Author Archives: Coach Cook
The club has just purchased a NEW Practice Plan site. The site is called Academy Soccer Coach (click on red). Within the site you can do many things such as:
- Session Template Software: All coaches can Create their own professionally and visibly rich diagram to illustrate your coaching session and support your work.
- Free downloads to session plans template, match review sheets, set piece organizers
- Access to the Academy Page which offers 50+ practice plans, 11+ Tactical Coaching Videos, Drill diagrams
**Will communicate with club about acquiring Interactive Session Plan & Digital Coaching Forum if you feel that you’d use it often.***
We are really excited about this. Please take the time to check your email to get log in and password to access these things. We would like to know what you think about this site, this helps the club determine if this site is a positive for you coaches. Please respond on the coaches site or by email about what you think. All positive and negative comment are wanted. We really want your and need your input.
Within my first year, the number one question that has been asked of me so far by you coaches is. .. How do I get my players to spread out on the field. Great question. Here’s an article you need to read and at the end, a test you can perform to see if they are ready.
How can I get my U9s to spread out?
I currently coach a team of U9 boys.
I have a problem with getting them to spread out.
I know it is a hard thing for the boys to understand and consciously think about, but from where I stand on the touchline, it seems the fundamental reason we lose games.
I also know it takes time for them to stop bunching around the ball and think of themselves as a team, but I would have thought they should start to understand it by now.
Is there some advice you can give me or even some games I can use to get them to think about their positioning?
As your players get older they will, without any input from you, begin to move away from each other and find their own space to play in.
There are some things you can do to speed up the process but whatever you do, don’t shout at them to “spread out!” because young children will take you literally and run to all four corners of the pitch. Yes, they will have spread out but they won’t be able to receive a pass and the team will have no shape at all.
What you really want is for your players to move into positions where they are not being pressured by the opposition but not so far away that their team mates can’t pass to them.
There are some tips on how to do this in newsletter 139 but before you rush off and force your U9s apart, take a moment to consider if that’s the right thing to do or whether playing “bunch ball” is actually doing them good.
Young players are learning how to solve problems and be creative while they’re bunched up and these skills actually help them with their game when they’re older and the game is more structured.
One day you will want players who can keep the ball when they’re surrounded by five defenders and the one who can break out of the pack and dribble to goal is going to be your star attacker when he’s a bit older.
But I know that the pressure on coaches to intervene and encourage their players to play “proper” soccer can be quite intense. So by all means check out the advice in newsletter 139 as well on these pages on footy4kids:
However you decide to encourage your players to spread out on the pitch, remember to reward the behaviour you want to see.
A simple “well done” for a player who moves away from the bunch without being told will work wonders. You might also want to consider using some of or special reward patches. I’ve used them with great success.
Space: the final frontier?
While it may be unreasonable to expect three year olds to abandon their natural inclination to swarm round the ball and spread out across the field, the question “why won’t they spread out?”‘ is a good one.
The stock answer is that very young children are primarily interested in themselves, are not mature enough to understand the concept of teamwork and they just want to have fun! And for a young soccer player, the fun is where the ball is, not guarding a piece of grass 20 yards or more from the action and hoping to receive a pass that never comes.
My advice to coaches who have teams of very young players is to not waste their time trying to make their players spread out. Instead, they should let them carry on swarming around the ball because they are learning so many useful skills. They include how to tackle, how to take the ball from another player and how to keep it when they’ve got it.
I don’t blame these coaches from wanting to stop their players doing what comes naturally. There is a lot of pressure on them from parents who expect their child to play for a team which looks like a miniature version of Manchester United instead of what they really are – a bunch of kids having fun with a ball.
But the day will come when your players are ready to be shown they can still have fun playing soccer if they find their personal space on the pitch.
How will I know they are ready?
You can test your players’ readiness for this major change with a simple experiment.
Set up a very small pitch (about 10 yards by 15 yards with goals at each end), put two teams of five, six or seven players on it and let them play.
Stop the game after 10 minutes or so and ask them if they like playing on such a small pitch. If they say “no”, ask them why. If they say something like “it’s too crowded” then you know they are ready. If they don’t seem to mind playing on such a small pitch then you need to wait a bit longer.
Great, they’re ready! What do I do next?
It’s no good simply telling your players to “spread out” because it doesn’t mean anything. Should they should stand five yards apart? 20 yards? 30 yards?
You can find the optimum distance your players should be from each other by watching them in a small circle (say, five yards across) and putting a defender in the middle. Ask your players to pass the ball to each other and keep it away from the defender without changing their position.
After a few minutes ask them if it was easy or difficult to stop the defender getting a touch on the ball. Hopefully, someone will say it was difficult because “we’re too close together”.
Now make the circle really big (about 35 yards across) and repeat the exercise with a new defender. Your players will probably still find it hard to keep the ball away from the defender because they are now too far apart.
Now gradually make the circle smaller until you find the size that works best for the outside players. That’s the distance that your players should try to keep from each other when the ball is in open play.
