Sunday, June 3, 2012

U13 - VERY productive session

This morning we had one of our best sessions of the year with the U13s.  

We had a tight plan, everything was laid out and ready, they kept busy and moved from one phase to the next and we kept it competitive.  The stage was set and the boys' hard work made the practice enjoyable.

I wasn’t happy after last practice because I let the end fizzle.  Today, we had 13 boys out for 90 minutes.

We started off with a run that utilized the one hill at our club and later incorporated the hill into a relay race.  Losers do push-ups.

What I wanted to get done today was:
  • Improved 1v1 attacking
  • Penalty kicks
I have been trying to use 30-40 minutes/session to work on a variety of things before getting to the theme.  The boys need work all over and we don’t have enough sessions to focus on one each session. 

If I run a session for another team with a very specific theme, my session is more focused.  They are their coach’s work for the remainder of the season and I am brought in to tackle a specific topic.  Because I have these boys all year and need to assemble the complete package, I don’t feel I have the luxury of dedicating the entire session to one topic.  Not when I know most of these boys do not touch a ball away from my program.

Today our drills were:
  • Various dribbling turns and sequences
  • Keep away (9v4)
  • Heading
  • Playing the ball out of the air
  • Flicking a ball forward
  • Striking long, with laces
All are areas where they are building confidence as their technique improves.  AND they are using those skills more in games.

I moved into a setup where we were demonstrating and rehearsing three 1v1 moves, all starting with a slow down and double tapping the ball with the outside of the foot.  The three moves were
  • double tap, turn back
  • double tap, chop across
  • double tap, explode past defender
After the boys repeated those three moves we moved into a 1v1 setup in a grid, giving them ideas of where and when they can apply the moves … then we just let them figure it out on their own.  And they did.  Some of the boys have a lot of ideas 1v1 and hopefully this gives them three more.

Coaching points:
  • Change of pace/direction
  • All parts of the foot
  • See ball & defender
  • Deception
  • Attack space behind defender
We were assigned the mini field, but I wanted the 1v1 on goal to be on a full size net.  So we let them have a 7v7 small-sided-game first.  What I wanted was to get the boys used to playing balls out of the air again, so GKs had to send the ball in the air to the central part of the field. 

Coaching points:
  • No bounce
  • Defending team redirect ball to a teammate forward
  • Attacking team, look for a flick-on over the defenders
The boys were attacking balls in the air with more confidence and sending them in the right direction.  The nice thing that I was seeing was that they were using their new moves and also playing long passes out of the air, on the run.  I felt the game went long enough to see 15 balls into the middle yet did not go too long as to turn into a circus.

Once the game was over, we snuck onto the full field.  With the attacker starting at the bottom of the centre circle and the defender starting at the top of the penalty area we went into a 1v1 drill again.  The attacker passes the ball to the defender who serves it back and the game was on.  The goal was to finish with a shot.  After the player shot, he became the next defender.  It moved through everybody with relative ease and good flow.

The players were using their new moves as well as their own repertoire.  We did NOT coach the defenders other than to pressure. The coaching points were the same but we did have to remind them to explode and cut back in after beating the defender to create the shot. 

Next session with me, the SSG will be dribbling focused with the goal to dribble past the opposing goal line.  Should I have done it this session?  Maybe, but I am not there next session and I wanted them to get some unconditional, regular soccer in before our season opener Tuesday.

To finish practice today we had all of the boys take 5 or 6 penalty kicks.  We’ve never really gone through the gang to see who can hit a ball off the spot and I would hate to put them in a shootout at a tournament and not be ready.

Did we see improvement on 1v1 attacking?  You bet.

Would I change the plan or organization?  I would if we didn't have to work with 2 different fields.  But it went well.

There was enough time to complete our plan and keep the boys interested.
I was happy with our session today and I did see improvement.  It wasn't a text book session in terms of a plan you would use during an assessment,  but I felt it served the long and short term needs of the group.  

If I was tight for time and had to choose, I would run a session with a very focused theme only.

It was nice to have Coach Paul out as well as a parent helper.  Coach Paul is developing some good observation skills and the parent helper keep the session moving by serving and retrieving balls.  I will share the coaching points of each drill so they can offer advice if they feel comfortable.

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