Home Youth Football Coaching

I don’t know if you`ve noticed but there are heaps of study papers and articles about the best way to coach and develop youth football players. Many are thought provoking but what stands out is that very few of the writers have had real long-term experience working on the junior side of the game.

The latest favourite is “let the game be the teacher” – let the players play and learn from their own mistakes, a big move away from the tidy drills and organised outcomes mantra that has dominated coach education and resulted in a generation of ordinary players.

Once again be warned it’s not as simple as that!

For example, did your parents when teaching you to walk down the street, say “off you go run down the street if you get run over by a car that’s a valuable learning experience for you?”

No! but if we reference it to ‘let the game be the teacher’ that’s what is being advocated.

What your parents did was to hold your hand during these foundation experiences and guide your learning.  I remember my mum holding my hand tight, commanding that I “Walk on the left”,  “Move right (or left) to avoid that gentleman”, “Stop! let this lady move through the gap” or

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“No don’t just walk out Roger when crossing the road make sure to check right, left and right again or you could be run over”.

You were being taught to constantly look ahead, take mental pictures and make decisions ahead of time. This teaching included multi decisions and habits in a totally realistic environment and was repeated numerous times until your parents had assessed that you were ready for next stage. They then made you walk by the side of them with decreased input to give you the ability, confidence and understanding to be set free to walk the walk.

Your parents guided your understanding in real life situations.

Football coaching is like life!

Roger educating youth football coaches.

By the way, I’m definitely not saying that youth football coaches should order the decisions like my mum and definitely don’t clip kids round the ear if they get it wrong!

Clever coaches guide the discovery of youth football players with progressive logical tips and coaching points in programmed realistic sessions. They introduce the important coaching points and game challenges gradually and logically to advance the young player’s ability and independent understanding. Importantly, they know the type of player they are striving to produce.

When working with an 8 yr old player coaches MUST realise they are NOT working with an 8 yr old they are working with a 24 yr in the early part of their playing career.” John Cartwright.

Clever youth football coaches know what makes a great player and the ingredients of the great game style they are coaching towards. Sounds common sense, but very few grassroots coaches work this way.

Clever coaches introduce multiple coaching details alongside the main themes of their session (as well as teaching us to walk down the street mum also re-enforced good manners!).

They also use imagery, demonstrations and encouragement to make the session challenging and enjoyable. They value every minute of practice time to nurture the development of the young player through progressive, realistic practices.

Nurture by making every player a special project with support, empathy, individual positive targets and feedback.

Progressive because each session is part of a programme of work that cements the critical skills the young player needs and constantly pushes their skill and understanding to advance their ability.

Realistic because the practices introduce the learning in a logical, easy to understand sequence that is totally game related.

This coaching experience is a super reference point for the kids when they play their own “pick up” games. They have an individuality and a game style to aspire to, they know what they are trying to do and if they make a mistake they know how to put it right.  Great coaches by clever use of guidance also teach the kids how to coach themselves.

The era of street football was a great breeding ground for outstanding players but as one tremendous ex-player said to me “playing in tight areas forced me to make decisions BUT if I‘d also had a great coach on the sideline helping my experience what a difference that would have made “. So even then the coach would have been a crucial factor.

The big challenge in the modern era is that at the grass roots level, from 5 to 14 yrs of age, we need the very best coaches. Unfortunately, the foundation stage is dominated by poor practice, with National bodies often promoting supposed “fun” practices that have no real effect on the development of the real skills of the game.

We need to develop coach educators who have real experience and working knowledge of the needs of this age group and who are totally focused on educating the coaches that have the expertise to develop great players.

“I’d rather be coached by a great coach on the club car park than a poor coach at Lilleshall” Malcolm Allison.

To view the original blog post on the Keep the ball website which is an excellent resource for coaches of all levels click here.

Create Fun Engaging Sessions and Become a Better Coach With My Free Guide!

Want To learn how to develop your very own coaching style and fun, engaging soccer sessions? click the button below to find out how!

The Author

Roger has over 35 years football coaching experience around the world. In 2002, Roger co-founded Premier Skills with former Crystal Palace First Team Coach, John Cartwright, with a view to develop coaches and players at all levels of the game. Over the past 10 years Roger has been based in the United Kingdom and has worked for Crystal Palace as an Academy Coach and more recently as the Under 21 Development Coach for West Bromwich Albion. Roger returned to New Zealand permanently in January 2013 and is currently the Youth Academy Director at Fencibles United.

