Practice

Identifying the football problem

The first thing you must do is to identify the football problem that you want to address in practice.

Either you are working from a long term development plan, and have set objectives for certain periods, or you are identifying the problem during the game.

The questions to ask when identifying football problems during the game are:

  • What is the problem?
  • When in the game does the problem occur?
  • Who are causing the problem?
  • Where in the field does it occur?
  • Why does the problem occur?
Observation and analysis
What? The team is having a good possessional game, but we are not creating goal scoring opportunities
When? Throughout the game
Who? Midfielders and strikers
Where? Final third
Why? Too low ball tempo, due to lack of awareness and determination.
Conclusion
Objective for practice the following week Focus on increasing the ball tempo in the final third, in order to create goalscoring opportunities.

Planning of practice

In your practice planning you must consider:

  • Available space
  • Number of players
  • Number of coaches
  • Access to equipment
  • Time available for practice
  • Age of team – the LTPD must be taken in consideration
  • Weather conditions
  • Load and recovery

Structure of the practice

It is crucial to be clear about the objective in the practice, and to create a set up that is giving many successful repetitions, under more and more challenging circumstances. Focus on one football problem, and ensure a natural flow in practice.

An efficient practice is giving many ball touches and decisions. Small sided games should be a natural part of every practice.

The practice is always following the same structure

  • Pre-practice meeting Make players aware of the objective of the practice.
  • Warm up Include the objective of the practice already in the warmup. Avoid breaks for coaching during the warm up.
  • Playing form 1 – Introducing the football problem with little resistance
  • Playing form 2 – Advancing the challenge with medium resistance
  • Playing form 3 – Further increasing the resistance
  • Playing form 4 – Maximum resistance, playing in equal numbers
  • Cool down
  • Post-practice meeting. Conclude practice. Point out objectives met, and address challenges.

Progression

Within each practice there must be progression, i.e. starting simple and moving towards more and more resistance/challenge. The aim by progression is for learning to take place by keeping the practice interesting, fun and efficient.

You must also ensure that there is progression between practices. In the end of the practice you must observe the progress of the team, and plan the next practice from the observations.

Organization

For practice to be efficient, the organization must be smart. Set the field before start of practice, and make sure no time is wasted during practice by moving markers.

Coaching in technical details

To be able to solve any situation in the field of play, the players need to have a functional technical ability in:

When introducing a new technical detail, recognize that players are learning by: seeing, listening, doing, thinking and REPEATING. Set the players up for success in practice, and use the coaching cycle:

  • Explain
  • Demonstrate
  • Observe
  • Analyze and make decisions
  • Generate feedback

Set up a situation where the players are ACTIVE and getting a chance to touch the ball as many times as possible during the practice.

Remember that players are learning best when it is fun and they feel safe, i.e. in an environment when trying new things is encouraged, and a failed attempt is seen as an important and positive step towards learning.

Use volley balls when working on heading technique. The volleyball is light weight, and gives the opportunity to establish a correct technique without exposing the young players’ necks and brains to repeated impact of more heavier soccer balls.

Passing (general)

  • Balance
    • Standing foot in line with the ball
    • Head “on top of the ball”
  • Hit the center of the ball to get a straight pass on the ground
  • Look at the hitting spot in the hitting moment
  • Communication

Passing (specific)

  • Inside passing
    • Tense/strong foot – Lift the toes up as much as possible (lock the calcaneus bone in the joint with tibia/fibula). Make sure the sole of the foot is parallel to the ground, by bending in the knee.
    • Standing foot close to the ball.
    • Toes of standing foot pointing in the direction of the intended pass.
    • Hitting foot in 90° angle to the standing foot
  • Instep/lace pass/shooting –
    • Tense/strong foot – Push the foot to a maximum plantar flexion (“curl the toes”). Activate the calf.
    • Standing foot in line with the ball, “one foot width” away from the ball.
    • “Aim with the shoulder”
    • Balance with the opposite arm

Shooting (same technical coaching points as instep passing)