Talk about this with your players which will help to reinforce their understanding. Play a match (scrimmage) on a normal-sized pitch and congratulate your players whenever you see them supporting each other AND being the right distance apart.
Don’t expect your players to abandon the swarm and spread out until they are ready to do so. When they are ready, help your players understand why there should be some space between the ball carrier and the supporting players and, most importantly, what the optimum distance actually is.
Praise them whenever you see them keeping the right distance apart in training sessions or matches and soon they will be playing, if not quite like Manchester United, in an attractive and effective way.
I might sound like a broken record but it’s so important that practices are geared to what the players will be doing in games. Technique, Technique, Technique… passing, receiving, dribbling, heading, shooting, etc..are very important in order to do any tactics: 1v1, 2v2 (great games). When you help them develop their ball skills, the easier the drills become, which transitions to the field. Don’t forget what I told you about how the players learn. 3 Steps: Basic- No pressure, Medium Pressure, Full pressure.
I’m starting to figure out that updating this site often is harder than it looks. Thus, it makes me think how hard it is for you guys to put a good amount of thought into each practice, but we still push on for our kids. FYI, age focuses are updated, videos are updated. Yes I’m able to link up now, practice drills to come.
Had some thoughts I wanted to share with you as we are half way through the season. I recently attended the coaches seminar by Denny, the Director of Coaching for Missouri Youth. A couple things that I really pulled out of it were: In age groups U6-U8. The focus for these players is mostly individual ball familiarity. They should constantly be touching the ball. Dribbling in space, dribbling from different areas, dribbling around players, perform moves to get away and around players, developing shooting and passing techniques. Its so important that if they are not able to get around players by U10, they are behind. Thus all practices need to be geared around all players with the ball. Increasing the number of touches will help any players get better. No matter what age. U-10 and up, if you’re players have a hard time dribbling, and doing move to get around players, don’t keep moving forward and forget about the importance of ball skill. Using warm-up is a great time to do this. Pre-game warm-ups are another time to refresh their minds from what was taught that week. At a young age, pre-game warm-ups are just another opportunity for the kids to practice. This past weekend I sat in on the U15 game. I had the coach have the players come in 45min(standard time of arrival is an hour to 45 mins for proper warm-up) before game time and we just worked on basic touches, movements, etc… You could tell what they did during warm-up was being used in the game because it was fresh in their mind. Congrats to U15 Armstrong for their win!!!
I’m not hear to discourage any coach. This is a great opportunity to stop and think how your kids are doing and give these kids the ball skills they need to succeed in this sport. There is nothing wrong with stepping back to reiterate the importance of ball control, dribbling skills. If you feel your team has a hard time with this, at any age, be sure to design a practice that will help achieve these skills. You’ll see a HUGE difference in the level of play among the players. In turn, we will start to take shape in being a great club.
Any question, you know what to do. I’m always available.
MYSA is doing their part in developing coaches and kids. Now we have an opportunity to take part of that opportunity. The KC Metro League will be hosting three free coaching clinics with Denny Vaninger, the Director of Coaching for the Missouri Youth Soccer Association. There’s a U6-U8 on Monday 26th, U9-U11 on Tuesday and U11 and Up on Wednesday. (Read below for time and place) I need to know if you are going or not. I will be contacting all coaches if I don’t hear from you :). I really need you to be there because it benefits your kids. If you can’t make it because of practice, that’s ok. We can’t miss out on opportunities to train. But if you can make it, then GO. I’ll be there to take note and continue my learning.
These free clinics will be at the three locations:
Monday September 26th from 6:30 PM till 8:00 PM
This clinic will be designed for the U-6 to U-8 coach
FC Southland host
16400 N Mullen Rd.
Belton Mo 64012.
Tuesday September 27th from 6:30 PM till 8:00 PM
This clinic will be designed for the U-9 to U-11 coach
1501 NE Blackwell Road,
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063
6500 NW Valley View Road
Blue Springs, Missouri 64015
We will be having a Mid Season Coaches Meeting during the first week or weekend of October. Please be prepared to attend this meeting. I will be doing my best to find the best time for everyone. Also, please consider this one time that we may need some coaches to reschedule one practice for that week. Try not to cancel but look for a different day for that week only. I will expect all coaches there. This is our opportunity to recap what we’ve done so far and see how things are going, seeing how much transition is occurring for the club and other/any important questions the club and coaches might have.
Just keep in mind that we are trying to transition the clubs youth development and we all want to be on the same page. Thank you for all the hard work you’ve been doing so far. I see the kids are having a lot of fun.
Be at the game fields on Wednesday for Team Pictures. All players need to be in their uniform. See times below.
U6 Coffey – 5pm, U6 Getz 5:10, U6 Madsen – 5:20, U8 Bliss – 5:30, U8 Schrock – 5:40, U8 Huttinger – 5:50, U10 Turner – 6pm, U10 Gonzales – 6:10, U14 Girls Getz – 6:45, U14 Girls Buerge – 7, U12 Coed Buerge – 7:15
U6 Baer – 5pm, U6 McCarthy – 5:10, U6 Hansen – 5:20, U6 Schrock – 5:30, U8 Cooper – 5:40, U8 Schroeder – 5:50, U10 Cheslik – 6, U10 Huttinger 6:10, U15 Armstrong – 6:45, U12 Coed Gonzales – 7, U11 Morgan – 7:15, U12 Morgan 7:30
Two weeks down and now we are getting into our games. This weekend I’ll be posting new practice plans for each age group and provide the new focus for the next two weeks.
