Converting game feedback to training sessions

[originally on old blogspot blog]One of the things I did last season for Pt. Grey and Kerrisdale coaches is make myself available to coaches at their games. At the games I can either discuss what I’m seeing with you as the game is going on and suggest adjustments or take notes on my own and put together some practice plans. I did this recently for a U12 Gold 2 team. Here’s what I saw and came up with:

Chronologically through the game, here’s my notes:

– keeper playing too deep (ie. too close to his goal line)
– defenders backing away from crossed balls rather than going to meet them or put pressure on attackers receiving crosses
-results in shots on goal being allowed
– first goal: keeper badly overplayed near post and left too much space at far post for them to shoot at
– defenders in general not putting pressure on attackers; giving too much time and space to spray balls around
– good job with covering defenders; decent shape at the back with second defender providing support (well balanced)
– when in possession too many players get ridden off the ball too easily by opponents
– lack of off the ball movement in attack; too much standing and watching what the person with the ball is going to do
– good pressure on opposing defenders from first person in but no back up from second and third so decent players can play through the initial pressure
– keeper improving positioning as game goes on; came off his line quickly to clear two balls with his feet outside his box
– continuing to defend way too deep and not stepping up to attackers as they approach goal
– both 1v1 defending and 1v1 attacking really need work
– group defending good
– ball movement in attack is good despite limited off the ball mobility
– work rate fading as game progresses
– many players need considerable improvement striking the ball, especially balls moving away from them
– by the end of the game defenders were dropped back so far they were almost on top of their keeper

Based on this here’s what I put together for them to work on in training

Session #1: Focus on 1v1 defending

Warm up: incorporating movements related to defending; jockeying, side strides, etc

Drill: King’s court – a series of 10×15 yard boxes with two players in each.
– They take turns playing the ball to each other, closing them down and preventing them from dribbling past them to the far side of the box.
– Defenders get points each time they either knock the ball out of bounds or win the ball in a tackle
– Let them play for two minutes, stop, get scores and whoever wins moves up one grid towards the end. The grid at the end is the “King’s Court”. Whoever wins in King’s court is the “King.” Whoever loses goes to the “dungeon”, the grid furthest away and has to start working their way up a game. Those who lose in the other courts just stay where they are.

1. Close the gap quickly but slow as they get to within two or three steps away, get low, get balanced and focus on the ball.
2. Over play the side you want to take away from the attacker and force them to the other side. In a game, for example, they would take away the most direct path to the goal and push them to the other side
3. Wait for a bad touch and from a balanced, crouched position quickly move to the ball separate the attacker from the ball

Conditioned game: 3v3 with a joker (on both teams) in a 20v20 grid; teams score by dribbling the ball over the end line.

Because of the small space and the fact they are always out-manned when they don’t have the ball, this game forces defenders to get to the ball carrier quickly and prevent forward movement.

If it’s proving too easy for attackers to score, remove the joker or make ‘goals’ at each end that the attacker have to dribble through rather than giving them the entire end line to cross.

– be aware of losses of possession and have them ‘switch on’ quickly to defending so the attackers can get easy points.
– encourage them to apply pressure quickly when they have a chance to make attackers play with their backs to goal and don’t let them turn
– encourage second and third defenders to communicate to the player defending the ball carrier and give him information about which side to cut off
– once they commit to a tackle and win the ball, make sure they don’t give it away right away; look for safe, easy options to build an attack rather than something they lose possession on and end up defending again right away

– bonus points for examples of good defending (your discretion)

Session #2: Focus on 1v1 attacking

Warm- up: Each player with a ball in a 30×20 area (approx) and lead them through a series of moves that all incorporate a change of direction and a change of pace. No defenders just individual work on moving with a ball as if they were approaching a defender.

