Category Archives for Drills & Exercises

Defending from different angles

By George Kee

1v1 defending occurs numerous times throughout a match. This exercise teaches players to defend from different angles. Players gain experience defending when approaching from the front, side, and behind.

Area Size: Attacking 3rd
# Of Players: 10-15
Time: 30 minutes

Set up: Four cones placed in a square at the top of the penalty area. 4 numbered defenders are placed at each cone. A line of attackers start 10 yards out.

Execution: The attacker begins dribbling into the square, at some point the coach will call out a number and that defender will close down on the ball and attempt to block the shot as the players play 1v1 to goal. The coach can call the number at varied times in order to change the angle of approach from the defender.

Coaching Points:
Defenders approaching from the front should close down at an angle; body position should be side on with knees bent.

Defenders approaching from behind or the side should look to create contact with a shoulder challenge to disrupt the dribbler. From here the defender can get between the dribbler and the ball to win possession or get in front to delay.

Exercise Two: 

 

Setup and execution: 3 colored goals set up 20 yards away from line of attackers. A line of defenders starts on the side halfway between the goals and the attacker. The attacker will begin dribbling and at the same time the defender will come off the cone and close down. At some point the coach will call out a color which will indicate which goal the players will attack and defend.

Defenders should first look to get in the ball line between the attacker and the goal. Once the ball line has been cut out the defender should begin to close down. This exercise can also be used to stress the importance of putting in the extra work to block shots.

Coaching Points
• Good defensive body position, side on, knees bent, balance on toes
• Using the shoulder when tackling from the side
• Getting in the ball line between the ball and the goal

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, George moved to northern California in 2014 to take over as the head soccer coach at Lassen College. In his brief time with the program George has won an undefeated conference title, coached four players of the year, and won three Coach of the Year Awards.

Where and When to Penetrate

By Sean Pearson

Area: 25 x 35 yards
Time: 15mins
Players: 5v5+1

Objective:
• To understand where to penetrate according to spaces
• To understand how to penetrate depending on where you are on the field

Set Up:
All that is needed is 4 cones to mark out the corners of the rectangle area. The area is wider than it is in length. On each side of the field there are 3 balls. The aim is to get the three balls behind your line across to the opposition’s side of the field. The team that is able to get all six balls on their opponent’s side wins.

Execution:
Overload the team in possession by adding a neutral to make it 6v5, this makes it easier to penetrate. Depending on the position of the defending team look to find either (Red 1) the neutral in space or (Red 2) a free player. Encourage you players to drive forward with the ball if there is space, this looks to draw a player towards them, allowing another player to be free to receive the ball.

In order to successfully deposit the ball behind the opposition’s line the ball must travel over this line whilst still under control. You can do this in either (Blue 1) dribbling/driving the ball over the line or (Blue 2) receiving the ball from a pass over but close to the line, no more than 2-3 yards from it.

After the ball has been left behind the opposition’s line the team retrieves another ball behind their own line. If the defending team win possession they can look to penetrate straight away.

You can play with or without an offside line. I explain to my players that we are in a game situation where we are in the middle third of the field and there would be defenders behind you so there is no offside. It also allows a little more freedom of movement to play in between the lines. But of course, you can still enforce an offside line if you wish.

Variations:
• Offside line/no offside line
• Add/decrease Neutrals
• Limit touches
• Change formation to replicate your midfield

By Sean Pearson. Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

How to Park the Bus – Mourinho Style

By Sean Pearson

Area: Half a field
Time: 20mins
Players: 6v6

Objective:
• For players to understand the defensive shape of the style
• To frustrate the attacking team

Set Up:
The defending team sets up in a 4-2-3 or a 4-4-1. The attacking team is in a 4-3-3 formation without the 2 CB’s. The attacking team is trying to score and the defending team is trying to stop them. If the attacking team score, they win, if the defending team don’t concede they win.

Execution:The term parking the bus is considered a negative in today’s game. It is considered a cheap tactic to stop another, probably a better, team from creating clear chances and scoring. Let’s be honest, it’s extremely hard to play against, and score, as well as highly frustrating. I for one can’t stand playing against it but in my frustration, I have accepted that sometimes it is necessary. Now would I do it for younger players of 12 and under, no. Not even 13-15 however at 16+ it becomes a vital tool to use.

I do not advocate for it to be used all the time but in certain situations absolutely. What is the point of soccer at the top level? It is to win and nobody knows that better than Jose Mourinho. He does not care about people’s opinions on what he does, he cares about the result. Now that might not be the case for 16-18 year old players but make no mistake about it, players at this age want to win. In fact, all players want to win at any level, its normal, its healthy and I think winning has become a dirty word that people are afraid to use in youth soccer anymore as it’s all about development. Which I agree with but winning is development too. Do I think youth teams should win at all costs, no but its ok for coaches and players to want to win. You can do that and develop players at the same time.

