pressure.

    Encourage the attacker to be brave, perform a skill & play at speed.  They should also be patient & if they cannot score in one goal look to switch & attack the other goal.

    Progressions

    1. Increase / decrease area depending on age & group ability.
    2. Change roles so each player has an opportunity of being a defender & an attacker.
    3. If defender wins ball they can attack either goal.

    Coaching

    For attackers;

    • Accurate driven pass.
    • Good close ball control.
    • Assertiv, determined dribbling in tight space.
    • Use of both feet.
    • Change of direction.
    • Skills & turns.
    • Fakes.
    • Be direct.
    • Speed.
    • Be brave.

    For defenders;

    • Deny time & space for opponents.
    • Pressure first touch.
    • Close down space quickly.
    • Jockey opponents.
    • Force player wide – away from gate.
    • Tackle opponent correctly – not from behind, make contact with ball & ensure correct timing.
    • Don’t go to ground unless the ball is played out of play.
    • Showing a player inside – outside.
    I am always keen to take what is learnt in the technical session into a tactical themed game.  I thought the 5 goal game was perfect as it encourages spatial awareness with changing the point of attack.  The scoring system encourages 1 v 1 and dribbling as a player dribbling through the gates receives a goal.  It also combines team play & passing.  If a player passes to a team mate they receive 2 goals and to encourage movement and support the team is awarded a bonus goal for a 1-2.
    I had 16 players so I played 5 v 5 + a neutral player (i.e. they play with the team in possession making it 6 v 5).  To keep all players active and not to over crowd the pitch I played another team of 5 as wall players.  They were spread around the outside of the pitch and were restricted to 2 touches and couldn’t be tackled but had to play at speed.  They could move up & down but not allowed to enter the playing area.  I played roughly 5 minutes a match with every team taking a turn as wall players.

    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.
    I finished with small sided games with no restrictions (again I rotated the teams but the resting team played as wall players to stay active).  Apart from some encouragement, praise and lighted heartedness let the kids play – they listen to us coaches enough!
    Let me have your thoughts on my session plan and if you have tried it.  Great to have feedback!  One thing you will see is that my players always have a ball at their feet.  With the session being set up so well players did not get cold or frustrated.  They were kept moving during the entire session and I kept my coaching points short and to the point.  They were that busy enjoying the session the gale force winds and rain were forgotten about!

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