Saturday, March 10, 2012

Congratulations AGAIN to Sabrina

Friday night Canada's U20 WNT beat Panama to secure a spot in the FIFA U20 Women's World Cup.

Sabrina was in goal for the fourth straight game during qualifying with a fourth straight clean sheet.

Go Canada.  Go Sabrina.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Congratulations Sabrina D'Angelo

Congratulations to Sabrina D'Angelo who was awarded the Welland H.L Cudney Memorial Awards for Sportsman (sportsperson?  sportswoman?) of the Year.

Sabrina has done everybody at the Welland Soccer Club proud.  Her successes at the club, provincial, NCAA, national, and international levels have all been well documented.

Hopefully by the end of the night Canada beats Panama in the U20 women WCQ and secures a spot in the FIFA U20 women's world cup.  Sabrina has been in goal every game so far.  Success here would send her to her Third FIFA World Cup as she played in 2 previous as the U17 goalkeeper.

Sabrina is currently in her freshman year at the University of South Carolina.  She was a Freshman All-American as well as conference co-defensive player of the year.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Start time of sessions ... does it matter?

Our best session of the year, so far, had a 7:30pm start time.  Drawing from my experience I would say that the start time of sessions is a big deal.  When it's the dead of winter and you can't be picky about availability, you take what you get and sometimes it's the kids that suffer.

During tryouts we started at 5pm on Tuesdays and 8:30pm on Thursdays.  For most of the boys, I would have to guess that one of those times might have been difficult.

If you didn't have a snack after school then you came to 5pm training hungry.  If your parents rushed home to get you, you might have had a stressed-out ride coming in.  If you were up early you might have already been tired for 8:30pm training. if you started tired, you were probably read for bed at 9:30.

You also have to consider your situation.  Are you going to be tired?  Rushed?  Possibly late?  Pressed to leave immediately after training?

When my middle son was U13 and trying for the Regional team, were were doing winter training at 7am or 9am Sundays in Caledon (1.75 hours from home).  My son made the first cut, lasted  2 more sessions then told me he was not going anymore.  The year before, the Regional program trained at 9:00pm and 10:30pm on Saturday nights at the same facility.

You need to know the age of your boys and what works for them.  After all, it's their team.  Realities such as facility availability come into play during the winter, but there is enough flexibility during the summer to accommodate.

Also remember to consider the day of the week and what might be going on outside of soccer.  Events to consider are school trips, school social events, days of religious significance, etc.

It is recommended that you have at least one training session per week at the same time your games start.

Session start times are always difficult to juggle.  During the winter you are slotted in between leagues and competing with other programs for field time.  During the summer you are dealing with players who have been swimming or out in the sun all day.  I find my most successful practices happen after dinner while the school year is still in session.

So while you are reflecting on your session plan and personal delivery, remember to also make note of the time of day and what's going on before and after training.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

U13 - Quick -Early-Accurate passes AGAIN

Tonight the two U13 teams trained together at the Welland SC indoor field.  I enjoy having those joint sessions because Coach John and I get a chance to "over analyze" our boys and sound smart.  :-)

We were aiming again to instill the need for quicker passes.

In reality the bigger numbers generate more energy in the building and I get to see who is showing potential for a call-up opportunity.  The best part of the joint sessions is that most of the boys are friends away from soccer and they get a chance to be together.  The togetherness that makes them happy sometimes makes them restless ... but that's OK.

We started by putting all the boys through dribbling and turns, unstructured in a big area.  We did several sequences that some of the boys have not done before.  Getting their footwork in every session has to stay on every practice plan.

Coaching points:
  • Head up after the turn and accelerate
  • Quick/deceptive turns
  • Keep the ball moving
  • Entire body contributes to effectiveness/deceptiveness of the turn
We then got them in 4v4 games across the field.  We stressed the use of turns to help keep possession and challenging for every ball.  Again, setting the stage for faster passing.  We made some progress again with that and got to see again who needs to work on what.

Coaching points for the 4v4 to set the stage:
  • Challenge on 1v1 with a purpose
  • First to the ball
  • Shape on attack
Coaching points for the themes of the practice:
  • Move the ball when the pass is on (early)
  • Strike the ball firmly and with pace (quick)
  • On target (accurate)
When we moved to full field Coach John and I intentionally added a few extra players to reinforce the need to quick passes to avoid being intercepted.

