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Coaching Soccer Weekly: Methods, Trends, Techniques and Tactics from WORLD CLASS COACHING

Get an in-depth look at the methods, strategies and techniques used by a youth coach working full time with players of every age and skill level. This includes training plans, team management and planning ideas, latest trends in coaching and education, as well as interviews with other coaches and trainers that are on the cutting edge of soccer development.

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#182 Teaching the Five Core Soccer Skills

We were finally able to play some early season games last weekend. With the stops and starts we’ve had to our training during the late winter and early spring seasons it was hard to know what to expect. Add to that the fact that we were missing a number of players from each of my teams because they got a head start on their Spring Break trips. That gave us the opportunity to bring in some guest players from the teams below ours. The players we brought up did a great job and fit in really well with our team. I also spent last weekend putting the Rec League schedule together for our club. That’s always a challenging process but one that I enjoy. It’s like putting together a big puzzle but there are no pictures on the pieces. You just have to find the best way to stick them all together. As we get ready to start the Rec League season it’s also time to organize our RecConnect program. I talked about this back in episode #116. You can check that out for details on that program. Today’s question comes from Phil. He’s asking about agility training for young players. Phil says, “I coach a u9 team turning u10 this year. I’d love to hear your thoughts on agility training and when to start, and how much do you think agility training helps with ball mastery? Given the precious amount of practice time we have and all the things we need to work on, right now I have been prioritizing ball skills over foot skills… but can see the need on my team for some agility training. I encourage my parents allow their kids to play multiple sports because I believe that helps as well. “ Thanks for the question Phil! I believe that you can give young kids the basic agility work they need while using a ball. I suggest that my players start a program called, “SoccerFIT” when they are U12 or U13. I’ve had Scott Moody from SoccerFIT on the podcast a few times. As the players get older I think they can focus more on the athletic components of the game. As young players they need to spend as much of their time with a ball as possible. In this Episode Today I want to share an episode that I posted more than three years ago because I think it’s one of the most important ones I’ve done. It focuses on breaking down and teaching the five core skills of soccer. In Future Episodes With the players back from spring break next week I think we’ll finally start to get into a rhythm regular training and games. I’ll share how that is going in the coming weeks.


15 Mar 2019

Rank #1

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#158 Individual and Team Possession

This is the fourth week of training for the teams in our club. I’m finally getting into the flow of the season. Each team has had a number of games and I’m starting to learn more about the players and they’re starting to understand what I’m look for from them. The recreational league games started last week as well so with that, the amount of time and energy I have to devote to that area of my job will become less and less just as my coaching and Age Group Director responsibilities increase. It’s been a lot of work to get the fall season up and running but seeing the players in our in-house league, some as young as four, get their first taste of soccer in a safe and fun environment gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Today’s question comes from Greg. He’s asking about set pieces. Greg  says, “I’ve read that 43% of the goals scored in the World Cup were from set pieces. How much time do you spend with your teams going over set pieces (offensively and defensively)? To me it seems like the only thing you can partially control in the game.” Thanks for the question Greg! This question got me thinking about what my teams do on all of our restarts so I’m going to do a whole episode on that topic for next week. To answer the question, “Not a lot.” There are so many technical and tactical components of the game to work on that I feel that spending any time actually focusing on free kick or corner kick routines is a waste of time for most youth teams. Now, if you’re coaching a U14 team that is highly competitive and accomplished and training three or four times a week then you could afford to spend a session or two on set pieces. But even then I would focus more on the broad concepts involved in being effective in attacking and defending situations rather than choreographing intricate set plays. I know there are other coaches that feel differently about this subject and you can tell that their teams have rehearsed these situations but it’s about economy of training for me. I can get more bang for my buck out of technical or small-sided game work at the youth level. I’ll leave the rest for the coaches they have later on. In This Episode As I said, we’ve been training for a few weeks but from the emails and comments I’ve received many teams don’t start until early September. So today I’m going to go back to some of my first training sessions of the year and discuss the importance of training individual and team possession. Many of the activities I describe in this episode can be found on our YouTube Channel as Animated Drills. I would suggest checking the channel out if you haven’t already because there’s a lot of very useful information there. Future Episodes Next week I’ll go over what my teams do for every restart of the game from kickoff to free kicks, goal kicks, corner kick and even throw ins. Hopefully it will give you some ideas of how you can approach these situations with your own teams.


24 Aug 2018

Rank #2

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#210 Using the Play-Practice-Play Method in Practice

Last weekend was a busy one; I had six games between my four teams. The results were 3-2-1. The interesting thing was that the teams were 1-1-1 on Sunday and I LOVED the performance of my teams in every game. My approach was different with each group but I think it really matched with what they needed on the day a struck a balance between too much direction and not enough. Realizing that the balance needed by each team will be different and that sometimes even different for one team from one game to the next has been an interesting insight that I’ve come to after reflecting on each game. This weekend I just have one game. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself although I’m sure my ‘Honey, do….’ list will fill my extra time. The following weekend I have two teams playing their last tournament of the fall. That will be fun because one team is playing up that doesn’t usually and the other team usually plays up but isn’t for this tournament. That will wrap up my fall schedule and then it’s time for FUTSAL! Today’s question comes from Mike. He’s asking about teams building out of the back. Mike says, ”My question for you deals with your experience in seeing other teams in your area build out of the back. I know this is something you try to do with your teams, but do you see many other teams in your area doing the same? I recently moved to a major metropolitan area known for its soccer and have been shocked at how little I see building out of the back at the youth level (my experience here has mostly been with competitive U12-15 teams on the girls side). Game after game, team after team, most keepers simply punt the ball as far as they can whenever they get their hands on it. So, is my experience here unique, or are you seeing this in your area as well? I was really hoping that most youth teams in the U.S. had evolved past this detrimental practice. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this.“ Thanks for your question Mike! I’m glad you enjoy the podcast and find it interesting. Some teams do build from the back while others continue to just punt it up the field. There are a lot more teams trying to build that there were a couple of years ago so I consider that a good sign. I also see more young teams trying to keep the ball. As those players will have grown playing possession from the back my hope is that it will become the norm. The older the team, the more likely they are to simply punt it up the field (in general). In this Episode Back in episode #144 I discussed starting practice with a small-sided game. At the time, this was my understanding of Play – Practice – Play. Since then I’ve learned much more about it having taken several of the online Grassroots courses. I’ve also been using the methodology with my own teams. Today I’ll review how my understanding of PPP has evolved as well as the strengths and limitations of the method. Future Episodes I don’t have a plan for next week. I have a couple of ideas. Let me know if somethings on your mind and I’ll add it to my list.


