Coaching - Relating Drills to Games

What You Will Learn:

  • Everything in training should be related to the game

We have discussed the need to ensure that all practice is as close to a game situation as possible. The following outlines how to make drills / small sided games as game like as we can.

Use offside when it applies in the game situation you are working on and in ALL small sided games-it makes it realistic to the game.

Play zonally, in defence and midfield. This is the best way to defend and gives structure to attacks. Zonal defence is something players need to constantly work on, defensively working together and providing cover, and when attacking how to time runs and try and cause problems for the defence.

Give the drills direction. In a game a team is always trying to move the ball in a certain direction. So in drills make sure as often as possible that the way to success/win is to move the ball in a certain direction. For example, when working on playing out from the back, the intention is to play from the keeper and a player to put their foot on the ball at the end of a large half pitch sized grid, showing that the ground has been gained and the ball is under control. There is nothing wrong with going back to go forwards but in a game situation a team is always trying to move the ball in a certain direction- towards the oppositions goal

Always look for the forward ball, this doesn't mean going long or not going across the pitch and switching but the point is if a forward ball is available it should be taken.

Use a realistic space ideally the same width as your home pitch, the length may vary depending on the tactic being worked on e.g. up to half way to develop playing out from the back. Make the numbers realistic (and hence the time available to players) to the game e.g. a keeper 4 v 2/3 if playing out from the back 4 v 4/5 if playing through midfield. It is obviously better to use players who play at the back or midfield in these drill but it develops everyone understanding of the tactical side of the game to make all players do it.

Use realistic technical drills that relate to game situations. For example playing out from the back may require a full back on one side to play the ball direct to the full back on the other side. This needs to be done in a way that allows the receiving full back to move forward (give them a direction) and is best done by having a third player closing down from the middle as this is realistic to the game. Simply driving the ball to each other is not realistic to a game. Other situations may require a full back to deliver a range of ball driven, floated etc in to forwards feet or in to space.

Players need to choose the best passing option is an essential tactical point to develop. Often players will chose the wrong option but will have maintained possession. In this situation the game/drill should be stopped and the player shown the better option with the game re-starting with the better pass being made .If you do not do this, how can players learn? Video analysis is an alternative to this. This rule also applies when coaching technique. A good example would be stopping a 6-a-side game and getting a player who had avoided using their weaker foot to use it. This is a better way of learning than simply pointing it out after the event, they have not actually done it or seen why it is better to choose a different option.

All players and forwards need to practice 1 touch soccer as this is the best way of improving there decision making, awareness, delivery and first touch. Again give this direction, Brazilian beach football involves a small sided game with small (1 meter/3 ft) goals and a lot of one touch soccer. The game has direction.

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