TOPIC: Basic Skills -kick with instep
Basic Skills -TEACHING HEADING 2 years, 8 months ago #792
Making heading safe and fun
Heading the ball is an integral part of soccer but some clubs and associations discourage their coaches from teaching players how to head the ball until they are at least ten years old.
Some even recommend that no child under the age of 14 should head the ball (Dr Lyle Micheli, Director of Sports Medicine at Children's Hospital in Boston, US) and some organisations even require children to wear padded helmets.
This is partly a reaction to studies that suggest heading a soccer can cause long-term damage to a player's attention, concentration and memory. It is also based on the fact that a child's head is disproportionately heavy and large relative to their body weight – a six-year-old's brain has reached 80% of its full, adult size but their body is only 30% of the size.  
But banning children from heading the ball won't stop them doing it and deliberately not teaching the correct technique is foolish.
The best way to avoid injuries caused by heading the ball is to teach the correct technique from an early age and ensure that your players always use an appropriate size ball.
What size ball should I use? Four- to six-year-olds use a size one or two, seven and eights use size three; nine- to 12-year-olds use a size four and 13 and up use a size five (the official international-size soccer).
But don't start heading practice too early. Most young children (up to the age of seven or eight), won't try to head the ball. They'll duck out of the way!
So there's no need to start coaching heading until:
A) You see your players trying to head the ball without being encouraged to do so.
They get to the age of nine or ten.
Even then, don't force any of your players to head the ball if they don't want to. If they don't want to head the ball in practice they certainly won't do it in a match so why make them?
How to teach children to head the ball safely
Main coaching points
Contact with the ball should always be made with the forehead.
The eyes should always be open (at least until impact) and fixed on the ball and the body positioned in line.
The player's mouth should be CLOSED.
Arms should be used for balance.
How to teach the technique
A) Each player holds a small or under-inflated ball in their hands. Ask them to move their head to the ball and touch it with their forehead. Progress to knocking the ball out of their hands with their head. This helps to embed the idea that the head always moves to the ball when heading.
Each player tosses the ball up in the air and heads it back into their hands. Make sure they keep their eyes open and their mouth closed. In addition, the neck should be rigid, not flexed, as the head strikes the ball. The whole upper body moves to the ball and there should be no 'nodding' of the head.
How to practise
Throw, head, catch
Divide your players into groups of three. One ball per group. One player tosses the ball to another who then heads it to the third player to catch. Every time the group complete the sequence successfully, they get a point. First group to five points wins.
Bowling with headers
Divide your players into teams of three or four. Each team stands a few feet away from a line of three balls balancing on three flat cones. You or an assistant (or older players who can toss a ball accurately) stand a few feet on the other side of the cones facing each team.
A ball is thrown to the first player in each team who tries to head it at the balls balancing on the cones. Serve to each team simultaneously.
The first team to knock all three balls off the cones wins.
While it is right that we should consider the risks associated with all soccer activities, banning heading or neglecting to teach the correct technique does not remove the risk.
The most practical solution is to teach the correct technique, use the proper equipment and exercise common sense.
 AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, Injuries in Youth Soccer: A Subject Review, PEDIATRICS Vol. 105 No. 3 March 2000, pp. 659-661.
 National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Proper Heading is Safe, www.nscaa.com/subpages/200906010952441017.php
 Sonawane, B. and R. Beliles, "The Susceptibility of Children to Immunotoxic and Neurotoxic Agents," Poster Abstract, lst National Research Conference on Children's Environmental Health, Children's Environmental Health Network, February 21-23, 1997, Washington, D.C.
 Tysvaer AT, Head and neck injuries in soccer, Sports Med. 1992 Sep;14(3):200-13
BASICS -Enecourage this player to pass more 2 years, 2 months ago #864
How can I encourage this player to pass more?
This is my first full season in charge of my son's U10 team.
Footy4kids has been an absolute Godsend to me. And it's nice to know that I'm not the only one with problems!
In our last game there were four occasions when one of my players dribbled the ball from the back, past a couple of players then had an option to pass the ball through to the frontline players who would have had an excellent chance to score. But he chose to take on the last player each time, it was "one too many", and we lost possession.
I had a word with the player concerned at training, not to berate him but to encourage him to look at the wider picture to see what is going on around him from a team perspective and not just in front of him.
He obviously took this on board as he was making absolutely brilliant passes through the other side's defence after making great runs with the ball. He was picking out the front players and he appeared to be enjoying his game more.
We have a big game this Saturday against the top of the group team, so hopefully he'll carry on the same thought process for the game. Like I keep telling them all, it's not about the winning or losing, it's about creating opportunities as a team, scoring goals as a team and enjoying your soccer as a team!
Wish me luck!