PREMIER SKILLS is a football company dedicated to developing outstanding coaches and highly skilled players. They aim to do this by delivering innovative coach education and player development courses at all levels. If you would like to check their services you can go to the website here.

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The main focus for this game is to encourage the movement of your players off the ball. The players are also looking for opportunities to play the ball through the triangle to score points. The defender must defend the triangle and do their best not to go through the area.

The Session Layout

Set up a 15 x 15 area with a triangle in the middle (about 4-5 yards apart for the triangle and I tend to use flat markers for gates within an area). The session above has 5 players in a 4v1 situation (four attackers and 1 defender).

How To Play

The four attackers try to keep possession of the ball while looking for opportunities to play through the triangle. Each time the attackers play the ball through the triangle to another teammate they get a goal. The ball must reach another teammate for it to count as a goal.

The defender must defend the triangle and not go inside to stop the ball. They must work around the triangle trying to stop the attackers from making a penetrative pass.

The coach should encourage the attackers to ‘think ahead’ and not to only make a decision when they have the ball which happens often with young players. Players need to ‘think before’ they receive the ball and decide what their next move will be i.e where is space, where is the defender, can I turn and dribble or do I need to shield the ball etc.

On every pass, the players without the ball should be moving to assist the person with the ball to create better opportunities to keep possession and score goals.

Make sure the defender is rotated every 1-2 minutes so that everyone has an opportunity to defend.

Progression: Make it a 4v2 which will make it harder for the players to score goals.

Coaching Points

  1. Provide quick support angles to receive the ball in space.
  2. Create space for others by moving the defender with your movement.
  3. Can you play passes to others that are soft enough to control and make appropriate decisions for the player receiving the ball?
  4. Take soft directional touches into space away from the defender with your first touch.
  5. Keep the ball.

The Coach

[img_text_aside style=”1″ image=”https://www.letsplaythegame.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Kurtis_Pottinger.png” image_alignment=”right” headline=”” alignment=”center”]Kurtis is the Director of Coaching at coaching company ‘Lets Play The Game Ltd’ and has over 12 years of coaching experience. He is also a lead coach at a junior school and club level. Kurtis has experience in training and mentoring grassroots coaches in the West Midlands area. He holds a Diploma of Higher Education in Sports Coaching, FA Level 2 Badge Holder and is currently doing the FA youth module level 3. He has the Premier Skills Coach Education Award.

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Let’s Play the Game Ltd is a provider of excellent one to one and team football training in Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell. For those who would like to try our services don’t hesitate to contact us. Don’t forget to subscribe below to never miss any of our posts. You can also like our Facebook page or subscribe to our YouTube channel for more football coaching tips.

 

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What does Dribbling represent to you?  Is it the use of nimble footwork — is it the ‘bogus’ use of feints with various parts of the body – or is it running with the ball followed by changes of direction…….. or is it something else? All of the aforementioned can be described as dribbling but what must be emphasised when discussing this important skill is……..which of those dribbling methods causes most problems to a defender and his supporting players? In my opinion, it is the skill of running with the ball with changes of direction.

Messi dribbling

It is time to delegate the long over-visualized ‘picture’ of the ‘Dribbler’ to the dustbin. The fixation about dribbling that relates to over-complicated and generally unnecessary feints and fancy footwork should be cast aside. Oh yes, there are the occasional times in a season in which a player extricates him/herself from a tight situation that is pleasing on the eye, but these rarities are so inconsequential in general play that time spent learning a multitude of tricks etc. is time misspent.

When I was a youngster playing football in the street or in the school playground where space was limited it taught me the importance of running with the ball ACROSS defenders and not taking the ball AT them………. Lionel Messi is the modern exhibitor of this dribbling skill.  When confronted by an opponent an attacking player must attempt to move him in order to go past him. Going directly at an opponent simply sends him backwards amongst additional supporting colleagues thus lessening the possibilities for the attacker. Good defenders have acquired better defensive qualities than their counterparts in years gone by; they have much improved athletic ability and more tactical appreciation of their defensive roles.

