Teams play better when a strong midfielder is winning the ball off the attackers and creating opportunities for a counter attack. Try these soccer coaching tips and drills to see just how effective this can be.
I did a terrible thing this season. I dismantled my all-conquering under-11s team and scattered them to the four corners of the football globe. I put my son into a team that was struggling and told him to use all that he had learned in the seven years I had coached him, all the goals he had scored and give them to a new team.
He had to become the player the team revolved around. There was a lot for him to learn through having to fight for every ball and every tackle. But he has taken a lot of satisfaction from it.
Find a good midfielder
It’s a position I think every team needs. The central midfielder wins the ball and distributes it left, right and plays through balls to the attackers. It’s a very hard role to play, but if you can get one of your players to do it, your team will benefit.
Think Roy Keane, Claude Makelele, Steven Gerrard, Michael Bradley, Gennaro Gattuso. These guys can do that.
It’s a difficult position to coach. Give the job to the wrong player and he’s giving away free kicks all over the pitch. Give it to the right player and coach him into holding his position and you’re on to a winner.
Soccer coaching drill tips
- In this drill, tell your player to play in the hole in front of the central defenders.
- Get him to close down any player running at the defence and stop them in their tracks.
- You’ve seen games where the opposition kicks off and runs right through your team to score. This player has to prevent that happening.
- He targets the man with the ball and makes sure he gets it. And when he does get the ball, he’s off, using his soccer skills to run, pass and open up the opposition defence.
- The rest of the team have to be ready to support his role and be open for the pass.
Key soccer coaching tip: The midfield general must be equipped with sliding and block tackles, be able to make a through pass to the attackers, and be the fittest player in the team.