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Session Notes

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

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction

Emphasis

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

Set-Up

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

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

Objectives

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

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

Progressions

  1. Introduce a ball.

Coaching

  • Speed.
  • Reaction.
  • Communication.

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

Quick Feet

Quick Feet

Emphasis

Quick feet & reaction.

Set-Up

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

Objectives

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

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

Progressions

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

Coaching

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

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

Link Up Play – Receiving & Turning

Link Up Play - Receiving & Turning

Emphasis

Receiving, passing, turning & link up play.

Set-Up

Vary the size of the grid to suit your players & what you want from the session.  Larger grid offers further distance for passing but smaller sized grid offers less space for turning & keeps the session game realistic.

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

Objectives

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

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

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

Rotate & switch the players roles.

Progressions

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

Coaching

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Match Warm Up

Do you have a structure to your pre-match warm up?  This essential preparation is often over looked – especially at grassroots.  Managers end up completing match cards or stand about talking to parents leaving the players to their own device.  It’s amazing how many players run out the changing room with a ball & what is the first thing they do?  Have a shot at goal!  Adapt your warm up to suit the age that you are working with & the conditions.

Here is my pre-match warm up.  I have taken this from my online coaching resource website, TrainingSoccer.Org.  You can join here!

Pre-Match Warm Up

Pre-Match Warm Up

Emphasis

Ideal warm up before matches.

I believe it is important for players to have a routine each week before matches. I think it is silly to try & introduce something new as players will be mentally focusing in for games & there is no point trying to get them to listen to new intructions.

The basics is to get them moving & start to get their body temperature up. Obviously adapt this to suit the climate & time of year. With younger players I like them all to have a ball but ensure they don’t start bad habits like shooting at goal straight away! They should dribble around a grid, performing skills & turns. I also let them have some time for keepie ups.

Once the body & muscles start to warm introduce some stretching & light ball work. I always like introducing a small sided possession game to start getting them up to match speed.

It is very important you don’t ignore your goalkeeper. At this point I let them break off from the group & have one of my assistants warm them up. If you don’t have the luxury of an assistant have one or two of your subs warm them up or the sub goalkeeper if you have one. Although it is important they know a routine so it doesn’t turn into ‘passie-shootie in’ (although most keepers will tell them what exactly they want to do.)

Make sure players stop in between for fluids. I then introduce some S.A.Q. sessions before developing into some explosive sprints.

It’s then important to let players have some free time to complete the warm up. Some may prefer to perform some more stretching while others may wish to shoot at goal or pass in groups of 2 or 3.

Set-Up

Start with all players lined up along the throw-in line.

Set up a 25 x 25 yard area. This is for the possession game & you can also use one of the lines for the explosive sprints.

Also organise the S.A.Q. area (as shown.)

Objectives

The coach (or possibly the captain) is at the front of the group & sets the rhythm & tempo of each exercise. The rest of the team is in line & starts along the throw-in line.

Start off at a slow jog pace, & then undertakes the following sequence;

  • Jogs forwards to the opposite by-line of the pitch.
  • Jogs backwards back.
  • Shuffle side to side working on foot work going forward (2 to the left, 2 to the right.)
  • Shuffle side to side working on foot work going backwards.
  • Increase the pace, start skipping, & do the following exercises;
  • Open extension stretch – Head up elbows slightly bent, push back, & then forwards to clap hands. X 10.
  • Salute stretch – Head up elbows slightly bent, reach up, push back, & then come forwards to thigh level to clap hands. X 10.
  • Parallel rotations – Head up, turn the head, & twist both arms to the rear (parallel to the ground) then return to the front. X 10 left & X 10 right.
  • High knee lifts – Head up, bring the right knee up as close to the right shoulder (touch if possible), then return to the ground. X 10 left & X 10 right.
  • Outside crescent kicks – Head up, high knee & subscribe an outside crescent kick (away from the centre line of the body) then return to the floor. X 10 left & X 10 right.
  • Inside ankle touches – Head up bring your right foot up to touch your left hand & then return to the floor. X 10 left & X 10 right.
  • Outside heel touches – Head up bring your right foot up to touch your right hand & then return to the floor. X 10 left & X 10 right.
  • Rear heel touches – Head up bring your right foot up & touch your left hand behind you. X 10 left & X 10 right.
  • On each of the exercises it is crucially important that each player works to their own limits. All of the exercises are done whilst moving across the pitch & back again, the coach or the captain setting the tempo, & rhythm at all times. After this phase is done then the players then work in groups of 2, for the rhythmic dynamic stretches.

This series of dynamic stretches are known as ‘pendulum stretches’. When working in pairs balance must be worked upon, as the one player swings to the front, the other swings to the back, in balance. This applies to the left & right also.

  • Front & rear pendulum – With the players facing each other, left hand on each others shoulder for support, swing to the front & then to the rear, emphasise the height has to be equal. X 10 left & X 10 right.
  • Left & right pendulum stretch – With the players facing each other, left hand to left hand for support, swing to the left & then to the right, emphasise the height has to be equal. X 10 left & X 10 right.
  • Half pendulum stretch – With the players facing each other, hand to left hand for support, swing to the left & then as the leg swings to the right bend the knee up to the side. X 10 left & X 10 right.

Pre-Match Warm UpPlayers now come into the grid to play keep ball. I generally overload the attack & play 8 v 4 (I select the back 4 to start & try & win the ball, then the midfield 4). Make sure you have a number of balls to feed in when a ball leaves the grid. Players should concentrate on their work rate on / off the ball & how they receive the ball. Encourage them to ‘keep the ball’ & play ‘easy pass’.

Break up the possession game with some static stretching.

After rotating players finish off the warm up with some S.A.Q. & sprints. I would have 3 reps for the S.A.Q.;

  • 1 foot in between each cone.
  • 2 feet in between each cone.
  • Shuffle in between the cones.

After completing the S.A.Q., finish off with some explosive sprints, work in pairs using the outside of the grid (see diagram.);

  • Both players facing to front, on coaches command, run 3/4 pace to first cone then sprint to last cone & then slowly jog back to the end of the line. Have players carry these exercises out at a steady place so you don’t have too long a line.
  • Both players facing to front, on coaches command, jump up & shout their name (like they are going to head the ball), then sprint to last cone. Make sure players behind don’t stand too close, so they don’t land on their toes!
  • Both players face each other & perform quick feet to first cone before turning & sprinting to last cone.
  • Both players face each other & side shuffle to first cone before performing high fives, change lanes & sprint to last cone.
  • Like before but instead of giving high fives they jump up & shoulder charge each other.
  • Finally, players sprint forwards to first cone, then backwards to start, before sprinting to last cone.

Let players finish off the warm up with whatever they feel necessary. As each player has their own traditions, never interfere with this crucial period, as the players psychological well-being is at risk.

This is the last activity to be done before the players either return to the dressing room, or the match is about to start. I like to remind players the last important instructions & then they get into a huddle themselves. I like this as I feel it really helps to create a bond between the players.

Progressions

  1. Adjust the length of your warm up depending on weather conditions.
  2. Make sure you allow players time for them to complete their own warm up at the end.

Coaching

  • It is your job to ensure that players are physically & mentally ready for kick off.

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