Friday, February 10, 2012

U13 - I consider our program to be a success

Our program and two teams have been relatively peaceful.  One dad at out club told me it was that way because neither team was overly successful on the field.  I am not sure what drove him to say that, but the age group for his daughter has been a region-wide game of musical chairs since they were U9, and both Welland U9 teams finished 1-2 in the table that same season we started at U9.

When the competitive playing days are done, the only thing you have left are friendships and hopefully a desire to keep playing or coaching.  One player in 5000 makes it somewhere notable.  What about the other 4999?  Who caters to them?

I've had successful teams in terms of wins, but I always coached with people who felt that the team has to be stable.  The players and families involved have to feel it was time well spent.

I sent this as part of a larger note tonight:

"We consider our program to be a success to this point.  Heading into our fifth season, we’ve had relative stability with our club, on the sidelines and, most importantly, with the core group of boys in the program.  With all the teams, coaches and players jumping from club to club, our boys have had a consistent environment in which to forge relationships and learn a lot of things, including soccer.  

If you think that doesn’t mean anything, think again."

U13 Tryouts - Feb 9 - last session

Thursday was our last session for the U13 tryouts.  A lot of kids dropped out from the fall sessions so we've moved ourselves to the point where we are determining who will be on the first and second teams. 

An NHL scout told me that when you give a player enough looks, they start to realize where they fit in and cut themselves in their mind.  The news should not be a surprise.

Last night we just let them play.  We had a few boys missing for other commitments so there was more room on the field and more time to play.  We had them on the field in 2.5 minute shifts and took a break of 3 minutes halfway through to get everybody back on the same page.

Surprisingly the intensity and pace of the game was high right to the end.  As a fan, it was entertaining to watch.

We post the lists noon on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

U13 Tryouts - large passing drill for entire group

Tonight I was going to review 2v1 situations again but all the signals told me not to.  It was a 5pm session, so the arrival of players is tight and kids straggle onto the field for the first 10 minutes of the session.  We only have an hour with 30 players, so organization might be tight and I find the boys are a bit more hyped up so close to after school.

We set up our whole field passing drill similar to last Tuesday but this time I turned it sideways and made more, but shorter, lanes.  The frequency of ball touches was higher and the time to day-dream was down to zero.  From beginning to end of one sequence the boys have 28 meaningful touches on the ball.  While moving the players make penetrating type passes, laying the ball off and involved in wall passes.

I am going to try and explain this without video.  :-)

The figure shows the starting position of the exercise.  There are 6 lanes going across, each roughly 5x30.  There are 12 players positioned in the lanes and the rest of the players are at the start with a ball on their foot.  You should have as many players waiting in line as there are in the lanes.  If not, it will fall behind and your players will tire quickly.  With less players, reduce the lanes.

For the purpose of explanation we will only go through the first 2 lanes.  All passes are ONE TOUCH.
  • The entry player passes to players 1.  
  • He will then follow his pass, player 1 will lay the ball off and the entry player will put a pass through to player 2. 
  • Player 1 now follows that pass, player 2 will lay the ball off for player 1 who lays it back, in the next lane for players 2 (wall pass).  
  • The entry player takes player 1's spot in the lane.
  • Player 2 must run around the cone before entering the next lane to meet Players 1's pass.
  • Player 1 takes player 2's spot
  • Player 2 then plays a pass to player 3.  Player 3 lays the ball off for player 2 who plays a ball through to player 4.
  • Player 3 follows the pass. And player 2 takes player 3's spot.
  • Player 4 lays the ball back for player 3, moves into the next lane (around the cone) to meet the ball back from player 3 (wall pass).
  • Player 3 takes player 4's place.  Player 4 moves the ball to the middle player in the next lan and off they go....
  • When the ball finally gets to the player at the exit, they just turn and run back to the start line.
  • So the path of the ball in this sequence is Entry-1-Entry-2-1-2-3-2-4-3-4-next player
  • As each player assumes the next players spot they turn to be ready for the next player coming behind them.
  • As soon as player 1 and 2 execute their wall pass the next entry player plays a ball in.
  • When there is a flow, every player should be at the point where they play a ball and then turn to be ready for the next ball coming to them (with very little rest).
  • Concentration and accuracy are big in this exercise.  Every player will realize when they mess up it could cause the drill to collapse. 
Coaching points:
  • Accurate passes
  • Pay attention to where you are
  • Take responsibility for your part in the exercise and don't be the cause of it falling apart.
  • Ball laid back on an angle, backward at proper pace, on the ground
  • Locked ankles on longer passes
  • Do not stare at pass as another ball is coming behind you
  • Keep moving
  • Wall passes must be played firmly and in proper space  to keep timing with runs by receiving player
We then did a quick 1v1 drill before getting into a game.

We did not coach during the game.   It's tryouts and we're down to the last 2 sessions, so it was time to let them play.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

U17 Training - 4v4 in a gymnasium

The U17 boys trained in the Niagara College gym last night for 90 minutes.  The college purchased 2 real goals so the gym makes a nice little indoor facility now.  

Watching the boys play 4v4 was very entertaining.  There is something about playing in a gym that brings speed and problem solving to the game that the boys forget about when they go outside.  A lot of coaches want the turf time in the winter, but there is a reason why boys in South America play Futsal in their youth.  The only concern with some gyms is floor space and safety.  A lot of gyms have equipment laying around or some sort of apparatus projecting from walls.

There are a lot of benefits to playing in a gym:
  • To be successful you are forced to be more athletic in your play
  • You need to use all parts of both feet to keep the ball moving and in possession
  • You need to release your shots quicker because of limited time and space
  • You need to finish more precisely because of the smaller goals
  • You need to really establish your team’s shape to maximize the space on the floor and create space to work with the ball
  • More involvement/touches for each player (no hiding)
  • More meaningful coaching moments because the situation will come again very soon in a small game.
  • Exposes “lazy” players who do not move to create space.  Great opportunity for being constructive as a coach
Last night’s reminders were simply giving them ideas on moving the ball forward and looking for opportunities to move forward.  The reminders were not as much to the player with the ball but the teammates in how their shape creates the opportunities for penetration.

Last week we worked on 2v1s with them and reminded them last night how the support player checking back creates space for others.

I am interested to see how much these boys ingest in terms of game knowledge.