Friday, May 22, 2009

Centering Practice

After observing various practice matches I found that the team's soccer playing skills and experience were just not enough. They need to create and image of the steps (play) that follow after the ball is passed (thinking ahead). That is the purpose of this drill.

Focus of Centering drill

Playing/ attacking wide to the wings with very light pressure from the defending team in the beginning.

Centering drill information
Start this centering practice session by keeping the players bound to their area of play. All balls are played wide, either to the left or to the right. When the ball is played to the wings, the defending team will apply light pressure. However, the attacking team should be allowed to make a run toward the number 2 area and loop the ball into the penalty area. At the beginning of this drill, the focus is just on creating confidence for the attacker with the ball when a defending player is nearby.

In front of the goal the defending team will apply slight pressure and try to prevent a goal with minimal physical contact. In case the attacking team is unable to control the ball the defending team turns offensive and plays the ball to their wings to try score a goal on the opposite site. Players of both teams form pairs on the wings and rotate after each play. After a goal is scored, the keeper plays the ball to one of the defenders who then choose to play directly play to the wings or to a midfielder.

Centering drill advise
  • Increase the amount of pressure after a number of plays. When they seem to have a clear image, remove all restrictions and allow the play with full defending contact.
  • Players on the side rotate in pairs A and B after they made a play.
  • All attacks should come from the side and played into the penalty area from the number 2 area. when defense is too strong the ball could be played wide to the other side to attempt an attack from there.
  • Defenders and midfielders should minimize dribbling with the ball and pass quickly.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hard Practice Bears Fruit

After hard training for a couple of weeks they were physically ready to win soccer matches in our region. The only thing left now is for them to practice various kinds of offensive training in order to become more confident about their ball passing skills and to make a clear image of the desired play. This means set-play conditions which are played out until a goal is made.

After winning the first preliminary match they were well motivated to take on opponents of the second preliminary match who were almost at the top of our region. We went in nervous but motivated. During the first half we suffered only one goal after 30 minutes or so. During the second half we were able to produce a goal after they had scored a second goal. High expectations remained and our team fought till the end without anyone giving up hope. We lost 3-1 but came out knowing that a few more practice games and a month or two of training would result in a much stronger and game-winning team.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


This weekend I had to come up with a motivating practice menu because the team had been running 5KM everyday all week and were probably looking forward to some more interesting kicking action. Long time ago I ran into a speed-work-exercise on the net but had never used it. Since they’re running at 60 – 70 % speed every day, I thought it would be good to remind the muscles of 100% speed. This exercise does exactly that.

Focus of drill:
Concentrating on opponent’s moves. Being able to anticipate when he is going to make a run. Chasing the runner in the same direction trying to beat him to the marker.

Create a square of about three square meters with four color markers (blue). On both sides place same color markers (yellow) at four meters distance from blue. Again different color markers (red) at four meters from them.

Soccer drill information:
Two players stand opposite each other and pass the ball with the right foot. When one of the two decides to pass with his left foot, he has to choose to run to either the left or the right yellow marker. His opponent needs to react quickly and run on his line to his yellow marker and try to be faster. The play is continued non-stop by the next players waiting in line, so they need to be paying attention to what is happening.
Another option is that the coach chooses either the yellow or red team’s player by shouting. Then that player chooses when to pass with the left foot and has to run to the furthest marker (red). If the opponent is not able to beat him to the red marker, he can shout “man on” upon reaching the yellow marker in order to change direction. Now both must turn and sprint to the opposite yellow marker.
This drill trains the players to be on their toes and improve their reaction speed.

Soccer Drill Advise:
  • It can happen that the players keep postponing passing with their left foot, in that case give a limit of five or six passes, when the limit is reached it automatically means they have to run.
  • Do this speed-drill with at least 10 and a maximum of 14 players. They need enough time for recovery after an intense run, but shouldn’t cool off too much.
  • Coach continuously encourages the runners to give 100% until reaching the marker. Players might be put on the wrong foot which would make it impossible to catch up with the runner; however, they should give 100% in their run to the marker.
  • Do this drill for about 15 to 20 minutes. (Depending on age)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Triangle Soccer Defending Drill

Focus of Soccer Drill
The following drill is to focus on defending with your back toward the goal. The defender has to position himself exactly between the ball and the center of the goal in order to avoid a clear shot.
Place three cones about one meter apart. If Bars are available place them on top of the cones to prevent the defender (red) from taking a shortcut behind the cones. Place three players (yellow) around the cone-triangle with one ball.