Reminder, just because we are changing the focus doesn’t mean you forget about what you previously coached. Continue do develop the players ball control skills.
You can implement these development times at the beginning of your practice for your warm up. Remember we are getting away from static stretching at the beginning of practices. Soccer warm-ups need to be dynamic. Lots of soccer specific movements either with or without the ball. (I prefer with a ball to allow players optimal time on the ball) Keep static stretching for after dynamic warm-up or at the end of a training sessions.
Again, always come to your practice prepared for what you want your players to learn. This helps everyone involved, especially your players.
Coaching Tip of the Week…
When developing a soccer player, they learn in 3 main ways:
- Players first learn by experiencing a skill/drill at its simplest form. No pressure on players
- Next you add restrictions / low-medium pressure situation. Medium pressure on players
- Finish with more difficult drills / small sided games / scrimmages at full pace where the players have to use the skills that were previously coached. High pressure on players
We see it so often one wonders whether American coaches are getting their youth football (soccer) advice from Garry Kasparov. “Kids come up to the halfway line,” says Sam Snow, U.S. Youth Soccer’s Director of Coaching Education, “and actually balance themselves not to go past it, because they suddenly realize, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s the line that I’m not supposed to go past.’ Their arms are swinging, it’s almost like they’re on a balance beam or something.” It’s a prime example of overcoaching – prevalent even though it’s generally agreed that pickup games or street soccer spawned the world’s greatest players. And because it’s widely lamented that American children don’t play enough soccer in unsupervised games, where they’re allowed to experiment and enjoy the freedom of the sport, the sensible response is that organized soccer for young children replicate a pickup-game environment.
One of pickup soccer’s main characteristics is that players explore the field as they wish and decide on their own how to position themselves. I am constantly impressed with how even very young children begin to comprehend positioning without being instructed. Snow recommends that coaches not worry much about talking to children about positions at the U-6 and U-8 levels. “We’re saying, from U-10 on up, begin to tell them the names of the positions, show them where they are, but don’t screw them into the ground,” Snow says. “Don’t say, ‘You play here and you’re not allowed to go beyond a certain part of the field.'” At the higher levels, teams interchange positions. Making players rely on instructions in their early years isn’t likely to prepare them to read the game on their own. Besides, the children’s instincts often make more sense than the sideline instructions. Manny Schellscheidt is the head of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s U-14 boys national development program and Seton Hall University coach. He sees older players he calls “position stuck.” “When they don’t know exactly what to do,” Schellscheidt says, “they go to the spot they’re most familiar with regardless of what the game is asking for.” The easy answer to the question of when to assign positions is to make it moot by using a small-sided format, as recommended by U.S. Youth Soccer (U6: 3v3; U8: 4v4; U10: 6v6; U12: 8v8). “The small-sided game environment for preteen players aids the players in learning concepts of play, for example positioning as opposed to positions,” says Snow. Schellscheidt says, “It needs to be small enough so positions don’t matter. That’s the best solution.
If coaches would have the patience to graduate their kids from really small numbers, one step at a time, that would be the most natural and the most potent education the players could possibly get. “They would learn to deal with time and space, and how to move around and have some shape. The problem is we go to the bigger numbers too early.” Even if the league doesn’t use a small-sided format for its games, Schellscheidt recommends that approach in practice. Above all, don’t scream orders from the sidelines and shackle players to areas of the field. “It destroys the children’s natural instinct of being part of the game,” he says. Bob Jenkins, U.S. Soccer’s Director of Coaching Education and Youth Development, says youth coaches are “skipping steps” when they try to organize and discipline young teams to play within a formation at a stage when they should be focused on the 2-on-1 situations. Overemphasizing positions, Schellscheidt says, demonstrates the difference between team development and player development. “There’s such a difference,” he says. “You can divvy up the field, make players rehearse what they’re supposed to do in their small areas, and as far as team development it works fine because they can find a quick way to get results. It’s a short cut to success, but the kids don’t become good players.” U.S. Soccer’s “Best Practices for Coaching Soccer in the United States” is pretty clear on the subject of allowing young players to make their own decisions on the field: “A team of 9-year-olds who hold their positions and maintains a steady group of defenders who rarely, if ever venture into the attack, looks like a well-disciplined and well-organized team.” But U.S. Soccer does not recommend this approach, clearly stating it isn’t how to develop good players: “This approach hinders the player’s ability to experience and enjoy the natural spontaneity of the game. It does not allow players to have an equal opportunity to go and ‘find’ the game based on what they see from the game or to handle the ball and develop instincts for the game. “These are skills that they will need at the older ages and that are often lacking in the older players.”