Defenders today concentrate more on the ball rather than be distracted by feint plays and in so doing they have acquired the ability to ‘guide’ attackers thus becoming a ‘dictator’ to them. More than any feint play it is the movement of the ball that will move a defender. When an attacker takes the ball ACROSS a defender that defender is forced to move accordingly. The movement ACROSS a defender as opposed to a movement AT a defender produces two immediate problems for the defender; his balance is affected, and he leaves space as he vacates one area and is moved into another area on the field……. the attacker now ‘dictates’ to the defender. The attacking player, now ‘in the driving seat’, must maximise the advantage he/she has achieved. The skill of running with the ball and ‘screening’ it from an opponent must be used to restrict a tackle from being made. Equally important, the attacker must be aware of the space he/she is from the opposing player. This space awareness allows an attacker to make decisions whether to accelerate past the opponent or change direction quickly and turn back before the opponent can recover.

Many playing alternatives become available to an attacker and his team if movements ACROSS defenders are used. As already mentioned, the balance of an opponent is affected and this provides an attacking player with several options to use;  a defender can be ‘nut-megged’ far easier as he/she are forced to move across than if attacked in a direct way — space from which a defender is drawn away from can be filled by supporting players of the attacking team — plus there are numerous combination plays such as ‘take-overs’ – ‘wall passes’ – ‘overlaps’ – and ‘set-up passes’ to be used.

‘Wizard of the dribble’

The game has moved on from the days of Sir Stanley Matthews, the original ‘Wizard of the dribble’.  Defenders have become better athletes and are more tactically aware. We must continue to consider dribbling as an important part of the game and encourage young players to develop the ability to beat opponents and link other playing alternatives to their dribbling skill. But in order to make this happen, we must change our perception of dribbling and the way it is introduced to future generations.

To view the original blog post on the Keep the ball website which is an excellent resource for coaches of all levels click here.

The Author

[img_text_aside style=”1″ image=”https://www.letsplaythegame.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/John_Cartwright.png” image_alignment=”right” headline=”John%20Cartwright” alignment=”center”]Co-founder of Premier Skills, John has over 40 years experience at the top of the game as both a player and a coach. He played for both West Ham and Crystal Palace. John has been Technical Director for the English Professional Footballers Association and Academy Coach at Crystal Palace where he produced the ‘Team of the Eighties’ and Director of Youth Football at Charlton Athletic. John was the England Youth coach and First Team coach at Arsenal Football Club as well as the Technical Director of the FA National School of Excellence. John has been acknowledged by respected managers and coaches like Terry Venables, Ron Greenwood, Don Howe and Malcolm Allison as an outstanding football coach. John is the author of football coaching book, Football For The Brave.

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PREMIER SKILLS is a football company dedicated to developing outstanding coaches and highly skilled players. They aim to do this by delivering innovative coach education and player development courses at all levels. If you would like to check their services you can go to the website here.

 

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In my 12 years as a youth football coach, I have experimented with many methods to help improve my coaching ability. In that time I have seen how a player can rapidly improve by just going away and working on their game at home either on their own, with parents or a hired personal coach. This is why after each session I set my players football homework for them to practice at home because 1 or 2 sessions with me just aren’t enough to see the results I want from their development.

I find consistency is important when developing youth football players. Whatever you teach, you should have a specific aim that you focus on until there is evidence of improvement. there is no point moving forward if they are not ready, many coaches change topics too frequently, not allowing the player time to grasp what you want from the session. Each session should be a gradual progression from the previous one, meaning there has to be a link between your sessions. This doesn’t mean you teach the exact same session for 3-4 weeks, it means they should have a familiar theme and pick up from where the previous one left off.

Here is an example of 4 sessions that are gradually progressive.

Topic: Staying with the ball

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3 Session 4
Dribbling the ball with both feet. Recap last session. Dribbling whilst using tricks. Recap previous session. Dribbling whilst using turns. Recap previous session. Dribbling whilst screening the ball.

For more information on how to prepare a football coaching session click here to read a previous post.

Now you might be thinking how can we increase the consistency with our players when we train only once or twice a week? well, this is where we utilise the parents of the players. I mentioned earlier how I set my players football homework every week, to help continue their development whilst they are at home. Parents can help by working with the player, on whichever task the coach has set. Now you might be thinking that there are some parents who have little knowledge of coaching young players, but the type of 1 to 1 coaching sessions I’m talking about are relatively easy to set up so anybody can give them a go.

