Saturday, June 16, 2012

U13 Girls - Penetrating runs with the ball

Coach Rick invited me to run a session for our club’s U13 Girls team tonight.  It was good therapy for me and I think the girls got something out of it.

I was supposed to visit Coach Rick’s team on Wednesday but we had a funeral visitation for a friend. I was not happy with myself for my U13 boy’s game this week and this was a good outlet for me tonight.  The girls were all known to me and they were very attentive and co-operative for 90 minutes.

Rick asked that I address his team’s lack of willingness to attack with the ball at their feet, 1v1 and in open space.  He said he has been trying to get them to accelerate after beating a defender or attacking open space.

My plan was to just do a lot of dribbling, ending in a game that focused on dribbling with intention.  I was using this session to build confidence with the ball as I hope to return for a second time.

I told the girls was that we were going to look to improve their ability to attack with the ball on their feet.

Coach Rick ran them through a dynamic warm-up and I got them dribbling in a grid then followed that up with some keep-away.  I didn't coach this much as it was a warm-up, but I did use it for diagnostic purposes.

We then did lots of dribbling for 50 minutes.

I started off with 2 lines of agility poles.  We had them dribble through the cones unstructured, left foot only, right foot only, inside of the feet only, outside of the feet, then unstructured again.  They always came back through the poles but the last 5 times they ran back sprinting straight with the ball.

I noticed during the dribbling warm-up and now through the poles the girls were very straight legged when using the outside of their feet to move the ball.

The next exercise we set up a 10x40 grid marked off every 10 yds, the result being 5 sets of cones.  One player stood at the end end facing west with the ball and the remaining 4 had a ball in their hands facing east.  The player with the ball dribbles towards the other 4, attacking each one at a time and getting the ball back behind them making their way through the grid.  The 4 players are passive defenders. As each player is passed they move forward to the next cones.  When the dribbler reaches the end, the next player goes.  So the 5 players are circulating through the grid.

Coaching points:
  • See the ball, defender and space behind them
  • Keep the ball close and get behind the defender
  • Don't be "stiff"
We started the 4 girls moving down the grid at a walking pace and elevated that to a jog to make it more challenging.

We then worked with the girls to show them three 1v1 moves that all begin with a double-tap of the ball with the outside of the foot.  Some of the girls were struggling again with the outside of the foot. 

To use the outside of your foot effectively, you need to bend your knee, toe down, ankle locked, dip your shoulder and go.

We then let the girls get into 1v1 challenges in 10x20 grids.  I coached the 1v1s a little,  but my main thing was to accelerate after you beat the player, or if you win the ball .  A lot of players beat defenders and keep going at the same pace.

We ended the game with a squad practice game setup in a grid 44yds wide by 25 yds long.  The goal of the game was to score by dribbling across the 44yd line.

I was unsure of how things were progressing to this point but I saw during the game the points were well taken by most of them.  Some of the girls attacked open space to score or take players 1v1 and accelerate past defenders.  A few were content to pass the ball off.
I was happy with the organization of the plan and the 2 coaches of the team, Rick and JP, were great in helping to keep the practice moving.  Coach Rick knows enough about soccer but I discovered that he has a very good understanding of human kinetics and offered some very good points during the session.  His voice, mannerism and personal fitness level gives him credibility with his players.

Did they improve?  I feel they did, but they need to dribble more to gain confidence with the ball at full pace.  I also think we need to keep these girls competitive at training .  The grass was a decent height but the field had some imperfections that are not conducive to a lot of dribbling.  But it was good enough.

For the final exercise, I chose a squad practice over a Small Sided Game (SSG) because I wanted to emphasize the penetrating runs with the ball.  A SSG would have been a normal game and I would have to coach instances where they could have dribbled and attacked.  With the game we played, the necessity of dribbling at speed came out on its own, without me having to coach it too much.

If I was to work with this group again I would make things more competitive by having more contests/races with the ball and disallow forward passes during the game.  I would squeeze that in between 2 SSGs to make it a Game-Analytical-Game (GAG) setup.  Penetrating runs are just as mental as they are technical, so we need to have more situations at training to build that confidence,

I trust I left coaches Rick and JP with some ideas and things to look for with their players.

I am feeling more and more that visiting a team has to be a 2-3 session commitment.  If I went back to this group I would hit the ground running with a lot more productivity.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

U13 - I was not a good coach tonight

Today I was not the coach I expect myself to be.

We had our first home game and lost 5-0.  The score is not what ate at me.  The boys were absolutely flat and we did not win more than 10 balls tonight.

It's not that we weren't running, we just didn't challenge for balls in the air or off restarts or anywhere.  We were in constant recovery.

My conduct was far from a licensed coach and I was yelling up a storm.  It's a helpless feeling on the sideline when the team is not "in the mood".  We have several boys who are not always 100% ready to challenge but tonight it was the entire crew.  My job is to motivate, encourage and provide information.  I was OK on the information, but not OK with the encouragement and motivation.

