Friday, June 22, 2012

U13 - League game - We'll keep working at it

I am having a reverse type of coaching nightmare.

Most coaches complain their boys do not train as hard as they play.  Our problem is we do not play as hard as we train.

Our mission to roll our efforts at training into a strong game worked … almost.

After 2 productive sessions this week we had our league game Thursday.  We played a team of boys who were physically and visually intimidating.  But once the game was moving, we were out-playing them for the first half.  Almost.

The boys were playing 2-touch soccer, keeping their shape, making good penetrating passes and creating chances.  Our back 4 were receiving balls from midfielders and wingers and doing a good job restarting the attack.   BUT … there’s always a BUT …  every time a situation came up where a physical confrontation was required to keep possession or win the ball back, as a team, we weren’t there.

A 1-0 lead for us turned into a 5-1 loss.  We were up 1-0 for the first 38 minutes until they scored with 2 minutes left in the first half.  But that goal was coming as they had several chances before that.  Our GK did a solid job keeping us alive.  Every goal could be traced back to a challenge that didn’t happen.  And while our GK was smothering balls we were still making our way into the attacking third!

Our pregame talk reinforced our topics covered during the week.  Including challenges.  Our warm-up had some ball movement then a short small-sided-game stressing the 2-touch passing and shape to keep the ball moving and people involved.

Our halftime chat revolved strictly around the fact that we were doing a lot of good things but they get flushed down the toilet every time a challenge is ignored or a ball is not attacked.

We will keep working on all the things we’ve been working on and keep working to simulate the physical conditions of a game when it comes to challenges.  Every boy needs to appreciate the amount of plain, good, old-fashioned hard work it takes to compete in a full U13 11v11 soccer game. 

We said it before and we will keep saying and coaching toward it ... you have to compete for every ball, all game, every game.
Our job as coaches is to continue creating situations away from competition to prepare them for competition.   Sooner or later it will have to happen for each player.   

Our job as coaches it to remember that the last person to be blamed is the player.

One piece at a time, one practice at a time and one personal success at a time, this team will come together.  We can't complain about their efforts at training and that is a positive thing. 

Coach Paul had a few line-up ideas to help some boys get more out of their minutes on the field.  We will have to hash those out as I think he might have a good point on a few of them.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Niagara College - We lost a good man - Nick Micieli

The beautiful thing about coaching is the family bond left between players long after you are gone.  I am seeing those now as some former players come to grips with the death of a former Niagara College Knight soccer player, 22 year-old Nick Micieli.  Nick was killed on the job in Milton, Ontario.

Nick was a well liked, hard working and effective player.  He was also respected and respectful to everybody on both the men's and women's teams. I was coach of the women's team when he played for the men.  His parents were at all of his games, home and away and cheered for both Niagara teams.  

His former coaches are heartbroken and their kind words about Nick echo their kind words about him when he played for them.  The messages flying around by friends and teammates clearly reflect the type of person Nick was and how he will surely be missed.  

You choose the long-term effect you have on people by how you treat them.  Nick made the right choices.

Jesus lived through Nick's treatment of others.

U13 Boys - Multiple Game - Activity - Game session

Tonight we had our second session in as many nights.  I tried something a little different tonight by doing a multiple Game-Activity-Game type of practice (or Global-Analytical-Global or GAG).

We started with some juggling and 2 drills involving running with and without the ball.

We had 12 players out.  I set up a 60x40 game area with a half line and a two 10x20 grids off to the side for our technical/activity work.  The games were Small Sided Games, playing by the rules.  We had them play 2-touch soccer to keep the ball moving and everybody involved.

We ran a 1v1 sequence focusing on the defender.  Coaching points were:
  • Goal side!
  • Patience/balance
  • Threaten the ball
  • Angle/speed of approach
The 1v1 defending was not one of the things I wanted to work on between games and it meshed perfectly with the dribbling and running drills, where the running was of a defensive nature.

Before we started our game we reviewed what they should be thinking of at different parts of the field:
  • The further away from our net, more patience and more ”steering” the attacker – choose your battles
  • Along the wings within 20 yds of our goal line – hold their position and don’t get beat and allow a free cross
  • Open field – no slide tackles or over committing
We then let them play, just reminding them of goal side and when to be patient.