I wrote this article with parents and coaches in mind, to help give them some insight on how they can be an excellent asset to their child’s development. Here you will find some tips that will not only benefit parents but also coaches who want to empower their parents with ideas to help rapidly increase the ability of their players.

Let’s Get Coaching!

A key skill I felt every parent and coach should be aware of is how to effectively communicate with your children. This is is an important aspect not only for parents but also coaches to learn too.

First, you must think of the best way you can portray your message to the player. This is where having variation in the tone of voice can help engage the player and portray your message. speaking in a monotone voice throughout will still get your message across but it won’t do much to help paint that picture for the player.

You need to challenge your youth football players to make decisions for themselves, which is normally done with effective questioning. This will help the player understand where, when, why & how to apply their actions in the game.

Here’s an example;

How to Use Effective Questioning in Youth Football!

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Progressions!

Try to ensure you add progressions when teaching your child. To really push their development, the difficulty of the session needs to be gradually increased. An example would be either adding pressure from the coach/parent, reducing the space or encouraging them to play quicker.

There will also be times where the player finds the session too difficult and you need to think of ways to decrease the difficulty of the session. An example of this would be making the area bigger, simplifying the skill or taking away the added pressure (coach/parent).

For more tips on coaching, demonstrations read my previous post on 5 tips for effective coaching demonstrations!

Using effective communication in youth football

Communicate With The Coach!

Parents and coaches should always be communicating with each other. The parent should be asking about the development of their child and what they can do to help with this. Not all youth football coaches have regular communication with their parents about the player’s development, so sometimes it will be down to the parents to ask for feedback and advice.

If you happen to be in a situation where your coach is a parent too, who also has little experience in coaching then you will have to do your own research on different ways to up-skill your child.

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Your Football Calendar!

When you start to put something down on paper it’s more likely to get done. I recommend that you aim to work with your child for at least 3o minutes a day 4 times a week, doing some 1 to 1 football coaching sessions. Like I said before don’t worry if you’re not the next Pep Guardiola, you doing something with your child is better than doing nothing at all.

Produce your very own football calendar to help you and your child commit to working on your game. When you have prepared your calendar put it somewhere you and your child can always see it, so it reminds you of what must be done and when you are going to do it.

Summary!

For any player to show real progression in their development there must be a clear plan put in place. This shouldn’t be just any plan, but one with gradual progressions that take the player through a consistent training program that will link previous sessions with the current one.

Parents can play an important role in the development of players. As a coach, we can help empower them to take on (or encourage the player to work on their own) the development of their child and help further the development of the player.

Every player should have an idea of where their training program is trying to take them. involving the player in their own development gives them ownership and awareness of what they must do to succeed.

As much as we don’t like to admit it but the era of the street footballer is in decline, and we must find ways of encouraging our young players to train in their own time. This shouldn’t be random sessions but purposeful training with a clear goal at the end.

If you require some expert personal football coaching Let’s Play the Game Ltd is a provider of excellent 1 to 1 and team football coaching in Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley, and Sandwell. For those who would like to try our services don’t hesitate to contact us. Don’t forget to subscribe below to never miss any of our posts. You can also like our Facebook page or subscribe to our You Tube channel for more football coaching tips.     

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Looking back to the beginning of my coaching career I made a lot of mistakes in terms of the structure of the session plan.

Firstly I remember trying too hard to please the players which I knew was never going to work.

You will find it very difficult to please everyone when coaching youth football players which I quickly realized and then channeled my focus on developing the players.

Another common mistake of mine was that my message wasn’t consistent throughout the session, often going off task which would then confuse the players and hinder their learning.

These are just a few mistakes I made at the beginning of my coaching career and I could include a lot more but instead, I would like to focus on how you can avoid making similar mistakes with your session.

Create Better Soccer Sessions!

Learn how to create better soccer sessions and run your team successfully!

Be Ready!

A coach should always come prepared to deliver a quality football session so you want to make sure you arrive at least fifteen minutes early so you can set up your field in the way you want.

When coaching youth football players, bring plenty of footballs, cones and training bibs so you can divide players into different teams.

We want to have plenty of balls because you want every single player to be able to have a ball at their feet if required. for example, It is better to teach a topic such as dribbling with a ball each because every player is involved in the practice.

In the next section, we will take a look at the structure of a football session.

What to do when coaching youth football players!

Session Breakdown!