25 Oct 2019

Rank #3

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#178 What to Work on With U8’s

We’re starting to wrap up the winter Futsal season. There’s just two weeks left in the league and then we have the US Youth Futsal Nationals. There are 160 teams entered in the tournament and only 20 of them are from the KC area according to the organizers. It’s always a great event and I’m really looking forward to it this year. We had a loopside game this weekend that allowed me to work on playing with a “Fly Keeper”. It’s basically a fifth attacker. It was interesting trying to do it in a game for the first time but the girls started to catch on after a short period of time. We worked on it in training this week and I the have a much better understanding now. Hopefully we’ll get another chance to try it this weekend. Ideally, we’d be down a goal and have a chance to try to get the goal back. I’m going to do an Animated Drill for the Fly Keeper on our YouTube channel if you’d like to see everything that’s involved in using this tactic. Today’s question comes from Trevor. He’s asking about which format to play with his U7’s this spring Trevor says, “I have a decision I’ve been mulling for some time, and would like your opinion. I believe I’ve made my mind up, but I’m still waffling a bit and I’m solicited input from some coaches whom I trust and respect. The context: – I have a group of relatively talented 2012 kids (including my son), for whom the fall will be their first full ‘club’ season (u8) in our area. – This past Fall, because we had no choice with our rec setup, we already played 7v7 (on a very small field). I hated that and wanted to play 4v4 but lost that battle. – This coming Spring, I’m going to pull together a team (or 2-3) of kids to play up in the local ‘travel’ league. The kids have outgrown the rec setup which is very small fields playing 7v7, too crowded. – My decision now comes down to: do we play 7v7 or 4v4 in the local travel league. – There are some other minor variables at play (finding right competition, having the right numbers, etc), but, all things being equal, what would you think you’d do? For me, it was almost a slam-dunk to go 4v4…way more playing time (I’d be splitting them into teams of 6 and enter 2-3 teams), way more touches and decisions and involvement in the play, and of course, more goals scored by each kid. The thing that’s got me waffling really is just the lack of goalkeeper. I’m okay with losing a season of learning the 7v7 format and teaching offside, etc. But I don’t love the idea of going against no GK and not having to learn how to truly finish.” If you had any thoughts on this, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks for the question Trevor! I would go 4v4 if it were me. The kids need to dribble, pass and shoot. IMHO any time spent as a goalkeeper at this age is wasted time. I understand your desire to have it be more of a challenge for the shooter but that wouldn’t concern me as much now as the time they waste in goal. Remember! Please share your thoughts on the podcast through social media to help us spread the word about the information we’re sharing to your network of coaches. Please share www.CoachingSoccerWeekly.com and include #CSW Thank you for listening to this episode! If you enjoyed it, please feel free to share it using the social media buttons on this page. I’d also be VERY grateful if you could rate, review, and subscribe to Coaching Soccer Weekly on iTunes, Google Play Music or wherever you get your podcasts. Future Episodes Next week I’m going to look at the U10 age group. As the middle group in Zone 1 it’s interesting because while the players are developing more of an understanding of what’s involved in the game. They still need to be focused on fun and learning rather than competing.


8 Feb 2019

Rank #4

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#157 The First Games of the Season

I’m sorry for missing last week’s podcast. Everything just piled up and I ran out of time. On top of a crazy week I also had three teams in a tournament so there was no time to get it done over the weekend as I’ve been planning to do. With all of that taken care of now I’m confident that I’ll be able to get a new episode out to you each week from here on out. Thanks for your understanding and sticking with the show as I get through the busiest time of year. This week’s question comes from Frank. He’s asking about defending at corner kicks. Frank says, “I am a girls varsity high school coach. I am planning for our upcoming Fall season and am reworking our set piece attacking and defending principles. I noticed throughout much of the World Cup that most teams were not having players on the posts while defending corners. Is it my imagination or is this a trend in professional soccer? What is your opinion on the value of players covering both posts? I would also appreciate any pointers to resources or advice as I work on my set piece plans.” Thanks for your question Frank! At the youth level, and at times at the highest level, corner kicks can be a great counter attacking situation. I leave two or three players forward on corners until the other team proves that they can attack us successfully from a corner. If we’re leaving players forward it means that we may only have one extra player in the box. I want that player to hunt the ball. That’s the reason that I don’t usually have my players covering the posts on corners. If a team is very good from corners I may change this tactic and bring more players back. Then I’ll look to put a player on the far post first and then on the near post if we have a spare player. In This Episode Today I want to talk about the first games of the season with a team. I share my experiences from this season and some do’s and don’ts that I’ve learned over the years. Please Help Spread the Word I really appreciate the coaches that left reviews recently to try and get us over the 200 mark. We’re still short of that but just a few more people leave rankings or reviews this week we can get there and I’ll have that free eBook I promised. So if you haven’t left us a ranking or review on iTunes in the past, it would be a great time to take a minute and leave one now. Future Episodes I did a couple of sessions this week that focused on individual and team possession that I’ll share with you next week. I also have a couple of interviews that are on the back burner. Now that the things are getting into a bit of a rhythm I shouldn’t have to miss another week for some time to come.


