Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fox Sports World Canada Out of Business

I found out today that Fox Sports World Canada ceased operations April 30.  It was a great channel and I appreciated how much soccer they brought to the viewing audience.  Sky Sports News from the UK was my favourite show.

So the question is ... did it close up because there was too much competition to show soccer on TV (at least 5 other networks show games regularly) or was there no interest in a mainly all soccer network?  The network said it also showed Rugby and Cricket, but soccer took up most of the broadcast day.

It may sound like a dumb question,  but the high number of children playing soccer in Canada does not mean it's mainstream.  It still makes me scratch my head thinking of the number of players who have never seen a full game, live or televised.

We'll see if the other networks add more soccer or remain status quo.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

U13 Fitness Session

Our 6th group fitness session took place tonight.  We had 60 players total, including a U14 girls team that joined us.  The U14 girls at our club are a great bunch of young ladies.  I've coached them in clinics and they've always been a focused bunch.  They are coached by Eric Opala, a man with good experience.

The group for this session was U10, U11, U13 boys and U14 girls.
The session.  The players ran for 30 minutes with 4 stations set up around the track.  The stops were 5 pushups, 10 skips, 10 jumping jacks and 8 hurdles.

After a short break we followed it up with 30 minutes of dribbling and turns.

I have some ideas for the next session that I need to run by the other coaches.  We admire the players' work ethic, but they are young and we have to work to keep it interesting.

A great development for next week is that the grass fields are available to us!  We will definitely have to integrate that into our program.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

St Mike's - phase of play 4-4-2 - basic

I ended up attending St Mike's Jr Boy's training a bit late as I was at another school.

Coach Lucchetta ran them through a few exercises to keep a ball on their foot and moving.  His plan for the day was a phase-of-play to work on the front 6 in their 4-4-2.  He actually started them off with the front 6 playing again 2 opposing defenders, so it was borderline shadow-play for the first bit.

The main goal was just to get the boys more familiar with their shape and basic movements in 4-4-2.

Introduced to the players was:
  • Striker combining with wide midfielders
  • Different runs for strikers
  • Central midfielders supporting strikers and wide midfielders
Once some movement was established, the defending team had 4 defenders and a midfielder while the attacking team had the front 6 and Coach Lucchetta supporting from behind.  4 players were absent.

As the play kept moving more and more towards the goal on each restart, I started to coach the back 4 a bit to push up and make the space available more realistic.

If all players were there I would have suggested  6 players on the defending team and add 3 supporting defenders to the attacking team.  That's something we can progress to.

The boys worked hard for 35 minutes at this and I would have to say they showed improvement.

Playing and coaching a 4-4-2 properly is not as easy as people think.  I watch teams at tournaments throw their players on as 4-4-2 and I scratch my head.  4 players line up straight across the midfield, each striker assumes their side of the field and off they go!  it's like playing with 3 forwards and the centre striker got a red card.

Because a lot of the boys are not overly experienced players, the coach's delivery was clear and not overwhelming.  Once they feel more comfortable he can introduce some more ideas for them to consider during a game situation.

Monday, April 30, 2012

U13 - First friendly game

Tonight we played our first friendly.  Our friends from Niagara Falls u13 were our guest and a very nice team to share a field with.  They came to the game with the right attitude, and that was to work on things.

We played on the turf field in St Catharines and the rain was coming down.  The weather radar let us down as it said the clouds should have passed by 4:50.

Back to the game.  The bottom line is we lost 5-0 but I don't care.  The kids had some good ideas and were working hard to establish their shape.  That made me happy.  Niagara Falls already had 5 full field games and they were sharper than us.  Three of there goals were off giveaways from poor restarts and that's something we can fix.  Restarts are a definite topic of the next 2 sessions.

We haven't really organize ourselves past our overall shape and moving the ball around the back and into the midfield.  This is our next practice's topic.

A few individual things we need to fix are:
  • 1v1 defending and intensity doing so
  • Getting to the ball first
  • Not letting the ball bounce, playing it out of the air
I was very happy with our wide defenders and wingers tonight.  One bone of contention for me in the past was keeping our width and today we did that.  Our holding midfielders also kept their shape and that was a problem last year.  They would always creep up between the attacking mids, killing that triangle.

Coach Paul and I agreed that the boys looked more organized than when we started last year.  Our next friendly is coming up followed by a tournament and I hope to have more of the movement organized by then. We have 2 sessions to before the tournament.

Next session we will work on getting to the ball first, then organizing the movement within the midfield and forward from there via phase-of-play.  That will be one session.

The following session will be 1v1 defending at first, restarts, then phase-of-play moving the ball into space behind the defenders (penetrating passes) from the midfield.

After that we would do a session on penetrating the defensive line via the flank players.  That's a science in itself.

One step at a time the team's delivery will be put together.  Coach Paul and I look forward to helping that happen.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

U17 - Trash the plan and adjust - denying shots

We had a U17 session tonight.  We were expecting more players but only had 9, including our GK.

My theme for the night was working on the pressure and support aspects of team defending.  It was a great plan.  :-)  But we only had 9 players and the mood was that of frustration so I trashed the plan. 

I changed gears.  We started with a dribbling warm-up followed by a competitive 1v1 and 2v2 drill.

During the 1v1, 2v2 we stressed deceiving a defender into committing one way, changing direction then shooting.  It wasn't a 1v1 attack exercise, but that was a nice byproduct.  Simple, the winner stayed on and we tried to keep the pace fast.

When a player scored, another player from behind that net came in to be the next opponent.  We were encouraging that player to try and shoot if the shot was there after their first touch.  This was to force the defender to move quickly and deny/block the shot if possible.

The competitive juices were flowing and they were ready for the last game.

We set them up with the GK in goal, and a grid approx 30x20.  4v4, all players shooting on the same net.  The game was simple.  1 point for a shot on goal, 3 for a goal.  So denying shots was crucial to prevent points against.  So we had the defending team looking to block shots and the attacking team feeding off the previous coaching points of trying to get the defender to commit and changing direction.

In coaching the attacking team, we were trying to set the stage for the defending team to work hard and improve their shot blocking.

Coaching points for attacking team, to set the stage:
  • Keep the ball moving
  • Decide if you have a shot or not.  Yes: shoot, now.  No: pass to somebody who can shoot, now.
  • Proper shape to get open and challenge defenders mobility
Defending team:
  • Goal side, deny shots
  • Do not turn back when blocking shot
  • Keep balance in case you move one way and attacker changes direction
The intensity was good and the boys were very competitive.  That's never a problem with this group.

I was happy with their work rate and I would say there was improvement.  We flew without a plan but it worked out better than OK.  It's a session I have run quite a few times before.

When sessions are done with these boys I have trouble picking things a apart.  They always work hard, compete and are good boys.  Some of them fight me in terms of working through bad habits, but that's our job to keep persisting.  Credibility is a challenge when dealing with teenage players but I feel they trust us in giving them the right information.

The number of players was disappointing.  I am hoping once we get outside and start having games, things will start to pep up.  Right now they are playing a lot of soccer at school so we know they are staying active.  Everybody is also itching to get outside.  School soccer is outdoors right now but the boards have not released permits for the public to use the fields.

Last week the boys complained that the balls were soft after being in the trunk during a cold night.  Today they take the balls out, I hear somebody say "Why are the balls so hard ... ".

Personally, I should have realized that we need to arrive with 2 plans in case numbers are low.