Our 1v1 defending is a very sore spot with me that we need to work on some more.

Monday we will work more on 1v1 defending as well as winning balls on restarts.  We'll see how that goes before deciding on Tuesday's topic.

I did tell the boys at half to not expect me to say "nice try" if they don't actually try to win the ball.  I don't think it's a mean thing to say.  If a player stops short of a challenge and I say "nice try", then that is what they will keep doing.  I say "good idea" a lot, but not "nice try" very often.

We lightened it up a bit at the end of the game and we had ice cream (I needed it too) but they deserve and expect more from me.

We've made progress overall so Monday we work to get them back on track.

U17 - Saying goodbye to a team father

What I like about this team is not what happens on the pitch.  They are a great bunch of young men.

This week the boys won 2 games and are playing some sweet soccer.  But what makes them special is what happened Wednesday night and today.

Last Friday, one of our team fathers passed away in his sleep.  James Kevin Jennings (Kevin) was 54 years old and a true football fan.  He supported Manchester United and whatever team his son Damon played on.

During visitation Wednesday night, the boys all showed up in their red pullovers with their parents.  They were true gentlemen and represented their friend Damon with honour.  Kevin was well liked by the boys. 

This morning a lot of the boys came to the funeral and displayed the same unity and respect.  Teamwork off the pitch.

For some of these boys, Kevin was an assistant coach at U10/U11 and his wife Cindy has always been social with all of the parents. 

Goodbye my friend.  We all enjoyed over analyzing the games with you.

Monday, June 11, 2012

U13 - My team eMail after the tournament

This is what I sent out after our tournament.  I still try to keep the parents abreast of what's going through my head.

I thought it would be good to remind each player of their bright spots.  Everybody has things to work on, even professionals.  These young players are no different than Rooney, Messi or DeRosario.  Every so often they want to be reminded of what they do well.

Real names are xxx'ed out.

Hi boys,

This week we have training Tuesday and game Thursday. for the full story!  :-)

Thanks for a fun weekend.  Please thank your parents for supporting all of your activities and give them a hug.

We didn’t win and have things to work on, but a lot of good things happened.

  1. We scored every game!
  2. When we challenged with the intent to win the ball, we were VERY effective. Hmmm.....
  3. We are spending a lot more time in the opposing half than we were the last 2 years.
  4. xxxxx started taking control of the back  and striking the ball better than ever
  5. xxxxx is learning to use his strong kick for quality services from various positions.
  6. xxxxx covers a lot of ground and continues to identify opportunities for threatening penetrating passes
  7. xxxxx continues to lead by example and remind his teammates that heading the ball is a required and major part of the game.   Nice goal.
  8. xxxxx is tougher than a $2.00 steak. And had the quote of the weekend.
  9. xxxxx continues to show his developing flare for the net.  He already has 3 noah-years worth of goals this season.
  10. xxxxx is  our best example at doing “first touch away from pressure” and creating space.
  11. xxxxx had a lot of quality crosses and showed he can pressure defenders
  12. xxxxx’s striker movements are becoming second nature and the 1st goal is a major step.
  13. xxxxx is our best example of 2-touch soccer and recognizing when to use the long or short ball
  14. xxxxx shows the team how much ground a player should cover and is holding the fort quite well
  15. xxxxx is one of our 3 best ball winners and attacks the net with the intent to score.  Nice goal yesterday.
  16. xxxxx shows how effective he is when he asserts his physical and cerebral qualities .  Nice Maradona assist on Blakely’s goal :D
  17. xxxxx is quickly becoming a very noticeable presence on the field with his size, improving mobility and with the ball.
We will see you Tuesday at École Secondaire Confederation.  Go Jaguars!

U13 - Progress in Erie, PA

Our U13 boys were in Erie, PA this weekend for the Erie Premier Cup.

Our record was 1-2 over three games.  Beyond the score, a lot of good things happened that really motivate me to work on what didn’t go well.

This week we will reinforce our ever-improving shape, work on 1v1 defending again, finishing as well as attacking and defending crosses.  Coach Paul will put the boys through a physical workout as well.

Most important about the tournament, the boys had a good time together away from the field at the hotel and our team dinner at a local restaurant.  Our other U13 Boys team was also there and they had a chance to cheer each other on at certain points.

The 2 games we lost we fell victims to our own slow starts.  I am always nervous with this group hen I don’t get a full warm-up in and get them focused on the game.  It’s tough at tournaments because there is very little free grass to get the ball moving and organizers like to get games started as soon as possible following the previous game.

What is getting me more excited with each passing game is that we are spending more time in the opponents half than ever before.  The last two years it wasn’t rare for us to be shutout, but this year we have only been shutout three times in 14 games.  We also left a few tournament winless in 2011 and 2010, but that has yet to happen this season.

This week we have a league game and will be missing a centre defender and our leading scorer.  This will give some other boys a chance to step up and show they can contribute at the same level.