17 Aug 2018

Rank #5

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#159 What My Teams do on Every Type of Restart

I’m sorry about not telling you that there wouldn’t be a podcast last week. I forgot that it was Labor Day weekend and I had two teams going to a tournament. I didn’t remember until after I’d already recorded and posted the last episode. The two teams I took to the tournament played very well on Saturday. Unfortunately, it started raining on Saturday evening and didn’t stop all night. The fields (natural grass) were too wet to play on Sunday so they were forced to cancel the rest of the games. It was a disappointment since we’d traveled three hours to play but I was happy with the way we played in the first two games and it gave us a lot to build on for the rest of the season. Today’s question comes from Mike. His question is about the three center mids in a 3-5-2. Mike says, “ I coach a boys HS team and we play a 3-5-2. We have a young team and they enjoy the formation because we have numbers around the ball. However, I’m having a hard time keeping all my 3 c/m in the middle at the same time. My attacking mid stays up too long and doesn’t get back at the right time, my defensive mid retreats to help the 3 backs, and my roaming mid is out of position a lot. I’ve been speaking to them but they’re still not able to maintain their shape in the flow of the game . Any help you can share will be GREATLY appreciated. ” Thanks for the question Mike! It’s often difficult for young players to read game well enough to judge when to drop and when push up. My suggestion is to play attack vs defense games where you have 11 attackers and eight or nine defenders (including a goalkeeper). This will allow you to focus on the movements and transitional moments of the midfield. You might also consider playing with two holding midfielders and one attacking midfielder. This would simplify the roles for the players and give you more defensive cover in the middle. In This Episode Last week’s listener question was about what I focus on with my teams at various set pieces. Today I’ll talk about how we approach everything from kick-offs to PK’s and every other restart we encounter in the game. Free eBook We blew past the 200 mark for rankings and reviews on iTunes.  I included a link to the free eBook here for two weeks but it’s no longer available. I can’t say how much I appreciate everyone who has contributed to the show by sending me an email or leaving a ranking and review on iTunes. THANK YOU! If you haven’t had a chance to leave a ranking or review it would still be a huge help if you’d take a minute to help the show. Future Episodes I have a number of different things that I’m working on for next week but I haven’t settled on one yet so you’ll have to tune in to see what I decided on.


7 Sep 2018

Rank #6

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#227 Tactical Training at Home with Sports Lab 360

This is the first full week of the ‘Stay at Home’ order in Kansas. The schools are out for the spring, the league has been delayed until the end of April and now everyone has been asked to keep their distance if they have to be in public. I think I’ve been every bit as busy as I would be if we were training. All the extra work to put things together for the club, the age groups I direct and my own teams has been a real challenge. The recreational league was due to start on the 21st as well. There have been lots of questions that start with, “What if…”. Those are questions we just don’t have the answer to right now. We should still be able to get it all in as long as we can get started by May 1st. If we can’t start May 1 then that’ll be another problem that there’s no use in worrying about until it happens. Who knows what’ll happen in the coming weeks but for now we can only plan to be ready. The same goes for the competitive teams. We just need to prepare and hope for the best. Today’s question comes from Greg. His question is about continuing coaching education. Greg says, ”My question to you is what can coaches do with this break in the season? You mentioned things players can do but I was wondering what coaches can do? I’m going to hopefully use this time to look into some online training resources. Do you know of a coaches network or online community? What are other countries.“ Thanks for your question Greg! That’s a good point, we can be doing things to improve as coaches while we have this extra time. I’m catching up on reading that I want to do on different subjects surrounding coaching and child development. I’d suggestion taking the US Soccer Grassroots Online course if you haven’t already. No need to take them all (4v4, 7v7, 9v9 and 11v11) just take the 11v11 since you’re working with older players. There’s some good info there that I think coaches will find useful. I’ve been looking into the WOLI coaching methodology and working that into my plans when we return to the field. I’ll have more about that in a future episode. I watched Soccer in the City the other night on Amazon Prime. It’s an interesting look at how some organizations are helping to bring soccer experiences to kids in the inner city. I interviewed the director last night and I think everyone will find it interesting. This week’s episode is brought to you by Veo soccer cameras. Veo is a portable and affordable soccer camera that helps soccer teams record and analyze games and training sessions without the need of a cameraman. All you have to do is set up the camera, press record on your smartphone, and start recording. After the final whistle, your game gets uploaded to the cloud where Veo’s AI software automatically creates a fully viewable recording of your game with highlights. Use it to analyze your matches or share your best moments with friends and family. Cool features include AI detected goals, player tagging and draw-on-screen. Go to www.veo.co and get your Veo soccer camera today. Use the voucher CSW to get free shipping AND a $100 discount. In this Episode We’re obviously in a very difficult time for players, coaches, teams and clubs. We are all trying to find ways to keep our players moving forward despite the fact that we can’t coach them in person. Over the next three weeks I’m going to bring you interviews with people who have developed tools that you can use to help your players continue to train at home and improve tactically, technically and physically. You might wonder how you can learn to make tactical decisions at home. This week’s interview will give you one way to do just that. Future Episodes Next week I’ll be talking to Yael Averbuch of Techne Futbol about ways that your players can keep improving technically not just now but all year round.