Now, back from my little tangent. What ‘parking the bus’ is, is really players behind the ball in an organized fashion denying penetration through numbers. It also teaches players to be patient and encourages communication. So the way Mourinho ‘parks the bus’, as described in my article analysis the Liverpool v Man Utd game on Oct 17th 2016, is he has his wingers drop back so they are level with his back for, making a back line of 6. His back 4 become very narrow to deny space between each player along the back line and the #10 drops down to make a narrow midfield 3. Depending on where players are at certain times it might not always be the #10 in the middle but there a narrow midfield 3 nonetheless.

So, when the attacking team pass the ball around the defending team should look like below. The role of the defending team is to allow the attacking team as much time as possible with the ball when they have the ball ahead of them but to remain organized and close together. The reason for being so close together is if one players does get beat there is a 2nd then a 3rd and even 4th player close by something even Messi would struggle with. The likely hood of quick, accurate 1 or 2 touch passing to penetrate the sheer tight nit numbers is extremely low.

When the attacking team slides the ball over to one side to avoid the 3 midfielders in the middle, the whole team slides with the ball to outnumber the attackers on that side. Even with a more attacking formation of a 4-3-3, there are 2 strikers and attacking midfielder and an advanced full back all forward but there are 7 defenders to their 4. Then there is a GK to get past.

If the attacking team tries to switch the ball via a U shape or long diagonal, because there are 6 players in the back line it is easy for them to engage quickly with the opposite side.

Variations:
• When the defending team win the ball allow them to play forward and see if they can move the ball past the half way line
• Have the defensive midfielder double as a target striker

By Sean Pearson. Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

Session Specific Warm Up

By Steven Smith

Setup:
Warming up our players often happens separate from the actual skills of soccer and is viewed by many coaches as unrelated to the theme of training in the main series.

This activity emphasizes a gradual warm up using the skills that will be needed during the main series when working on passing and receiving and possession skills. The activities described should be intermittent with range of motion and active stretching when transitioning from one step to another in the described activities. All stretching should last at least one minute per stretch with any static stretching. Coaches must lead the stretch so that the duration of the stretch is not cut short. Each of the activities described can last around 3-4 minutes for a long gradual warm-up leading toward a main series workout.

All players should have vests at the start of this activity and split into two different color groups. For this activity they will be described as wearing yellow or black.

Execution:
Activity 1: Players are grouped into twos while passing and receiving with their designated partner in the grid space provided (for groups of 18 or more the grid should be quite large to encourage lots of movement covering all portions of the grid). Give instruction to keep the head up and avoid touching any other players.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 2: Play continues with one ball per two people but instead of a designated partner, the players with the ball must find any person in the grid and pass to the person who actively calls for the ball. Players must not pass the ball to anyone who does not actively show for the ball by communicating their desire for the ball through their voice, their posture or clear eye contact. Coach must emphasize those three methods of communication.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 3: Players continue play but yellow may only pass and receive with yellow and black may only pass and receive with black. This will force players to think ahead and pick out their “team” in the midst of the chaos of the ball movements and player movements.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 4: All players remove their vests and tuck them into their waist bands. Reduce the number of balls for passing and receiving and restart the activity with passing and receiving to anyone in the grid (same restriction on passing only after appropriate communication as earlier). As coach determines he/she instructs a player to put on his or her vest and that player then becomes a defender who seeks to intercept passes and knock the ball out of the grid. Balls knocked out of the grid can be retrieved by a player and then resume the passing and receiving. Coach adds the number of defenders based on preference and desire for pressure on the warm-up. Coach may also reduce the number of balls allowed for passing and receiving.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 5: Coach reduces the number of balls to three for passing and receiving. As the number of players builds up the defending players with vests on no longer attempt to knock the ball out of play but instead try to keep possession inside the grid. The other players attempt to win the ball back for their passing and receiving with non-vest wearing players. It basically becomes a game of keep away.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 6: Coach controls the numbers leading to even sided play with both teams attempting to maintain possession. The coach closely monitors play and challenges each team to attempt to possess all three balls at the same time. When one team possesses all three of the balls then play is stopped and the losing team makes a sprint to the end line and back. Then play is resumed with the same challenge until the coach calls conclusion of the warm-up.

By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.

2v2 Transition to Goal

By Steven Smith

Two versus Two Transition to Goal

Setup:
Two full size goals are set up 36 yards apart facing each other and players are placed evenly at each post with balls at the right posts of both goals ready to enter into play. Goalkeepers occupy each of the goals.

This activity is extremely demanding for physical endurance and is anaerobic in its training focus. Teams who shoot often and remain on field may become very fatigued.

Execution:
Players are paired into twos for the entire duration of the activity and stand behind the goal posts at the same goal. Play is initiated by the yellow partners serving to the black set of partners at the other set of goals. The yellow partners who serve the ball move out to defend the black partners who attempt to score as quickly as possible on the opposing goal.

If the black players score or the ball goes over the end line then the black partners must immediately defend the next two yellow players who dribble off the end line and transition to attack the opposite goal as quickly as possible. The two versus two takes place between the two goals with each team trying to win the ball back and attack the opposite goal. Play continues back and forth until a time set by the coach or until a certain number of goals have been achieved by one team.

By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.