1. encourage creativity and explosive change of pace once they’ve been going for awhile and are pretty warm.
2. explain that lateral movement unbalances defenders and enables them to go past them more easily

Drill: King’s court (same as first session but now the emphasis is on attacking)
– Players get one point for dribbling past the defender and over the end line; two if they’re able to demonstrate they can do this with close control and actually stop the ball on or very close to the end line
– Same rotation after each two minute game

1. take a positive first touch (ie. first touch goes forward and creates momentum) that confronts the defender and forces them to react to you and not vice versa
2. use a change of direction to unbalance a defender followed by explosive change of pace to go by them
3. once by them get arm up to fend them off and get the ball positioned so their body is between the ball and the defender as much as possible

Conditioned game #1: inverse of conditioned game in session #1 (ie players score by dribbling over line)

Conditioned game #2: 2v2 in 20 (long) x 25 (wide) area with full size goals at each end.
Divide players into two teams. They play 2v2 and when their shot either scores or misses the goal but crosses the end line, their opponents are off and two new opponents come on. Players only go off when the ball crosses their own goal line.

1. Encourage them to recognize and exploit when 2v2 turns into a 1v1 opportunity and get them to challenge defenders, carve out a shooting angle and get their shot away
2. Players who are off and awaiting their turn have to be tuned in and ready to jump in quickly so they can take advantage of transition and get their strikes in.
3. The small space places a premium on having a good touch and change of pace over 5 yards; get them to focus on close control and a quick first step going by the defender

– bonus points for beating an opponent 1v1 in the normal course of the scrimmage.

Session #3: Finishing

Warm-up: basic soccer movements with and without a ball in a 30x 30 grid. Have one ball for every two players and put them on a three touch maximum where they receive a pass, take their touches, pass to someone else and then go look for another ball from someone else. After each pass, incorporate runs of different lengths, checked runs, backwards running, side strides etc. As the warm-up progresses increase the length of the passes.

Drill: Man Utd Shooting Drill
Put two goals 20 yards apart, facing each other and make two lines that stand three yards off each goal’s right post. Each player has a ball and they move towards the opposite goal, take a shot, retrieve their ball, join the other line and repeat the exercise. They continue in a loop.
– First few minutes just have them touch the ball five yards in front and hit it on the run
– Next, have them take a touch inside (45 degrees) followed by a quick touch outside and then a shot on a goal. This mimics moving the defender inside before going outside to open a shooting angle
– Next, have them pass to the player at the front of the opposite line at the same time so they exchange balls, have to control the ball and get it in front of them with their first touch and then shoot with their next touch
– Have them switch the lines to the left post so they have to do the same exercises but shooting with their left foot.

1. Small, quick steps to the ball with the last step being a longer explosive step to the ball that places the non-kicking foot next to the ball
2. Eye on the ball, after a quick look to the goal and goalie
3. Hit the ball not so much with the laces but with the area of the foot to the inside of the laces
4. Follow through completely in the intended direction of the ball
5. Tell them that three quarters of their success when shooting is determined by everything they do right up to the moment before their foot contacts the ball (ie. approach, balance, non kicking foot, angle of leg kicking the ball, part of foot that will contact the ball); get them to focus on this.

Conditioned game #1: 2v2 game described above

Conditioned game #2: King Louie
Two teams of four or five each put into a 20×20 grid with goals at each end (similar to 2v2 game) but with a halfway line dividing the area. Each team puts 3 or 4 players in their own end and one player in the opposing team’s half creating a 3v1 or 4v1 in each half. Teams move the ball around and away from the defender until they can create a shooting opportunity. The lone player in each grid can score on rebounds and if they dispossess their opponents. Change the lone player every few mintues.

1. Body positioning that allows for a first touch to set up a strike at goal.
2. Use body to shield defender when shooting (ie. keep ball to the outside of the defender)
3. Reinforce proper striking technique
4. Lone striker (poacher) should be encouraged to focus on quickness to ball and getting ‘garbage goals’ as they all count!

– Keep goals relatively close together (but not as extreme as the 2v2 or King Louie games) and add a joker to increase the likelihood of scoring chances.

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