27 Mar 2020

Rank #7

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#147 The Game-Based Approach to Training Sessions

We’re finishing up our spring league season in the next couple of weeks. Then there are a couple of tournaments to end the season and we’re back to tryout time again! This is also the time of year I set aside time to complete player evaluations for all of my teams. If you’ve listen to the podcast over the last three years you know that our club uses ZoomReports.com to communicate and save the evaluations for our teams. It’s a great system and if you’re still doing you evals with pen and paper I’d suggest you get a trial version and give it a try. I have a new approach to some aspects of player evaluations. Listen to this episode to find out the details. This week’s question comes from Ken. This was a comment/question posted to the Comments section on Episode 140 Dealing with a Poor performance. Ken is referring to the question in that episode about whether or not to change your formation to fit your team or make your team fit the formation Ken says, “I agree with your comments on putting players in a system where they can succeed rather than vice versa. Why then is the “official” statement from us soccer that all teams in a team should play the same system? I have bee coaching rec, traveling, and hs since 1974 and have real problems accepting a club wide mandate. I believe in teaching the principle and the system will take care of itself (a little exaggerated but you get the idea).” Thanks for the question Ken! I think that having all teams play the same system is an old way of approaching formations. Teams at the top level, professional and national teams, change their system based on the players they have, why shouldn’t clubs and teams within clubs. Having teams play by similar principles makes sense to me (i.e. building out of the back and playing a possession style) but there has to be room for the individual differences of each team. In This Episode Today I talk to John Adair who is a Regional Director for Coerver Coaching. Our conversation focuses on how to use Game-Based Training rather than more traditional Cone Based Training. We discuss why this method can be so useful in teaching tactical concepts, reinforcing technical skills and creating a fun an engaging environment for your players. If you’d like to ask John any questions you can use these links to contact him: Email: jadair@coerverunited.com Instagram and Twitter: @coachjohnadair Website: www.coerver.com Please Share on Social Media At this moment I have no idea what next week’s podcast will focus on. I’ve used some variations on old activities recently that I might share or something else my inspire me this weekend. Tune in next week to find out. Future Episodes I have a couple of interviews and show topics that I’m still working but I’m not sure which project is going to be finished first so listen in next week to find out which one I finished.


4 May 2018

Rank #8

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#136 The Responsibilities of an Effective Coach

For three weeks I’ve focused on fast footwork and lateral movement with my players. It’s been great to see their increased on comfort and confidence on the ball. Each practice I’ve given them ‘homework’ to do that related to the movements we did during training. Hopefully they’ll continue to do these exercises at home so that their development in this area will not stop with this MicroCycle. In the last two weeks of the season we’ll be focusing on playing a lot of attack vs defense. I’ll talk more about that next week. This week’s question comes from Tim. He’s asking about goal setting. Tim says, “My question involves setting individual goals for my players. I am the coach of a competitive u14 girl’s team in Madison, WI. We compete in our city league which involves travel around the county and sometimes to other parts of the state for tournaments. It is a mix of commitment levels, some who will be there every week, do extra trainings, etc. and some who are involved in multiple sports (which is great of course) but soccer may not be their priority. At the beginning of every season, I usually have my players set goals for themselves. Where I run into issues is helping them to maintain those goals. As you know, coaches have so much to do in so little time that I just don’t have enough time to sit down with every player and put on a good session. Before I know it, it’s the end of the season and we haven’t talked about goals again. This is a broad topic and a broad question but any advice you might have on creating and maintaining effective goals would be greatly appreciated.” Thanks for the question Tim! I think it’s our responsibility as coaches to help players understand the importance of goals, teach them how to set them and help them work to reach them but the responsibility is on the player to follow through. It sounds to me like you’ve done the work to put your players in the right position to continue to develop but as you rightly point out, there’s only so much time we have as coaches. The most I think we can do is touch base with the players midway through the year and then at the end to ask about their goals and how they think they’re coming along. This is why I think training at home is such a key element in player development at the club level. They have to be working on their own if they have the goal of reaching their potential. In This Episode This week I talk about effective coaching behavior.  There are three areas that I’ll discuss: Practice, Games and away from the field. Each of these areas has an effect on the development of your players and I think you should have a plan for how you deal with each of them. THANKS! I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to leave a comment on CoachingSoccerWeekly.com or emails me a question. Reading these questions and comments makes me think about my own coaching methods and give me great ideas for future episodes. Future Episodes Next week I’ll share how I’m using Attack vs Defense situations to train my teams toward the end of our Futsal season.


9 Feb 2018

Rank #9

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#211 Should Coaches Train their Own Children

