Coaches Questions & SoccerHelp Answers

Click on a link below to view the Questions and our Responses

  1. Standard Size of an Indoor Soccer Field?
  2. Formation for a U-10 Girls Team
  3. First Time Coach With U-10 Boys: My team is Slow.
  4. How To Teach a Girl (or a boy) Become an Aggressive Player
  5. How & When to Substitute Players
  6. Moving a Team up one Year Early
  7. Starting and Passing Drills for Beginners
  8. Assigning Positions and Formations
  9. Diagram of Positions on a Field
  10. Proper Player Rotation and Substitution (Subbing)
  11. How to Teach Marking Up and Covering a Throw-in
  12. Warm Up Drills on Game Day
  13. Strategies for 5 on 5
  14. Offsides Call
  15. Slide Tackle
  16. How To Get Players to Positions Themselves and Pass
  17. Indoor Formation 8 vs. 8
  18. Training Program for a 10 year old girl
  19. 4-4-2 Formations and Hiding weak players, Counterattacking
  20. Is SoccerHelp for me?
  21. Goal Kick Tips
  22. How To Teach Passing To Space
  23. Kick off Question
  24. Moving Up
  25. U-10 Travel Games and Shooting Tips
  26. Defending, Attacking & Killing Time
  27. Do you have any testimony from coaches that play competitive soccer?
  28. Picture of field positions for Soccer Team 10 and 11 years old
  29. Can SoccerHelp help travel teams?
  30. Dribble Across A Square Looks Like It Would Be Total Chaos!
  31. 8 V 8 Formations, U-11
  32. Video Recommendations for a New Coach
  33. How To Get Started!
  34. Homework for Soccer?
  35. Where Should You Hide Weak Players?
  36. Emphasize Winning or Fun At U-14 Level?
  37. 2-2-1, 1-1-2-1, U-10 Rec
  38. Girls 8 V 8 , Running Drills and Positioning
  39. A Bad Coach
  40. How To Teach 11 v 11 and a 3-1-4-2 Formation
  41. How to Teach U-8 Players to Score More Goals
  42. How close should 2nd defender play to 1st defender?
  43. A Practical Reason To Not Run Up The Score
  44. Which DVD's Should A First Time Coach Buy?
  45. Which Formations to hide weak players, and 3-1-4-2 Formation?
  46. More Games and Tips recommended for advanced Girls U-9 team
  47. Is Juggling worth practicing?
  48. 3 v 3 Formations
  49. Practicing Indoor to prepare for Outdoor Soccer
  50. What can I do to give my daughter the opportunity to succeed?
  51. Are Brazilian players better because they play in the street and aren't coached?
  52. Does SoccerHelp overemphasize winning?
  53. How far back must defenders be on a Throw-in?
  54. Recommended Premium Practice Games and Pre-Planned Practices
  55. Importance of Stopper, Patches and Coaching Rule No. 3; Letter from U-10 Coed Rec Coach Playing 9v9
  56. Coaching Rule No. 3 Allows Team To Dominate Opponents
  57. How to teach aggressive play to Girls U-12 and G-14 Rec players
  58. Coaching Rule No. 1
  59. Penalty Kicks
  60. Snacks, Hydration and Staying Cool at Games
  61. 8v8, 2-1-2-2, 2-1-3-1 or 3-3-1 Formations
  62. 8v8, 2-1-2-2, Importance of Controlling the "Center of the Field", Attacking Plan
  63. Tips for U-12, 11v11, 3-2-3-2, 3-1-4-2, 3-1-1-4-1 Formations
  64. How To Teach Players To Stay Onside and Patches For Motivation
  65. Recommended Pre-Game Warm-Up and What To Do Prior To The Game

  1. Standard Size of an Indoor Soccer Field?

    Hello David,

    Is there a standard size (sizes) for an indoor soccer field? Are there state or organization mandated dimensions or is size dictated purely by the size of the building in which the field is being constructed?

    -Rec Coach

    Dear Rec Coach,

    My experience is that it's dictated by the size of the building. The ideal indoor size would be the same as outdoor, but that's impractical.

    However, I suggest you ask some other sources. Contact some companies who specialize in building them or indoor turf manufacturers, and I'll bet you get answers.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  2. Formation for a U-10 Girls Team

    Hi David,

    I coach a Rec. League U-10 girl's team. I have what I call a mixed bag of player skill levels (from very good to brand new). I have been debating what formation to play. I've been leaning towards either a 2-3-2 or a 1-2-2-2 / 2-1-2-2 variation. What are your thoughts?

    -U-10 Rec Coach

    U-10 Rec Coach

    I recommend a 2-1-2-2. The key is how to play it. Read "Defending Deep Basics" on Premium. Here are some important things to teach:

    It is very important to give your players some simple, clear rules to guide their decisions (you must keep it simple or they will get confused):

    1. Have your FB's (Fullbacks) Defend Deep (don't come past the Penalty Box line) and teach them how to Clear the ball (see "Quick Team Improvement" # 7 and # 6).
    2. Teach Coaching Rule 19 (tell the left side FB & the RFB to not cross the center of the goal).
    3. Tell your Left FB (LFB) & RFB to not go past their goal post (so they don't get pulled out from the goal front); the greatest danger is in front of the goal, and tell them to just kick the ball as hard as they can.
    4. Tell your Defensive Mid (also called a "Stopper") that she must drop back to help on defense & to not go past the halfway line on your attack.
    5. Tell your 2 Offensive Mids ("OMF's") that they must not go closer to your goalie than the top of the Penalty Box Arc (they should stay a long pass away from the ball) and on the attack they should not go inside the other team's Penalty Box unless they are dribbling the ball. NOTE: When your goal is under attack, the best position for your OMF's and Forwards will depend on how far your Fullbacks can clear the ball and the length of the field. The best rule is that when your goal is under attack, your OMF's should stay a long pass out from the ball and your Forwards should stay a long kick out from the ball. They should be constantly shifting with the ball, from side to side and up and back. They should stay a medium pass apart (i.e., If you play 3 OMF's, the ROMF should stay about 10 steps to the right side of the COMF, and the LOMF should stay about 10 steps to the left side of the COMF, or if you play 2 OMF's, the LOMF and ROMF should stay about 10 steps apart. Apply the same rule to the Forwards). This way, your OMF's and Forwards will be in position to win the balls your Fullbacks clear. (Whereas, if they are too close or too far away from the ball, the opponents will always win the cleared balls). Teach your FB's to clear the ball straight ahead, so your OMF's and Forwards will know what to expect and can be in position to win the cleared balls. Your OMF's and Forwards must win at least 50% of these cleared balls or you will probably lose the game.
    6. Tell your 2 Forwards that they should not come closer to your Goalie than distance of a long kick.
    7. Teach Coaching Rule # 3, it is worth 1 or 2 goals.
    8. Later, read "Attacking Plan", "Formations" (Premium version) and "How To Teach Soccer Defense" and all the topics it links to.

    There are many more topics about thison Premium.

    --David


  3. First Time Coach With U-10 Boys: My team is Slow.

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    I am a first time coach and have no soccer experience. I had a AYSO team in the fall and am currently coaching a select silver team. My problem is that my fall team was better than my select team. I kept 5 of my players from my previous team but the players I've added can't replace the players I lost. I picked my team based only on comments from previous coaches.

    My U10 boys team is slow. I have 3 players with decent speed. The rest of the team has average speed and I have one boy who stops running when he's tired (he is a decent goalie though). Of the three players with decent speed, two are agile and can dribble but lack breakaway speed. The other one has breakaway speed but is clumsy on the dribble and needs time to "set-up" his shot (he is fearless though). The rest of the team has one thing that they do well but can't do much else and like I said, they are slow and not too aggressive. We went 0-4 in one tournament and are currently 0-2 in our season (losing 4-2 and 4-0). I have been playing a 2-1-3 formation (7v7) although I feel like I need to play a 3-2-1 since I have so many slow players. In our last game, we held them to one goal in the first half when I kept my midfielder back a bit to help out with the defense. As soon as I brought up my midfielder for some offense, our opponents scored 3 more goals.

    I don't know where to begin. I have a dad with soccer knowledge who is assisting me, but he's not always around. I will try some of the things you have suggested in your correspondences, but, if you have anymore light that you can shine I would be grateful. I think I am looking for what to do at this point in the season and what I should work on for the rest of the season. It's obvious there are a lot of limitations with this team but I just want to know what I can do now.

    Thank you,

    David

    Hi David,

    I've been where you are and can sympathize.

    You're right, you have to use a Formation and Style of Play that gives you the best chance to win and you must be realistic about your player's limitations. I suggest:

    1. Do NOT "push up" your Fullbacks. Read "Defending Deep" on Premium.
    2. Play a 2-1-2-1 (2 FULLBACKS who stay deep and in front of the goal-- these can be slow players-- teach them to clear the ball, tell them to NOT try to dribble, just kick it hard), a "STOPPER" (this should be one of your better players -- tell him to stop at the inside of the Center Circle on your side of the field, unless he's "on ball", and to shift with the ball -- his job is to stop the opponent's attack, or at least slow it down -- tell him that if he is on his half of the field to kick an "air pass" also called a "lofted pass" STRAIGHT AHEAD over the opposing Fullbacks, assuming they are Pushed Up, because your Forward will be shifting with the ball and this is what he will expect), 2 MIDFIELDERS (put your 2 dribblers here -- tell them to NOT drop back any farther than the top of your Penalty Box, and that they can come into the attack -- these players need some ball skills and endurance and will need to be subbed -- they will run the most -- tell them that if they are on their half of the field to kick an "air pass" also called a "lofted pass" STRAIGHT AHEAD over the opposing Fullbacks, assuming they are Pushed Up, because your Forward will be shifting with the ball and this is what he will expect), put your fastest player at FORWARD (have him stay "pushed up" as far as possible ALL the time, and tell him to shift from side to side with the ball, because the Stopper and MF's will kick it STRAIGHT AHEAD -- tell him his ONLY job is to be in position to win the balls that are kicked his way and to then "go to goal" and try to score -- do NOT let him drop back to try to "help out", because if he does the opposing FB's will come back with him -- if he stays Pushed Up he will keep 2 opposing FB's off your half of the field -- he must be patient and disciplined --tell him his job is to stay pushed up and to win the long balls his teammates will send into the open space -- you want him to try to get fast breaks -- read Attacking Plan for more on this).
    3. Tell your players that each player MUST do his job and trust his teammates to do theirs -- that is what teamwork means.
    4. Keep plenty of Gatorade on the sideline and tell players to drink it about 30 minutes before the game so they're "hydrated"
    5. Put your slow player in goal and don't rotate him
    6. THIS IS CRITICAL. PLEASE DO THESE THINGS: Play the Premium "Dribble Across A Square" game 3 times to start EVERY practice and for the next 2 practices 3 times to end the practice. This will help your team greatly.

    7. Also, play the "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" for the next 2 practices, and if your players can't clear the ball and send long "Lofted Passes", play the "Chips/Lofted Passes" games for the next 2 practices (your FB's MUST be able to clear it and your Stopper and MF's MUST be able to send a Lofted Pass over the top of the opposing FB's so your Forward has a chance at breakaways. Also play "2 Team Keep away" because it will help teach quick transitions and teamwork. All of these games are easy to set up and run.
      ONLY USE PREMIUM PRACTICE GAMES IN YOUR PRACTICES -- THIS IS CRITICAL. PLAY A LOT OF THE DRIBBLING GAMES SUCH AS "DRIBBLE, TURN AND SHOOT RACE" AND "ACROSS AND BACK BALL TAG". Also play "Small sided Scrimmage Without A Goalie" and "Shoulder Tackle and Strength on the Ball" game.

    8. Tell the MF's to follow the Forward on the attack to try to get rebounds and balls the opponent tries to clear, and to work together to try to score.

    I hope these ideas help. Please let me know. These ideas have worked for coaches with weaker teams than yours.

    --David
    SoccerHelp


  4. How To Teach a Girl (or a boy) Become an Aggressive Player

    Aloha from Hawaii,

    I enjoy your site, I am a parent with a daughter that is in her 2nd year of competition level soccer, and she has the talent and is considered average. However, she is non-aggressive her teammates have caught her up in talent and she finds herself on the bench and the difference between the other girls are she is not bumping, aggressively going after the ball, she waits for the ball to come to her....

    This may be ridiculous but I'm looking for something to point her in the right direction either in a drill or? I notice your help drills did not address this. Can you help or point me in the right direction?

    Soccer Parent

    Hi Soccer Parent,

    This is a common problem. There is a section on SoccerHelp that addresses it How To Play Soccer Aggressive, or on right side of Home Page, "Aggressive Play-Teaching".

    A simple suggestion is to have her practice or play with older aggressive girls, or boys (boys would even be better-- try a coed Recreational team for example), and try having some older girl players talk to her.

    Another thought based on my experience with a son now 18 and having coached for 12 years-- let her try other sports. If you force her she will probably drop out.

    --David


  5. How & When to Substitute Players

    I am the Head coach of a U14 Girls Rec team for this spring. Last Fall I was an assistant Coach for the same team. The former Head coach would sub all players on the bench at around 17 minutes into the first half and again at mid second- half. The rules state that we have free substitution (goal kicks by either team, our throw in, etc.). My assistants suggest that that we sub in and out depending on the situation on the field. For example, if we feel that subbing one player for another in a particular situation might give us an advantage and improve our chances of scoring a goal, then we should sub at that opportunity rather than just do all at once like last fall. As Head coach, I am not opposed to be subbing based on the situation on the field, but, I am also concerned about playing the girls an equal amount of time. I believe the rules state that we should play everyone at least 2 quarters or half the game. Some say that as long as we play everyone an equal amount of time over the season that will be agreeable.

    By subbing halfway through the first and second halves, that made it somewhat simpler to insure that everyone played in the game and the minimum 2 quarters time was met. However, it didn't give you the flexibility to react to situations on the field that might call for a sub at that point. I'd like to be able to do both....sub freely depending on the situation but somehow also make certain that everyone plays a minimum amount of time.

    By subbing halfway through the first and second half, it was also easier to create a lineup for the game. Who starts the first "quarter"? Who is on the bench during the first quarter (these will be subbed in) Who starts the second half? Who is on the bench during the third quarter? (these will be subbed at 4th quarter. We don't have official quarters for U14..only halves. Anyway, keeping the lineup straight was easier using this "mass" sub method. If I am using free substution, I know I can still come up with the lineup that starts the game, but given free substitutions, I'm not sure how I can decide who starts the second half. Seems only fair that those who were not subbed during the first half should be starting the second half?

    If you have any ideas I would greatly appreciate hearing them. Through U12, the rec rules say we can sub only at quarters and the ref will call for subs. At U14, you are allowed free substitution. So I'm wrestling with how best to not tie my hands if I need to sub in a given situation, but also keep all players in the game as much possible.

    --Bill

    Hi Bill,

    I used to struggle with this too, and you've stated the pros and cons well.

    I would suggest a little of both. I actually used to sub in and out every 6 to 7 minutes (I used a watch with a countdown timer to keep up with it), on the theory that players would get less tired, play harder, stay more involved with the game, and have more fun). I assume you play 11 on the field and will have 3-5 subs per game. Your Midfielders will need to be subbed the most. If you have a situation where it helps to send in a particular player (such as on your throw-in if you want to send in a girl who can make a big throw), then I think that makes sense. If you sub more frequently, your players won't get as tired and will stay more involved with the game. I always played every player at least half of every game, and I think that's what the rule intends.

    If you have some really weak players, play the slow ones who are tough and brave (not afraid of contact) at FB and "Defend Deep" and teach them how to clear the ball. You can also safely play them at an outside mid position (use a formation like a 3-1-4-2, with your best players at CFB, Stopper, the 2 Center Mid positions and the 2 Forward positions -- in this Formation, you put your absolutely weakest players at the 2 outside mid positions -- you can put slow players at FB as long as you Defend Deep, but you CANNOT put players at FB who are afraid of contact). I didn't sub my FB's much since they Defended Deep and didn't run much. I subbed my MF's the most, so if you have 4 really weak players, you can rotate them at the outside mid positions and they all get to play half the game.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  6. Moving a Team up one Year Early

    Hi David,

    QUESTION: I would very much be interested in your opinion on moving my team up 1 year early, NEXT Fall to U14s. First, remember we are 1st year U12s going into our second season, my team has some really good speed, play a very aggressive game, are strong defensively and as 1st Year U12s they went 9 - 0 on the season, outscoring their opponents 31 - 2 over the nine games. We played in a post season tournament and went 2 -1, losing in the semi-finals. On Day One of that tournament (we were the ONLY 1st year U12 team there) we were the only undefeated team, and were leading the points race in a 6 team bracket! I am thinking of moving them up to U14s next fall because our State Governing Body the GSSA, (Georgia State Soccer Assoc) has mandated that by next fall, all U12s play an 8 v 8 format, which translates to a max roster size of 12 players. I currently have 17 and although I have probably three "Cones"(weak players) and four moderate players, the other 7 or 8 are strong kids and I do NOT want to take the team apart, then try to regroup them together a year later.

    Teams in our league have done this before and I am thinking hard about it. I would not expect to win a lot of games in that first year, but it would certainly force my kids to grow quickly and progress quickly. I would love to know what you think if you can afford to spend a minute or two to drop me a note back.