Practice went well tonight.  The boys all got the point of what we were doing and there was some progress.  I worry about big groups and I try to keep the practice simple.  There were three 4v4 games going on and only 2 coaches.  I would have been more comfortable with 4 coaches with me going by every game.  Coach Paul and the other Coach John were tied up today.

I find with this group it doesn't take much to distract them.  They're good kids and decent athletes, but we need to stay on top of them to get the work done to get to our functional and game portions of the sessions.  They love to compete so we try to tailor practice to that.  Like they say with children "feed them what they'll eat".

I still, after three years, find myself getting occasionally frustrated when the intensity drops.   But that's something that needs to be fixed via the coach and the practice plan, not the kids.

Things we saw today:
  • Need to review 1v1 defending again 
  • Need to review 2v1 attacking again
  • Continue to work on quick passing
The team I coach is off until after March break.   Coach John's U13 Wizards are on again Thursday night then they are on break.

Coach John had his U10 boys after our sessions.  I hope to work with them again one day soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

U13 - Quick-Early-Accurate Passing

Monday night we trained at Niagara College.  The college has 2 real mini goals and the gym is a nice rectangle, perfect for soccer.

One of my concerns is the pace of our passes and this year slow passes will be intercepted every time.

Tonight I worked to set the stage of everything else so the quick-early-accurate pass was the only option.

We started with a short run (12 laps around gym, last guy sprinting to front the whole time).  We then used the agility ladders for 10 minutes going through various exercises.

For 20 minutes we worked on turns in a group, one ball per player.

I set the boys in to play 4v4+GK on the gym floor.  I let them play for about 5 minutes, letting get the feel of the field size.  They quickly adapted and their turns came into play in full force as they tried to keep possession.

A few minutes later we  spoke of the importance of entering a 1v1 challenge to win.  With the ball, you look to beat the player or turn and keep possession.  As a defender you are looking to get on the player quickly, look to intercept and be FIRST to the ball.

So, the floor was setup, 4v4, players were adapting to space and using their turns and I turned up the heat for 1v1 play.

Now, we quickly reviewed what I wanted to see for Quick-Early-Accurate passing:
  • Pace on the ball to avoid interception (quick)
  • Pass when the pass it on (early)
  • Pass on target to teammate has time on the ball (accurate)
  • Turning on the first touch after a turn (no dribbling backward)
  • Support play of teammates
From a technical point of view:
  • Ankle locked
  • Hitting the right part of the ball with the right part of the foot
  • See the target then look at the ball when striking
  • Pace/direction of the pass
  • Balance so you can run after the pass
I felt the game went very well and there was a new appreciation for the quicker pass.  The boys are faster so intercepted passes are more evident on slow passes.

I've been meaning to get 2v1 play back on the table for a few weeks but something always came up.

I came to practice in a good mood (coming directly from U8-U10 clinic) with a clear plan on paper.  The setting was good for the boys as it wasn't a 5:00 or 8:30 pm session, so they were not rushed from school or tired at night.  The facility was perfect for what we wanted to do.

I got a bit short with a few boys who were speaking while I was giving direction but for the the players were there to work and play. 

Coach Paul was unavailable tonight so I was by myself.  That was not good from an organizational point of view.  One of the brother gathered balls for us but that left me to coach the entire group the entire time.  With another adult coach we could throw different voices at them with the same message.  Next time I will have to make use of one of our parents.

Our next session is Tuesday together with the other U13 group, so we will probably do a large group individual skills session of some kind then get them playing.  I will have to speak to Coach John before training.

Monday, March 5, 2012

U8-U10 Clinic over tonight

We finished the 8 week U8-10.  I only worked 6 weeks of it but I am glad I did.  Working with the younger players was very helpful for me and I hope I was helpful to them.

Tonight, after doing some footwork with the agility ladders we went straight into dribbling and turns.  We did turns for 45 minutes and I decided to really push them tonight to see how much we could get out of them.  By the end of the session some of the kids were really letting themselves go and showing me some great stuff.

I find that with dribbling and 1v1 moves, once a player knows they can and get a little bit of confidence and the "feel" or having the ball, the rate of progress increases rapidly.

My group only had 12 players.  We then split them into two 3v3 games where you score by dribbling through a goal because I wanted to see if they would adapt their turns and moves in a game situation.  All but 3 were heading in the right direction.  We then got into our 6v6 half field game and it was nice to see that very few of them were meeting the ball and sending it away on a one-time kick. 

What's sad about clinics is you think to yourself "if only I had 2 more sessions with them".  I will see most of them over the summer with their respective teams and hopefully work with them again.