With only one game last weekend it left me with a lot of time on my hands. Saturday consisted of work around the house to get it ready for the winter (which seems to have started already!). My game on Sunday was at 8 am but first I decided to get up early and watch the Rugby World Cup Semi-Final between Wales and South Africa. That started at 4 am my time. I love watching the knockout rounds of just about any sport. The intensity and drama are something that you don’t get anywhere else in life. South Africa came out on top (a pity for my Welsh friends) and then it was time to get ready for my last league game. It was a really cold morning so the focus was on getting the players warmed up and ready from the start. The girls played great and finished off the season on a very good note. With the rest of the day in front of me settled in to watch the Liverpool – Tottenham game. As  Tottenham fan I didn’t have high expectations for the game. An very early goal (45 seconds!) made the game more interesting but you could see the momentum shifting going into halftime. I got a text from my sister that her twin boys were playing in a tournament final at 1 pm so I decided to go to the game since I don’t often get to sit on the parent’s side for a game. Once the game started I remembered why I don’t sit on the parent’s side. I describe the whole experience on the podcast so you’ll have to listen for the details. The State Cup Finals for high school age girls was on Monday. I decided to go to watch two of our teams that were in the final at the same time. The interesting details are in this episode. Today’s question comes from Lisa. She’s asking about parents coaching from the sidelines. Lisa says, ”My 2008 girls team has been playing together for a year now and they are really starting to come together. I want to brag a bit on them and their hard work. The team spent the Spring season winning only one game. They had a great late Spring tournament in regards to playing but still lost. This Fall they have come out playing so much better mentally, technically and tactically. This past weekend they competed in a tournament that we did last year in which we lost every games by a goal difference of 4 or more goals. This year were they won every game and competed in the Championship game losing 2-1 in the last 30 seconds of the game. Even though the girls are doing better, the parents….not so much. I received complaints of parents coaching from the sidelines and the girls are asking to not be on the parent side of the field. I had complaints of parents making derogatory comments about other players. I recently had a parent coaching their daughter from the sidelines as an attacker was coming down the field which made my player pay attention to the parent vs the game which allowed the attacker to score. I really need to have a conversation with them but not sure how strong to come across. Another coach recommend that I give the parents a list of things they can’t say (shoot, pass, move, kick it), and make all parents sit together on the sideline to monitor each other. I want to make the point that this behavior is not acceptable or helpful but I don’t want to come across as my way or the highway as other coaches suggested. How would you handle the situation, how forceful would you address it? “ Thanks for your question Lisa! You should be very proud of the progress the team has made. How you respond depends somewhat on the expectations you set for the parents before the season. Addressing this issue in the preseason meeting is your first chance to set the tone. If you had that conversation you can address the issue in an email and then call a parent’s only meeting if nothing changes. If you didn’t set the table for this before the season then I would suggest a meeting where you can talk about your expectations going forward. The guidelines you set are up to you but I suggest that you ask that they support the team by cheering for the players but not trying to direct them. The should praise things that already happened and not tell them what they should do next. Let them know that when they coach from the sideline it has a negative impact on the players individually and the team as a whole. Going forward you’re going to hold them accountable for staying in their role as a parent and allow you to be the coach. You may have to have individual conversations as things happen but hopefully the team meeting will get you off to the right start. THE PARTNER THAT MAKES YOU A BETTER COACH SenseBall is the training soccer ball developed by CogiTraining, the revolutionary soccer training method implemented in soccer clubs and Federations around the world. SenseBall is specifically aimed at young players between 6 and 20 years of age. Practiced individually or in groups, SenseBall improves a players touch and feel for the ball while helping them to become two-footed. As a coach, encouraging your players to practice with the SenseBall in training or at home will bring them many benefits. TRAIN LIKE A PRO. SenseBall is used by the youth teams of AC Milan, Sporting Kansas City, RSC Anderlecht, KRC Genk, FC Nantes, the Belgian Football Federation and many others. ACQUIRE THE ESSENTIAL SKILLS OF MODERN SOCCER. Learn to control, guide and kick the ball perfectly thanks to repetition. BECOME A TWO-FOOTED PLAYER. SenseBall is designed on the principle of bilateral activity. Thanks to the practice of SenseBall, they make an average of 500,000 touches of the ball in one season and use their left foot as many times as their right foot. AVOID INJURIES. Improve their concentration, perception, coordination and synchronization. There are special discounted prices for orders of 10 or more! Shipping is FREE. Get SenseBall now by going to senseball.com and become a better soccer coach! In this Episode Not so long ago just about every coach was a mom or a dad of a player on the team. Now, most coaches of competitive teams are paid, professional coaches. That shift has happened to a far greater degree in soccer than in any other sport I’m familiar with. Today I want to talk about the positives and negatives of coaching your own kids and how you can decide if it’s the best thing for you, your child and the team. Future Episodes I won’t have a podcast next week because I’m starting the US Soccer Grassroots Instructor Course on Thursday. I’ll be back the following week with a report on how it went along with details on the start of the indoor season here in the Midwest.


1 Nov 2019

Rank #10

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#077 Five Keys to Youth Soccer Success

Everything is easy when you’re playing on good fields. Last week I had a game on an aweful field in a wicked wind. We started off the game trying to play our normal game but it quickly became apparent that it was going to be an exercise in frustration. I explain the change I made and why I was concerned if it was the right thing to do. This episode is a bit of a long one because I had a great discussion with Mike Saif, President and Founder of WORLD CLASS COACHING about his new book, ‘Coaching a Team to a National Championship‘. The book details how the team was formed and the process that resulted in the team winning the U14 USYS National Championship. Mike shares the Five Key Factors that he feels made the difference and took this team to the highest level. These are elements that every coach can add to their arsenal that will make their teams more successful. Whether you’re looking to put together and develop a group of players from scratch or you’re searching for the key elements that will take your team to the next level, there is something for every coach in today’s interview. The printable show notes below include a complete transcript of the interview as well as a selection of exercises and drills that Mike used to prepare his team. Printable Show Notes The show notes for each episode are accessed through the WCC Training Center. They are FREE but you will need at least a Free Membership to the Training Center in order to view and print them. Click on the image of the notes and if you’re already logged in to the Training Center you’ll be taken to the Podcast page. If you’re not logged in your be taken to a login page where you’ll also be able to login or register if you are not already a Member. Remember! Please share your thoughts on the podcast through social media to help us spread the word about the information we’re sharing to your network of coaches. Please share www.CoachingSoccerWeekly.com and include #CSW THANKS! Thank you for listening to this episode! If you enjoyed it, please feel free to share it using the social media buttons on this page. I’d also be VERY grateful if you could rate, review, and subscribe to Coaching Soccer Weekly on iTunes, Google Play Music or wherever you get your podcasts. In the Next Episode Next week I’m going to talk about how you can develop and maintain a good working relationship with the parents of your player. This is an often overlooked component that is vital to the smooth functioning and development of your team.