Introductory Phase

In the introductory phase, I like to break it down into two areas which are a game then a no-pressure practice.

It is good to begin with a small-sided game because it a) gets the players enthusiastic for the session b) helps give them an understanding of how to use their skills in when a game when you break it down in the practice.

I recommend that this is played either in a 2v2,3v3 or 4v4 format to encourage lots of contact on the ball.

Then, we would look to work on the fundamentals first.

So basically, there are no restrictions on the players and no pressure.

There is no pressure because I want the players to have some element of success within the session.

This will help with their confidence later in the session when I expect them to perform in a game scenario.

Central Phase

Then we will move on to match-related which basically is going to look more like a game, but it’s not really a game.

Here we are looking to add a little bit of pressure now to the players either by moving with quickness or somebody trying to take the ball away from the player, forcing the player to make more decisions.

Game with a condition

Then finally, we move into a match condition where we are actually playing a game of football.

It doesn’t have to be eleven on eleven, you can do five on five or three on three, but it looks like a real football match attacking each end.

Look to set your player’s individual, group and team challenges when they play the game.

When coaching youth football players you want them to be focused on the theme of the session so it all doesn’t get forgotten once they start playing.

Here are some examples of setting challenges:

Individual; when necessary can you spot the gaps to dribble through and penetrate space.

Group: midfielders, can we provide good support positions when the striker has the ball.

Team: when we lose the ball, can you win it back as quickly as possible ( 10-second rule ).

You don’t need your players in lines to teach a technique.

Just get your players inside a square with a ball and you can incorporate how to dribble, to take possession of the ball, to get away from players and dribbling so that you can get used to looking up instead of looking at the ground all the time.

You can do a lot of little games that incorporate a lot of things we actually do in football in a small area.

It is also fun for them, they’re doing a lot of learning at the same time and you are forcing the kids to do a number of game-related techniques in a fun way.

So to summarise this post, firstly start with your fundamentals, move into your match-related and then the final step is the game, which can contain conditions but ensure it resembles a real game.

In part 2 we will be looking at how can involve parents in the coaching process and coaching styles.

Create Better Soccer Sessions!

Learn how to create better soccer sessions and run your team successfully!

Let’s Play the Game Ltd is a provider of excellent one to one and team football training in Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell. For those who would like to try our services don’t hesitate to contact us. Don’t forget to subscribe below to never miss any of our posts. You can also like our Facebook page or subscribe to our You Tube channel for more football coaching tips.

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One of the biggest challenges for youth football is to create the right learning environment that will help develop their player’s. The football environment should be interesting and challenging, to help encourage active involvement from the players.

These days, young players have many distractions in their life such as television, video games and the internet which leave very little time for physical activities which use their imagination and creativity. With this in mind, coaches now have to carefully plan how to stimulate the players and give them more ownership over their learning.

To create innovative player’s  in youth football, we need environments that allow them to be innovative. This is very difficult to achieve if you are using traditional methods of coaching, that include children standing in lines and the coach continually giving instructions on when, where and how to perform their skills.

Here are some suggestions on how we can accelerate the player’s learning in youth football.

Don’t Just Show Me, Involve Me!

Instead of creating plans which focus on how to execute football skills, A coach should develop a more holistic approach that looks at all areas of the game. We want to encourage players to think about what they need do in every situation and too many drills will stop them from doing this.

For any child to learn, they must be actively involved in their own development. In the first eighteen months or so of a child’s life, they learn how to crawl, walk and even talk without being told how by their parents. A child learn’s  everything they need to know from the environment created for them, by being allowed to try new things and figure out what helps them develop. The parent is there to occasionally guide them to the solution but they rarely instruct a child how to crawl, walk and talk.

This is the role of the coach in the youth football, to help guide them to the correct decision. A coach is unable to achieve this without the active involvement of the player, therefore must use various methods which encourage the player to reflect, ask questions, create new moves, find a solution and master it. The overall aim for the coach is to develop players that don’t need to rely on their frequent instruction. A coach should aspire to develop independent players who once they enter the football field, are able to show expression, creativity and good decision-making without major input from the coach.

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Take a Step Back!

Sometimes it is best to let the players tell you what they need to improve. As mentioned before, we want our youth football players to think for themselves because this is how they learn best.