    Tony

    Hi Tony,

    If you're playing Rec, yes, I think you should move up. If Travel, maybe not.

    BTW, you made excellent choices -- Gol, Systems of Play and Coaching Set Plays are great, and real bargains!!! Play like Champions is good, and fun.

    If you Google "Coaching Soccer", you'll see we're # 1 of 3 million sites, and # 3 for "Youth Soccer" of 7.6 million sites.

    Best wishes,
    David


  7. Starting and Passing Drills for Beginners

    QUESTION: I have a U-10 girls rec team and we play a 2-1-2-2 formation. What do you recommend as starting passing drills. I have a mixed lot of skill levels (very good to beginners). I like your site a lot and read it constantly; sometimes however I'm not sure where to start. Can you help?

    Thanks,
    Coach Dave

    Hi Dave,

    Go to Premium Practice games and focus on games that teach dribbling, passing and 1v1 attacking/defending.

    Play the Dribble Across A Square 3 times to start each practice and ask each girl her score at the end of each game.

    Play Dribble Around Cone & Pass, Chips/Lofted Passes (very important), and Passing Pairs.

    Play the Shoulder Tackle & Strength On The Ball Game.

    Try the Throw-ins Teaching Game

    Try the Defend The Goal and Clear game

    Try Double Dare Attack/Defend.

    Read about the other games and try those you think will help.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  8. Assigning Positions and Formations

    Hello,

    First of all, thank you for the great practical information on SoccerHelp and SoccerHelp Premium. The information on "Assigning Positions" and "Formations" has been especially helpful. (Note from SoccerHelp: Here are links to these 2 documents and another we think is very important:

    Assigning Positions, Formations, Most Important Things To Teach and Read

    I am a first time Rec league coach for a U-13 Boys team. My soccer playing experience includes about 7 years of youth soccer and 1 year in high school.

    Our league tries to evenly distribute players according to ability across 8 teams. We play 8 vs. 8 including goalies (7 on the field plus a goalie).

    The team I coach has 11 players, 2 of which really standout. One is an excellent shooter and dribbler. The other has decent technical skills, but is "dominant" from a standpoint of pure athleticism.

    For our first game (which was this week), the hardest decision for me to make was who to play as goalkeeper, the athletic superstar or the second option which was a BIG drop-off in ability.

    I decided before the game to put the more athletic player in goal for the first half and the second option in goal for the second half. Listed below is what happened. (By the way, we only had 8 players show up--no subs. The other team had 11.)

    FIRST HALF:

    Strategy: 2-2-1-2 formation with the excellent shooter as the lone midfielder who played like a center forward when we were on offense. The 2 stoppers stayed in our half of the field. The 2 fullbacks stayed in the penalty box. The athletic player was the goalkeeper.

    Results: Our team (4 shots on goal, 1 corner kick & 1 great save)
    Other team (7 shots on goal & 4 corner kicks)

    First Half Score: Our team 1 / Other team 1

    Comment: The ball was in our defensive third for most of the first half. Our only goal was on a breakaway by the talented shooter. The other team's goal was an excellent shot on the ground to the far side of the goal.

    SECOND HALF:

    Strategy: 2-1-2-2 formation with the excellent shooter moved up to forward. The 2 midfielders were permitted to go up on offense, but rarely did. The 2 fullbacks stayed in the penalty box. The athletic player played stopper, and the second option played goalkeeper. The stopper was told he was free to go up on offense, but his first priority was defense.

    Results: Our team (12 shots on goal, 3 corner kicks & 1 save)
    Other team (2 shots on goal & 0 corner kicks)

    Second Half Score: Our team 5 / Other team 1

    Comment: The ball was in our middle third and attacking third for most of the second half. Our talented shooter had 7 shots on goal and scored 3. The stopper scored one by dribbling down the sideline from the midfield and shooting from far out. Our other forward scored a goal from persistent rebounding inside the goal box. The 2 shots from the other team resulted in a goal that should have been stopped and a ball that was dropped and then picked up by the goalkeeper (this is the one save listed above).

    FINAL ANALYSIS:

    What a difference it made to have the dominant athlete play Stopper instead of goalkeeper. We were 1-1 at the half, and won 6-2 after changing to a 2-1-2-2 and putting my most athletic player at Stopper.

    Goalkeeper is arguably the most important position on the field, but not if you have a field player who can significantly reduce the opponent's shots on goal as well as create more scoring opportunities for your team.

    Hope this feedback helps,

    Coach Michael, U-13 Boys Rec, AL, USA

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for this excellent analysis. I think you have an excellent grasp of positions. It's very interesting how much of a difference the Formation change made when combined with putting your best athlete at Stopper. This confirms my thought that in Rec soccer the most important position is "Stopper", and 2nd is to have a strong scorer at Forward.

    Send me your address and we will send you 30 free Red Soccer Ball Patches for taking the time to write this. Use these to reward hustle, bravery and winning the ball -- my boys called them "Blood Patches" and they were coveted -- they really make a difference. ONLY give them out for hustle, bravery, winning the ball and defensive toughness -- NOT for goals scored unless it involves bravery, hustle and toughness.

    Any other feedback would be very much appreciated. You have an excellent tactical grasp of youth soccer.

    Here are some tips:

    1. Play the "Dribble Across A Square" game 3 times to start EVERY practice (use it as a warm-up) and ask each player his score at the end of each game -- trust me, this really works.

    2. Teach Coaching Rule No. 3 (at "Coaching Rules" in Premium) -- it's worth 1 or 2 goals per game.

    3. Play games that involve dribbling and maintaining possession, such as "Double Dare Attack/Defend" and "Dribble Turn and Shoot" .

    4. Try the "2 Team Keepaway Game" -- it combines 1v1, team play and teaches fast transitions.

    5. Be sure ALL your players can make a "Lofted Pass" -- this is especially important for your defenders to be able to clear the ball, but also so your Stopper and Midfielder's can send Lofted Passes into the open space toward the opponent's goal. Our "Chips/Lofted Passes Game" is a good way to teach this.

    I'll bet you have a great season. The parents and kids will love having a good coach and being successful as a team.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  9. Diagram of Positions on a Field

    Subject: need some help

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    Do you have a diagram of the different positions and the names layed out on a field diagram? I need a visual to help me remember the different positions. Would that be able today?

    Coach Phil

    Dear Phil,

    There are diagrams at the bottom of the page. Click on the link below to view them.

    Diagrams of Positions on a Field

    Kay Huddleston
    SoccerHelp


  10. Proper Player Rotation and Substitution ("Subbing")

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    One topic I haven't crossed and am quite interested in is the proper rotation of players at game-time.

    I coach a 1st / 2nd grader recreational league that has 12 players per team with an 8 vs 8 lineup (including goalie), 20 minute half -- 40 minute game.

    Do you have a recommended approach to a well integrated player lineup and rotation?

    In my case, I was thinking about 7 minute rotations (3 per half). I thought 5 minutes to be too frequent, 10 minutes to be too long -- but I could be wrong in this regard.

    I also tend to keep my best 3 players on the field pretty much the entire game -- unless they're tire. I'm not sure if this is a good strategy or not.

    Perhaps you've covered this on your website. If so, please direct me to the link.

    Thanks much,

    Coach Cary

    Cary,

    I used to rotate every 5 minutes using a watch with a countdown timer. In actuality, because I could only substitute at certain times (like on a goal kick), it was often 6 or 7 minutes.

    I suggest giving every player a break some, and if you get well ahead, let your weaker players play a lot more and rotate everyone equally at that point.

    Best wishes,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  11. How to Teach Marking Up and Covering a Throw-in

    Dear Sir:

    I need a drill/game that will teach marking up or covering during throw-ins and goal kicks. Can you give me a game to play at practice on Monday?

    We are playing a 4V4 game and have just 6 players.

    Thank you,

    Coach Frank

    Hi Frank,

    I don't have a game, but I do have a teaching method. I've pasted it below, and some other tips from "Quick Team Improvement Program" on Premium. Play the "Dribble Across A Square" game on SoccerHelp Basic to start every practice (Read "Dribbling -- How To Teach").

    Here's Coaching Rules No. 1-3 and how to teach No. 3:

    1. "Don't get thrown over" (When the other team has a throw-in). (During the game, be specific when giving instructions. For example, "John, move back 10 steps so you don't get thrown over"). See No. 3 below for the next step.

    2. "Don't get goal kicked or punted over" (by the other team). (Be specific if giving instruction. For example, "John, run back to the halfway line"). See No. 3 below for the next step.

    3. "On the other team's goal kicks, punts, throw-ins & free kicks, mark up behind an opponent & then step in front & steal the ball, or, if the ball goes past you, box out the opponent and win the ball". (A progression from 1 & 2 above). (An exception to this would be the other team's free kicks near your goal, where if there is room you want have your players stay away from your goal so you create an "offside trap" which will keep the other team away from your goal and make it harder for them to score on a header or off a rebound).

    1. Teach Coaching Rule # 3, "On the other team's goal kicks, punts, throw-ins, & free kicks, mark up behind an opponent & then step in front & steal the ball, or, if the ball goes past you, box out the opponent and win the ball". (An exception to this would be the other team's free kicks near your goal, where if there is room, you should have your players stay away from your goal so you create an "offside trap" which will keep the other team away from your goal and make it harder for them to score on a header or off a rebound). This can be worth one or 2 goals per game. To teach this and other concepts, you must demonstrate how to do it, using a few players to help while the others watch. To the extent you can, avoid getting into actual play, doing so just seems to be more of a distraction than a help. For example, demonstrate how to "mark up" behind an opponent on the opposing team's throw-in (to "mark up" means to stand closely behind an opponent, who is called your "mark"). Then, demonstrate how: if the ball is thrown to your "mark", you can step in front of him & steal the ball; or, if the ball is thrown over your head, you can "box out" your "mark" so you can beat him to the ball; or, if your "mark" gets the ball, you can try to steal it when he turns. The same tactic applies to Goal Kicks & Punts. (I realize these demonstrations are boring, especially to younger players, but there is no good alternative unless you want to stretch it out over 4 or 5 practices and teach it in small doses). (A list of "Coaching Rules" is found in SoccerHelp Premium).

    2. Teach the concept of "First Defender/ Second Defender" (See "Shift & Sag" and "Support" in the Dictionary & Coaching Rules # 5 & 6. Also, see # 4 below for how to teach this while you teach "Shift & Sag"). A comment about First Defender/Second Defender: There is usually only one First Defender. I think it is best if you teach that there should only be one First Defender, and that the second closest defender(s) should be the Second Defender(s); otherwise you may have a problem of too many defenders rushing at the ball and a lack of Second Defenders, which could give your opponent a scoring opportunity (the exception to the idea that there should only be one First Defender is when your opponent gets the ball in your "Attacking Third", in which case double-teaming to try to steal the ball back is a good idea and there is no risk that the opponent will score due to a defensive error). There are often 2 Second Defenders (one behind the First Defender and one to the "goalside", as shown in the diagram at "Shift & Sag" in the Dictionary, or one on each side behind the First Attacker). There is also a concept called "Third Defender". I have found that First Defender/Second Defender is easy to teach, but that the concept of "Third Defender" can be confusing to young players. The reason is that where the Third Defender should position herself depends on whether your team "Pushes Up" on your attack or "Defends Deep". So, my suggestion is to just teach "First Defender/Second Defender" and "Shift & Sag" and avoid using the term "Third Defender". I think "Shift & Sag" is an easier concept to teach than "Third Defenders" and "Shift & Sag" has the effect of putting the players who would be the "Third Defenders" in a good defensive position by teaching your team to stay compact on defense and to "shift & sag" to a position between the ball and the goal, so there are "multiple layers of defenders" (i.e., defensive "depth") between the ball and the goal. In essence, the concepts of "First Defender/Second Defender" and "Shift & Sag" teach "Support" and teamwork.

    3. Teach the concept of "Shift & Sag" by putting the players in position (having 2 players in the same "position" is okay for this) & holding a ball in your hands & walking slowly around the field (pretend that you are the opponent with the ball) & have your team "shift" with the ball from side to side, up & back while keeping "shape" & the correct positions relative to each other; have the team shift slowly & look at where they are relative to the ball, to the goal and to teammates, and if they play on the left or right side (e.g., LF, LMF, LFB or RF, RMF, RFB), tell them to not cross the "center" of the field. For example, if the opponent had the ball on the left side of their half of the field, your LF (Left Forward) should be the "First Defender" (see Coaching Rule 5 in SoccerHelp Premium and "Support" in the Dictionary) and the LOMF (Left Offensive MidFielder) should be the "Second Defender" and should be a short pass behind the First Defender (see Coaching Rule 6), the LDMF should be a pass behind the LOMF (as a "Third Defender") and between the ball & the goal, & the LFB should be on the left side of the penalty box line; ALL THE RIGHT SIDE PLAYERS SHOULD HAVE SHIFTED TO THE CENTER OF THE FIELD BUT STOP AT THE CENTER (this is Coaching Rule 19). (These relative positions are shown in the diagram at "Shift & Sag" in the Dictionary). By teaching your players the concepts of First Defender/Second Defender/Third Defender and Coaching Rules 5, 6 and 19, you have good field coverage and your players will have rules to guide their decisions, based on where they are relative to teammates and their positions on the field (e.g., if you are playing on the left side or right side, don't cross the center of the field). When they get better, you can give them more flexibility to make decisions themselves, but if you try to teach them too much at once they will get confused & frustrated, so this is a way of simplifying it. In this exercise someone should always be the First Defender & the next closest should be the Second Defender. This is a teaching exercise, so do it slowly & have the First Defender stay 2 or 3 steps away from you (the objective is NOT to try to steal the ball from the Coach); tell the First Defender that in a game his job is to slow down the attacker & to try to "toe poke" away the ball or steal it if it gets away from the ball handler, but he must not rush at the attacker because he will probably get beat if he does; the First Defender should stay low, on the balls of his feet and to keep his eyes on the ball (see "Shepherding & Jockeying" in SoccerHelp Premium). One thing to remember: As the opponent moves the ball closer to your goal, all of your players do NOT keep sagging back; your F's must stay the distance of a cleared kick away from the ball or your team will not be able to clear the ball off your half of the field because no one will be there to win the balls your FB's and DMF(s) clear. As your team improves, when your goal is under attack you want your FB's & DMF's to defend, but your OMF's to stay a short pass out from the ball & your F's to stay a long kick away from the ball. This is so you can clear the ball from your end of the field; if all your players drop back into the Penalty Box, it will be difficult to get the ball out of your "Defensive Third'.

    4. Teach the concepts of "First Attacker/Second Attacker/Third Attacker". Again, demonstrate this on the field at slow speed. These concepts teach offensive support and teamwork. (See "First Attacker" and "Support" in the Dictionary and "Attacking Plan" and "Formations" in SoccerHelp Premium).

    5. Teach your Fullbacks ("FB's") how to clear the ball by kicking it hard away from your goal. Practice this & tell them to point their toes down & push the toes against the bottom of the shoe to lock the ankle, keep eyes on the ball, strike the ball low, stand straight up or lean back while striking it (do not lean over the ball or it will stay low), & follow thru. An efficient way to practice this is to pair up players who can kick the ball about the same distance and have them kick it as far as they can to each other. This will also let you see who needs help and who has a good leg.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  12. Warm Up Drills on Game Day

    Hello,

    I am looking some good pre-game warm up drills to run. I have a U-10 Girls rec. team and only the coach is allowed to bring a ball on game day. I usually have about 15 minutes on the field before the game starts.

    Thanks,

    Coach David

    Hi David,

    Well, you're limited by one ball.

    My suggestion is group light jogging to warm the muscles, then group stretching, then perhaps some things that don't involve a ball, such as our "Throw-Ins Teaching Game" or "Shoulder Tackle Game". I wouldn't do anything that would sap any energy.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  13. Strategies for 5 on 5

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    I am relatively new at this. This is my third season as a coach. I have 5 total on an 8 man roster returning from last fall. We are U-8 playing 5 on 5 - (goalie plus four).

    I have tried many of the drills, and they have improved play to some degree. Game play is suffering and I could really use some help with strategies for 5 on 5. ID there anything on your website.

    On my roster, one has a club foot and is playing an almost exclusive goalie position. We tried defender but he keeps getting beat. He has turned into a fairly good goalie.

    The others vary in speed and ability.

    Next fall we move up to 7 on 7, but this spring we are 0-2 and facing 6 games in the next five weeks. Any help would be appreciated.

    Coach John

    Hi John,

    My best advice to you is to Defend Deep, keep 2 Fullbacks tight in front of your goal and control the center of the field (force or encourage the opponent to go toward the sideline). See "Defending Deep Basics" on Premium for more tips

    Other tips:

    1. Read "Dribbling - How To Teach" (http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Soccer_Dribbling.shtml ) and play the Dribble Across A Square game 3 times to start every practice.
    2. Teach Coaching Rule No. 3, it's worth 2 or 3 goals per game. Read all the Coaching Rules.(http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Coaching_Rules.shtml )
    3. Play the Chips/Lofted Passes Game, or the Longest Kick game -- try to teach them how to make a long kick. Buy the "Just Kickin' It" DVD if you don't know how to teach proper form.
    4. Try a 2 - 2 formation or 2-1-1 (2 Fullbacks). If you have a great, dominant player, try a 2-1-1 and put the great player as the Midfielder to play both offense and defense.
    5. If your defense needs work, try the "Defend The Goal and Clear" game.
    6. Play 1v1 games such as "Double Dare Attack/Defend".
    7. Read the Testimonials from other Rec coaches. You will get ideas from them.