21 Oct 2016

Rank #11

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#187 The Benefits of Building Out of the Back

With just one team in a tournament last weekend I was able to put all of my focus on them and not have a crazy schedule that had me going from one game to the next. Our first game was on Friday night. This team practices on Thursdays so we had a great preparation and came out flying. The team played great and won comfortably. We played two games on Saturday. The first one didn’t start well but improved as the game went along. In the second game we played a team that was very athletic and put us under all sorts of pressure that we found it difficult to solve. They knew we wanted to possess the ball and they made that very difficult. The final game on Sunday was another comfortable win. Since there were five teams in the tournament we came second on points. More importantly, we had our ‘Achilles Heel’ exposed. We need to be better at playing out of tight spaces under pressure. We’ll work to improve in that area over the coming weeks. Today’s question comes from Matt. He’s asking about what to do when a session isn’t working. Matt says, “I really have been looking for ways for them to keep their shape and move without the ball and stumbled upon your old podcast, episode 14. The first session went great with the foundation and the progressions with the defenders. My assistant coach and I were really pleased. In our second session we reviewed and focused on breaking the lines and the small sided activities. It was a train wreck. I am not totally sure what I was doing wrong. I know they are not going to get it after two sessions but I thought it would be better. They were still standing and not really getting the r/l/split to be honest. We do have one former club player so she is often my barometer. If she does not get it, I know I am in trouble. Any suggestions? Are my expectations two high for the second training session? Any help would be much appreciated.“ Thanks for the question Matt! I’ve run into the same issue with the 2 v 2 to Targets game. I would suggest that you go back to the ‘Moving in Combination’ activity and add a defender in the middle who is only allowed to challenge for the ball inside the square. That will give the players a chance to work out the combinations with the pressure of a single defender first. Then try to go to the 2 v 2 to targets game. If they still have trouble playing 2 v 2 then you could add a neutral player in the middle to create a 2 v 2 +3. That should create enough options to allow the players to have success. When something isn’t working it’s usually because the players can’t see the pattern necessary to be successful, the space is not the right size (too small or too large) or they need have an extra player to create enough solutions to the pressure they’re facing. Getting players to understand and use movement off of the ball is one of the more challenging topics to coach. Stay at it and you’ll see progress over time. I talked about solving these issues in episode #75 When It’s Just Not Working. In this Episode When coaches talk about, “playing the right way”, they’re often referring whether a team is keeping possession or kicking it long. Today I’ll go through the different options a team has when coming out of the back and give my opinion if one option is better than another. Future Episodes Next week I’ll be talking to Yael Averbuch about her journey from a family with no soccer background to playing at UNC, with the Women’s National Team and a having successful professional soccer career. We’ll also discuss her passion for helping soccer players of all ages improve their technical ability.


19 Apr 2019

Rank #12

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#144 Starting Practice with a Small-Sided Game

I was fortunate to have an opportunity to tour the new US Soccer National Training Center. It’s an amazing facility that was built as a partnership between US Soccer, Sporting Kansas City and Children’s Mercy Hospital. The three entities all have their separate areas build to suit their specific needs but they also share areas of the facility that they all benefit from. I give you an overview of the tour on the podcast but I’d highly recommend that you see if for yourself if you’re ever in Kansas City. This week’s question comes from Chris. He’s asking about rotating positions. Chris says, “An issue that plagues me is positions. I go to a lot of trouble to be sure everyone gets equal opportunity at each position, and to this point, those opportunities have come within the context of each game. For example, the players coming on the field play in the back and the one(s) up front come off, while everyone staying on moves “up a line”, for lack of a better way to put it. What bothers me about that is I feel the players’ roles/responsibility can be confusing when it changes every 5 minutes, especially given the experience level of the kids. I don’t think they get enough time to really get into the role and experience it. I’ve considered keeping them at a position for a half, possibly a game, but that’s probably overboard. I’ve heard the podcast where you addressed another coach’s question regarding how you handle subs, but do you have any specific advice on positions?” Thanks for the question Chris! I rotate my players the way you do. I think it’s the best way to give the players the experience of each position. I’ve kept the players in positions for a whole game in the past but that’s just too long for young players at the level you’re working with. You can also look at having the players switch positions at halftime if you feel that they need some more time to settle in and get used to where they’re playing before moving to a different position. Maybe after a few games of splitting halves you could try rotating them through the lines again and see how it goes. In This Episode This week I want to revisit something I talked about back in episode 139 The Transition to the Spring Outdoor Season. I discussed my plan to use the Whole-Part-Whole (or Play-Practice-Play) training model with some of my teams rather than the traditional progressive training session. Today I’ll review the differences in the two methods, how I’ve been using them with my teams and what’s been working well along with what hasn’t. Remember! Make sure you subscribe to Coaching Soccer Weekly through iTunes, or your podcast provider of choice, to be sure you never miss an episode. We would appreciate it if you would leave us a 5 star rating and/or a written review on iTunes to help spread the word about the show and ensure that we can continue to bring you top notch guests in the future. Future Episodes Next week I’m going to take a closer look at the new Bio Banding Initiative from US Soccer. I’ll discuss what it is, where it came from and the positives and negatives of using it within you organization.