Not enough coaches stimulate the mental side of the player within their session. Traditional methods hinder a player’s ability to create and invent new solutions and many coaches use this method of coaching because they are afraid of losing control to the players. With careful planning, the coach can create football scenarios where the players have to find solutions to solve a problem. The coach still has an element of control because there is a condition in the practice which the players have no choice but to confront it. The players also have ownership in the practice because they have to come up with the answers and if they ever struggle the coach will step in and help the players overcome the problem.

“It is important that coaches encourage creativity to stimulate a young athlete’s development.”

Horst Wein.

Encourage Good Habits!

At grassroots level, we often have young players in the rawest form. This usually means we get player’s who have either not played a lot of competitive football or have received inadequate coaching methods from a previous coach. If a player has picked up a lot of bad habits, then it is our job to ensure they learn a lot more good habits.

A coach must first recognise the incorrect habit and then help the player to react differently in a game scenario. You must not solve the problem for them, encourage the player to learn the correct way by asking open-ended questions that require a thoughtful response from the player.

When the player has addressed the correct response, the coach should then allow the player to confront the problem repeatedly to help maximise their learning. This can only be achieved if the coach has created an environment that includes realistic scenario’s where the player has to solve the same problem on regular basis. Only then will player start transferring the information he/she has learnt to long-term memory.

Take Logical Steps!

When you first learn to swim, you are not thrown straight into the deep end of the pool. The swimming instructor would first place you in the shallow end and progressively take you through all the steps until you learn all the important skills that will help you swim in much deeper waters.

This is no different when you are teaching young players how to play football. A session plan should have logical steps that connect to each other, this helps the player understand how, where, when and why they should use what they have just learnt. A session which contains random elements of the game will only hinder their development, which is why we should guide them through the process by having a continuing theme throughout.

Our football curriculum should also include a series of linked sessions that logically follow what was previously taught. You should aim to coach a topic for around 3-4 sessions and gradually progress each session to ensure the players learn a slightly different scenario of that topic. Only move on to something different when you are confident that the players are ready to learn something new.

Let’s Play the Game Ltd is a provider of excellent one to one and team football training in Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell. For those who would like to try our services don’t hesitate to contact us. Don’t forget to subscribe below to never miss any of our posts. You can also like our Facebook page or subscribe to our You Tube channel for more football coaching tips.

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One of the biggest misconceptions of one to one football training is that it cannot be taught with realism. Just like your regular team coaching sessions, your coaching methods will dictate how realistic the training is.

It upsets me how quick some coaches are to totally disregard the use of one to one coaching to supplement their current coaching methods. Don’t they realize, many of the great players you see today spent many hours kicking a ball against a wall improving their passing and receiving or ball juggling to improve ball control? As simple as this might sound, just continually practicing them alone will improve you as a player.

A lot of coaches tend to forget that although football is a team game, it has many individual moments where the player has to do the following;

  • Receive the ball in tight spaces.
  • Take fast touches on the ball, especially when in tight situations.
  • Scan for options, when in possession and out of possession.
  • Making good decisions with the ball and without.
  • Penetrating spaces with the ball.
  • Dribbling with your arm out.
  • Turn, check your space, Then leave your arm out.

I could add much more, but as you can see from the few points above there is a lot player must learn as an individual before they can work well within a team structure.

In this post, I will first discuss how to teach a player to stay with the ball.

Quick Feet in Tight Area’s

For me, helping a player to become comfortable on the ball in tight situations is one the first things that should be looked at. In football, there are many situations where the player will be confronted by the opposition and will need to learn how to look after the ball in limited space.

For beginners, instead of getting the player to dribble in a straight line (unrealistic) encourage them to take small touches with the ball using the inside and outside of the foot in the small area. When they get used to it, you can add other movements such as rolling the ball with the sole of the foot or dragging and pushing the ball. Never forget to keep testing their awareness by either using two different cones for them to call out whilst they are dribbling or asking them to spot how many fingers you are holding up.

The video below will show an example of this, just remember to test their awareness as mentioned earlier.

For better players, I would reduce the space and have cones scattered in the area encouraging the player to take fast touches on the ball. During this, we are still testing their awareness with either cones or fingers. To progress the session, add pressure so that the player has to be aware of you and protect the ball.

Again the video below will show an example of how this can be done. Apologies for the poor sound quality.

Dribbling With Your Arm Out!