Many thanks for your feedback. I'm pleased that you're finding footy4kids useful!
You're always going to have occasions when a good ball player takes one risk too many and loses possession. And it can be very frustrating to see good goalscoring chances going begging!
But you're approaching it in the right way. Praise good dribbling skills but also point out (to all your players) that it's sometimes better to set someone else up to score than to score yourself.
But they might not agree with you without a bit of positive reinforcement.
So play a small-sided game where goals have to scored with a player's first touch. This encourages all your players to reach goalscoring positions and it encourages your star dribblers to lift their heads up and pass when they approach the goal.
You can progress by playing a "normal" game but awarding an extra point for assists, i.e., when a player sets up another to score.
In time, you will see more "unselfish" play and your team will score more goals. While you're waiting, sit back and enjoy the dribbling!
Re: Basic Skills -BALL CONTROL SKILLS 1 year, 11 months ago #1004
How to teach excellent ball control skills
The old saying "start as you mean to go on" is highly applicable to youth soccer coaching and there's no better way to start with a group of youngsters than by teaching them good ball control skills.
An age-appropriate warm-up (see newsletter 172 for some tips) can be followed by a small-sided games that will give you the opportunity to watch for the following:
Control or no control?
The first decision your players need to make is whether they need to try to control the ball at all.
There might, for example, be a team mate better placed to receive the pass. If so, they should simply let the ball go past them.
Get in line.
If the ball is to be controlled, the player needs to move so that their body is in line with the ball, i.e. the ball is coming directly at them, not across their body.
Many young players omit to do this and they just hang out a foot, hoping that they will make contact with the ball. Usually they miss and even if they do make contact, they are unlikely to be able to bring the ball under control.
Choose the right part of the body.
While the inside of the foot is often the most appropriate surface, children should also be encouraged to control a pass with their soles.
Using the sole of the foot, futsal style, has certain advantages. For one, the player doesn't have to look down to see where the ball is – she can feel it under her feet. For another, it is easy to push the ball in the direction the player wants to dribble, pass or shoot.
Of course, the ball doesn't have to be controlled with the foot at all. It might be more appropriate to use the thigh, chest or head but with young players, the initial focus should be on developing excellent control with the foot.
The ball is never trapped.
One trap [sic] that many soccer coaches fall into is to talk about "trapping" the ball with their players.
Even if it is controlled with the sole, a ball should never be trapped. It should be received with a view to moving it on again as soon as possible and that's much easier to achieve if the ball doesn't become stationary.
If the ball is controlled with the inside of the foot, (or any other part of the body), the chosen surface should act like a cushion, not a wall. I tell my players their body needs to be like a sponge or a piece of elastic as the ball arrives.
If the player's foot, thigh or chest isn't pulled back slightly as the ball makes contact it will bounce away from them and possession will be lost.
Which way next?
The final piece of the ball control process is to decide what is going to happen after the ball has been received and is under control.
Whether it is to be passed, dribbled or shot at goal, the ball should be gently moved in the direction it's going to go with your player's first touch.
To be able to do that, young players need to get into the habit of scanning the pitch as the ball is coming to them so they know, before the ball arrives, what they are going to do next.
A good way to practise this is ask your players to move around a grid and pass to each other... with the condition that they must call the name of the player they're going to pass the ball to BEFORE they pass it.
After you've watched your players in action and taken note of any faults with the way they receive or pass the ball, you can plan your next coaching session accordingly.
Re: Basic Skills -SHIELDING 1 year, 10 months ago #1011
How to teach key soccer skills: shielding the ball
Shielding the ball from an opponent is, perhaps, one of the most important skills you can teach your players.
Young players need to know how to keep possession when under pressure. If they don't, they will panic and kick the ball anywhere.
When should I start teaching children how to shield the ball?
If your players are aged seven and over they should definitely know how to stop an opponent muscling them off the ball and even four and five-year-olds can be taught the basic principles.
How to teach the technique.
First, demonstrate the technique with a willing volunteer.
Ask your volunteer stand about 10 yards away, pass you a ball then run towards you and try to get the ball back.
Tip: control the ball with the sole of your foot. This makes it much easier to adjust your body while keeping the ball under close control.
As the ball arrives, step over it so that one or both your legs are between the ball and the incoming player.
The way you step over the ball is also important. Teach your players to turn towards support, not away from it, and only turn towards the sideline if they intend to kick the ball into touch.
Once you have stepped over the ball, your knees should be bent and your feet should be about shoulder-width apart to give you a stable base.
Tip: older players may be shown how to time their step over so that they make contact with their opponent with their shoulder. A slight bump is all that is required.
Keep sideways on to the player who is putting on the pressure as this allows you to see what he or she is doing. Avoid turning your back – it is much harder to keep the ball if you cannot see where your opponent is.
