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Dear Coach,

This week saw the launch of our latest book - 64 Small-Sided Games. The book was written by Mike Beale. Many of you will already know that Mike is one of the most respected coaches around and his warm-ups and SSGs are used by top clubs and grassroots coaches all over the world. We spent a great deal of time devising the best way to present these games and we're really happy with how it turned out. Click here to download a sample page and see for yourself.

I spent September to December concentrating on core skills with my under 8 side, and the boys are now much more comfortable on the ball. Lately I've been basing our sessions around small-sided games and there's been a huge upturn in our performances - we've won our last three matches (4-0 away at the weekend!). There are a number of reasons for this - not least the acquisition of a truly brilliant young player - but it's clear that our players have all grown in confidence and that they are now able to move the ball around much more quickly.

There are many reasons
why small-sided games are so effective but for me the best reason is that everyone gets to play all the time. Even the must shy and retiring young players are constantly in the thick of the action and they just can't help but improve.


David Clarke, Editor

Your free weekly soccer coaching tips and advice newsletter
Customer Service: davidclarke@coach-soccer.com

Issue number 91

* In This Issue *

  • ADVERTISEMENT: 64 Small-Sided Football Games

  • TACTICS: How Quick Free-Kicks Open Opposition Defences

  • RECOMMENDED: Want to Be a More Effective, More Successful Soccer Coach?

  • PUBLISHER'S TIP: The Power of Positive Language


  • ADVERTISEMENT: Have Tony Carr of West Ham Utd on Your Coaching Team!

How Quick Free-Kicks Open Opposition Defences

Free-klcks are given so you have an advantage over your opponents - make sure your players are prepared to make the most of them. One way to do this is by catching the opposition off their guard, says David Clarke.

A quick free-kick often results in a goal

This is how it works in the diagram:
1. The ball is played quickly out to the player unmarked on right-wing.

2. The winger dribbles towards goal.

3. He then crosses the ball into the penalty box.

4. The attacking team is first to the ball and scores

With a little vision and a quick pass, the defence is caught sleeping and is unbalanced with the left-back out of position. The quick pass from the free-kick allows the winger to capitalise on the poor marking. He plays in a hard, low cross which his attacker is quicker to than the defenders.

The defending team has lost concentration

At a free-kick teams must keep their concentration to make sure that no opposition players are left free in space. In the diagram the lack of concentration is punished.

The attackers have taken the initiative

The ability to make the most of opportunities shows how important it is for teams to sometimes play free-kicks quickly (be aware of attacking possibilities) and to capitalise on a defence that is caught unawares.

Key coaching tip: It’s simple - tell your players to be first to the ball at free-kicks.

* Publisher's Tip *

The Power of Positive Language

Every coach will sometimes struggle for the right words when trying to communicate with his team, particularly in certain difficult situations. Whether the situation is before a big game, after a defeat, or whilst overcoming adversity, articulating the right idea in words can be one of the most important factors in the ongoing drive for success.

There is always a need to be able to say the right thing at the right time. Focusing your comments on positive instruction will help you achieve this. The main reason for giving a positive instruction is that the mind is not particularly good at processing negative instructions. For example, if I say to you “don’t think of the colour black”, what do you think of? The very thing you were asked not to do!

Using the principle of positive instruction you would state what you want rather than what you don’t want. This approach can have a very powerful positive effect on the mind, yet many coaches still tell players what they don’t want, therefore producing negative thoughts.

“When you shoot don’t miss the target” might be the instruction from the coach to the player, but would it not be better to instruct the player when he shoots to hit the target? Phrases such as “don’t foul”, “don’t lose the ball” and “don’t lose the game” can all be replaced by more positive instructions.

Try this communication exercise. List 5 negative instructions you say to yourself. Now replace them with a positive instruction. For example, as a coach you might make a tactical error during a game, and say to yourself “you idiot, you always get that wrong”. A more favourable, positive instruction might be “how can I learn from this and improve the situation?”

Try it and see how you go. You'll quickly find that it's quite easy to adapt the way you speak to your players. The evidence is there that this approach will help boost your player's responses to your coaching messages.

* Inspirational Quotation *

"Self-trust is the first secret of success."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882), essayist and poet

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