    • Pick a spot
    • Be in balance when shooting
      • Foot on the side of the ball
      • Head over the ball
      • Balance with the opposite arm
      • Activate the core
    • Look at the hitting spot (on the ball) when hitting the ball

Receiving

  • Read the space, and decide where to bring the ball with the first touch
  • Look at the hitting spot when receiving the ball
  • Keep the head over the ball when receiving
  • Tense foot, relaxed leg
  • Bring the ball into space – pass yourself
  • First touch move; “Step into the ball”
  • After the first touch into space, look up and make a new decision.
receiving

Read the situation when the ball is travelling towards you. Look at the ball when receiving. Look up to read the situation immediately after receiving the ball.

Dribbling /close control

    • Dribble with a purpose (i.e. in order to create a better opportunity for the team to keep the possession/attack)
    • Keep the chin up as much as possible (in order to be able to read the game)
    • Look at the ball when changing direction
    • Recognize space.
    • Create space by challenging opponent.

Running with the ball (over open space)

    • Push the ball as few times as possible (in order to keep the pace), but keep it close enough to be able to change direction/play a pass/take a shot/feint at any given time.
    • Keep the chin up as much as possible (in order to be able to read the game)
    • Look at the ball when changing direction

Heading

    • Hit the ball with the center of the forehead (NB! Hit the ball – don’t be hit by the ball)
    • Keep the eyes open (look at the center of the ball, i.e. the hitting spot)
    • Keep the mouth shut
    • Balance with the arms

Remember – heading starts from the feet, and involves the full body…

Goal keeping

  • Handling (air)
    • W-shape. Thumb to thumb, “finger to finger”
    • Big contact area between hand and ball
    • Cushion the ball; reach for it and reduce the speed by pulling the arms/hands back.
  • Handling (ground)
    • “Hand on top, hand behind”
    • Cut the angle by handling the ball in front of the body (diagonal forward compared to the goal line)
  • Diving
    • Land on the full side (no elbow/knee hitting the ground)
    • Protect the core by pulling the top knee towards the opposite shoulder

Factors of performance

It is of great importance for the coach to recognize, and develop, the factors that are influencing the performance of the player.

Identifying the football problem

The first thing you must do is to identify the football problem that you want to address in practice.

Either you are working from a long term development plan, and have set objectives for certain periods, or you are identifying the problem during the game.

The questions to ask when identifying football problems during the game are:

    • What is the problem?
    • When in the game does the problem occur?
    • Who are causing the problem?
    • Where in the field does it occur?
    • Why does the problem occur?
Observation and analysis
What? The team is having a good possessional game, but we are not creating goal scoring opportunities
When? Throughout the game
Who? Midfielders and strikers
Where? Final third
Why? Too low ball tempo, due to lack of awareness and determination.
Conclusion
Objective for practice the following week Focus on increasing the ball tempo in the final third, in order to create goalscoring opportunities.

Planning of practice

In your practice planning you must consider:

  • Available space
  • Number of players
  • Number of coaches
  • Access to equipment
  • Time available for practice
  • Age of team – the LTPD must be taken in consideration
  • Weather conditions
  • Load and recovery

Structure of the practice

It is crucial to be clear about the objective in the practice, and to create a set up that is giving many successful repetitions, under more and more challenging circumstances. Focus on one football problem, and ensure a natural flow in practice.

An efficient practice is giving many ball touches and decisions. Small sided games should be a natural part of every practice.

The practice is always following the same structure

  • Pre-practice meeting Make players aware of the objective of the practice.
  • Warm up Include the objective of the practice already in the warmup.

Avoid breaks for coaching during the warm up

  • Playing form 1 – Introducing the football problem with little resistance
  • Playing form 2 – Advancing the challenge with medium resistance
  • Playing form 3 – Further increasing the resistance
  • Playing form 4 – Maximum resistance, playing in equal numbers
  • Cool down
  • Post-practice meetingConclude practice. Point out objectives met, and address challenges.

Progression

Within each practice there must be progression, i.e. starting simple and moving towards more and more resistance/challenge. The aim by progression is for learning to take place by keeping the practice interesting, fun and efficient.