13 Apr 2018

Rank #13

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#208 Ways to Encourage Your Players to Compete

I followed up the out of town tournament two weeks ago with an in-town tournament last weekend with two different teams. One team played their own age group and the other was playing up. They both faced some good competition and didn’t end up making the finals but they both had great experiences that will definitely help them continue to develop and build on a great start to the year. I talk more about their experience in the episode. There’s a Grassroots Instructors Course that’s being conducted and I just found out that I’ve been given a spot. The pre-course webinar was today and I’ve had a look at the curriculum, assignments and course material. It’s going to be a challenging course but I’m convinced that it’ll be a great learning opportunity that will allow me to introduce the US Soccer Grassroots In-Person courses to the coaches in our club and around the area. You’re sure to hear about the course and my experience a lot in the coming months. Today’s question comes from Matt. He’s asking about the attention and focus of his team. Matt says, ”My team has difficulty paying attention. I think this is for many reasons: 1) them as kids 2) me asking them over the years for input so they believe they can add in questions/comments at any time, 3) me and my scattered feedback (though I think the activities are really organized) and 4) the play practice play approach. I think 4 and maybe even 1 are copouts and I am doing something else wrong. I specifically struggle with drills/games/activities that are complex. We are a rec team and despite being together for years they have a lot of other priorities in life and soccer is only one of them. In fact, I have gotten the feedback, “we don’t like to think. I just want to play.” Any advice for a team that may not be the team you optimally talk about? “ Thanks for your question Matt! If it makes you feel better, my teams have difficulty paying attention at times. If not the whole team, at least certain players. They’re not always the same players. You didn’t mention the age of the team but you did say that you’ve been coaching them for a number of years. The amount and quality of their attention will be a function of their age and level of play. A recreational team is not going to be (in general) as attentive as a competitive team. Their motivations are different so their level of attention will be different How do you think the Play Practice Play (PPP) methodology is impacting their ability to pay attention? Do you use PPP at every session? After your next session reflect on what went well, what could have gone better (specifically, the times that the players were not paying attention) and whether or not you were able to achieve your objectives for the session. You might consider having another coach watch your session and give you feedback on what they see. It sounds like you’re doing the right things. If you’ve been coaching the girls since U8 or U9 it may be time for them to have another coach. I think a coach can be most effective with a group for two or three years. It’s the same as trying to teach the same group of kids from kindergarten through 3rd or 4th grade. You’d never want a teacher to do that and I think it’s the same for coaching. THE PARTNER THAT MAKES YOU A BETTER COACH SenseBall is the training soccer ball developed by CogiTraining, the revolutionary soccer training method implemented in soccer clubs and Federations around the world. SenseBall is specifically aimed at young players between 6 and 20 years of age. Practiced individually or in groups, SenseBall improves a players touch and feel for the ball while helping them to become two-footed. As a coach, encouraging your players to practice with the SenseBall in training or at home will bring them many benefits. TRAIN LIKE A PRO. SenseBall is used by the youth teams of AC Milan, Sporting Kansas City, RSC Anderlecht, KRC Genk, FC Nantes, the Belgian Football Federation and many others. ACQUIRE THE ESSENTIAL SKILLS OF MODERN SOCCER. Learn to control, guide and kick the ball perfectly thanks to repetition. BECOME A TWO-FOOTED PLAYER. SenseBall is designed on the principle of bilateral activity. Thanks to the practice of SenseBall, they make an average of 500,000 touches of the ball in one season and use their left foot as many times as their right foot. AVOID INJURIES. Improve their concentration, perception, coordination and synchronization. There are special discounted prices for orders of 10 or more! Shipping is FREE. Get SenseBall now by going to senseball.com and become a better soccer coach! In this Episode A common question I hear from both coaches and parents is, “How do I get my daughter or my team to be more aggressive?” Nobody wants their kids out there punching the opponent or dragging them to the ground. What they’re really asking is, “How can I get my players or team to compete?” Today I’ll discuss the strategies I’ve used the light a competitive fire under my players in order to help them find success in the game and develop to the maximum of their potential. Future Episodes I’ve got a couple of things that I’m working on for next week. One is an interview with a soccer tour operator and the other is an update on my experience with Play-Practice-Play this fall. I’ll have to see which one I finish first and that’s what I’ll share with you next week.


11 Oct 2019

Rank #14

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#163 Game Day

I only had three games again last weekend; one Friday, one Saturday and one Sunday. The teams all played very well. It doesn’t always work out that way so it’s fun when it does. We’re at the point in the season where I’m seeing the results of what we’ve worked on in training. It’s great to see them applying concept to games under pressure. Now it’s time to add on to that.  For me, that means spending more time in 1 v 1 and 2 v 2 environments to help the players develop solutions to the problems they face in the game. They understand the framework that we’ve set up to play now they need to be able to improvise and create. I’ve talked about this in the past. Some coaches start with the skills and then work on the structure. I look at it the other way around. I want the player to understand how music is played before they start to improvise. I don’t think one way or the other is necessarily “Right”. This is just what has worked well for me over the years. Today’s question comes from Alan. His question is getting forwards to work together. Alan says, “I’m a girls high school JV coach and I have a senior and a freshmen forward who have never played together. They don’t pass to each other and try to dribble through two or more defenders. Any suggestions on how to fix this. Drills or exercises?” Thanks for the question Alan! I would suggest playing 2 v 1 and 2 v 2 games where your two forwards are paired together. Then they’re forced to play together in order to accomplish a common objective. I would also use pattern play to show them how they can work together to break down the defense. Hopeful forcing them to work together will show them how much more effective they can be together. In This Episode This week’s topic was suggested by a listener, Ryan. He suggested that I discuss “Game Coaching”. So I’ll  share my game day process. I’ll discuss everything from how I prepare for games the night before to how I handle the post-game team talk. Future Episodes This week’s episode was inspired by emails that I’ve received from coaches that send in suggestions. If you have a topic that you’d like to hear more about on the show, please let me know.