    AT U-8, it's mainly about natural athletic ability. You can't expect too much. Focus on the basic skills and you will see improvement.

    Good luck. Please let me know what helps.

    Best wishes,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  14. Offside Call

    Hello,

    I found your address on a soccer web page.

    I would like some help on the offside call.

    If Player "A" kicks the ball and teammate Player "B" is onside at the time of the kick and the ball is held up in the air by the wind get to the ball before the defense but is waiting for the ball is player "B" offside?

    Thanks,

    Coach Keith

    Hi Keith,

    If a player is "onside" at the instant the ball is kicked, then he is NOT offside. His position at the instant the ball is kicked is what matters in your example.

    However, he can actually even be in an "offside position" and still isn't offside if he is out of the play (example way over near the sideline away from the ball).

    David
    SoccerHelp


  15. Sliding Tackle

    Dear Soccerhelp,

    I coach boys U-8 soccer and was wondering if there is such a move called Sliding Tackle? The reason I ask is my son informed me the other day that kids from another team were being taught this move from one of the other team coaches. This coach does have a reputation of teaching some un-sportsman-like moves. I could basically see this being used in his favor in place of tripping.

    I, for one, do not want to see any kids get hurt and wanted clarification on this.

    Thanks for your help!

    Jeff

    Hi Jeff,

    This is called a "slide tackle". Here's the definition from the SoccerHelp Dictionary:

    "When a defender slides on the ground and attempts to kick the ball away from the ballhandler. If the tackle is careless, reckless or uses excessive force or the tackler first contacts the ballhandler instead of the ball, a foul should be called. If the tackle is from behind (from an angle that doesn't allow the ballhandler to see it coming) a "Red Card" can be given. Some youth & adult leagues don't allow slide tackling because too many injuries result. I don't teach it & don't allow it. Beside the possibility of getting hurt or hurting someone else, you can't play if you are laying on the ground. (See "Tackle" and "Fouls")."

    I never taught this because both the kid sliding and the kid being tackled can get hurt. If you're in a Rec league, I recommend you go to your league and ask them to ban this. This is "legal" but some Rec leagues don't allow it, and they are allowed to revise the rules as they see fit.

    David
    SoccerHelp

  16. Thanks so much for your reply. I contacted the head of our soccer league, and unfortunately, they're allowing this move. They said in U-10 and U-14 that's all they do. Some of the kids will be moving up after this year. They also said that it's only legal if they approach from the front or side and if they come from the back they'll be called for a foul.

    It's too bad that they're allowing this because the coach teaching only thinks of himself. He's only out to win and continues to play his strong players the whole game without rotation to run up the score, etc. He's obviously not concerned about the possibility of his own players getting injured or injuring someone else.

    Again, thanks so much!
    Jeff

    Jeff,

    Read the rule about tackling and fouls. Some coaches and refs misunderstand and think it's okay to tackle hard as long as the player tackling contacts the ball -- that's not true. If the tackle is "careless, reckless or uses excessive force" a foul should be called. Think about it: otherwise the tackler could come from the front and really hurt kids by wiping them out. I would tell my kids that if they are tackled this way it's okay to land on the kid tackling. I saw this in a semi-pro game a few years ago and the guy doing the slide tackle had both bones in his leg broken when the guy he was tackling landed on him. A good reason to not teach it is that a player can't play if he's on the ground. It's a very bad idea to allow this in a Rec league, it's just asking for kids to get hurt.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  17. How To Get Players to Positions Themselves and Pass

    SoccerHelp,

    I need help. I am coaching a boys 7 x 7 rec team and we are currently 0 and 4. There are only six games remaining and I would really like to turn it around. There has been some progress for the scores are 12 - 1, 5 - 1, 6 - 3 and 3 - 1. With a ten member team I have yet to have all of the boys at a practice or a game. We are having the most difficult time with our offense for what I see, two reasons. First of all with the recommended 2, 2, 2, 1 positions my midfielders run out of gas about eight minutes into the 12 minute quarter. Secondly, I can't seem to stop them from bunching.

    How do I get the boys to position themselves and pass? Would a 3,3,1 formation be more effective? Is there something else I can do?

    Thank you,

    Mike

    Mike,

    First, you're going to have a hard time getting the boys to pass-- if you try to win by passing to feet you will always lose. You have to try a different approach. A better approach is to teach them to kick the ball to "space" and to "win the ball".

    The patches are good motivators. Use them to encourage and reward tough play. If your team wins the 50/50 balls, you have a good chance of winning -- if they don't you will lose. Buy some red patches and call them "Blood Patches" and give them out for tough, brave play. They work.

    Try a 2-1-2-1 -- 2 FB's who "Defend Deep" (read Defending Deep Basics), put your best athlete at "Stopper" (read the letter at "Stopper Importance" on Premium for how much difference this can make), 2 Offensive Midfielders who can come into the attack and your best, most aggressive, toughest scorer at Forward. If you have a weak player, put him at one of the MF spots. You can put a slow player at FB, but not a player afraid of contact.

    Tell your FB's to just clear the ball by kicking it hard straight ahead.

    Play the "Chips/Lofted Passes" game to teach how to "clear" the ball and a Lofted Pass (a long aerial kick).

    Make your FB's stay inside the Penalty Box -- if you "Push Them Up" you will lose.

    Tell your Stopper to stop at the halfway line unless he is "onball" in which case he can come into the attack, but must run back as soon as the opponent gets the ball.

    Tell your MF's to NOT go into your Penalty Box. They will still run the most and will have to be subbed. Tell them that when the ball is inside your Penalty Box, they MUST stay a pass away and shift with the ball, because the FB's are going to KICK the ball straight ahead and they MUST be in position to win the ball. Tell each MF to NOT cross the center of the field.

    Tell everyone that Teamwork means everyone MUST do his job and trust his teammates to do their jobs.

    Tell your Forward that when the ball is in your Defensive Third (the third of the field near your goal) he must shift with the ball and stay a LONG KICK away from the ball so he is in position to win the cleared balls that will be kicked straight ahead. He can stay at the halfway line or even beyond it if an opposing player is deeper.

    Tell your FB's to just kick it hard and NOT worry about if someone is there to win the ball (it isn't their job to be sure a teammate is there -- their job is only to kick it hard, it's the MF's and Forwards jobs to win the cleared balls).

    On your attack, tell your Forward to get into scoring position and the MF's to kick the ball toward him (not "pass" it, just kick it, and tell the F he must fight hard to win it).

    A mistake many coaches make is trying to teach "passing to feet". Instead, teach "passing to space" and that the teammates must be there and win the ball. Try the "pass To Space, Run and Shoot" game.

    If you haven't already, teach "Coaching Rule No. 3" (see Coaching Rules), it's worth 2 goals per game.

    Please let me know how this works.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  18. Indoor Formation 8 vs. 8

    Our high school team will be playing indoor starting this week. We play 8 vs. 8 on a field which measure 85 x 45 with full size goals. We have played there before using a 2-3-2 and 3-3-1 formation. Any thoughts you might have?

    Thanks,

    George

    New Subscriber

    Hi George, Thanks for subscribing.

    I assume the 85 length is yards or meters, and not feet.

    If so, I would think about a 3-3-1, 3-2-2, or a 2-1-2-2 (2FB's who stay off each post, protect the goal front against easy goals and man-mark attackers who come to the goal front, and a Stopper who confronts the ball and roams to pressure the ball).

    Good luck,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  19. Training Program for a 10 year old girl

    Hi Kay,

    I have a question how can I post a question on your site? My question is I have a 10 year old daughter who has been playing for 3 years. Her personal trainer is leaving the country so, I wanted to ask some of the coaches what exercises I could use for her to train her myself I've written most of the ones she does now but, I'm looking for new ideas.

    Thank You,

    Robert

    Hi Robert,

    We don't have a message board, but here's what we recommend:

    1st, join SoccerHelp Premium. There's a lot of info there and it has a 30 day money back guarantee.

    2nd, if you don't know how to teach proper technique for kicking the ball, buy the "Just Kickin It" DVD-- it will teach you, or she can learn from watching it.

    3rd, if you want her to work on footwork and moves, we recommend either "Super Soccer Skllls" (basic), "Play Like Champions" or "Gol!" (which will be online within a week).

    4th, read the review of the Mia Hamm Soccer Secrets DVD.

    There are detailed reviews of each of these DVD's on SoccerHelp.

    Happy Holidays,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  20. 4-4-2 Formations and Hiding weak players, Counterattacking

    Soccer Help,

    In reviewing formations for 11 aside I found very little on a 4-4-2. Through out this year we ran a 3-2-2 for 8 aside, I alternated between using a stopper and a sweeper in the middle depending on the situation. My initial thought is to have both at 11 aside and add two outside mids. I have always approached our defense as a attacking style so we push up quite a bit. I also thought in a 4-4-2 that I could use the outside mids as a place for the less skilled spots as long as I keep the middle tight. By the way we are a competitive rec team.

    Thanks

    Jerry

    Hi Jerry,

    We don't recommend a 4-4-2 using a "Flat Back 4" for Rec teams, because only travel teams who practice a lot and have 4 fast, skillful Fullbacks can play it, and if you play 4 across you gain "width" but give up "depth", and most Rec teams need Depth more than Width. There are a lot of formations described that would fall into the "4-4-2" category, but we call them names that more accurately describe the formation. For example: many coaches would call a "1-2-1-4-2" a 4-4-2.

    I agree with your thinking about using 4 Midfielders and putting your weak players at Right MF and Left MF, and leaving strong players in the 2 Center MF positions. You can take what you have played and play a "1-2-1-4-2 " (a Sweeper, 2 FB's and a Stopper). You don't give your team's age, but as you move up, you will face teams that attack by leaving their Forwards pushed up to the halfway or your FB's and use fast counterattacks. If you need to "Defend Deep", you can play a "3-1-4-2" (3 Deep Fullbacks and a Stopper) or a "2-1-1-4-2" (2 deep Fullbacks, an "Advanced" Center Fullback who plays a little in front, and a Stopper).

    Keep this rule in mind: Unless you have Fullbacks who are as fast as the opposing Forwards or a GREAT Sweeper, you are vulnerable to a fast counterattack.

    When you play teams who "push up their FB's", try this attacking style. If your Forwards stay pushed up and are faster than the opposing FB's, just have your MF's or FB's kick the ball STRAIGHT AHEAD (so your Forwards know where to expect the ball to go-- this is really a "pass to open space") into the open space-- tell your Forwards to expect this and to be alert, shift with the ball and to beat the FB's to it and attack as a pair, with your 2 center MF's trailing.

    If you use this attacking style, 3 things will happen:

    1. You will score a lot of goals IF you do this right (your Forwards MUST stay pushed up, shift, win the ball and Finish)
    2. You will back up the opposing Fullbacks and have them running toward their goal
    3. You will tire out the oppposing Fullbacks

    This is NOT boom ball, it is just a Fast counterattacking style of play that can work great for any team when the opposing Fullbacks Push-Up and are slower than the attacking Forwards. If the opposing Fullbacks back up and "Defend Deep", you will have to attack by working the ball into scoring position.

    I used this strategy to score 6 or 7 goals per game against teams that pushed up slow Fullbacks.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  21. Is SoccerHelp for me?

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    I just finished my first year of coaching (NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WITH THE GAME OF SOCCER). I coached my daughter's U14 girls AYSO. My youngest daughter plays U10 AYSO.

    I don't want to waste my money or my time teaching inappropriate techniques. I am serious about learning as much as possible about this game and coaching effectively...not just winning. I want to develop players.

    I came across your website while searching for a good source of drills for youth soccer. I have seen other sites, but a lot of the drills seemed rather "pointless" in terms of "real world" soccer.

    I have some concerns about what I saw from not just the U14 girls that I coached, but also those we played against. I have a few comments and questions for you:

    Is your site what I need? I want to continue coaching for many more years, AND I want to do it right.

    Thanks,

    Bruce

    Hi Bruce,

    SoccerHelp was created for Rec coaches like you. When I satrted 12 years ago I knew nothing about soccer.

    The short answer is "Yes". There's a 30 day money-back guarantee-- a no questions asked refund policy.

    The Practice Games are a key part of Premium. Our Games are different-go here to read:(http://www.soccerhelp.com/Soccer_Drills.shtml#practice_games ) -- read this entire section, including "Tips For Practices" and "Things You Need For Practice". This section is called "Soccer Drills" because that's the search term most coaches use, but they're "Practice Games", not drills, and there's a huge difference. Also, they're all rated by age and they work.

    If you have your U-19 and U-14 play the "Dribble Across A Square" game they will quickly improve. They will learn how to dribble in traffic with their head up and how to Speed Dribble and how to turn. Read "Dribbling- How To Teach" on SoccerHelp or Premium.

    You can learn a lot about how to teach defense from SoccerHelp. I just replied to a former college player who is coaching U-8 and subscribed.

    On offense, we have a different approach than many coaches. We believe you should recognize the constraints and limitations (practice time and athletic ability being 2 big constraints) and coach in a way that is fun and successful. Bruce, you will not be able to teach a Rec team to play a controlled passing attack-- your weak/un-athletic players are the weak link.
    If you try this, both you and your players will be unhappy. We recommend a "passing to space" style of attack (as opposed to "passing to feet") that looks a little like "Boom Ball" but is very different in the sense that it is part of an attacking plan and the ball is "cleared" from the "Defensive Third" into the Middle Third or Attacking Third, where attackers are in position to win the ball and launch the attack.

    I agree that running wind sprints is an inefficient way to practice.

    Read the Testimonials. They will tell you what you need to know. We came online 3 years ago and are now the # 1 soccer coaching site in the world, with over 1.2 million visitors this year.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  22. Goal Kick Tips

    Hello,

    My name is Doug and I coach a u-10 boys travel team. We are having a difficult time being very effective on our own goal kicks. I have a talented group of boys in terms of foot skills and speed, unfortunately we do not have anyone with overwhelming power on there kicks (Working on it.) The stronger feet are usually on offense, and might not be in the right spot to take the kick. Any suggestions? I am a premium member.

    Thank you,

    Coach Doug

    Hi Doug,

    This is a typical problem. On Premium, read "Goal Kick Tips".

    You only have 2 choices

    1. Use the "Spread The Field Goal Kick" and read Goal Kicks.
    2. Bring your best kicker back to take the kick, even if it's an Offensive Player, kick it from one side and kick to the side of the field where players are who you think are most likely to win the ball. This is MUCH better than getting killed on Goal Kick turnovers. (See paragraph 2 at "Goal Kick Tips").

    David
    SoccerHelp


  23. How to Teach Passing to Space

    Hi Dave,

    We play in the second division, so the competition is slightly less skilled than our tournament competition. But not by much. However, a very elite program also has a team in our division, a team that had their way against our club at U-8, and we won. We have accomplished a lot. The parents are very excited about the progress we are making. THANKS!!

    I am also very pleased with how the girls spread out and look to pass the ball. I still get frustrated as very often a girl will run directly at a teammate with the ball instead of getting square or running into space. I know I only have 7 and 8 year olds, but do you have a drill that will reinforce this concept? I am always telling them not to run at a teammate with the ball but to get open. But until they experience the proper way in a scrimmage or game, I can talk all I want.

    Best Regards,

    Coach John

    P.S. Is there a discount on shipping for group DVD purchases?

    Hi John,

    First, congratulations on your success. Try the "Pass To Space, Run With Ball and Shoot" game. Also, tell your passers and receivers that the passer should ignore them if they run toward the passer, and, instead, the passer will pass to space where the receiver should be. (Or, at least, do this in Scrimmage Games-- Play the "Small-Sided Scrimmage WItrhout A Goalie" game and do this in that game)

    Yes, there are specials. Did you check the Videos order page? (http://soccerhelp.com/shshop/index.php/cPath/24) There's also a Bulk Order page with Quantity Discounts ( http://soccerhelp.com/merchandise/videos/Bulk_Orders.shtml ) . If you have anything else in mind, e-mail us about it.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  24. Kick off Question

    Hi,

    I am looking for a recommendation for the "kick-off" for a U10 girls travel team. We currently have the center forward short pass to one of the wings who sends it as far as she can into the corner then we run after it. But if we don't execute, we're constantly dealing with a fast break coming back towards our own goal.

    Can you help?

    Thanks,

    Matt

    Hi Matt,

    I recommend having your strongest kicker just kick it deep to the corner, push up and try to force a turnover in your Attacking Third. You can have your Forwards overload to that side if you want. A lot of college and even women's pro and national teams are doing this kick-off now. This will solve your problem. Think about it: Isn't it the best thing to do?

    David
    SoccerHelp


  25. Moving Up

    Hi,

    What are your thoughts on youths moving up in age groups when they clearly have the skills to compete at the higher lever, e.g., U7 to U8?

