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10 Ways to become Mentally TOUGH

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U11s dribble and shoot session

davidscwnewTaken from my Soccer Skills Curriculum this session has great match day attacking skills for 11-year-olds with ball movement, turning with the ball, running with the ball and dribbling the ball ending up with a positive shot at the end of the sequence.

U11s dribble with the ball and shoot

1. Set up a 15 x 15 yards area split into a dribbling area of 7 yards and a shooting area of 8 yards. You need a normal goal and two target goals at one end.

2. Split your players into pairs. When you say “go”, the first player in each pair dribbles to the line, turns using a stop turn, dribbles back to the start line then turns again and dribbles back to the line.

3. The second part of the continues from the line – players run on and shoot at the main goal. Give them two touches and 10 seconds to hit the goal.

4. Give 5 points for scoring and 5 points for scoring in the main goal. If it goes in one of the side cone goals give 1 point, and no points for a miss.

5. Once players are confident, turn the activity into a race to see which of the three groups can score the most points in 1 minute.

This activity is taken from my coaching curriculum – EasiCoach Soccer Skills ActivitiesClick here to learn more.

My role with top coaches – organise your wingers

In my capacity as consultant for Elite Soccer I get access to the sessions that the top managers put together for each issue and I thought I’d share this great question and answer feature.


“I realise the value of getting crosses into the box, but our moves down the flanks are mostly random. How can I organise them better? ”

– Ben Jerusalem, an amateur league coach from Berkhamsted

Answer by LMA Ambassador Tony Mowbray

– former West Brom, Celtic and Middlesbrough manager and Elite Soccer contributor

I think it’s because of the unpredictability of crossing that many coaches disregard the fact it can be practised as a set play. Sure, the space out on the flanks can be huge, opposition players do not have to stay a certain distance back (as they would for a free-kick), and then there’s the uncertainty over deep crosses, driven crosses, low crosses, floated crosses and more.

But all that aside, there’s no reason why putting together a few structured crossing and finishing moves shouldn’t organise and galvanise your side’s attacking options, and that’s what this session outline will hopefully stimulate you to do.

After all, crossing and finishing are arguably the most fundamental parts of the game, so must be practised regularly. So we set up two goals facing each other 40 yards apart, and use the penalty box width (44 yards) as the start point for the crossing groups.

The session needs two players on each of the four crossing stations and three players starting next to the four goalposts.

Set up

Area: Use of half a pitch
Equipment: Balls, cones, goals
No. of Players: Up to full squad
Session Time: Each drill 10 mins plus progressions

Question and Answer with Tony Mowbray

Drill 1 – simple principles

One of the two players at crossing station A passes the ball down the line towards station B. The other player sprints after the ball and crosses, either first-time or having taken a touch. At the moment the first player passes the ball, one player from each post at the foot of the practice area makes a run towards the goal and attempts to finish from the cross. They then join behind that goal and the same process starts at station C in the other direction.

Drill 2 – long passes, zigzag runs

The second drill begins with a player at station C, who passes a long ball to a player at station D. The ball is now rolled back towards the second player from C, who comes onto the pass and delivers a cross into the box either first-time or by taking a touch (like a full-back might when being laid back a ball from his winger), where attackers arrive having crossed over runs on their way into the box.

Be a Better Teammate


10 Ways To Develop Creative Players


6 steps to correcting technical errors

davidscwnew1Part of a young player’s soccer development is the crucial way you deal with technical errors your players make. It is often easier to turn a blind eye so you don’t have to say anything to the child, but it will help them more if you talk to them about how they will be a much better player if they follow your advice – after all you are the coach!

A good coach will eliminate technical errors in players to help them improve. Use our six-step guide to help correct the technique of your players in the right way.


Watch your players closely to see what kind of errors they make. If the errors occur consistently in both training and matches, then these are ‘technical’ errors and could be correctable. These are fixed by working on a specific part of the player’s technique. If the errors that you spot occur during matches only, then they are ‘performance’ errors and less of a problem.


While observing a player, gather as much evidence as you can to help you work out how serious the problem is and how it can be fixed. Statistics on how often the error occurs and video footage are both valuable tools if you are able to get them. A lot of players will be unaware that they are making recurring errors, so evidence is essential to convince them.


To persuade a player that he has a flaw in his game, you will need to provide him with a solution to his problem rather than just simply point out a series of faults. You should think carefully about what you are going to say before speaking to the player – and when you tackle the issue, have a clear idea about how you are going to help him overcome his technical problems.


When you’ve worked out what needs to be done, make sure you give the player feedback in the right circumstances. Wait until the player does something you can praise and then use this as an opportunity to address the problem that you want to raise. Be positive and make the player aware that you have the solutions for him and are determined to help him improve.


Once you’ve explained the problem to your player and made him understand the need for corrective action, make sure you demonstrate different ways to help eradicate the flaw in his game. Spend time with the player at training while he practices his technique and try to put him in situations that will give him plenty of opportunity to test out your solutions.


Don’t just identify the problem and then let players get on with his game. Make sure you offer support and give regular feedback on how the player is progressing. Be aware that correcting ingrained errors doesn’t happen quickly and in many cases the skill can get worse before it gets better. Players can become very despondent if they feel they are not being supported.

10 Ways to Build Confident Children


Defend set pieces and secure the box

DCThis session helps defenders understand the importance of marking tightly in the penalty area and not losing their man. It also helps players to read the game and clear the ball and to keep your hands and arms by your side when play is in the penalty area.

Why use it

The two central defenders have to be excellent at reading the game, especially when the ball is played into a crowded penalty area from set pieces or open play. Staying calm and making sure the ball is cleared is vital to stopping the opposition scoring rebound goals.

Set up

Use the penalty area of your pitch. We’ve used 10 players including a keeper. You need plenty of balls, plus bibs, cones and a goal.


How to play

Split your group into three teams of three players with a keeper in goal. Two teams work inside the area, with one team attacking and one defending. The third team works outside the box around the edge of it. They have two balls each to play into the attacking team who try to score. Each game lasts for six balls and then swap teams around.


The defenders must mark man-to-man and be strong, making tackles and blocks to stop shots on goal.

Score goals for fun like Atleti’s Carrasco


Pre-match warm up

davidscwnew1This session works on encouraging communication and good passing and getting players to drive into space and hit the target.

Why use it

This is excellent for team play with individuals linking and passing to create a goal scoring chance in the penalty area.

Set up

You need balls, bibs, cones and a goal. Set up an area 20 x 20 yards with a goal at one end and four cones in middle creating a 10 x 10 yard square. We used 12 players in the session.


How to play

At the opposite end to the goal is a line of players – the shooters. In the middle square is the other team – the wall passers. In the example given there are five wall passers. The shooting player enters the area and makes two quick wall passes. The shooting player then dribbles out of the area at top speed in order to shoot at goal. Immediately a new shooting player enters the area and repeats the practice. After a set time period, the teams switch roles.


Communication, passing and shooting are all key to the session.