5 Oct 2018

Rank #15

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#149 Providing Useful Feedback

I had a huge tournament weekend a week ago. Having four teams in a tournament makes for a busy weekend but it’s the best way for me to give all of my teams a chance to play with the least amount of disruption to our league schedule. This was the last tournament for one of my teams while the other still have one or two events to play. For those teams that are still playing, this tournament was a preparation for bigger events to come. This year my teams have had trouble with Friday night games. I think it’s a combination a long week of school coupled with an unusual night game that always seems to find us having a slow start. We talked about it going into this tournament. We discussed what the issue could be and decided on ways that we could better prepare. It worked well because our performances were far better than they have been in the past. This week’s question comes from Nancy. She’s asking about grouping players to play together. Nancy says, “My daughter plays on a u10 “A” team with around 14 kids on the roster for 7v7. The coach and program preach development over winning at this age which I agree with. However, he currently has 2 lines. The first line is comprised of the top players on the team and they start every game. He then makes wholesale line changes throughout the game. Playing time is even no issues there. However the 2 lines never commingle even in blowouts. Wouldn’t it benefit the players in line 2 to play with the top line every once in a while? When asked about this the response was the 2nd line can’t do things as quickly as the first line and the top kids would get frustrated. To me that sounds like winning over development rather then vice versa and that he doesn’t want to taint the first line with girls who aren’t as strong currently.” Thanks for the question Nancy! To me, this approach is about winning and showing that his top line is good so if the team loses it’s the fault of the 2nd line. Two balanced lines (rotating who starts and which positions they play) would show more of a focus on development. In This Episode Today I talk about how we can provide USEFUL feedback to our players that will highlight what they’re doing well, give suggestions for WHAT and HOW they can improve as well as give them an idea of what may happen during the upcoming tryouts. Please Subscribe Be sure to subscribe to the podcast through Apple Podcasts, the Google Play Store or wherever you’re listening now. That’s the best way to make sure that you receive each new episode just as soon as it’s released. Next Week I won’t have a new podcast to release next week because I’m traveling with three of my teams to a tournament in Chicago. I’ve been taking teams to that area over Memorial Day weekend for a number of years but this is the first time attending this specific tournament. I’ll let you know what it when in a couple of weeks.


18 May 2018

Rank #16

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#130 Movement to Create Options

I had a ton of Futsal games last week. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve divided my teams up for the Futsal season to make sure they all get plenty of playing time. This is great for the players but it doubles the number of games I have on any given weekend. I love working with my players but 14 games on the weekend will really take a toll on you. This is the last week of training before the club takes a two-week holiday break. This allows the families and coaches to make plans without having to worry about missing training. The break comes just about halfway through the soccer year so it’s a great time to reset and get ready for the second half. This week’s question comes from Chris. He asks about teaching positions to young players. Chris says, “We’re heading into indoor this week. I’m transitioning from coaching U10 Boys to U8 Girls. I have a mixed team age wise, with 5 7 year old, 2 6 year old and 4 5 year old players we took to help us get numbers to roster as a U8 girls team. Only one or two players have played competitive before. I’ve coached the 5 year olds recently so have had no experience with the true U8 players until now. Unfortunately, the indoor facility has not adopted the 4v4 structure that is now played outdoors. They have us play 7v7 with keepers. I’m looking for thoughts and suggestions on how to introduce and teach positions in an age appropriate way that does not involve a lot of coach talking that could easily bore these girls.” Thanks for your question Chris! Coaching U8’s is challenging under the best circumstances. The 7v7 format will be difficult for the players to manage so my first piece of advice to to keep your expectations low. They will struggle with the concepts but if you’re patient then you will see slow steady progress during the season. I would suggest that you continue to focus on technical skill work for most of your sessions (the 5-8 year old book is a great resource) but finish each session by working on playing from the back. Having the goalkeeper play out to defenders who pass to midfielders and then find the forward before scoring. At first this will be slow and unopposed. After a couple of practices you’ll be able to add a defender and then two or three. This will help to teach the players the positions while showing them how the lines are connected and work together. In This Episode Moving without the ball is a very important element of soccer. But it doesn’t come naturally. Giving your players some basic ideas of ways that they can move will help them see how it affects the game. Today I share the patterns I’m using with my teams during the Futsal season that are helping them see how moving without the ball opens and fills spaces to create more options for the player on the ball. Printable Show Notes The show notes for each episode are accessed through the WCC Training Center. They are FREE but you will need at least a Free Membership to the Training Center in order to view and print them. They’ll be available there for eight weeks before they’re placed in our archive which can be accessed at any time by Elite Members. Click on the image of the notes and if you’re already logged in to the Training Center you’ll be taken to the Podcast page. If you’re not logged in your be taken to a login page where you’ll also be able to login or register if you are not already a Member. Remember! Make sure you subscribe to Coaching Soccer Weekly through iTunes, or your podcast provider of choice, to be sure you never miss an episode. We would appreciate it if you would leave us a 5 star rating and/or a written review on iTunes to help spread the word about the show and ensure that we can continue to bring you top notch guests in the future. Future Episodes I’ll be taking the next two weeks off from the podcast during the holiday period but I’ll be back in January with more training sessions and commentary. I hope everyone enjoys a happy and healthy holiday season. All the best for 2018!


15 Dec 2017

Rank #17