    Tom

    Hi Tom,

    Often it's best for everyone, especially if you are easily beating the other teams in your age group. One of my teams "played up". If your kids can compete in the older group, and would learn more AND have more fun, you should move up. Beating teams in your age group easily and by large scores isn't good for your team or the others.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  26. U-10 Travel Games and Shooting Tips

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    I am a premium subscriber, and have been using all the practice games listed. Most of the games we have used are "Kick Across The Ball" game, "Run to the Ball & Shoot", "Pass to Space" and "3 Man Wing Attack". I have been running the games 3 nights a week for the last two months. I have seen big improvements in my u-10 travel team. We had our first travel tournament this weekend went 2 & 2 the 2 losses were both 0 to 1 lost in the last few minutes of the game. We had control in the front third most of the games we had fifteen shot on goal with out scoring. In practice they get it in every time, but under pressure they either hit the near post or go wide too far. Do you have any games that we can use to improve on this? I really like this web site it has helped a lot. I used the 2-1-2-2 formation you recommended and it worked much better than 3-3-1 for us with all the speed we have.

    Thanks for your time,

    Coach Brian

    Dear Brian,

    Here are some tips for the Dribble Around A Cone and Pass game. I worked with a team today and played this and it's very good:

    It's great for U-10, easy to set up and teaches speed dribbling, turning, passing, receiving and quickly moving after receiving a pass. Put the cones 8 steps apart. Teach receivers to move toward slow or weak passes, and that they can one-touch block the ball in front of them to go faster.

    For the Dribble Across game, vary the width of the square -- make it larger and the boys will learn to Speed Dribble when they get open space. Teach them all a Pullback turn, a Stop Turn, and Outside Hook Turn.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  27. Defending, Attacking & Killing Time

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    I am looking for text material about playing strategy that crutch use to identify which strategy to be used to each game he is going to play what are the information needed to build up his strategy about his team and the opponent team, thanks.

    When to use Defending, Attacking, killing the time strategy.

    Best Regards,

    Coach Abdul

    Abdul,

    Below is a section copied from SoccerHelp Premium about playing a better team. There is a great deal of information on SoccerHelp and SoccerHelp Premium about Attacking and Defending. You should look for the specific topics that interest you.

    David
    SoccerHelp

    Strategy For Playing A Better or Greatly Superior Team

    Defending Deep and a Packed In Defense

    I recently watched a very good team (team "A") lose 1-0 to a weaker team (team "B"). Everyone thought it would be a blow-out and that the "A" team would win by at least 6 goals. The "B" team coach "Defended Deep", leaving 7 back (4 Fullback's and 3 Defensive Midfielder's) and playing 2 Offensive Midfielder's and 1 Target Forward. The "B" team only had 3 or 4 shots on goal, but they sent a long ball... 1 Forward vs. 3 "A" team defenders... but the 1st Defender slipped a little and the Forward made a great shot from 20 yards out. I've seen this same strategy work for underdogs in other games. Point is, this is the best strategy against a much better team. The "B" team FB's never came past the top of the Penalty Box. Idiot parents were yelling "Push Up", but if the "B" team had, the "A" team would have probably gotten a breakaway and scored, since they had 2 excellent Forwards. It was the defensive strategy, including "Defending Deep" that won the game. In the 1998 World Cup, Paraguay almost beat France using the same strategy (France finally won 1-0 by chipping the ball softly into the middle of Paraguay's packed-in defense. Paraguay's great goalkeeper Jose Chilavert was superb in this game). There are 2 ways the underdog can hope to win:

    1. 1. Don't give up any goals
    2. 2. Score on a defensive error by the opponent, a lucky break (such as a ball falling your way) or by a single act of individual brilliance. In the example above, the "B" team's score was due to a small error and individual brilliance, but they only needed one goal to win.

    David Huddleston
    SoccerHelp


  28. Do you have any testimony from coaches that play competitive soccer?

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    I had a question concerning the use of the word Rec Team in all of the reference material. We play in a competitive league, U-12 girls. Do you have any testimony from coaches that play competitive soccer?

    Thanks.

    Yes, they are scattered thru. There is one on the Home page. The Practice Games are still good for Travel. Some of the Tactics won't apply as well after U-11, and you will probably Push Up on attack, because you have all good athletes. There's a 30 day refund. Try it and if it isn't worth it ask for a refund. If you coach boys, read the Coerver DVD review and Soccer Success One On One. If girls, read "Training Girls and Women To Win" DVD review.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  29. Picture of field positions for Soccer Team 10 and 11 years old

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    What are the positions in soccer for 10 and 11 year olds? Can you send a picture?

    Thanks,

    Coach Mariah

    Mariah,

    I've pasted below a diagram for teams with 6 players on the field plus a goalie. The RF is Right Forward, LF is Left Forward, RMF is Right Midfielder, LMF is Left Midfielder, RFB is Right Fullback and LFB is Left Fullback. You can read more about this on SoccerHelp at "Soccer Position Basics"

    • The diagram below assumes 7 players per side (7 vs. 7) in a 2-2-2 formation and the "Green" team is kicking off. Blue is on defense. (Note: the "field" below is not to scale; see the "Field Diagram" for a better drawing of a field. Note that Green has moved the RF over to take the kick and that his plan is to kick the ball deep to the left corner, and then the RF, the LF and the 2 MF's will run toward the ball to try to steal it back. See Notes, below, and "Formations and Tips For 7 v 7"):

    David
    SoccerHelp


  30. Can SoccerHelp help travel teams?

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    Does the information on your Premium site apply for club soccer? It sounds like I have had some of the same issues that other coaches were having with formations and 8v8 play. I'm really looking for an information source that will help propel my team to a great season. The keeper is an obvious choice on my team as the primary keeper is so much better than the others and he is not what I would consider the best overall athlete, the keeper is big, strong, smart, but isn't a great field player. The remainder of the positions and which formation to play has been a little harder to settle on.

    Thanks,

    Bill

    Hi Bill,

    We've had good feedback from travel coaches up to about U-13 and from Junior High coaches.

    The concepts of efficient practices and using practice games that involve pressure and game speed will help any team of any age.

    Regarding thoughts about where to play your strongest players and players with certain strengths or weaknesses, I think the general answer is "Yes".

    We offer a 30 day no-questions-asked money back guarantee. I suggest subscribing to Premium and judging for yourself. We've now had about 7,000 coaches subscribe, and have probably given a dozen refunds. For most young travel teams, yes, put your best athlete at "Stopper" or Center Mid, BUT if you have a player who is a great scorer (this could mean quick to rebounds, or a quick shot, or a great first step that allows him to beat the defender to get off a shot) then put that player at Forward and tell him to get in front of the goal as much as possible, and get him the ball, or get the ball near him so he has a chance to win it or score on a rebound.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  31. Dribble Across A Square Looks Like It Would Be Total Chaos!

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    The dribble across a square game looks like it would be total chaos. Am I looking at it wrong? All players face in and dribble across to the other side while players on three other sides are simultaneously trying to do the same thing? I think I need clarification. Thanks!

    Coach Mike
    Getting ready for U-10
    Oregon

    Hi Mike,

    Read "Dribbling -- How To Teach" on Basic or Premium and how to teach the Dribble Across A Square game.

    Mike, youth soccer games are chaotic to the kid with the ball, with so many people and so much happening. Yes, the game is played by spreading the players around an imaginary square (4 cones about 7 to 10 steps apart).

    Players face inward, each player has a ball, and on "Go" each player dribbles across to the opposite side of the square, turns and returns. Each turn is "One". Players keep their own score and the first to reach 10 raises his or her hand and yells "Done", all players stop and go to the closest side of the square and the Coach goes around and asks each player his or her score.

    This is the best single game you can play. Play it 3 times to start each practice and you will see a great improvement in dribbling within 2 or 3 practices. You can't teach what this game teaches (peripheral vision, quick and instinctive decisions, dribbling under pressure, control dribbling in traffic, to speed up when there is open space, that the ball must stay under control or you will lose, and making turns). The game involves pressure and "game speed". The game is literally the teacher, and players learn by playing it. I recently guest coached practices for U-10 Rec boys and girls, and it was great for both. I could see improvement in one practice. It works with as few as 4 players.

    Another game you should play is "Dribble Around A Cone & Pass Relay Race".

    You can use the same cones you set out for the Dribble Across game, and add some if needed. Have 2 or 3 players per team. Each completed pass is "One" and first to 10 wins. Switch up teams after each game. Players will learn to hustle, to turn, to quickly pass, that a pass must have proper "weight" (not too hard and not too soft), that passes must be accurate (they will lose if they make one bad pass), and receiver's will learn to anticipate the direction of the pass and to move to the pass. Have receivers start behind the cone, but encourage them to move toward the pass so they can play faster. This will teach them they must be alert, anticipate the direction of a pass, and not wait for the ball to come to them, but instead, move toward the ball when it is passed. This is the type of behavior you want to encourage. Again, they will learn this behavior by playing the game. The winning receivers will be alert and move toward the ball when it is passed (which helps in games when defenders are trying to beat the receiver to the ball), and passers will try to make good passes.

    Try these games. They work. We get letters from all over the world about them. Read the Testimonials on the Home Page if you have doubts.

    Please let me know what you think after you try them.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  32. 8 V 8 Formations, U-11

    Dear Soccerhelp,

    I coach a boys U-11 team and have played 3-3-1 for the past two seasons and I am considering changing to a 2-3-2 to help generate more scoring opportunities. While we did well in the 3-3-1 formation going 9-2 in our division, I like the 2-3-2 formation in that I can play a diagonal ball through or over midfield. I think this tends to create unbalance for the opposing team, having a left defender switching the field to the right side. At this young age, kids tend to not "stay home" and the thought of catching them cheating to the strong side is very appealing.

    Do you have any coaching pointers or "CD's" specifically related to theses two formats? While I feel my boys have a good feel for the 3-3-1 if we decide to stay with it I want to be able to expand on it.

    I look forward to hearing from you....

    Thanks,

    Kevin

    Hi Kevin,

    9-2 is a very good record. I suggest thinking about a 2-1-2-2, which some would call a 2-3-2. The "1" is a Stopper and is where you should put your most athletic player. The "Systems of Play" DVD doesn't specifically discuss a 2-3-3, but it is excellent and I highly recommend it. You can read the review to decide. Also, check out "Coaching Set Plays", it's brilliant.

    Read #2 at "FAQ's" above ( http://www.soccerhelp.com/Coaches_FAQ.shtml#defending_attacking_killing_time).

    I've pasted below some mail we recently received about the 2-1-2-2:

    "I coach a U-10 Girls team with a mixed lot of players, using your advice this season we played a 2-1-2-2 with great results. As of this point we are 9-0 scoring 58 goals while giving up 11."

    This is another excellent letter we received

    Hello,

    First of all, thank you for the great practical information on SoccerHelp and SoccerHelp Premium. The information on "Assigning Positions" and "Formations" has been especially helpful. (Note from SoccerHelp: Here are links to these 2 documents and another we think is very important:

    Assigning Positions , Formations , Most Important Things To Teach and Read )

    I am a first time Rec league coach for a U-13 Boys team. My soccer playing experience includes about 7 years of youth soccer and 1 year in high school.

    Our league tries to evenly distribute players according to ability across 8 teams. We play 8 vs. 8 including goalies (7 on the field plus a goalie).

    The team I coach has 11 players, 2 of which really standout. One is an excellent shooter and dribbler. The other has decent technical skills, but is "dominant" from a standpoint of pure athleticism.

    For our first game (which was this week), the hardest decision for me to make was who to play as goalkeeper, the athletic superstar or the second option which was a BIG drop-off in ability.

    I decided before the game to put the more athletic player in goal for the first half and the second option in goal for the second half. Listed below is what happened. (By the way, we only had 8 players show up--no subs. The other team had 11.)

    FIRST HALF:

    Strategy: 2-2-1-2 formation with the excellent shooter as the lone midfielder who played like a center forward when we were on offense. The 2 stoppers stayed in our half of the field. The 2 fullbacks stayed in the penalty box. The athletic player was the goalkeeper.

    Results: Our team (4 shots on goal, 1 corner kick & 1 great save)
    Other team (7 shots on goal & 4 corner kicks)

    First Half Score: Our team 1 / Other team 1

    Comment: The ball was in our defensive third for most of the first half. Our only goal was on a breakaway by the talented shooter. The other team's goal was an excellent shot on the ground to the far side of the goal.

    SECOND HALF:

    Strategy: 2-1-2-2 formation with the excellent shooter moved up to forward. The 2 midfielders were permitted to go up on offense, but rarely did. The 2 fullbacks stayed in the penalty box. The athletic player played stopper, and the second option played goalkeeper. The stopper was told he was free to go up on offense, but his first priority was defense.

    Results: Our team (12 shots on goal, 3 corner kicks & 1 save)
    Other team (2 shots on goal & 0 corner kicks)

    Second Half Score: Our team 5 / Other team 1

    Comment: The ball was in our middle third and attacking third for most of the second half. Our talented shooter had 7 shots on goal and scored 3. The stopper scored one by dribbling down the sideline from the midfield and shooting from far out. Our other forward scored a goal from persistent rebounding inside the goal box. The 2 shots from the other team resulted in a goal that should have been stopped and a ball that was dropped and then picked up by the goalkeeper (this is the one save listed above).

    FINAL ANALYSIS:

    What a difference it made to have the dominant athlete play Stopper instead of goalkeeper. We were 1-1 at the half, and won 6-2 after changing to a 2-1-2-2 and putting my most athletic player at Stopper.

    Goalkeeper is arguably the most important position on the field, but not if you have a field player who can significantly reduce the opponent's shots on goal as well as create more scoring opportunities for your team.

    Hope this feedback helps,

    Coach Michael, U-13 Boys Rec, AL, USA

    Kevin,

    Let me suggest this to you (remember, this is coming from a guy who has tried it all): Don't look for a "magic solution". The diagonal balls might work against some teams, but not against others. The problem with emphasizing that is that if your attack is based on that and you run into a guy like me, I'll adjust to stop diagonal balls, and it might throw off your entire attack. Here are ideas I know work for the short term and long term:

    1. Choose the Formation and "Style of Play" (Defending Deep, Pushing Up, etc) that best suits your players speed and ability. DON'T try to make your players fit a Formation or style of play. This is one of the BIGGEST mistakes coaches make.
    2. Focus on the basics, encourage brave, hustling, "win the ball" play, play conservative on defense, and encourage creativity on offense. Kevin, there is no one best attacking plan, although there might be a style of attack that works best for your team given their strengths and weaknesses. For Example: for my Rec teams, I found that a fast-break style of attack based on sending long aerial passes into the Middle and Attacking Thirds worked best. The reason was that it got the ball out of the Defensive Third and I taught my MF's and Forwards to shift with the ball so they were in position to win it (I taught the FB's to clear it straight ahead, so the MF's and Forwards would know where the cleared balls would go, so they could be in position to win them) and that they hustle and MUST fight to win those cleared balls or we would lose the game. Now, all I focused on was that and going aggressively to goal, getting in position to score, fighting for rebounds and fighting HARD to score. You want to encourage creativity in your attack, and this "framework" allowed it and was consistent with a conservative defensive philosophy. It also taught that everyone MUST hustle, fight for the ball and want to win. Once we developed a desire to win, we started winning games that we otherwise might have lost, simply because my players hustled more and wanted to win more. These attitudes are fundamental and necessary for successful players. The reason a controlled, short-passing style of attack couldn't work is that we simply didn't have the talent or practice time to make it work -- we couldn't put together 7 consecutive passes consistently while under pressure by the opposing defense. I think this is a mistake many Rec coaches make. Trying to force a team into a style of play that cannot be successful will only lead to failure, unhappiness and frustration.
    3. Play Dribble Across A Square 3 times to start every practice, have a bal for every player and make your practices efficient. If you do, you can achieve 2 hours of practice in one hour, and your players will improve twice as fast. Try the Dribble Around A Cone and Pass Relay Race, it's really a great game and teaches a lot.
    4. Regarding the Stopper, put your best athlete there and let him play defense AND come into the attack too. As you can see from the letter I sent, that one change made a 4 goal difference.
    5. Regarding Defensive responsibilities in the Defensive Third: It depends on how fast your Fullbacks are and how quickly they can recover if they get pulled out to the side. The safest approach is this: Give the opponent the "wings" and encourage them to attack that down the wings. DON'T give them the center. If you control the center (between the 2 goals), you will probably win, Also, your team will run a lot less and has less chance of getting beat on a breakaway. The opponent can' score from the wings. If you force them to the wings, they will run more, and your team will run less if you stick to the center. So, here are your choices:
      1. Give the opponent the "wings", even in your Defensive Third (on the sides, defend to the edge of the Penalty Box, but not farther).
      2. Have the Midfielders drop back to help defend to the Penalty Box, but tell them to stay out of the Penalty Box except in an emergence. If your goal is under attack, the closest MF to the ball should be shifted toward the ball and the one farthest from the ball should be in the Penalty Box Arc to defend against a ball crossed to the center in that area, because that is SO dangerous.
      3. If you want to be safe, tell your FB's to stay near the goal front (say within 10 steps from the Near Post) and have the Stopper put pressure on the ball. The 2nd Defender on that side can be the MF closest to the ball. Your Stopper is your best athlete and is probably a lot faster than your FB's. The advantage of this conservative approach is that it's simple, clear cut and easy to explain, and you should not give up goals because your FB's get pulled way out of position (which is how most goals are scored at U-11). Think about it: Isn't it REALLY tough to score when the FB's are in position to defend the goal? The reason to pressure the ballhandler on the wings in the Defensive Third at higher levels is because at high levels you worry about crosses and headers, which you probably don't have to worry about much. In Rec soccer, from U-14 to U-18 (I figured out this approach when I had a U-14 team), I would put players at RFB and LFB who were tough but slow and not very good dribblers. I MADE them stay close to the goal and just clear the ball HARD (They could NOT go out of the Penalty Box to the front or more than about 10 steps past the Near Post to the side. I told them to NOT dribble or pass in the Defensive Third, because a turnover was too risky). We won 90% of our games using this approach, and as I recall, we were the top team most seasons, and this was with teams assigned by the league to balance the teams. When my FB's got pulled out of position, we would give up goals. When they stayed home, we never gave up more than 2 goals per game.