The arm that is nearest your opponent should be tucked in and the other arm held out to aid balance.
Tip: do not encourage young players to fend off an opponent with their arm. This is illegal and the referee will probably award a foul against you.
Keep adjusting your position relative to the movement of your opponent so that you stay sideways on and your body is between the player and the ball.
How to practise the technique.
Now it's time for your players to practise in a 1v1 situation.
Two players stand opposite each other at opposite ends of a 10-yard square.
One player passes the ball to the other and, as in the demonstration above, immediately tries to get it back.
Encourage the receiver to move towards the ball so that they get control of it in the centre of the grid. Being trapped on the end line will make keeping the ball much harder.
The objective for the receiver is to keep possession for five seconds. If they succeed, they get a point. If the other player manages to get the ball in less than five seconds, they get the point.
Play five rounds.
Progress by increasing the amount of time the shielding player has to keep the ball.
Allow your players to practise shielding the ball in a small-sided game.
Award a "goal" or a point to a player who can shield the ball for five or more seconds, depending on the age of your players.
Re: Basic Skills -CREATING SPACE 1 year, 10 months ago #1013
Create space to receive a pass
By creating space before receiving a pass a player will avoid immediate pressure, giving themselves time to make good decisions with the ball and a chance to execute them.
What players should think about
Move away at an angle so the defender follows.
Cut back quickly into the space created, leaving the defender trailing.
Accelerate into space.
Move too soon or too late to receive the pass and the space might be closed down.
Communication - verbal, eye contact, movement.
Variation - attack the space behind the defender.
Set up an area 20 yards by 20 yards. Split your squad into teams of three, including one server, one attacker and one defender.
How to play it
The forward takes up a position facing the server on the edge of the area, with a defender, who is passive to begin with, marking behind. The forward creates space before receiving a pass from the server. The practice ends with the forward in control of the ball.
Rotate the players so everyone practises being the forward.
How to develop it
Using the same area, put one server at each corner outside the playing area, with a ball each. The other players pair up inside the playing area with one being the attacker and the other the defender.
The forward must break free of the defender, receive a ball from any server and play it back without losing possession.
Progressions include the forward taking two or three touches before returning the ball, and returning the ball to a different server.
Be sure to rotate players.
Put it into a game situation
Play 2v2 in the same area, with a target player camped on opposite touch lines. A team wins a point for moving the ball from one target player to the other without losing possession.
The opponents win possession by tackling or intercepting the ball, or if it goes out of play. Target players can move along their line and should be rotated throughout.
Basic Skills Running with the Ball 1 year, 2 months ago #1078
Running with the Ball
A topic I don’t see coaches cover very often is running with the ball. We all spend a good bit of time on dribbling sessions but running with the ball is a different skill. When you’re dribbling the idea is to have the ball close to your feet and under tight control. When you’re running with the ball you’re trying to take space quickly so you get the ball out of your feet and run after it.
I’ve used this session with teams as young as U10. It’s been most effective as a progression from a basic session that covers the technique of running with the ball properly.
Running with the Ball
Play 5 v 2 with the objective of keeping possession.
Pass the ball around and look for good movement off the ball and good communication.Can you split the defenders and pass through the middle, so taking out two players with one pass?Can you run the ball through the defenders?
• Decision making
• Be positive
• Good first touch
• Accelerate through the middle
Emphasize points of either passing through defenders, or by your movement, encouraging defenders to come close to create space.
Play two 5 v 2 games of keep-away. Organize the players to make X amount of passes. Once achieved, one player can run the ball across the middle area into zone B and start again.Work as a team to get players to escape zone A.
Try to make a quick break. “A” zone players support escaping player by pushing up. “B” zone players support escape player by spreading and using space. Escape players need to ensure they carry the ball at speed and be composed to make the right decision when entering zone B.
Now introduce phase of play game. Play open game waiting for the ball to be fed into GK from wide player A. As the ball is caught by GK, midfield players move to clear area in front of the defense Defenders spread the width of the field, with wide players prepared to receive, central players also ready to receive. As the ball comes from the GK’s left, they should bring the right back into action utilizing the entire width of the pitch.
The worst case scenario would be 4 v 3, but normally be 4 v 2. Fullbacks look to run the ball into space provided by midfield pushing on. Run with speed and keep head up as practiced in technique and skill sessions.
• Work on running with the ball; teammates creating space for their own players
• Let players play and get the right attitude to run the ball into space
• Utilizing good technique – ball out of feet, balanced body, at speed, head up, awareness of options
• Let players gain confidence then talk about decision making when, where, how, why
• Keep asking open questions to assist the players’ understanding of the situation and develop their skill
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