Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hey Mr. Soccer Coach! Let the kids play the ball out from the back, please.


The cry of the Canadian Soccer coach.  It's annoying and disheartening.  When I see kids not even trying to work their way out of their own end it drives me crazy.  Sometimes they'll just concede and put it out.  Other times they panic.  Or nobody comes to help.  Or they don't pass to their GK for support.  Why?  Because they don't know how.

There is so much to learn and teach when you let your players play the ball out from the back, as individuals,
small groups and a team.  Especially at the younger ages.

Picture this at your next session.  You coach a team.  14 players.  Set up a game at the end, 6v6 plus GK.  You are at half with all the balls.  A parent is behind either net fetching balls for you.  You start play by playing a ball into the keeper.  When a ball goes out, you play a ball to the keeper of the team that has possession.  There, you're organized.  Don't coach, just facilitate and watch for a while.

Familiarize yourself with the Principles of Play of the Attack.  If you've taken any coaching course in Canada you should be familiar with this term.

Hopefully with the elimination of scores and standings, younger players will have ore freedom to experiment without fear of repercussion. 

The goalkeeper must roll the ball to a teammate to start play.  Never a punt.  Watch what happens.
  • Opponents know the GK can't kick out of their hands
  • GK's teammates come back to support.
  • Opponents work to take the pass away so there is now more mobility by supporting players to get open.
  • When a ball does make it to a player, teammates move to support them.
  • Maybe a defender takes an opponent 1v1, maybe they pass to support, maybe a wall pass, etc.
  • Players are discovering ways of playing out of their own corner, up the planks, through the central area, etc.
  • Players are learning to come back to support and playing the ball forward together.
You haven't even coached yet.
  • As the opponents know you can't kick, as a GK you know you need to think and act quicker and make better decisions.
  • Your teammates know they have to move sooner and be more proactive to burn their opponents.
  • They will figure out that the ball needs to move sooner and faster.
  • Midfielders learn that they need to come back to support defenders, move with the ball to support the flanks, move up to support strikers/forwards ... hey ... like a midfielder.
OK.  Now ... coach.
  • Help your GK become better at rolling the ball so it's playable for a teammate.  Get the technique down so they can focus on the decision.
  • Give your defenders the idea of moving back and wide with their body half-turned forward so they can see options and to be forced back to the keeper.  
  • When a wide defender has the ball, give some idea as to who can support them and their body position when receiving the ball.
  • When a central defender has the ball give ideas as to who can help them.
  • You don't do this all at once, because many times one idea brings out the next.
This may sound simplistic, but it's big.  My personal opinion is that it's bigger than big. It's BIG.

If you want to change it up a bit you can divide the field into thirds and mandate that the ball has to pass through each third and the player who passes into that third follows their pass to support.  If they pass back to the third behind them they follow it in there too.

While playing this game, watch closely and you will see, first hand, how big a role technique plays in soccer.  And you should start seeing a list of what you can work on in training in terms of individual technique, notably passing/receiving and goalkeeper distribution.  After individual, you see small group work: wall pass, 2v1, 2v2, 3v2, 3,3, 4v3, etc.

Desired results:
  1. Endless situations for problem solving during small sided game at training.
  2. Defenders who are more comfortable with the ball in the defending third, with and without pressure.
  3. See more situations in training that they will encounter during games.
  4. Increased mobility for the entire team.
  5. Improved possession.
  6. Inclusion of everybody on field, developing EVERY PLAYER.
  7. When you bring all options for GK back into play, hopefully they use near and far options at the right times.
  8. More confidence keeping the ball when winning it back in the defensive third.  Regain and retain!
  9. Increased confidence and awareness for everybody everywhere on the field.
The main reason for coaches wanting the blindly ball out of their end is to not concede a goal.  But at the young ages you need to build a comfort level when the ball is anywhere on the field.  Hopefully with the elimination of scores and standings, younger players will have ore freedom to experiment without fear of repercussion.

There you go, your next practice all laid out for you.  Now, go coach.