    I hope there are some ideas here that help. Please let me know if any of them work for you. Feedback is how we continue to improve and share ideas with coaches.

    Good luck,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  33. Video Recommendations for a New Coach

    Hi SoccerHelp,

    I have to take the job of Assistant coach with no experience in soccer. I am wondering if you have anything that shows game footage and breakdown what is going on to accelerate my basic knowledge from a coaching standpoint. I understand the basic rules of the game, but would like to truly understand the game better. What would be the best DVD for me?

    James, A New Coach

    James,

    My Soccer Expert recommends:
    Systems Of Play by Tony Waiters- Excellent choice for you.
    Next if you want additional good information:
    Coaching Set Plays also by Tony Waiters

    Always read the reviews first and you will have a really good idea of what is in the DVD. They are very detailed.

    Kay Huddleston
    SoccerHelp


  34. '!

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    What is the easiest way to get started?

    New Coach

    Hi,

    I suggest the first things you read are:

    1st: Read "Most Important"

    (http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Expanded_Most_Important.shtml)

    2. Read "Assigning Positions"

    (http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Assigning.shtml)

    3. Read "Quick Team Improvement Program"

    (http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Quick_Team_Improvement.shtml)

    4. Read "23 Of The Best SoccerHelp Tips & Tactics"

    (http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Best_Tips_Tactics.shtml

    5. Play the practice games you think appropriate, but for both teams play:

    a.   Dribble Across A Square 3 times to start each practice (make the squares about 10 steps wide) -- THIS IS THE BEST GAME YOU CAN PLAY. YOU WILL SEE RAPID IMPROVEMENT.

    b.   After you play Dribble Across, leave the cones out and use them (and more if needed) to play "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race". It's easy to set up and teaches speed dribbling, turning, passing, receiving and quickly moving after receiving a pass, and kicking the ball while running and under pressure. Put the cones 8 to 10 steps apart. Teach receivers to move toward slow or weak passes, and that they can one-touch block the ball in front of them to go faster.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  35. Homework for Soccer?

    David,

    I have looking on other sites and doing some reading. Many of these resources suggest assigning "soccer homework" between practices. I am a premium subscriber but I have not seen anything on your site about "soccer homework". What is your standing of these assignments?

    Bill

    Hi Bill,

    If you have a high level travel team with highly motivated players, it MIGHT work, but if you have a Rec team, or a lower level travel team, I don't think it will work.

    Years ago, like you, I read I should do this and tried it. I couldn't get my players to do it -- they simply weren't motivated enough and had too many other activities going on (swimming, karate, boy scouts, etc.). This is part of what led me to develop the SoccerHelp Program. I realized I had to try to achieve the most possible in practice and to motivate my players to come to practice and games.

    I suggest focusing on efficient, effective practices -- try to get 2 hours of practice results in one hour. And shoot for 100% attendance at practices and games.

    Good Luck,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  36. Where Should You Hide Weak Players?

    David,

    I've read through all of the information on the site, but none of it quite matches my kids. I have Two very strong girls who have scored the majority of goals this year. I also have 4-5 girls who can run fast and hard, but have failed to pick up dribbling, passing, etc.

    After that the drop off is fairly steep. I have one girl with a cognitive disability who really can only think about one direction at a time and HATES running. I have one should-be bruiser who is petrified of the ball. Then I have 2 girls who are thin as rails and shy away from any and all contact.

    So...when I look at possibilities for Soccer Saturday, I'm stumped.

    We are 3-5-1 this year, and considering the weird mix of kids, that's OK. Our recent losses have all been close and our top goal scorer just missed some shots or perhaps we have a 5-3-1 record.

    I have used the 3-2-2-3 for most of the year, and when it works, it works well. The problem is that certain combinations of kids severely weaken us, but we are committed to following club policy by playing each girl 50% of each half. That means some weak combinations at times.

    Forwards: 2 Strong; one with a strong leg but has missed so much practice that she has no idea of formation, space, and responsibilities.

    Offensive Midfielders: Very strong Center midfielder; two solid midfielders; one girl who can't seem to stay on her feet; one waif petrified of the ball.

    Defensive midfielders: 2 excellent; one petrified of the ball and one who I like better at offensive midfielder, but she is brave and I can count on her as a sub here.

    Defense: Two very brave, strong girls, a potential bruiser who swings like a fence gate because she is afraid of the ball, and a cognitively disabled girl who can play OK if she doesn't have to change direction and has a clear sightline to the sideline to clear the ball.

    How do I work this? We have had lots of fun so far this year and I have used many of the games recommended on the sight, but they just can' function together because there are SO many different abilities.

    Please Help!!

    Coach Jeff

    Hi Jeff,

    What age are the girls (example: U-12?)

    Your situation is typical and why I think it's harder to coach Rec than Travel.

    Obviously, you've read my feelings about how important it is to put brave players at Fullback. Your problem is where to hide the weak players.

    Here are some possibilities:

    1. If you need to hide 4 players at a time:
      1. 4-2-3-1. Keep your strong players in the center -- 2 strong Fullbacks and tell them to stay in front of the goal, and put weak players at the other 2 Fullback positions and tell them to NOT go in front of the goal, but to play the "Wings". Put your 2 best athletes/defenders at the 2 Stopper positions and let them roam. Leave put a good player/scorer at the Center Mid position and put weak players at the LMF and RMF. Put your best, most aggressive scorer at the Striker spot and tell her to stay as close to the goal as possible ALL the time and to be alert for long balls, and to GET IN FRONT OF THE GOAL as much as possible and to pounce on loose balls and ONE-TOUCH SHOOT.
      2. 2-4-3-1. Similar to above, but put 2 weak players on the wings of the Defensive Mid positions. The only difference here is that you are keeping weak or timid players away from your goal and putting them out where they can hopefully slow down the opponent's attack but not get in the way of your Fullbacks clearing the ball.

    2. If you need to hide 3 players at a time: Try a 3-1-1-3-2. Put a weak player just inside the half line (on your side of the field) and tell her to just stay there and to move from side-to-side, but to NOT cross the halfway line (so she won't get offside) and to not go closer to your goal than the inside of the Center Circle. Put 2 other weak players at the Left and Right Attacking Mid positions. Play 3 tough Fullbacks, your BEST athlete at Stopper (and let her roam), a strong player/scorer at Center Mid and 2 good scorers at the 2 Striker positions.

    Hope these ideas help. Please let me know if they do, or if you have any better ideas.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  37. Emphasize Winning or Fun at U-14 Level?

    I am a new coach (signed up for the premium soccer content), coaching girls U-14, I assume some of the girls will have previous experience in playing rec soccer.

    My questions is - I am not sure how to direct the soccer coaching - should I emphasize winning.. or having fun?... I would imagine at the U-14 level it would move more toward the winning attitude and not just completely having fun. I realize having fun is very important, but at the u-14 level, is having fun the #1 point to make?

    Thanks,

    Coach Tony

    Hi Tony,

    I think having fun is always important -- it's just more fun to have fun than not, and if it isn't fun the girls won't show up. Now, you can have fun and still win. In fact, it's a lot more fun to win than to lose. By using the Premium program your team can have fun and also win as many games as they possibly can -- that's what Premium is designed for.

    Tony, play the practice games at practice. Play "Dribble Across A Square" 3 times to start every practice. Also play "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race", "Chips/Lofted Passes" game and "Shoulder Tackle and Strength on the Ball Game". For coaching tips, start with "Most Important Things" and follow the links. Read the Testimonials and you will see that you can have fun and also win. If you buy any DVD's, buy the April Heinrichs set ("Training Girls and Women To Win").

    David
    SoccerHelp


  38. 2-2-1, 1-1-2-1, U-10 Rec

    We play 6v6 on our U-10 rec. So, I was going to play a 2-2-1 with a Target Forward being the 1. I'm guessing the best approach for us to take when defending is to bring the left and right forwards back immediately to defend and leave the "Target Forward" past the halfway line. We now need to do a lot of practicing clearing the ball.

    Coach Jim

    Hi Jim,

    A 2-2-1 is a good choice, but consider a 1-1-2-1, especially if you play on a long field. The advantage of a 1-1-2-1 is that you can "Push Up" one of the Fullbacks and leave the other one Deep in front of your goal as a deep "Sweeper". The FB who pushes up will play as a "Stopper" who shifts with the ball and pushes up no farther than halfway between the Penalty Box and the Halfway Line. This will give you good coverage and the Stopper will be in position to stop or at least slow down most attacks, yet also can "recover" and help the Sweeper if needed. The Stopper should NOT cross the Halfway Line. One of the biggest dangers in Rec is if the opponent launches a fastbreak attack and gets attackers in position before the defenders can recover to defend their goal -- this is why it's good to leave a FB in front of the goal and you can leave a slow player there as long as he can clear the ball. With only 5 + a Goalie, it is hard to attack and cover the Middle Third if you leave 2 Fullbacks deep.

    The Stopper should be your best athlete -- fast, tough and aggressive. Read "Stopper Importance" on Premium.

    When you have to defend, have your MF's drop back to the top of the Penalty Box Arc (an imaginary line using the Arc as a guide) and shift with the ball, but tell them they MUST stay out of the Penalty Box. They MUST be in position to help win cleared balls. Yes, you should leave the Forward at the Halfway Line to hold the opposing Fullbacks off your side of the field, but very few cleared balls will get that far. The MF's will have to be in position and aggressively win most of the cleared balls or you will probably lose.

    I strongly recommend: play "Dribble Across A Square" game 3 times to start each practice (ask each player his score at the end of each game). Play "Dribble Around Cone and Pass Relay Race" every practice. Teach "Coaching Rule No. 3". Read "Most Important Things" at Premium (http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Expanded_Most_Important.shtml)

    Please let me know if these ideas help.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  39. Girls 8 V 8, Running Drills and Positioning

    I am coaching an 8 v 8 girl's recreation soccer team, and would like help on the best way to run practices (such as what drills are fun and beneficial). I am also looking to get information on the best way to position players for games (do you play 3-2-2 for example). What is the most appropriate product you offer with these questions in mind? Thanks for your help.

    Coach Mark

    Mark,

    You should subscribe to SoccerHelp Premium. It has the answers you want. Check out the Practice Games that are for your age group -- it tells you which we most recommend.

    Regarding the best formation, if you are on a short field, a 3-2-2 is okay, but you can't put any timid players at Fullback, so consider a 2-3-2 (2 FB's, 3 MF's and 2 Forwards) and put your most athletic/toughest player at Center Midfield and you can put 2 timid or weak players at LMF and RMF. Or, a 2-4-1 with 2 strong players at the 2 Center Mid spots. Or, a 2-1-3-1 with your most athletic/toughest player at the "Stopper" spot (the 1 in front of the Fullbacks), a strong player at the Center Mid spot, your best scorer at the Forward spot, 2 brave Fullbacks who can clear the ball (don't "Push Up" and you can put slow players at Fullback), and 2 weaker or timid players at the LMF and RMF positions. It's important to find a place for the timid and weak players (the left and right midfield are best) and you MUST NOT put timid players at Fullback or you will get killed. Keep your strongest players in the "Center" positions, especially Stopper and Center Mid, and tell them to "Shift" with the ball.

    Read "Stopper Importance" on Premium and "Most Important Things". Teach "Coaching Rule No. 3". Play the "Dribble Across A Square" game 3 times to start each practice and play "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" a lot.

    David Huddleston
    SoccerHelp


  40. A Bad Coach

    I don't know who to talk to or ask so I thought maybe you could help me. I am a very concerned parent on a U-12 girls travel soccer team. We have a coach that doesn't know how to coach and we don't know what to do. He is a very nice gentleman, but when it comes to soccer he isn't the best we can do. What I want to know is there any special rule or procedure that we can use to get rid of him? I ask this because I know we should go to the club, but he is the vice-president and there is no way they will change coaches. Our club is very political. We have another coach, one that is VERY good, sitting on the sideline and we want her to be the coach. (She isn't starting problems either, its the other parents who are talking to her.) I know this seems wrong, but our team has played 9 games and the total goals we have scored is 0. The other teams have scored a total of 29. Thank you for your time.

    Concerned Parent

    This is really tough.

    This is the reason new soccer clubs get formed and why teams often split up. I suggest this:

    1. Have a Parent's meeting to discuss it without the coach present.

    2. Go to the Coach and ask him to step aside.

    3. If he won't step aside, appoint a representative to meet with the President of the Club.

    Options include forming a new club or just quitting. I would guess you might be better off quitting than staying on this team. It doesn't sound like much fun and I wonder how much your daughter is learning.

    Good luck.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  41. How To Teach 11 VS 11 and a 3-1-4-2 Formation

    Hi, I just joined the Premium program, you have a great site and I'm overwhelmed with all the good information.

    I've been coaching the same team for 3 years now, we are at U11 this year and moving up from 8 vs 8 to 11 vs 11, and I'm trying to figure out what formation is best for my boys. I'm thinking the 3 1 4 2 may be a good one, as I have one really good player on defense who would make a great stopper. My question is this, how do you teach the 11 vs 11 and the formation. All the good games and activities to teach the skills and the small sided games so everyone has more touches are great, but at what point and how do you put it all together and teach the actual formation of 11 vs 11, and since we only have 14 players it's hard to practice with 11 vs 11 unless we play against another team, and that turns into more of a match than practice...

    Thanks,

    Coach Rory, Washington

    Hi Rory, thanks for the letter.

    The answers to your questions are on Premium. Read:

    1. "Formation Selection and Assigning Positions" http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Formation_Selection_And_Assigning_Positions.shtml
    2. "Formations" in the Dictionary http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Dictionary_F.shtml#formations
    3. "Quick Team Improvement Program" http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Quick_Team_Improvement.shtml, no. 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9.
    4. "How To Teach Soccer Formations" http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Soccer_Formations.shtml
    5. "23 of the Best SoccerHelp Tips and Tactics http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Best_Tips_Tactics.shtml
    6. "Stopper Importance" Soccer_Stopper_Soccer_Formation_8v8.shtml

    Please let me know how this works for you.

    I think a 3-1-4-2 might be a good choice because you can play your best athlete at Stopper, keep 2 tough players at the 2 Center Mid spots, and hide weaker players at the LMF and RMF spots. Put one good really fast player at Forward and one very aggressive player who can win the ball in the box and score.

    David Huddleston
    SoccerHelp


  42. How to Teach U-8 Players to Score More Goals

    I am a first-time soccer coach, coaching first-graders playing 6 v 6. We are 1-1 so far, but the best thing has been our defense, holding each opponent (coached by veteran soccer coaches I might add) to only 1 goal per game. Your site has been a great help for me preparing our team. Now I just need to figure out how to increase our scoring opportunities. I'm hoping this video will help.

    Thanks!
    Coach Mike

    Hi Mike,

    At U-8, you must keep it simple. DON'T try to teach a passing style of attack -- basically, teach your players to "win the ball" and to kick it hard except when near the goal they're trying to score in. Buy some of our patches to reward them for hustle. (Read the "Patches Comments" for how well these work). Play "Boom Ball", except teach your attackers to shift with the ball and to expect it to be kicked straight ahead by your Fullback. Play the Premium "Longest Kick" game to teach your players how to clear theball. Think about 1 dedicated Fullback (who stays in front of the goal),2 Midfielders and 2 Forwards. If you have weak players, try a 1-3-1 and put the weak players at the RMF and LMF spots, but stay strong in the Center. The best way to score is to get the ball in front of the opponent's goal and have a Forward there who can put it in.

    If you don't already, subscribe to SoccerHelp Premium. Play the Practice Games, especially "Dribble Across A Square" and "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race". These games will help your players improve quickly -- you will see a difference within 2 practices. There's a 30 day money back guarantee.

    On Premium, read "Assigning Positions Tips" and "Assigning Positions Rules", "Most Important Things", "Quick Team Improvement Program" no. 2-9 (especially No. 4 about how to teach "Shift & Sag"), and "Attacking Plan".

    Teach "Coaching Rule No. 3" (see "22 Coaching Rules") -- it's worth 2 goals per game at U-6 and U-8.

    Please let me know what helps you the most.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  43. How close should 2nd defender play to 1st defender?

    How close should 2nd defender play to 1st. defender?

