One of the most overrated coaching points I hear from sidelines is "get your head up" when a player is dribbling with the ball. While of course, we need to be aware of our surroundings while on the ball, a players eyes are never off the ball except for maybe a split second. I see so many drills where a player is doing toe taps with their heads straight up and making eye contact with the ball. I think this is an improper way of teaching vision. Coaches need to train peripheral vision instead of "getting their heads up." A prime example of this, is when you see a player score without ever looking at the goalkeeper.. Messi is especially special at this. If he scores with 3 touches, the odds are high that he looks in-between the first and second touch, or before he even got the ball.
Whenever a player says sorry in training I immediately tell that player to stop saying sorry. When a player in a 1v1 accidentally steps on a player, it shouldn't immediately be apologized for. Its soccer, people get stepped on, people get kicked, it's part of the game! "Act like you've played soccer before."
Another instance is if they mishit a pass or a shot, they shouldn't also RUN to say "my bad," mistakes happen, I always respond with "don't be sorry just do it right next time."
The best players on the ball almost glide with the ball. They are so subtle with their touches that there is sometimes debates on how many touches they took. Messi scored a goal in the last World Cup this way. He brought the ball down over his shoulder and took a second touch and then finished with his third touch. A debate amongst the foot fairy community ensued on whether it was 2 touch or 3 touch.
Some touches are rigid and firm while the best of the best on the ball are silky and smooth. I'm reminded of a World Cup 94' game when current Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes was comparing the United States goalkeeper Tony Meola's hands to those of Columbias Oscar Cordoba. He talked about how Tony had the sponge hands and Oscar had the brick hands. It's the same with touches on the ball. Brick touches vs. sponge touches.
If you have to play a player up 2+ years to appease the family to lure them to stay at the club. Your club situation probably isn't in the best interest of that player.
Additionally, if you plan on playing a player up, they need to be in the top 5 of the older age group.
Back in my Michigan club days I would do additional money outside of club practices for additional income. I would invite EVERY SINGLE PLAYER on my rosters for the opportunity. I'm hearing of club coaches doing invite only additional training of players that are on their teams. I have a big issue with this. This is creating a toxic environment of the haves and have nots. If the players that were invited get more playing time than the players that weren't invited, how do you think that looks?
Also, I've known clubs that prevent coaches from doing outside training all together. This is also a problem. Put your staff above the ego of the club.
July 11, 2019 | Had a long conversation with a parent tonight about his player and their experience with club soccer and I had some thoughts on soccer as a whole in the Untied States.
*Regarding the tryout issue, when I was at Vardar, we wouldn't allow players to leave without their packets to commit. We needed first payment the next day. We wouldn't allow players to leave without committing.
One thing I can't stand about professional players is their reactions when a scoring opportunity falls apart. They grab their heads, they scream at a teammate, they kick the post, and they drop to their knees. Every single I get a 14-16 year old boy in training, they start mimicking the pros reactions and it drives me nuts.
When I was at Detroit Country Day we almost lost a game in state playoffs due to a kid having that reaction after missing a goal scoring opportunity. He was in on a breakaway and the keeper made the save, and countered to the side of the field our player came from. Luckily the other team also missed their goal scoring opportunity, but they wouldn't have had a chance if our player recovered quicker rather than try and act like a pro.
While we are on the topic of reactions, there is another aspect of this that troubles me with youth players. In a sequence of receiving, dribbling, passing, and finishing, the players can do everything to near perfection, but if they miss the shot their reaction is as if they just missed a PK in the World Cup final. Conversely, they can have a terrible first touch, sloppy control, an inaccurate pass, but if they hit a perfect ring target in training, they feel they need to brush their shoulders off. I try and nip that in the bud every session with players.
Technique at the highest level can be very fragile. One minute your touch is perfect, the next time you come in contact with the ball, a slight touch too far can change the game. It's why when watching professionals, when they make a mistake stands out more than the good stuff. They are so good on the ball, that it lulls us to sleep. We take the technical brilliance at the highest level for granted.
I was training a player and she was telling me about her recent evaluation from her coach said "You are so good in tight spaces, even when you have 2 or 3 players on you, you always get out of it."
I want players that are comfortable when under pressure from 2 or 3 defenders. Anything I do with players I always have multiple defenders in mind, rather than just a 1v1 focus. Focusing solely on 1v1 ends up having players pushing the ball too far into a second defender or the boundaries.
"You know how to fight six men. We can teach you how to engage 600." -Batman Begins
If you're off the ball and your team is in possession of the ball and you don't get the ball within 3 seconds, you need to move again and improve your passing angle. Movement off the ball is sometimes a few steps here or a few steps there, it's not always a 10+ yard sprint. The ability for your teammate to get you the ball should be 100% chance of completion. Don't make your teammates rely on winning a 1v1 to get you the ball.
I consider myself a soccer teacher. Not a soccer coach. Many coaches will tell a player what to do, when to do it, and where to do it. My focus is to give each of my players the WHY.