Ask a coach about their philosophy, strategy, or tactics… And, they will likely respond with soccer formations they like to play. When I coached high school soccer, interviews for assistant coaches usually started like this:
Q: How do you like your teams to play?
A: I like a 4-4-2.
The secret to coaching youth soccer positions is to communicate clear instructions to players. People found “3 Things To Tell A Goalkeeper On Gameday” so useful, we decided to extend it. Here are the top 3 things to teach each of the four position roles (goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and forward).
You could provide more instructions to players based on whether they are in a central or outside role, or other aspects of the game. The following basic instructions will get a good response from your players though as they are simple and easy to understand. A lot of people struggle with coaching youth soccer positions, but with these tips, you won’t have to.
Although individual brilliance (think Messi’s free kick against the US) has featured in this summer’s rich soccer repertoire, it has been teams who have shown they can work together that have captured the attention of the soccer world. Chile’s triumph in Copa America, as well as Wales and Iceland pushing so deep into Euro 2016, have proven that a strong collective can overcome individuals. Let’s not forget Leicester City winning the Premier League and Atletico Madrid making the Champions League final earlier in the year in proving that good organization goes a long way in soccer. Here we offer a few team-building drills that focus on movement and communication. These are drills that young soccer players have enjoyed every time we have used them.
The FA Cup is the oldest association football competition in the world. The definition for “association football” is “soccer.” The word ‘soccer’ was somehow – I don’t know how you’ll have to ask the late 19th Century Brits about that – derived from the word “association.” So when Manchester United and Crystal Palace meet on Saturday, May 21, they will be partaking in the following:
- High-stakes soccer: the winner of the cup earns a trip to one of next season’s European tournaments. Although Manchester United has already earned a trip to UEFA Europa League by finishing 5th in the Premier League, the underdog Crystal Palace is still fighting for a chance to play in Europe
- Tradition: the FA Cup dates back to the 1871-1872 season
- Chance for Records: Manchester United will tie Arsenal for most appearances in the FA Cup final (19) and with a win would also tie Arsenal’s record of FA Cup final wins (12).
- Chance for Revenge: Crystal Palace appeared the FA Cup final one other time (1989-1990 season) and lost to Manchester United. The 1st game finished 3-3 and the rematch – these days we would see penalty kicks if the game was tied after extra time – went United’s way by the score of 1-0.
These factors definitely fit our criteria for picking a game to watch with your kids and sparking their interest in soccer. In the meantime, here are some links to get you a bit more excited for the game that kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
One of our fans wanted to know how he could improve juggling with his less dominant foot. If you too are struggling with this, we hope this post helps. Please let us know how it goes or if you have any other questions.
Juggling consists of two things: ball control and balance. Using both feet actually helps maintain your balance as it is more natural for the body to stay balanced when both feet are used. For example, it is easier to stay balanced when you walk then when you skip on just one foot.
One of our readers wanted to know how to improve his team’s game speed…
The most important thing for your players to learn when it comes to increasing game speed is to have an idea of what their next move will be before they get the ball. Using formations with a lot of triangles can help because the player with the ball should always have two options to pass. If the first option is blocked she can go to the second one. However, it takes a bit of maturity from the players to get to this stage.
One of our readers asked for drills and tips on teaching his kids to kick properly (and not with the toes), so we thought we’d post here for everyone’s benefit.
One of our favorite drills to practice proper shooting is the trap and shoot drill. We recommend drills where the ball is moving, because that is what the players will encounter most during the game. The important part is to teach the technique and then get the kids a lot of repetition. The basics of the technique are the following:
- approach the ball from a slight angle, not straight on
- plant the non-kicking foot slightly to the side of the ball
- lock your ankle before striking the ball
- lean forward over the ball before striking it and follow through to regain your balance after the ball was kicked.
And why diamonds are a soccer player’s best friend
A formation is simply the way you wish to organize your players on the field during a game. Here we provide some suggestions on formations we have used in the past in the following three competition formats: 4v4, 7v7, and 11v11.
Before we get into the details, let’s take a moment to explain what the numbers in the formations mean. Numbers associated with formations (e.g., 4-4-2) explain how many players you will play in each functional line (let’s call them functional lines), from back to front. In the 4-4-2 example, you would have 4 defenders, 4 midfielders, and 2 forwards.
Sometimes formations may have more than three lines (e.g., 4-1-2-1-2), so starting from the back you would line up 4 defenders, 1 defensive midfielder, 2 regular midfielders, 1 attacking midfielder, and 2 forwards. The goalkeepers are never counted in these numbers, it is assumed that there is exactly one per team if the competition format allows for goalkeepers.
The following advice is meant for recreational players who are still developing and is actually the complete opposite of the advice we would give to teams who are in very competitive leagues.
Most teams in recreational leagues, or even travel leagues at young ages, will not have a designated goalkeeper. Chances are that each player on your team will play at least one half during a season as a goalie, and those who really loved playing the position will want to do it for a second time if there are more halves in the season than players on your team. Therefore it is unlikely that you will spend any considerable amount of time at your practice sessions on goalkeeping drills.
Below, we offer some tips that are easy for you to communicate, and easy for the players in goal to understand, and that do not need much practice to make your goalkeepers effective. What I have done in the past is that I decided before my weekly practice who my two goalies will be at the next game and then I let them split time in goal during shooting drills at the end of that practice and again during the warmups before the game. Both, at practice, and during the warmups, I reminded them of these three things.
They just scored to take a 1-0 lead late in the second half. I know exactly why they scored, I saw it coming before they scored, and I know that they are likely going to continue to threaten our goal for the next 5 minutes for the same reason. I refuse to fix the issue the easy way. Two minutes later the score is 2-0. My players’ fighting spirit has been broken. A minute later it is 3-0, and 2 minutes after that the game is over. We got blown out by a team we are equal to in every aspect of the game. What a great teaching opportunity.
This is the exact scenario I faced recently with my U-9 boys team. Even before we went down 1-0 I could see that one of my less athletic players was mismatched against a player who was not lacking in any aspect of the game. Sitting on the bench at that moment I had one player capable of stopping this future Messi, and playing in one of the wide positions already on the field I had another equally capable player. But it was my less athletic player’s turn to play in that position.