    My experience is that if the 2nd defender is too close, the 1st defender AND 2nd can be beaten by a wall pass, or the 2nd might be a little slow to react and the 1st can actually run into him. I think the 2nd should have enough distance to be able to see not just the onball attacker, but to have a larger view of what is occurring nearby and time to react to it. (Remember, Space = Time). I think 3 steps is a very short distance when kids are running -- if the 2nd Defender is a little slower, or the First Defender is a little faster, they might run into each other, which could be disastrous. There are trade-offs to every decision. I suggest weighing the benefits against the potential costs. The trade-off of double teaming is that if the onball attacker can get off a pass, someone might be open without a defender. When you double-team you give up coverage of "space" to focus on trying to steal the ball -- that means you might leave a hole in the defense, just like could happen in Football or Basketball -- there's a risk.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  44. A Practical Reason To Not Run Up The Score

    Not running up the score is not only good sportsmanship, it's smart coaching. My experience is that if you run up the score and it seems easy to your players, then watch out for a let down the next week, because your players will get cocky, lazy and not hustle. I found it best to win, but keep it close. There are several ways to do this:

    -- Moving the Fullbacks and Midfielders up to Forward, and Forwards back to defend or to the Midfield, is probably the best approach

    --The 2nd best approach is to "play short" by taking one or 2 players off the field. This is good because it will force your players to work even harder and to hustle even more.

    When we got 4 goals ahead, what I did was to first move my players around, and if that didn't even it up, I would take one off and then a second.

    Putting constraints on your players such as that they must make 5 passes before shooting is artificial and is contrary to the hustling, score-if-you-can attitude you want to encourage, and I think it can possibly be confusing to players and cause them to pass when they should shoot. I think it's better to use an approach that still encourages them to play hard and do their best.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  45. Which DVD's Should A First Time Coach Buy?

    First, subscribe to SoccerHelp Premium, play the Practice Games at practice and read "Most Important Things". There's a 30 day money back guarantee.

    For DVD's, read the detailed reviews of:

    Soccer Success One on One

    Coaching Set Plays

    Systems of Play

    England Skills Uncovered

    Keeper!

    If you coach girls, definitely buy "Training Girls and Women To Win" -- in fact, it's great even if you coach boys.

    Kay Huddleston
    SoccerHelp


  46. Which Formations to hide weak players, and 3-1-4-2 Formation?

    Which Formations should I use to hide weak players, and please explain more about the 3-1-4-2 Formation.

    Coach Tony, USA

    Hi Tony,

    1. Use the Patches to encourage and reward aggressive play -- Yes, they still work up to about age 15 -- a lot of travel teams use them now, and high school teams.
    2. Tony, if you read "Attacking Plan" on Premium, you know that I think it's a mistake to try to teach a Rec team a "build from the back with short passes" style of play -- it simply can't work because you don't have the talent or practice time to get your team to make 5 to 7 consecutive short passes. The only practical approach is to teach them to clear the ball from your Defensive Third by kicking it hard straight ahead. Teach your MF's and Forwards to shift and sag so they are positioned to win the cleared balls.
    3. I was thinking, I may keep 2 or 3 skilled players on the bench and not start them and start 2 or 3 less skilled players. then sub the skilled players in w/ the non skilled a few minutes into the game. do u agree? Yes, this is a good idea -- you must have decent players on the field ALL the time, especially in the center.
    4. Yes, put a good player at CFB, but put your toughest, best athlete at Stopper. On Premium, read "Stopper Importance", "Stopper - How To Select" and "Stopper Role in Rec and Select Soccer".
    5. Play a 3-1-4-2 (3 Fullbacks and a Stopper). Tell your LFB and RFB to "Defend Deep", one off each post and NOT go past the Penalty Box line. Let your CFB come to the top of the Penalty Box Arc, but NO farther. Put a strong player at CFB and your best athlete (not most skilled, but toughest) at Stopper. Tell your Stopper to NOT go past the Center Circle line on your side of the field (i.e., she should NEVER go past the Halfway Line). On Premium read "Defending Deep Basics". Put one or 2 good players at the Center Midfield spots. Put 2 good scorers at Forward. Put your weak players at the 2 outside Mid spots. You can put unskilled, slow players at RFB and LFB as long as they aren't afraid of contact and can clear the ball.
    6. On Premium, read "Most Important Things" to teach.

    Tony, the advantage I have is that I talk to coaches all over the world. If you do what I recommend it will work, if you don't, it probably won't work -- like trying to teach your FB's to pass the ball out of the back instead of just clearing it -- if you can keep the same girls for 3 years and are willing to lose most of your games, you might eventually get it to work. The style of play your opponent used is what I recommend.

    If you do what I recommend it will work. Try it. You will have more fun and your girls will play better and start to win. If you doubt it, read the Testimonials.

    Please let me know what works.

    Good luck,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  47. More Games and Tips recommended for advanced Girls U-9 team

    Try "2 Team Keepaway." It teaches fast transitions. Just play it for 2 minutes (time it) -- play 3 games and switch up the teams to make it competitive.

    Also, play the "Shoulder Tackle" game -- it's more of a teaching exercise.

    Have you played "Chips/Lofted Passes" (this one is VERY important to teach how to clear the ball) and "Passing Pairs" ?

    Think about is how to teach "Passing To Space" instead of "Passing To Feet" -- START out by teaching "Passing To Space" as opposed to "Passing To Feet" -- it's a different way of thinking. THIS IS HUGELY IMPORTANT -- YOU WON'T BELIEVE HOW IT WILL HELP YOUR ATTACK. See "23 Of The Best Tips" ((http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Best_Tips_Tactics.shtml ) numbers 19 and 20 for how to teach this.

    On Premium, read:

    1. "Most Important Things To Teach" (http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Expanded_Most_Important.shtml)

    2. "23 Of The Best Tips" (http://soccerhelp.com/premium/Best_Tips_Tactics.shtml) numbers 3, 5, 19 and 20

    A warning: Travel teams will recruit your players. The irony is that you are already or will soon be a better coach than most travel coaches. Many win by recruiting the best, most aggressive athletes. Continue to emphasize the fundamentals, hustling, winning the ball and having fun.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  48. Is Juggling worth practicing?

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    How do I teach juggling?

    Coach Bryan

    Bryan,

    I used to try to teach juggling too, but I decided it isn't worth the time, and it's boring. I suggest using your time on more important things.

    Instead of juggling, play these games:

        1. "Volleying Pairs" (this is better than juggling)

        2. "Corner Kick Simulation"

        3. "Kick A Crossed Ball Game"

        4. "Run To Ball & Shoot with Side Of Foot"

    3 tips:

        1. Play the "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" -- I've revised it and it's my favorite game.

        2. Teach "Coaching Rule No. 3", it's worth 1 or 2 goals per game.

        3. Keep playing "Dribble Across A Square" -- you will start to see a big difference in your girls dribbling vs. opponents -- dribbling is the most basic and most important skill.

    Thanks for the letter. Please let me know how you like these.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  49. 3 v 3 Formations

    Hello Kay,

    I was looking (I am a premium member with 2 U9G's teams) for info on 3v3. I did not see anything. Any advice from David or you?

    Unfortunately we do not have a "full side" tournament in the next few months. I have coached a 3v3 team with limited success. (In fact my only advice to myself is get good players which I have done with the 3 best off both teams). How about you guys?

    By the way, both teams are undefeated this past weekend. Patches are still working. My primary team beat a team (2-0 ) that they would not have had a chance with 4 weeks ago thank you! I am still working on scoring more goals. The most we have scored is 3. Which is enough since we are holding the others teams to 0 or 1. I read your site almost every night. I will figure it out.

    Coach Curtis

    Hi Curtis,

    Thanks for the letter.

    There's not much if any info on 3v3, because there's not much you can do with 3v3 formations, but here are some ideas.

    1. If you play a 1-1-1, put your best athlete at the midfield position, so she can help on both defense and offense.
    2. Put your best scorer at Forward -- this is probably a player with some speed who is aggressive or alert enough to win the ball, and who either has a quick shot, or can make a move to get off a shot. Teach this player to be alert, aggressive and to watch for rebounds.
    3. Put a tough, brave player at Fullback -- one who is not afraid to block a shot with her body and who can clear the ball.
    4. It sounds as if your defense is good, so don't change it.
    5. Tell your Forward to NOT come any closer to your own goal (the goal your goalie defends) than a long kick from the ball, and to shift with the ball, so she is in position to win cleared balls, and tell your 2 other players to clear it straight ahead, so the Forward knows what to expect and can be in position to win the ball.
    6. Teach your players how to clear the ball (play the "Chips/Lofted Passes" game).
    7. Teach "Coaching Rule No. 3" -- this is worth 1 or 2 goals per game. (see the comment by Coach Bryan below)
    8. Start to teach "Passing to Space" instead of "Passing To Feet", it will GREATLY improve your attack (see below)
    9. Play the "Dribble Across" game 3 times to start every practice and play "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" a lot -- these 2 games are self-teaching and your players will improve a lot by playing them.

    Curtis, do me a favor and let me know what helps you the most.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  50. Practicing Indoor To Prepare For Outdoor Soccer

    To the SoccerHelp Pro's,

    Hi guys, first, I hope all of you have had a great holiday and second thanks to A lot of your training exercises and some of my own fun I added to it, my girls finished 8-1-1 (shhh, not that we keep tract of wins and losses at 8 yr olds....) anyway I have managed, for the winter, to get a gymnasium to keep my girls practicing we start in about 3 weeks and I have been putting together some more intense stuff along with our fun stuff. My problem is in a gym the ball moves faster and bounces more. The girls have to wear sneakers and not cleats which have a different feel to the ball. Do you have any suggestions on how or what I can do to compensate for these differences? I have been to the gym just to see how the ball reacts and its a big change so if the gods at the soccer help desk have any answers I am listening.

    Thank you, Coach Jim

    Hi Jim,

    First, read all the info at "Indoor soccer" on Premium (there's a lot).

    1. Use "painter's tape" to mark goals on the walls and marks on the floor(if you need to). It is easy to remove and doesn't leave glue. You can get it at Home Depot or Lowe's in a bright blue color.
    2. Play a lot of Soccerhelp games such as "Dribble Across A Square" and "Dribble Around Cone and Pass Relay Race". Do a lot of dribbling and "touch" games and exercises.
    3. Take a little air out of the balls to slow them down. Some coaches use a smaller than normal ball, but there might be disadvantages to this.
    4. If your objective is to prepare for outdoor, I suggest not playing off the walls -- keep it as realistic to outdoor as possible.
    5. Keep it FUN.

    Please share with me any ideas, tips or good experiences you have.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  51. What can I do to give my daughter an opportunity to succeed?

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    I notice, as a sideline spectator, most of the problems for the U10 girls soccer team my 8 year old daughter plays for is a general lack of understanding the situation at that time during the game. The girls play hard and are accomplished, last year rated, I believe, 35th in the country. Most of these girls have played together on this club team for several years and stay together year round in various indoor and outdoor leagues. They are very good at performing the skills taught to them during the many practices. As they progress in age and participate in more competitive tournaments it become apparent their lack of field situation presence, hence the issue with understanding the situation.

    What can I do to give my daughter the opportunity to succeed? I would like to be able to have someone or some training course breakdown the field situations and what the individual responsibilities of the positions are during these situations. In my opinion, teaching skills isn't the issue, there are many coaches out there that can teach skill. The transfer of field presence is the key and I need to make sure I get this information disseminated to my daughter.

    Frank, USA

    Hi Frank,

    Here's what I recommend:

    1. Subscribe to SoccerHelp Premium. If you don't like it, there's a 30-day money back guarantee. But it will be the best money you can spend. It will give you all the basic info and a lot of advanced info. Over 8,000 coaches have subscribed.
    2. Buy the April Heinrichs 3-CD set, "Training Girls and Women To Win" and watch it. As a coach, you will appreciate it. It's the best set and your daughter might want to watch the motivational parts. It's a bargain at $49.95. Read the detailed review (from Home Page, "Video Reviews", in the Pink Bar)
    3. If you want to learn about "Systems of Play" (formations and styles of play), buy "Systems of Play". It's fantastic and $24.95.

    You have a lot of coaching sense and will pick it up quickly. Spend this $100 and about 4 hours watching the DVD's, and use SoccerHelp Premium as a reference to answer questions and you will be in very good shape.

    It's difficult to say exactly how your daughter should play, because a lot of it depends on the Style of Play her coach teaches. But by U-12, soccer tactics will make a big difference.

    Here's my advice: Be sure it stays fun -- if it isn't, your daughter might quit by age 14. Also, encourage her to do other things. I've gone from U-6 thru U-19 and have seen a lot of kids devote all their time to soccer and then get burned out, or gain weight and lose their speed, or get undeservedly cut by an idiot coach. My son played soccer from age 5-18 and was a very good player, but his senior year he wrestled and played Rugby. His favorite sport was Rugby -- I wish I had encouraged him to try other sports, but, instead, I discouraged him.

    Best Wishes,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  52. Are Brazilian players better because they play in the street and aren't coached?

    Question: Isn't it better to not teach U-8 players the concepts of positions or support? Aren't Brazilian players great because they learn by playing in the street without any formalized coaching and learn to make the ball their friend before they learn anything about positions?

    Soccer Coach, USA

    We stress 3 things at SoccerHelp: fun, that each player should have a ball at practice, and that Practice Games that actively involve every player are better than drills. Surely you teach your players that there are "attackers" and "defenders" and don't let them all go up on the attack or don't let them all stand in front of your goal when the opposing team has the ball? If you teach that there are attackers and defenders and that everyone shouldn't stand together in a bunch, then you're teaching the "concepts" of positions, support and movement off the ball. Also, surely you encourage your players to work together and discourage them from fighting each other for the ball; if so, you're teaching teamwork and support. What we're talking about are teaching "concepts" at U-8 and not overly focusing on "positions". Concepts are a way of thinking. You want your players to start thinking about teamwork (that they are part of a team and that each person on a team has a "job"), the use of space, and movement off the ball (i.e., that they should be moving and "supporting" even if they don't have the ball). The alternative would be "herd" soccer and "every man for himself and forget about the team".

    The reason the Brazilians are so good is that they have few sports, they practice a lot, they have a culture where most people (even the poor) take Samba lessons which helps their creativity and foot work, they have many experienced coaches and they have a structured "club" system that seeks out the best youth players in Brazil and gives them the training they need to become great (Europe has the same system). In fact, yes, in the Brazilian youth leagues they do teach the "concepts" of positions, support and movement off the ball. You don't really think they get that good just playing in the street with no coaching? That is an urban myth, like the idea from the past that if a player became a great juggler he would be a great player (e.g., "Pele became great by juggling a tennis ball").

    The argument that players play better without coaching is false. Soccer is a team sport and teamwork is important. Try taking a group of kids and giving them no instruction, don't tell them there should be defenders and attackers or that they shouldn't bunch up, and see what happens. If the "uncoached" approach worked, the U.S. would be the top soccer country in the world, because for years the coaches have been parents who knew nothing about soccer, and in effect didn't coach. The only training many players received was scrimmaging (which is similar to street soccer and the idea "let's just learn by playing"). I've experienced both approaches and assure you that a team that has had good coaching will almost always beat a team that has had no coaching, and the coached players will be better and have more fun because they understand what to do on the field. Have you ever watched High School teams that haven't had good coaching play a team that has been coached and has had good training? My son played for the top High School in the state. The kids had all played since age 5. They would play some teams that lacked good coaching and it was sad to watch -- the uncoached teams didn't have a chance. They also played some teams where 90% of the players were from foreign countries and had grown up playing soccer, and they also beat those teams because they were poorly coached or those teams didn't play as a team, they were just a bunch of good players. The difference was movement off the ball and how they played their positions, not the individual skills.

    Here's an analogy. As a kid I practiced basketball every day in my backyard. I could make 30 free throws in a row. But I didn't make the high school basketball team because I know nothing about teamwork, movement off the ball and how to play a position.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  53. Does SoccerHelp overemphasize winning?

    Does SoccerHelp overemphasize winning?

    If you spend much time on SoccerHelp you will see that it's designed to help Recreational coaches and "non-professional coaches" become better coaches so they can help their players become better individually and to also develop better teams.

    If you read our testimonials you will see that many are from parent Rec coaches who were seeking help to become a better coach so they could help their players.

    My experience is that most people prefer winning to losing -- its just a fact. If you read the articles on our site I think you will see that we're very much in agreement with you that winning shouldn't be overemphasized at the expense of good sportsmanship or player development. But it's impractical and, frankly, ineffective to tell people they shouldn't care about winning. What I believe you're saying is that ALL youth coaches (Rec and Travel) should focus on teaching skills and NOT overemphasize winning. We agree 100% that it's wrong to emphasize winning at the expense of player development, and I don't think there's anything on our site that says anything to the contrary. Now, if your reference to "clearing the ball" is meant to say that's always a bad idea, I disagree. Rec teams are not Select teams and trying to teach most Rec teams to play a controlled style that builds from the back simply won't work and is counterproductive -- it just leads to frustration, unhappiness and kids and coaches quitting; most Rec teams simply can't play that style and telling them they should is just wrong.

    You say "This advice is in fact not what these coaches of young teams need." Let me ask you. What advice would you give coaches of U-10 or U-12 Rec teams? Would it be to teach skills? What if they want to know what Style of Play can work best? Would you tell them to teach a controlled short passing style and stick to it even if they lose every game and half their team quits because they aren't having any fun and simply can't learn to play that style by practicing one hour a week for 4 weeks before the season starts?

    We've developed a different type of training program that is based on the use of Practice Games instead of drills. It's simply a better, more effective, more efficient way to train, and more fun too. You can read about it in an article that was in the Soccer Journal (Sept 2003). Here's a link to it: http://www.soccerhelp.com/Soccer_Journal_Article.shtml

    Here are some testimonials that will tell you about a lot of coaches who visit our site:

    "I have been a soccer coach for over 10 years. I signed up for your program and love your site. It is very informative and it saves me time, but best of all it is working for the kids. My U12 girls will be better players at the end of the season because of the program. Thanks for all your work."

