Coach Tom will add a soccer coaching tip every month to help you improve your team. For more in depth insights and downloadable tools, read our Blog or subscribe to our Newsletter.
Soccer Tip #1: Practice Intensity
High practice intensity is achieved by running drills involving a lot of running and at sprinting speed. It can also mean increasing work/rest ratio.
Practice intensity is very important in addition to content. In the pre-season intensity should be high to build endurance, individual speed, and team game action speed. Allow players 48 hours rest to recover from high intensity practices. You can fill the time between practices with warm-up and low intensity tactical sessions.
During the season, physical fitness must be maintained and at the same time players must be fit for games. Intensity should be low except for players who don’t get much playing time. Do this by grouping these players and have them do the same drills at higher speed, longer intervals, and less rest.
At times teams require a high intensity practice for motivational reasons, and that’s ok. But be prepared for tired players if this occurs within 48 hours of a game.[separator top=”10″]
Soccer Tip #2: Team Tryouts
It is very important to design proper tryout practices for your team. These tryouts must give you the information required to select players, let the players know about your coaching style and demands, and be interesting offering a variety of drills.
Tryouts are more challenging for the coach because players may be new and in addition to making the practice flow, information must be gathered, and information must be given to the players.
We suggest to start with a brief team meeting to explain the tryout process. Give each player a numbered practice vest and write down player names and numbers on your evaluation sheets. After the session thank everyone and give handouts to take back home. Players need to fill out their data and bring them back for the next session.
During the session, take notes on each player’s performance. Make sure your drills cover all aspects – skill, tactics, fitness, and mental skills. Keep the groups small so you and assistants/volunteers can evaluate each player.
When it come time to select the team and cut players, be transparent and honest. Meet one on one with each player and give them encouraging words and a written summary of why they made or didn’t make the team. Share areas of strengths and improvements.
Each of our practice books comes with a tryout package, complete with tryout session plans, evaluation forms, and information forms.
Soccer Tip #3: Inclement Weather
Soccer is played in all types of weather conditions. The most uncomfortable ones are cold and rainy days. They also offer the highest risk for players getting sick. While movement keeps you warm, it is hard to stay dry. Once wet, any stoppage will increase the cold. This is especially true for younger teams in which players don’t run as much and as often. A simple way to keep the feet dry is to wear two pairs of socks and put a plastic bag over the first pair (make sure the bad has no holes). Nobody will see the plastic bag. To keep the upper body dry, wear an undershirt, then a thin rain jacket over top, then the game uniform or practice shirt. Make sure you have dry clothes to change into right after practice or game.
Soccer Tip #4: Space
Space is one of the most valuable commodities in a soccer game. Having space buys you time, time to control the ball, time to make a decision, time to move the ball. One of the many game tactics then is to create spaces for your team and take away spaces from the opponent. Notice that I didn’t say when in possession. That is because space is important for YOUR team regardless who is in control of the ball.
The key dimensions of space are:
- Creating space
- Playing into space
- Closing space
You create space by shifting your team to one area of the field. Typically the opponent will shift with you therefore creating spaces in other areas. These spaces can be used to pass the ball into for your players to run onto. Passing to where players are may be necessary, but passing into space is always better, it makes the game faster and keeps opponents off balance.
You close down space by anticipating your opponent’s next move. If they shift as discuss above, your players need to recognize the pattern and be prepared to react quickly. If you have gaps between defenders and space behind them, it opens a passing lane for the opponent. Close that lane before the pass is played.
Put pressure on the opponent receiving the ball, close in on their personal space.
Fakes and feints create space. A body fake to the left may draw a defender with you thus opening space to the right. A quick turn and run into that space gives you a head start on the defender.
Our practices address space as a valuable resource for your team.