Soccer drill information:
The three players (yellow) must pass the ball around and create and opportunity to score a goal by kicking the ball between two cones. Every side of this triangle is a goal. The defender (red) has to move on the outside of the cones and try to position himself between the ball and the center of the goal in order to keep the goal empty.

Soccer drill advise:
  • Use a stopwatch and do this drill for about one minute and then change the defender.
  • coach must encourage the defender to move quickly and stay on his toes.
  • the three players passing the ball must decide to either continue passing or try to score a goal whenever they have a chance.
  • players must try to score as many goals as possible within one minute.
  • Give the defender at least a one minute break before using him as a player again.

Stamina Practice Sessions

In February my soccer team will start to build up their stamina by starting the daily practice sessions with a 5KM run. Yesterday was the first time to do so and to my surprise they delivered great lap times. The fastest one came in at 18.55 minutes. Numbers two, three, and four clocked in within 30 seconds of the fastest one. From the 11 members present yesterday, the slowest came in at 26.45 because he sprained his calf-muscle at 3KM and thus continued at a slower pace.

It is still around 8 degrees centigrade these days so they soon went down to the soccer pitch to start with basic warm-ups with the ball before cooling off too much. It was amusing to see them struggling to get their legs moving and deliver correct passes. After about fifteen minutes I gave them 2 minutes to relax, breathe, and stretch. Then we played a "mini-game" (which is like futsal), this is because my current team has only fourteen members and only ten were able to make it to practice yesterday. We payed 2 x 20 minutes. Just 10 minutes before finish time our first-coach came and gave a small supplementary practice which focused on aligning in the precise line between the ball and the center of the goal to prevent easy goals.
See: Triangle Soccer Defending Drill

Hopefully they have recovered enough from yesterday's run to finish today's run within one minutes of yesterday's time. I'll join them today, but am not gonna try to come in at 20 minutes...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rainy day soccer practice

Thursday and Friday after school soccer practice was moved inside the school. Our soccer pitch is a cheap dirt ground, so when it rains it turns into a great pool of mud.
First the team did regular warm ups, then some easy muscle training such as push-ups and stomach crunches. After that some more stretching because the floor in the hallways is very cold.
Next, we did a staircase run. Full power sprinting to the fourth floor taking double steps. It was quite hard and did 10 laps only. Just that there was no break and in full tempo gave a good burn in our thighs and knees.
A 2 minute breather and stretching before preparing for ladder drills. My current ladder drill lasts for about fifteen minutes and focuses on staying on the tip of the toes.
After about one hour we could use a room on the fourth floor. The team did passing practice between two markers with the team divide in half at both ends. We did various passes, alternating right and left foot and two touch single touch passing. Then some more muscle training for speed and flexibility.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Japanese high school soccer

I have been living in Japan for a couple of years, and have been employed by a Japanese high school for almost two years now. At my current high school I have been put in charge of the soccer club besides teaching oral communication classes. Japanese high school soccer clubs aren't that easy to manage as i had thought. My school is a fairly small private school with an average IQ of a box of hammers. Currently there are 14 members in the team including two goal keepers. This leaves me with two subs and an extra keeper. Most of the time one or two of the boy have some kind of injury or are whining about sore backs etc., which leaves me without substitutions during a soccer match. Another thing is that a couple of months after new members join the soccer team they reach that wonderfully complicated puberty age which would drive any team manager nuts.

Anyway, these are some of the things I have to deal with and I hope to share my experiences with anyone interested or bored enough to read my blog. I started writing posts about managing a Japanese high school soccer team on my other blog (Japanese high school) but decided to create this blog since it is a different world from daily classroom experiences.