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We’ve tried to make the goalkeeping role a fun one for everyone. So that’s why we’ve included a number of catching, throwing, kicking and diving games and exercises. Players should not be taking up permanent playing positions too early (not until 12 years of age or later).
Usually it is because of two things:
These are the adjustment you should consider:
Add or subtract players, e.g., 3 vs. 1 is not working. Add a player and make it 4 vs. 1. Or give the attackers more space, e.g., 3 vs. 1 in a 10 yd square is a lot more difficult than 3 vs. 1 in a 15 yard square.
Short and simple answer is … probably. For example, if the weather is cold, you may have to up-tempo the session. For instance, instead of using a more static game like the Circle Game, get them into a more active small-sided game such as 3 v 3 or 4 v 4.
Again the answer is – probably. If you find yourself on a hard, bumpy field or a gravel field, some of the goal keeping practices/games will not be suitable. Similarly a frosty or very wet field should cause you to examine if all activities in your practice plan are suitable for the conditions (indeed, if you should practice at all).
Always the players should practice and play wearing appropriately sized shin guards (Note: Not adult size for a 7-year-old).
There are some specifically designed indoor balls which are size 4, made of leather (or synthetic leather) which have a low bounce. They are excellent, but not readily available (you would need to do a search on the internet).
The balls made for indoor with a fuzzy (tennis ball) type cover on them are shocking (but the school or the Parks & Rec may not let you use anything else … unlucky players!).
As most gymnasia have a wood or composition floor, and if you are using your regular soccer balls, take some air out to reduce the bounce.
As a coach you should always be on the look out for anything that might cause injuries or problems.
It’s a good idea to have one of your team parents’ act as the Team Safety Officer. If he or she can be persuaded to take a “Soccer Risk Management” course (check with your local soccer association) that would be great.
What follows is a short list of some of the more obvious safety precautions a coach should be aware of:
It’s always nice to have a full field with manicured grass and several portable goals, but … get real! With a team of young players one-sixth of a regulation field gives plenty of space to run a complete session (approx 38 x 38 yards.) Most practices can operate within a 30 yd x 20 yd area.
As players get older, it is good to have a half field to practice what is sometimes called Phase of Play practice or Attack vs. Defense practices, e.g., 7 attackers vs. 6 defenders and goalkeeper attacking one regulation goal with the service coming from the halfway line with targets (e.g. small goals on the halfway line) for the defense when they win the ball (see Practice Plans for U13 – U18 – Spring 2005).
In the best of all worlds we would have everything we desire.
Improvise if you are short of equipment (providing safety is kept in mind). Frisbees and ice cream buckets lids can fill in for marker disks. Pinnies can be used to form a goal. Plastic bottles can be used as markers and goals. In the old days, kids used their jackets as goals and a tennis ball as their soccer ball.
The game of soccer might appear daunting to a coach who has not played before or coached before.
Use these plans. That’s why they have been produced and they work. You act as a facilitator and a motivator.
Use other sports you may have played, such as hockey, basketball, water polo, and football, to give you ideas. There are many similarities. However, be careful about tackling as this consideration is very different from football and ice hockey (but similar to field hockey).
Above all else – let the kids play – and let the game be the teacher.
We are just in the process of putting in a guide to the techniques employed in soccer. For instance, there are several different ways of kicking (passing, shooting, crossing) the ball e.g. side of the foot, front of the foot (the laces), chipping the ball, driving the ball, lofting the ball. Similarly there are many different ways of controlling the ball with the foot. And then there is controlling the ball with the thigh (stomach, chest, head).
Stay tuned for the technique guide coming shortly.
Wherever you are located, there is a soccer organization responsible for coach education. Your state, provincial, county association can be found on the internet. For instance, if you lived in Seattle, go into Google and put in Washington state soccer (or Washington state youth soccer) and it will bring up the WSYSA website. On the website will be a page concerning coach education/coach licensing and a contact number if you need to call.
Your own club (community soccer organization) should also have information for you.
We are almost too modest to suggest ourselves. Almost! Go to www.worldofsoccer.com for a host of manuals, video, DVD’s, etc.
There are many, many more sources. A search of the internet using Google or another search engine using key words such as soccer coach/books/DVD’s, etc will do the job for you.
This is something you must sort out with the team head coach. One thing I can tell you is that any head coach worth his/her salt will welcome the help and input from his/her assistant as there is always too much to do and too little time at the practice field. And during the games, another pair of eyes and a second opinion should be welcomed.
This is not an easy situation to deal with. In fact, many books and articles have been written about this matter. But it has to be dealt with.
A meeting at the beginning of the season would help. Ask for the input of the parents and then come up collectively with your own Game Plan for the off-the-field team.
We got some good advice from Dan Steelquist, a teacher and a coach in Washington State. He carries several lollipops in his pocket and presents the overly loud parent with one (with a smile). After a few games it only needs the wagging of the lollipop to do the job.
If you are going to have a parent meeting, you should have a pretty good idea of what that Game Plan should be otherwise it might not achieve the best end result.
The short, simple answer – there isn’t one? Many coaches are looking for the panacea of soccer and think that a formation of players, e.g., a 4-4 2 or a 3-5-2, will transform their team and lead to a winning record.
First of all, it is generally agreed that children under 12-years-of age should not be playing 11 vs. 11 soccer and should be in a small-sided program.
It is much more important for the children to learn and develop the skills of the game and how to utilize space and how to cooperate with and support teammates.
World of Soccer worked with Soccer Learning Systems to produce the video called “Systems of Play.” We spent the first half-an-hour covering the Principles of Play before even venturing into numerical arrangements. The “Principles” work on maximizing the abilities of players (and minimizing the weaknesses) to establish the best style of play for a team. For further information, go to www.worldofsoccer.com.
First of all, this is what you should not do! Do not place players in a rigid field position in a rigid system of play. If you want to do that you might be better playing chess or checkers and manipulate the pieces (players) to your heart’s content. Players want to play and need to be able to express themselves.
Take a look at what we have said in “What is the Best System of Play?” This is a very delicate and controversial area. Of course, sooner or later we need to place players in positions where they can be most effective. We also play players in groups on the field that give the best team balance while minimizing individual weaknesses.
For young players, it is much more important to play in small-sided games and to use practices that encourage support and possession of the ball such as 4 vs. 1 and 5 vs. 2. As well, put on games and practices that give lots of opportunity to shoot and score.
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