When we broke out, I attacked my next pet peeve – restarts.  We reviewed throw-ins, how to set up for attacking throw-ins then preparing to win balls on field restarts (goal kicks, free kicks, etc).  Coaching points:
  • Importance of good, accurate service on throw or kick
  • Ensuring you get to the ball first and make positive contact, while legally preventing your opponent from getting to the ball
We let them play again paying attention to the restarts.  Thankfully there were a lot of restarts and I didn’t have to force any.  We have a few boys who run to the battle zone but shy away at the last possible second.  Not only is it bad soccer, it’s dangerous for the player to “let up” before contact.

When we broke again we reviewed something we haven’t done in a while, setting up 2v1s on the field.  In our mini-grids we reviewed when to set up the 2v1 (always) and the different options.  Coaching points:
  • Recognize when the player with ball is being closed down and move to support them on an angle and set up 2v1
  • Do NOT stand behind the player pressuring your player – very useless place to be
  • If you pass and nothing happens, drop to support and set it up again
  • SPRINT to support position and set up half-turned forward
When we got back into the game I felt good about what we were doing.  Needing some reminders at first, everything started falling into place.  I think I am going to set up 2v1 drills and a SSG before our game to reinforce the 2v1s again.

After a drink I let them play freely without coaching to see what was retained.  It was not 100% but there was improvement.

To finish it I had a timed game for 5 minutes.  No coaching.  Losers had to pick up all the cones and balls.  The game went into golden goal and finished with a bang.

I ran practice alone tonight and that was a mistake.  Having another adult with me makes things easier as I can bounce off them and not just the kids.

The organization worked out well with the game and training areas all set up to go each time.  It was just a matter of moving the balls back and forth.

I was happy with our progress the last 2 nights and need to pan properly to try and get the boys on the same level for our game Thursday.  We are missing 2 of our faster players but we’ll manage.

Monday, June 18, 2012

U13 - Very energetic session

Tonight's practice with our U13 boys was very energetic and productive.  Now the challenge is to carry that to tomorrow's session and into Thursday's game.

Coach Paul opened up the session with an aerobic circuit he assembled.  The boys did 3 circuits in 15 minutes.

We spent 25 minutes on three passing sequences that involved more running.  The last 2 sequences finished with penetrating type passes and we challenged the boys to run hard to keep the ball in-bounds.

Our next 25 minutes was spent on various 1v1 player races, 1 with the ball and 1 without.   The second involved goals, but both involved more running and challenges to their desire to work through fatigue.

Without breaking each drill down, they all involved the players understanding the level of work required to succeed.

When we got to our small sided game we worked on getting to the ball FIRST on restarts.  The attacking team was challenged to redirect the ball forward and the defending team to redirect it away from their goal.  There is a level of physical interaction required on restarts and we reviewed that and put them through at least 20 repetitions of balls being played from the keeper.  The game was played with regular rules on a smaller field with less than 11v11.  To keep the ball moving and the defending team working to win the ball back, we pushed for 2-touch soccer.  This will be continued tomorrow evening.

I will not comment on improvement or better awareness until after Tuesday's session.

I look forward to Tuesday.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

U13 - Very clear mission for the week

This week, my mission for the boys is clear ... to help the team reflect the efforts of our two sessions in our game this Thursday.

We've had some slow starts our past few games and come out flat.  That was disappointing because our sessions had energy and the boys worked hard and listened.  The kids have been looking good but when the game comes around they are not always ready at the beginning and inconsistent throughout.

They have spurts where they show they have the physical, technical and tactical tools to compete and that motivates me to work to get them to that next level.

Coach Paul and I know we have to first look within to fix this.  It is our pre-game warm-up?  Is our demeanour not suitable for this group?  Do we need to offer more advice over what the boys eat and do before they come to the park for our game?

We are looking to offer the boys as much training, information and guidance as possible and help them become more consistent in their on-field production.

The winning/losing is not something that bothers me, I just want to make sure they have the tools to compete and, more importantly, realize that they have the tools.

I look forward to a fun week.