        --Coach Joe, U.S.A.

    "Great Site! I've played soccer for 18 years through all the development, Junior Olympic, even tried out for the pros (in Canada way back when) so the technique and tactics are nothing new, but the drills for coaching kids (coaching 10 and 11 year olds) is very thorough. I have coached kids before, but lost their interest running more advanced drills, and look forward to implementing some of these 'games' at practice to keep their interest, and still teach the skills, and let them have fun."

        --Coach James, U.S.A.

    "I just wanted to give you an update on our progress since your reply. Our play has improved a lot. The kids really look forward to practices with all the games I've introduced: on our team of 9, we never have less than 7 show up, and usually have all 9, pretty good for a non-competitive league where they don't keep scores or standings! Thanks for your help."

        --Coach Don, Canada

    "I had so many parents tell me how much their child enjoyed soccer this year. Even first year players were scoring, playing like third and fourth year players and having a great time. Your hints, strategy, practice games and web site are fantastic. I'm moving on to division 5 next season. I noticed a big improvement in dribbling. It was amazing. The team scored a lot of goals, we usually had 6-7 a game. Your site has not only helped the kids, but it has helped me gain greater confidence as a coach."

        --Coach Suellen, U-8 Coed, Pennsylvania, USA

    Read this from Myron, a U-10 girls coach:

    • On March 5, 2002 he wrote: "I have been a coach for 3 seasons now, but we have still not won any games. In fact, last fall's season we only scored 1 goal all season (in 8 games)! Due to this lack of success, many girls have left the team, so I am starting this season with 6 new girls, 3 of which have never played soccer before. Given my lack of success, I am looking for this to be my last season coaching."
    • On June 5, 2002 he wrote: "We ended the season with 4 wins, 5 losses and 3 ties and we won our last game 7-2 against a team that clearly had superior footwork skills but didn't know how to use those skills to create an advantage. Our team didn't have the best footwork skills in the league, but we proved that passing, positioning and improved field awareness (knowing where teammates and opponents are) were skills that elevated the whole team. After last season, wild horses couldn't keep me from coaching next fall."

    If you go to "Most Important" on SoccerHelp (http://www.soccerhelp.com/Coaching_Soccer_Things_To_Teach.shtml) , here are the things you will see we consider most important for Rec coaches and new coaches to teach:

    1. Dribbling, Turns, Shielding the Ball and "Strength on the Ball".
    2. Hustling, Aggressive Play and "Winning The Ball".

    3. Proper Technique for Passing and Receiving with the Inside-of-the-Foot.

    4. Basic Terminology So You Can Communicate With Your Players And They Can Communicate With Each Other.

    5. Proper technique for an "Advanced Throw-In" and how to defend Throw-Ins so your opponent can't use them to create scoring opportunities.

    6. The concepts of "Positions", "Support" and "Shift & Sag" teach teamwork and, when combined with a "Formation" and "Style Of Play", they provide the organization for your team's play.

    7. A Lofted Kick.

    8. Teach the concept of "Passing To Space" and the concept of "Movement Off The Ball" as a way to "Create Space".

    9. Teach "Coaching Rule No. 3", Which Explains How To Defend The Opponent's Throw-Ins, Goal Kicks, Punts and Free Kicks.

    10. 1 vs. 1 Attacking and Defending Practice Games that are 1 vs. 1 are excellent for teaching dribbling, shielding, ball control under pressure, defending and aggressive play. Many of our Premium Practice Games teach these things.

    11. If you define "important" as teaching good sportsmanship and fair play, we agree 100%, but you don't need our help to teach those things and your players will learn a lot by watching their Coach and Assistant Coaches.

    Thanks for the letter.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  54. How far back must defenders be on a Throw-in?

    Hi Michael,

    An opponent must stay at least 2 meters from the thrower and can be given a yellow card for standing closer than 2 meters (note that this rule probably won't be enforced at very young ages). Also, an opponent is guilty of unsporting behavior and should be given a yellow card if he unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower (e.g., by jumping around, shouting or making gestures to intentionally distract the thrower, or by jumping in front of the thrower).

    If your team is U-8 or older, you should hope the defenders crowd close to the thrower because you can simply throw over them. There are some tips about throw-in tactics on Premium, but basically, read Coaching Rule # 3 (when your team is on defense have your players mark behind an opponent so your players can't be thrown over) and on offense, throw over the opposing defenders if they stand close (have one of your players who can make the longest throw in take it) and have your players stand behind the defenders and be ready to run to win the ball (teach them in practice where it will be thrown to). Have the thrower throw down the line if in the Defensive or Middle Third and toward your goal when on the Attacking Third of the field.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  55. Recommended Premium Practice Games and Pre-Planned Practices

    I subscribe to SoccerHelp Premium and I wanted to know if you had entire practice sessions or seasons put together. Something like an outline of an entire recreational soccer practice (or a full season of practices) where you could just follow the outline. I would then supplement the practices by researching the players/team weak areas on your website and then tailor the practices to make the needed improvements. I really enjoy your website and have greatly increased my soccer knowledge and skills by using it frequently.

    Thank you, Robert

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the letter. There are so many age levels and experience levels that we don't have a full season, but we do have some examples. They are on Premium at http://www.soccerhelp.com/premium/Pre-Planned_Practices.shtml. Go to Practice Plans or the Practice Index.

    My recommendation is to play the Practice Games that practice the skills appropriate for your age level. If your team is U-8 or older, play Dribble Across A Square to start every practice and play Dribble Around Cone and Pass Relay Race at every practice.

    Carefully review the Practice Games for your age group.

    David
    SoccerHelp

    Thanks for the quick reply. I will follow your recommendations. Last year I used the dribble across the square and it worked out well.

    Thanks again, Robert

    Hi Robert,

    Keep playing it and you will notice that your player's dribbling is better than other teams.

    Also, play "Dribble Around Cone and Pass Relay Race" every practice. It teaches many things, including accurate passing while under pressure and that receivers should move toward the ball.

    Play "Inside/Outside Figure 8 Dribbling Race" a few times, it teaches using the inside and outside of the same foot to dribble.

    Play "Small Sided Scrimmage without a Goalie" when you scrimmage (about every other practice for 15 minutes).

    Try "Tick Tock", "Passing Pairs", "Volleying Pairs", "Chips/Lofted Passes Game", "Double Dare Attack/Defend", "2 Team Keep Away", "Throw Ins Teaching Game" and "Shoulder Tackle and Strength on the Ball Game".

    Review all the Practice Games for your age group.

    Good luck and please let me know which games help your team the most.

    David


  56. Importance of Stopper, Patches and Coaching Rule No. 3; Letter from U-10 Coed Rec Coach Playing 9v9:

    Hi SoccerHelp,

    We had 1 win and 4 narrow losses until I put into place your tactics for playing a stopper, marking on throw-ins, goal kicks, punts and free kicks (Coaching Rule No. 3) and using patches as incentives to motivate players. The team we played today would have normally beaten us, but we beat them 3-0 !! The number of assists and striking in the goal box was amazing, lots of far post positioning by our team, I changed the Stopper half way thru first half. My first choice at stopper ended up having no real energy, the second choice was amazing - he went like a steam train. I told him the whole field was his, as long as he ran back to position each time the other team went on attack - he did this - and performed incredibly well. Our defenders did see some action but it was more clearing type work.

    As you recommended, I played our best goalie in the field because he's a great athlete and our second choice goalie was in goal - I was nervous at commencement of game. But the other team hardly got near our penalty box!!!

    Marking improved all thru game, I gave out patches at half time for marking and assists. This really got my team going. Me yelling out to player as he/she went by - "you've got a patch for marking Logan".... or "Jack, you're patched for hard attack!" You should have seen the kids faces then watched them react on the field!!

    The parents were screaming their heads off - they couldn't believe the change in our team. All the kids came off the field heads held high and smiling. They knew they'd achieved something great.

    SoccerHelp - I am raising a glass to you guys this evening - I think the team is starting out on a great path. You've made the difference today mate!

    All the best and have a great weekend. The start of ours has been awesome.

    --Coach Chris, New Zealand


  57. Coaching Rule No. 3 Allows U-9 Team To Dominate Opponents

    (Bryan had a very good U-9 team that was 4-0, outscoring opponents 30-5).

    Hi David,

    Re your tips, I agree with each one. We do Dribble Across every practice - it really makes a difference! Coaching Rule No. 3 should be Coaching Rule No. 1, as it is why my girls are so successful at dominating the opponents - it is rare that an opponent manages to get the ball clear from their end on a goal kick as my girls just step in front of them and steal it. I have also done your revised Dribble Around game, and it is a favorite with the girls - they are *very* competitive, so that sort of game always works well.

    Regards,

    Bryan


  58. How to teach aggressive play to Girls U-12 and G-14 Rec players

    Hello SoccerHelp,

    I've got two situations I need advice on. I have been a member on and off and also purchase patches from you. For the past two years I have bought into the 3-2-2-3, and 3-2-3-2 formations, but this year was VERY problematic.

    1. What do you do when too many U-12 girls are afraid of the ball in recreational soccer? As the season progressed, I moved my big, plodding players up and kept my speedy, somewhat aggressive players back on defense. This helped prevent goals, but then we had little offense. My daughter is the only player on the team who can create shots for herself and others. Too many others over-dribble, dribble too far in front of themselves, or simply cannot win 1v1 battles. What do you do with a girl who is nice as all-get-out but refuses to be aggressive, run fast, and attack the ball? We just finished our "Soccer Saturday," and we had one girl who we just HAD to limit her playing time because when she was in is was like 10v11. I work on your drills and games, but am frustrated when I have to hide too many players. Help!
    2. I have a U-14 team with great potential next year, but they refuse to do headers, knock the ball down in front of themselves, etc. And, I have never seen a group of girls let so many balls bounce over their heads and then have to race the attacking team for possession. How are U-14 girls still afraid of the ball? Do we stay with a 3-2-2-3, or 3-2-3-2 or do we try something else? I need to think ahead to next year.

    --Coach Jeff

    Hi Jeff,

    1. Stick with a 3-2-3-2 (2 Stoppers) or, if you have a player who is a GREAT Stopper, a 3-1-3-3 (one Stopper), OR if you have to hide 2 players, play a 3-1-4-2 and you can hide 2 at LMF and RMF, and still have 2 good center midfielders.
    2. Jeff, read "Defending Deep Basics" on Premium -- put your slow players at Fullback and Defend Deep. You can't put your slow players at Forward.
    3. On Premium, read "Aggressive Play - How To Teach" ; a lot of the key is to really compliment aggressive, hustling play in front of the entire team. I did it by giving Red Patches ONLY for aggressive, hustling play. I gave these at the end of the game in front of the entire team and parents.
    4. Play the "Shoulder Tackle and Strength on the Ball" game on Premium.
    5. Here are other recommendations (these are worth 2 or 3 goals per game):

      1. Play the "Dribble Across A Square" game 3 times to start each practice (this is critical)
      2. Read "How To Teach Dribbling" on Premium
      3. Play the "Dribble Around A Cone and Pass" game a lot (this is a fantastic game)
      4. Teach Coaching Rule # 3 (worth a goal per game)
      5. Read "Stopper Importance" on Premium and switch to a formation that uses a Stopper (worth 1 or 2 goals per game)
      6. Read "Defending Deep Basics" on Premium, especially # 1 thru 7, and from that teach: # 1, 2, 3 ,4 ,5 and 6. ("First Defender/Second Defender" and "Shift and Sag" are critical)
      7. Read "Kick-Offs and Recommended Kick-Off" and just kick it deep to the corner -- you don't have time to worry about fancy kick-offs.
      8. Read "Corner Kick Tips" and "Goal Kick Tips"
      9. Go to "Throw-Ins Navigation Page" to "How To Teach Throw-Ins" and teach an Advanced Throw-Ins. Use the " Throw-Ins Teaching Game" to teach this.

    Don't worry about teaching your girls headers, that isn't critical.

    Okay Jeff, here's the deal: Let me know how the above helps you. That's how we get feedback. Use what I recommend from Premium and you will see a BIG difference. We've helped hundreds of coaches and if you do what I recommend, you will see results. Jeff, if you follow these recommendations, you will see results, but if you don't, you won't. Have you been playing the Dribble Across game at practice?

    Good Luck!!!

    David
    SoccerHelp


  59. Coaching Rule No. 1

    Hi SoccerHelp,

    I don't really understand coaching rule #1. If, on the other team's throw-ins, our guys are dynamically marking the other team, they should be able to intercept the ball. There could be a few layers of people surrounding the person throwing in, and the closest may be thrown over, but if the farther layers are marking, they will not get thrown over. Could you please explain further or point to an article.

    Great site. I'm reading through all the definitions right now and will move on to the rules later.

    Thanks,
    Cathy

    Hi Cathy,

    The mistake many coaches, and players, make is to try to intercept the opposing team's throw-ins. That isn't the critical thing, the critical thing is to avoid giving up a goal. If you play me and try that, I'm going to kill you, because that's what I hope you try to do. I will simply have my receivers move close to the thrower, which will pull your defenders close to the sideline, and then make a long throw toward goal if we're on the half of the field that your goal is on, or down the line if on my Defensive Half. My players (the attackers) will know what to expect and all but my Fullbacks (who will stay back to prevent a counterattack) will break toward goal so we will outnumber your defenders, and your defenders are then chasing the ball toward your goal, which is also problematic for your team, since they are going the wrong way.

    Instead, teach your players to mark BEHIND an opponent (about 2 or 3 steps behind). If you mark in front they will simply throw over you toward goal and score; the Danger is getting thrown over. You allow the opponent to inbound the ball, but you don't give up a dangerous throw or a fast break on your goal. You control their field position. If the opponent makes a bad throw, your player is in position to steal the ball. Or, your player can allow the receiver to receive the ball and THEN move close behind and try to steal the ball or kick the ball away when the attacker turns.

    If you mark in front you aren't keeping "multiple layers of defenders" between the ball and your goal.

    Trust me on this, thousands of coaches have tried it. Or, try it both ways and observe.

    Remember the Rule: "Don't get thrown over."

    David
    SoccerHelp


  60. Penalty Kicks

    Hi SoccerHelp,

    We enjoy your site, and were trying to find a section where we could get a question answered about a rule issue we had in a recent game. Perhaps you can assist us.

    When taking a penalty kick, if the keeper blocks the shot and it is deflected back into the field of play, may the player taking the penalty kick then score a goal, or must the ball first be touched by another field player. We found the rule involving deflections off the goal post.

    Hi,

    You're right, this isn't addressed in the Definition of Penalty Kick, and we will add the answer there.

    We went to www.fifa.com, which makes the rules and now has a good section titled "Regulations". Here's the answer and some other info we will add to SoccerHelp:

    The player taking the penalty kick may not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player. (Interpretation: he MAY play the ball and attempt to score if the goalkeeper or another player has touched it, but not if just bounces back off the post or crossbar; the kicker must not touch it unless another player has touched it).

    If, after the penalty kick has been taken the kicker touches the ball a second time (except with his hands, which is a direct free kick penalty) before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team, the kick to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. However, if the kicker deliberately handles the ball before it has touched another player, a direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team, the kick to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. (Go to www.fifa.com, "Regulations", for more details).
    SoccerHelp


  61. Snacks, hydration and staying cool at games

    Hello SoccerHelp,

    I'm an assistant coach for a U-11 Boys travel team. We've just started the season and had recently received an email from a concerned parent regarding handing out snacks during half time.

    This parent was concerned that the use of snacks was bad in two ways:

    1. It is frowned upon by most coaches because it is considered "childish" at the "travel-level".
    2. It is unhealthy for the child to intake food during or immediately after a soccer game.

    Now I firmly disagree with the first comment. After all, we are dealing with children -- I'm 34 years old and I too enjoy a snack!

    However, the second reason concerns me. I am not a physician (nor do I play one on T.V.), but I would not think 3-4 slices of oranges would be bad to consume during half time. Do other U-11 travel/select coaches offer their children snacks during half time? If so -- what types of snacks are common and has there been any performance drops (sluggish, cramping, etc)?

    Thanks for the website! The premier section has been very helpful in preparing me to deal with 18 great soccer players on the U-11 Boys travel team!

    Clint

    Hi Clint,

    We're glad you enjoy Premium.

    Some tips before I answer you: Play "Dribble Across A Square" at every practice AND "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" -- these 2 games will make a HUGE difference. Also, read Stopper Importance and teach Coaching Rule #3.

    I know that hydration is important as is staying cool. I've pasted below a tip about Hydration from Premium "23 Of The Best SoccerHelp Tips and Tactics". Also, I recommend buying a garden sprayer at Home Depot and filling it with ice water before the game and spraying the boys if it's really hot, and DON'T put the Goalie in a jersey on a hot day -- use a mesh pinnie instead so he won't have a stroke. Give the Goalie a bottle of water to keep in the goal.

    Clint, in our area the travel teams didn't do snacks, but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea. I've read some articles and suggest this:

    I believe I've read that oranges are bad -- very acidic, sticky fingers and some kids are very allergic to them. I think apple slices would be better. However, the best is water or a sports drink. Studies show players play better if they drink Gatorade before the game and at halftime. My recommendation is to have them drink Gatorade before and during the game, both when it's hot and even when it isn't hot (i.e., at all games, hot or cold).

