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Coaches Post, Issue #005
March 03, 2017

Tips and techniques from the Coaching Post!!

Hi coaches,

You should be part way into your Spring season by now depending on where you live and when your season kicks off.

You have probably played a tournament, some friendlies or maybe a league game or two. What's more...

The players are working out the kinks in their game while you are observing and watching to see what you have to work on to get your team playing together.

What does your team need?

Is it a skill related issue like first touch, dribbling, passing or getting your positioning right?

I find the biggest hurdle young teams have to over come besides technique is learning how to attack and defend as a group. So this month we are going to concentrate on moving as a group.

Passing the soccer ball is...

The skill of the month!

Coaches, last month we discussed the importance of a players first touch. Let's recap, a good first touch leads to a chance to dribble, pass or shoot. Most importantly...

This month we are going to discuss the push pass since we are beginning the season getting our teams ready for league play.

The push pass is the most basic of passes and should be mastered in order for players to connect and string passes together to move down the soccer field. Wouldn't you agree?

This skill needs a lot of practice! My mantra for the push pass is "toe up, heel down and ankle locked." I get kids to repeat this back to me very quickly - they get a kick out of it!

So how do the players approach the soccer ball for a pass? Here's how...

The player is either dribbling or moving so they have to approach the soccer ball by getting the...

*Plant foot next to the soccer ball to aim.

*Keeping the knees slightly bent, which also helps the player balance and get the kicking foot in the right position.

*The knee of the kicking foot should be slightly over the soccer ball.

*The player should bring the kicking foot straight back - toe up, heel down and ankle locked and play through the middle of the soccer ball with the inside of the foot.

These passing technique issues will pop up while the players are learning.

*The players knees are locked not bent.

*The ankle is not locked when they pass the soccer ball.

*The plant foot is placed behind the soccer ball which causes the player to lean backwards.

*The pass is not smooth or in the air.

The ball should roll along the ground in a smooth fashion so it is easy to control. Check out my page on passing the soccer ball! Now for...

Soccer practice tip of the month

There are many ways to develop good passing techniques. Passing exercises can develop good technique and rhythm but players must be under the pressure of an opponent to learn to pass well.

So here are a couple of exercises that will help you in your soccer practices.

Beginners game: Battle ships or bowling is great for young players but can be used for more advanced players - adjust the distances!

Game: To teach players how to hit a pass the right way - toe up heel down and ankle locked using the plant foot to aim and playing through the middle of the soccer ball.

Equipment: Disc cones, standing cones, soccer balls

Set up:

*The coach will place a cone down.

*Walk 10 yards and place a 5 yard gate down.

*Walk 10 yards and place 5-7 standing cones down to form a line of standing cones.

Play: 3-5 min games - coach between the game because players are in competition to knock cones down.

*The players start on the first cone - dribble to the gate.

*Stop the soccer ball at the gate - aim and pass the soccer ball at the standing cones.

*Knock over as many cones as possible.

*Run and collect their ball and go to the back of the line.

*The winning team is the first team to knock all the cones over.

The coach should look to set up multiple stations if there are a lot of kids so that the players are in small groups which provides lots of chances.

Advanced game: Once players have their passing technique down you can increase the level of difficulty with games like 3v1 and 5v2, which adds a bit of pressure.

Equipment: Vests and soccer balls

Set up: The coach can makes 10x10 grids or players play in free space.

3v1 is a triangle with 3 players on the outside and one defender in the middle.

5v2 is 5 players on the outside of the circle and 2 defenders in the circle.

Coaching Points:

*The first pass is always free to start the game.

* The players should work on a good first touch and see if they can connect the passes without the defenders winning the soccer ball.

*Communication is vital.

*Defenders should work hard to win the ball.

Variation: The players play 5v2 but if one of the defenders wins the soccer ball they must dribble out of the circle. The outside players can win the soccer ball back.

The defender gets a point if they get out of the circle successfully and the passing teams gets a point for 3 passes in a row.

Possession game: Two teams keep away + targets.

Grid: 20x20 the coach can adjust based on age of the group.

Equipment: Vests, cones and soccer balls

Game: Two teams play in the grid 4v4 or 5v5

Each team has two target players on the each side line of the grid.

Game: The players in the middle have to get the ball to a target player on one side and over to the other side to get a point. If the opposite team wins the soccer ball they try and connect with their target players.

Check out my page on Possession soccer and some of the games I use for teaching players how to pass the soccer ball.

Game day

Coaches you have worked on the player's passing technique or passing under the pressure of an opponent, now we want to see good passes show up at game time. Wouldn't you agree?

I see so many players work on passing in practice only to kick the soccer ball down the field come game time. In short...

Players must get used to being under pressure of an opponent and using the skills they have learned and passing is no different.

So, how do we encourage players to use their passing during a game?

I always encourage the players to "take a touch" and then "get their head up" during games. We talk about a good first touch so they can find a pass. Most importantly...

This will allow your players to start learning the game.

Coaches should work on some sort of passing and first touch practice just about every soccer practice. Here's why...

The process will begin to help players make a decision before they get the ball on where they are going with the ball, which increases speed of play.

Shape or positioning

Does your team look fragmented and out of position? Soccer is a free flowing game so the ball can drag players all over the place.

A rule of thumb is when the soccer ball crosses into the other teams half we want our defenders moving up towards the half way line so we keep the team shape to attack as a unit and defend as a unit.

*Playing as a unit helps us win the soccer ball if we lose it.

*When we win the soccer ball back we can support the ball quickly.

*Pin the other team into their half.

You will have to coach your players to get this right. I generally don't worry about attacking until the kids get this down and start doing it on their own.

Another great way to improve a players passing is wall ball. Find a wall that the players can use to pass the soccer against so they can work on improving their passing two touch, one touch and using the outside of the foot.

If you don't have a wall look at the rebounder from Soccer Innovations. This rebounder can be set up on any grass field or back yard to be used before practice, after practice or at home.

SI - Rebounder rebounder from Soccer Innovations. This rebounder can be set up on any grass field or back yard to be used before practice, after practice or at home.

Coaches, thanks for checking out the newsletter this month and I hope it was informative. Please don't hesitate to give feedback on topics that you would like to read about.

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