You must also ensure that there is progression between practices. In the end of the practice you must observe the progress of the team, and plan the next practice from the observations.

Organization

For practice to be efficient, the organization must be smart. Set the field before start of practice, and make sure no time is wasted during practice by moving markers.

Coaching in technical details

To be able to solve any situation in the field of play, the players need to have a functional technical ability in:

  • Passing
  • Receiving
  • Shooting
  • Dribbling/close control
  • Running with the ball
  • Turning
  • Feinting
  • Heading
  • Specific goal keeping technique

When introducing a new technical detail, recognize that players are learning by: seeing, listening, doing, thinking and REPEATING. Set the players up for success in practice, and use the coaching cycle:

  • Explain
  • Demonstrate
  • Observe
  • Analyze and make decisions
  • Generate feedback

Set up a situation where the players are ACTIVE and getting a chance to touch the ball as many times as possible during the practice.

Remember that players are learning best when it is fun and they feel safe, i.e. in an environment when trying new things is encouraged, and a failed attempt is seen as an important and positive step towards learning.

Links

Passing (general)

  • Balance
    • Standing foot in line with the ball
    • Head “on top of the ball”
  • Hit the center of the ball to get a straight pass on the ground
  • Look at the hitting spot in the hitting moment
  • Communication

Passing (specific)

  • Inside passing
    • Tense/strong foot – Lift the toes up as much as possible (lock the calcaneus bone in the joint with tibia/fibula). Make sure the sole of the foot is parallel to the ground, by bending in the knee.
    • Standing foot close to the ball.
    • Toes of standing foot pointing in the direction of the intended pass.
    • Hitting foot in 90° angle to the standing foot
  • Instep/lace pass/shooting –
    • Tense/strong foot – Push the foot to a maximum plantar flexion (“curl the toes”). Activate the calf.
    • Standing foot in line with the ball, “one foot width” away from the ball.
    • “Aim with the shoulder”
    • Balance with the opposite arm

Shooting (same technical coaching points as instep passing)

    • Pick a spot
    • Be in balance when shooting
      • Foot on the side of the ball
      • Head over the ball
      • Balance with the opposite arm
      • Activate the core
    • Look at the hitting spot (on the ball) when hitting the ball

Receiving

  • Read the space, and decide where to bring the ball with the first touch
  • Look at the hitting spot when receiving the ball
  • Keep the head over the ball when receiving
  • Tense foot, relaxed leg
  • Bring the ball into space – pass yourself
  • First touch move; “Step into the ball”
  • After the first touch into space, look up and make a new decision.

Dribbling /close control

    • Dribble with a purpose (i.e. in order to create a better opportunity for the team to keep the possession/attack)
    • Keep the chin up as much as possible (in order to be able to read the game)
    • Look at the ball when changing direction
    • Recognize space.
    • Create space by challenging opponent.

Running with the ball (over open space)

    • Push the ball as few times as possible (in order to keep the pace), but keep it close enough to be able to change direction/play a pass/take a shot/feint at any given time.
    • Keep the chin up as much as possible (in order to be able to read the game)
    • Look at the ball when changing direction

Heading

    • Hit the ball with the center of the forehead (NB! Hit the ball – don’t be hit by the ball)
    • Keep the eyes open (look at the center of the ball, i.e. the hitting spot)
    • Keep the mouth shut
    • Balance with the arms

Remember – heading starts from the feet, and involves the full body…

Goal keeping

  • Handling (air)
    • W-shape. Thumb to thumb, “finger to finger”
    • Big contact area between hand and ball
    • Cushion the ball; reach for it and reduce the speed by pulling the arms/hands back.
  • Handling (ground)
    • “Hand on top, hand behind”
    • Cut the angle by handling the ball in front of the body (diagonal forward compared to the goal line)
  • Diving
    • Land on the full side (no elbow/knee hitting the ground)
    • Protect the core by pulling the top knee towards the opposite shoulder

Factors of performance

It is of great importance for the coach to recognize, and develop, the factors that are influencing the performance of the player.