    Good Hydration and Carbohydrate Intake Can Be Worth A Goal On a Hot Day. This is especially true if you have fewer players than your opponent, play on a big field or have out-of-shape players. Like most coaches I used to rely on the players to bring their own water to the games. As an experiment, last season I bought several cases of bottled water (plastic bottles with sport caps) at Costco and a big can of powdered Gatorade. I mixed the Gatorade in the water bottles, put the bottles in a cooler with ice and had an Assistant ready to hand them out during the game. (These were "Team" bottles & we told players to not put them in their mouth but to squirt the liquid in). Technically, players aren't supposed to drink on the field, but most refs don't care if a player comes to the sideline to take a drink and the Goalie can keep a bottle in the goal. This made a big difference in the final 20 minutes and I'm convinced we won one game because of it (it was a close game & we only had one sub but we were fresher in the final 20 minutes). On a hot day, I suggest making players drink before the game so they are hydrated. You could ask the parents to bring the Gatorade instead of an after the game snack. If you mix the Gatorade, carefully follow the directions & don't mix it stronger than recommended. A sports drink is better than water, but water is okay. Don't give out caffeine drinks. NOTE: Since I first wrote this I have read an article that reviewed studies that found that players who drank Gatorade type drinks before a game did better in the second half of a game than when they didn't drink the Gatorade before the game. The reason was simple: they had more energy left. My recommendation is to have them drink Gatorade before and during the game, both when it's hot and even when it isn't hot (i.e., at all games, hot or cold).

    David
    SoccerHelp


  62. 8v8, 2-1-2-2, 2-1-3-1 or 3-3-1 Formations

    Hi SoccerHelp,

    My girls' team is moving to U9. They will play 7 on the field and a keeper (8v8). I didn't see any formations for that on your website. Do you have any suggestions? I was thinking a 3-3-1.

    Thanks,
    Coach Paige

    Hi Paige,

    There's actually quite a bit about 8v8 formations on SoccerHelp Premium at "Formations and Tips For 8v8". For how to teach a 2-1-2-2 see Section 2 of Premium "Formations and Tips For 8v8".

    We recommend you consider a 2-1-2-2 or a 2-1-3-1 formation. This will give you more depth (4 "lines") and a Stopper. Read "Stopper Importance"; a Stopper can be worth 2 or 3 goals per game. You must control the "Center" of the field (between the 2 goals); let your opponent have the "wings" (in fact, encourage them to attack down the wings, they will run twice as much as your players, your players will have plenty of time to "recover" by dropping back into a defensive position, and your opponent can't score from there at U-9; just DON'T give up the Center and allow easy goals). If you need to "hide" some weak players think about the 2-1-3-1 and put the weak players at RMF or LMF, and leave a strong player at CMF; otherwise try the 2-1-2-2. If you had an older great team and needed to play the entire width of the field, we might recommend a 3-3-1. The 3-3-1 is also discussed at Premium "Formations and Tips For 8v8".

    Good Luck!!!

    David
    SoccerHelp


  63. 8v8, 2-1-2-2, Importance of Controlling the "Center of the Field", Attacking Plan

    Hi SoccerHelp,

    I've been a Soccer Help Premium member for a few months now and I enjoy the site though I find the amount of information here to be overwhelming at times. One thing I expected to see relates to soccer formations. While you have a ton of info on various formations for various leagues (6v6, 7v7, etc) I would like to see some diagrams of how to line kids up in a 2-1-2-2 or whatever. Do they all stand in a row or do the 2 mids in, in this case play out more as wingers or what. Seems silly to have everyone down the middle of the field when we teach kids to move the ball up the touch line.

    So, formation diagrams would be helpful. Thanks.

    P.S. I intend to try the soccer patches this year and will be ordering a bunch shortly.

    Coach Pat, PA USA

    Hi Pat,

    We don't show diagrams of formations because the specifics depend on coaching preferences and the ability of the players -- anything we showed would apply to some teams but not to others, and would do more harm than good. Also, where players should be depends on where the ball is, whether they are on offense or defense, and whether their coach "Pushes Up" on the attack or "Defends Deep". The important concepts are "shift and sag", "first defender/second defender", "first attacker/second attacker", and that positions are "relative" to each other and generally when on Defense, the "left" side players should stay on the left side of the field, the "right" side players on the right side of the field (left and right are as you face the opposing Goalie), Fullbacks should be closer to their Goalie than their Midfielders are, and Midfielders should be closer to their Goalie than their Forwards are. (These guidelines also apply when a team is on offense, but not as strictly. Offense is more creative than defense and players may "overlap" in order to advance the attack; this is particularly true with Midfielders and Forwards, because most coaches may want their Fullbacks to be conservative and stay in a defensive position in case there is a counterattack by the opponent).

    Regarding how to get the most out of Premium, start with "Most Important Things" and go from there.

    3 Tips: Read "Stopper Importance" (worth 2 goals per game), teach Coaching Rule #3 (worth a goal or 2 per game) and play "Dribble Across A Square" and "Dribble Around Cone and Pass Relay Race" a lot, which will help your players hugely.

    If you have a Rec team I recommend you:

    1. Defend Deep (read "Defending Deep Basics" on Premium).Teach "First Defender/Second Defender" and "Shift & Sag"
    2. Control the "Center of the Field" (the area between the 2 goals). You MUST control the "Center of the Field" (between the 2 goals) or you will probably lose; let your opponent have the "wings" (in fact, encourage them to attack down the wings, they will run twice as much as your players, your players will have plenty of time to "recover" by dropping back into a defensive position, and most opponents can't score from there; just DON'T give up the "Center of the Field" and allow easy goals). If you need to "hide" some weak players think about a 2-1-3-1 formation and put the weak players at RMF or LMF, and leave a strong player at CMF.
    3. An attacking plan that works better for most Rec teams: Why do you teach your players to attack down the sidelines? Is it because they can't attack down the Center? If you can attack the Center, do so; it's a more direct path to goal; only attack down the wings (the sideline aka touchline) if you can't attack the Center. For most Rec teams, we don't recommend a short passing style of attack except in the Attacking Third. Instead, we recommend "clearing the ball" from the "Defensive Third" by kicking it hard straight ahead and teaching Midfielders and Forwards to "shift and sag" with the ball so they are in position to win the cleared balls; this way everyone knows what to expect and where they should be and what their "job" is. The MF's and Forwards know that the Fullbacks and Stopper will "clear" the ball by kicking it hard straight ahead if it's in their "Defensive Third" (or, if you want to keep it simpler, tell them to clear it if it's on their Defensive Half, which is the half their Goalie is on). Thus, when the ball is in your Defensive Third, the MF's and F's should expect their Fullbacks or Stopper will kick the ball straight ahead, and the MF's and F's should have shifted with the ball so they are in position to win the ball when it's kicked straight ahead. When positioning to win the ball they expect their FB's or Stopper to clear, the MF's and F's should be a pass apart from each other (which is about 10 of their steps), the MF's should be a pass away from the ball, and the Forwards should be a pass farther out than the MF's; this will give you good field coverage in the area that the ball should be cleared to; make adjustments to this if necessary (for example, if your FB's can't kick it far, your MF's will need to stay closer to the ball so they can win it when the FB's clear it). Teaching this style of attack teaches players to: "pass the ball to space" (which is much more effective than just "passing to feet"; it may seem like the Fullbacks are just "booming" the ball, but they aren't, they are really passing it to a space where they know their MF's and Forwards will be waiting; this is very different from just kicking the ball to the opponent; even some national teams play a similar style of clearing the ball from the Defensive Third), the concept of a simple "attacking plan" and how to implement it, to "shift and sag" with the ball so they are in position to win it, the importance of keeping a proper amount of space between MF's and Forwards, that every player must do his job and trust his teammates to do theirs (for example: Forwards must NOT come back too close to the Fullbacks or no one will be there to win the cleared balls), and that MF's and Forwards MUST fight to win the ball or their team will almost certainly lose the game.

    If you try this, I think you will score a lot more goals. Thousands of coaches now use this style of play. You can read the Testimonials to see the results.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  64. Tips for U-12, 11v11, 3-2-3-2, 3-1-4-2, 3-1-1-4-1 Formations

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    Thanks for the help. I have learned more in the two weeks since subscribing that I learned in the seven years of coaching. I searched the web long and tediously before signing up. Your information is easy to follow.

    I am struggling with a formation that will fit this rec. 12 and under coed team with seventeen players. I am currently trying a 3-2-3-2 but I am not sure. Here are the players.

    1. 11 year old aggressive athletic female, medium speed with good dribbling and passing skills and a long kick. Not great endurance.
    2. 11 year old tall and strong aggressive male with great speed but no endurance. Last year in the last game of the season he played a great goalie.
    3. Two 12 year old slow males, aggressive with large build. Good passers and dribblers, the longest kickers but no endurance.
    4. 10 year old aggressive, slow, but large built male. If ball is on right foot can kick it hard but weak with left foot.
    5. 10 year old fast male, still learning how to kick but can pass well with right inside of foot.
    6. 10 year old male is slow, aggressive but needs ball on the right foot.
    7. 9 year old passive male, good passer.
    8. Three 10 year old beginners.
    9. I am thinking of trying a 3-1-1-4-1 with a combination of speed and passing ability in the mid-fielders. What do you think?

    Thanks,
    Coach Rion, SC, USA

    Hi Rion,

    Thanks for the letter. We really enjoy this type of letter and are glad you are enjoying Premium.

    First some tips:

    1. Play the "Dribble Across A Square" and "Dribble Around Cone and Pass Relay Race" games a lot, they will really help.
    2. Read "Stopper Importance", it's worth 2 or 3 goaks per game.
    3. Teach "Coaching Rule No. 3, it's worth 1 or 2 goals per game.
    4. Read "Defending Deep Basics" on Premium and Defend Deep (tell your Fullbacks to NOT come out of the Penalty Box -- if you have a good CFB, you can let him come to the top of the Penalty Box Circle).
    5. Stay strong in the "Center of the Field" (between the 2 goals) -- force your opponent to attack down the sidelines, they will run a lot more and your team will have time to "recover" and get back into a defensive position.
    6. Teach your "Right" and "Left" side players to NOT go past the Center of the Field (an imaginary line between the 2 goals) -- that way youy will always have strength in the Center. Let your opponent attack down the sidelines, and encourage it. You just can't let them attack down the Center. They can't score from the sideline, and your team will have time to "sag" back to defend.

    Positions Tips:

    1. Put your best, toughest, fast athlete at Stopper and let him roam to the ball, but tell him he MUST get back to help defend. If he has a problem getting back, tell him to NOT go past the Halfway line unless he can win a loose ball, and as soon as he passes to a teammate to drop back. Your 11 year old aggressive male fast defender might be good here.
    2. You CAN'T put timid or scared players at Fullback -- if a timid player is a good dribbler he can play Midfield, if not and you need to "Hide" players, put them at the Right MF or Left MF spots.
    3. Put slow players who are brave at FB and have them "Defend Deep" (see above). It's okay if they are big or small, but it is CRITICAL that they MUST stay in position (do NOT go past the Penalty Box line if they are slow). Two of my favorite players ever were not skillful (they couldn't pass or dribble) and were slow, but they were brave and would never back down.
    4. Tell your Fullbacks that they only have 3 jobs:
      1. Stay in position and don't go past the Penalty Box line (unless you allow your CFB to go to the top of the Penalty Box Circle -- but only allow this if you're sure he can "recover" is needed).
      2. Slow down the attack by playing "First Defender/Second Defender" and staying between the ball and the goal, and try to "toe poke" away the ball. DO NOT jump at the attacker or rush the attacker -- they MUST not get beaten and MUST stay between the ball and the goal, and MUST play "First Defender/Second Defender".
      3. Clear the ball -- don't try to dribble or pass, just kick it hard STRAIGHT AHEAD. Tell your Stopper, MF's and Forwards to expect it to be kicked hard straight ahead and to SHIFT with the ball so they are in position to win it. The Stopper should be a short pass away (say 10 steps, in case it's miskicked -- if it's a hard kick, the Stopper should let the ball go by and follow it), the MF's should be a long pass away (say 20 steps), and the Forwards should be long kick away (say 30 steps). It's okay and good if these players are kicked over; being kicked over won't allow the opponent to score, but if they are too far from the ball and the ball never reaches them and the opponent wins it, then your ST, MF's and F's aren't in position to help stop the attack. On the other hand, your ST, MF's and Forwards MUST be far enough out to have a chance to win the cleared balls or your opponent will always win them and eventually score.

    Formations:

    I suggest you try a 3-1-4-2 formation with your fast, aggressive defender at Stopper. The "4" gives you a place to put 2 weak players at RMF and LMF, and put 2 better players at the two Center MF positions (RCMF and LCMF). Tell the RMF and LMF to stay near the sidelines and try to slow down the opponent's attack (this is also a good way to keep the very weak players from getting in the way of your attack).

    Please let me know how this works for you. I believe you will see big improvements.

    David
    SoccerHelp


  65. How To Teach Players To Stay Onside and Patches For Motivation

    Hi SoccerHelp,

    I am coaching a boys U9 team and just completed the first tournament with a 4-0 run. The boys are playing 8 vs 8 for the first time and we had at least 5 or 6 goals nullified due to offsides calls. Is there a drill or game that I can run to teach my kids about staying onsides?

    As a testimonial regarding the iron-on soccer ball patches, I wanted you to know how my kids are very competitive to win one of four patches we award each game. I have even heard that the parents comment on a good play stating that such a play might earn a patch. My team is the only one presently using the patches and I think it makes a difference in how the boys compete. The boys will be having the patches stitched onto their uniform shorts. Thanks for the great motivational tool.

    Thanks,
    Coach Tom, IL, USA

    Hi Tom,

    Congratulations on your success and thanks for this letter. My belief was and is that kids grow up fast and the more fun you can have while they're young, the better. You're giving them some fun memories.

    Regarding how to teach them to stay onside:

    1. Try the "3 Man Direct Wing Attacking Game" on Premium. If you don't subscribe to Premium, you should; read the Testimonials, it really works. There's a 30 day no-hassle refund policy. Very few people ever ask for a refund, and I think that says a lot.
    2. I suggest teaching your attackers to stay 2 steps behind the "Last Defender" and, if they don't have the ball but are running with a teammate who has the ball, to stay 3 steps behind the ball so they are less likely to be called offside. (The linesman's sight angle can sometimes make an attacker look like he's in an offside position when he's actually even with the Last Defender or with the ball).

    Please let me know if this helps,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  66. Recommended Pre-Game Warm-Up and What To Do Prior To The Game

    Dear SoccerHelp,

    I am a Girls-U8 AYSO coach and a Premium Member. I have been using some of your Practice Games at practice, and it has been working out great.

    What is the best thing to do with the girls during the 15-minute warm-up before the game starts? Traditionally, girls line up and kick balls into the goal (almost every team I have seen does this), but it seems like the girls would benefit more from a game or activity where they will get more ball touches. Do you have any particular games that you would recommend for this?

    Thank you for your wonderful web site.

    Coach Jean

    Hi Jean,

    What I found worked best was light activity such as small groups passing the ball around (2 to 4 passing it around). I never saw the benefit of kicking it into the goal ( we would end up chasing balls that missed the goal or kids would get hit in the head). Also, I found it counterproductive to do anything that burned up a lot of energy -- it seemed that my players didn't have any extra energy to waste and played better if they were fresh.

    I recommend you spend at least 5 minutes being sure every player is "hydrated" (have them drink water or Gatorade), being sure they've all gone to the restroom, that shoes are tied and going over your game strategy (for example, if you want your Fullbacks to "Defend Deep").

    P.S. Try our iron-on patches -- they really motivate the kids and make it more fun. Also, play the "Dribble Around Cones & Pass Relay Race" a lot -- it will really help.

    Good Luck,

    David
    SoccerHelp


  67. SoccerHelp.com Logo

    From www.soccerhelp.com
    Copyright 1999-2014, David and Kay Huddleston

    +David Huddleston

    Legal Notice - Allowed Uses and Copyright Protection. We allow anyone to link to this article or to www.SoccerHelp.com. You may also copy on paper for handouts up to 10 pages from SoccerHelp.com PROVIDED: you include "Source: SoccerHelp.com" at the top or bottom of the article. To copy our work without crediting us is stealing and we WILL protect our copyrights and Trademarks. We would rather be nice than mean, so please follow the guidelines in this paragraph. It is illegal to post any information from SoccerHelp on the internet without written permission from David or Kay Huddleston. If you want to share our information, simply post a link to that page of SoccerHelp. We will allow short quotes of up to 50 words to be posted PROVIDED you do not remove any references to SoccerHelp.com, do NOT disable links, do not copy any images, and provided you add a READABLE FUNCTIONING LINK on the TOP of the same page that goes to www.SoccerHelp.com and says "Copyright www.SoccerHelp.com, used with permission". The link MUST work for both visitors AND search engines and must be at least a size 12 font. We have to enforce this due to blatant theft and to protect our copyrights. We hire a service to look for copyright violations and report violations to the search engines. Taking our original material and making minor changes is still copyright violation and we WILL enforce our copyrights. Thanks for your cooperation.

SoccerHelp Home Page
Soccer Drills
Soccer Patches
Soccer Dictionary
SoccerHelp Premium