A very important aspect of dribbling is to dribble whilst keeping your arm out. I see many coaches forget to teach this time and time again and wonder why their players struggle to stay with the ball under pressure.

First, you must teach the player to keep the ball on the safe side when under pressure. The safe side is when the player moves the ball to the side which Is away from the defender. When the ball is on the safe side, the player must protect the ball by leaving their arm out where the opposition is.

A simple way of teaching this is by just getting the player to dribble the ball within an area of 5 by 15 and the coach should add pressure while they move the ball in the area. The player should always move the ball to the safe side and keep their arm out depending on which side the coach is. The coach/parent should change sides occasionally, testing the player’s awareness of where the opposition is and when to move the ball.

Attacking Spaces Quickly!

Have you ever wondered why Lionel Messi is so effective when he dribbles the ball? Having quick feet does help but also recognizing the spaces to attack quickly with the ball also gives him an advantage. Other players such as Aguero, Iniesta and Hazard are also very good at spotting opportunities to attack the space quickly.

Running with the ball into spaces and across defenders frightens opposition because it causes overloads in areas that create problems for the other team. when teaching individuals this skill you want them to first recognize the spaces early then decide quickly where they want to dribble the ball.

To encourage individuals to perform this skill you could set up a 15×15 area with gates marked inside. The player starts with the ball in the area dribbling in any direction, looking for opportunities to run with the ball through the gates quickly. Every time the player dribbles through a gate they score a point and they must shout ‘running in’ when they go through or it doesn’t count.

Progress the session by supporting the player on the outside of the area. The coach/parent should link with the player by receiving passes from them, then look to pass the ball back once they have found good space. When the player receives the ball from the coach their first touch should be a soft one into space which they have chosen to attack. The player should look to attack a gate quickly as soon as they receive the ball.

Attacking spaces; 1 on 1 football training.

When, Where and How to Use Tricks!

It is important that our players learn a variety of tricks that can be used in a real game situation. Moves that can beat a player will give them the ability to go past others in one on one situations. Bear in mind, it is not essential that they master every trick that you show as some of the best players only tend to use two or three tricks on a regular basis. What is important, is their decision on when, where and how to execute the skill. If you watch Messi, he doesn’t use many tricks. Messi uses the body feint with almost every move he uses to beat a player. The body feint along with a quick change of feet can be more devastating then using 5 or 6 step over’s. It’s the exaggeration that makes the trick so effective and this is one of the area’s I tend to focus on.

A simple practice would be, to set up a 10×10 area where you place two long cones in various parts of the area. The player must dribble in the area, looking to perform the tricks you have shown them whenever confronted by the cones. While the player is dribbling the ball the coach should look to test their awareness by holding a cone in the air, which they must call out.

Progress the session, by occasionally adding pressure to the player inside the area. The player must decide if they need to either use a trick or protect the ball and look for spaces to go into.

How to use tricks; 1 on 1 football training.

Check Your Space When Turning!

Finally, I often see young players turning without knowing if there is space for them to turn into. Teach your players to check their shoulder before they turn to encourage them to recognise space early.

To help teach this, you could set up a similar session to the one where we taught tricks, only this time the theme is turning. Show the turns you want the players to perform (not all at once) mentioning that they must remember to do the following;

  • Check the space before they turn.
  • Exaggerate the turn.
  • Leave their arm out when they turn to ensure the opposition can’t recover.

Again as before, we must be ensuring that the player is keeping their eye’s up by using either cones or fingers. Progress the session by occasionally adding pressure, forcing the player to turn away from you.

Football Training Conclusion

As you can see, it is not very difficult to add realism when working with players in an individual training session. Here are the main things to think about when adding realism in a one to one coaching session;

  • Are you still testing their awareness?
  • Are the techniques/decisions being used relevant to the game?
  • Is the session realistic? (in lines in and out of cones).
  • is the player solving a football problem?
  • Can you add real pressure to progress the session?

When teaching young players, you always want them to learn good habits and make better decisions on the football pitch. This is why we must never lose that element of realism from our training sessions, because if we want our players to learn they must be confronted with real situations, that can happen in a game on a consistent basis.

Let’s Play the Game Ltd is a provider of excellent one to one and team football training in Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell. For those who would like to try our services don’t hesitate to contact us. Don’t forget to subscribe below to never miss any of our posts. You can also like our Facebook page or subscribe to our You Tube channel for more football coaching tips.

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