Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ending on a high note!

         As we are coming to the end of your season...remember to take a moment to reflect on how much fun you have had coaching. Breath in and think about where your kids were waaaay back in August compared to the juggling, upper 90 shooting, lightning quick, dribbling superstars they are right now.  Okay maybe they aren't all getting call ups to the national team, but I am sure they are hitting their stride....because you've done a good job so far. Each player is more confident and has even more love and passion for the game because of one major factor in their life, You. 

So...the end is in sight. The holidays are just around the corner.  You already have visions of yummy turkey legs and maybe even sugarplums bouncing around your head. How do you feel?   Raise your hand if you thought "Relieved!"  It's okay. It's been a long 4 months or so. You can be a little tired. We aren't over yet, but its coming.  So strap in, stay focused, and have fun while you finish up Fall 2012.

For those of us coaching the u4's up to the u12's....keep in mind that it's not all about where you are in the standings come that final whistle of your last match.  At these levels, its about cultivating a relationship with the game and a loving bond with the ball. If your kids go home each day smiling and come back every week ready to go, then you are doing a great job. So be proud of yourself.  Take pride in the fact that you, coach, are helping to grow this game in a positive way.

So with just a few weeks to go....have lots of goofy fun! Play games and focus on building team spirit. Many of the kids will head off to basketball, hockey, or flag football for the Winter break. And that's ok. Sure, soccer can be played year 'round. Futsal or indoor soccer calls many players to continue to feed their obsession. But these other sports teach our boys and girls valuable skills that they will surely use when they strap their boots back on and get back on the pitch this Spring.

 If mom or dad asks what you think they should do, tell them to take a little break. Play another sport. Reenergize. Come back to soccer fresh and ready to play.  Yes, I know...Blasphemy, right!?!?  Ok, if you just cannot stay away...or if maybe you have an Academy or Select team, then plan to have a couple of sessions just to kick around over the break.  Give them a little bit of homework here or there. Maybe offer a pizza party if every player reaches a juggling goal. Whatever you decide to do, your goal should be to avoid burnout and keep those kids loving the game.  What is that saying, "If you love something, let it go..."?

To recap -
  • Thanks for what you do!
  • Play lots of silly games to end the season.  My favorites are:
    •  Head/Catch - line the players up or stand in a circle (with you in the middle) and yell out Head or Catch while you toss the ball at the players. They must do the opposite of whatever you say. Head = catch with their hands / Catch = head the ball back to coach
    • Duck, Duck, Goose - simple enough, right!?! same as you remember, but the player walking around the circle is dribbling a ball. Once they choose a goose that chases them, they have to dribble as fast as they can around the circle (while retaining possession of the ball) to sit in the Goose's spot.
    • The Farmer & The Foxes -  Foxes tuck flags (pinnies) in the back of their shorts as tails.  Farmer tries to grab the tails.  Foxes try to avoid losing tail by running around in penalty area and turning, etc.  Once a fox loses his tail, he becomes a farmer.  
      • ·        Make more complicated by having foxes also dribble a ball.  This gives them two lives.  Farmers must grab tails and kick balls out of square.
  • Let the kids take a break from soccer for the Winter.
Thanks again for being who you are and doing what you do. Coaching, there is nothing more rewarding!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Activity of the Week - Slow Soccer

Slow Soccer credit to Steve Watson @

I've played  Slow Soccer with children aged from eight to 15 but some players couldn't do it, no matter how hard they tried, and some found it easy.

The one thing it did was make every player really think about what they were doing!

Objective: To play soccer thoughtfully, to plan ahead.

Age range: U8s and upwards.

Set-up: Play a 4v4 or 5v5 "match" on a small pitch. For U8s, 30x20 yards is a good size.

How to play: Tackling, shooting, scoring and passing as in normal soccer.

There is only one condition - running is not allowed.

When the ball goes out of play, the game can be restarted in a number of ways:
  • A normal throw-in.
  • A kick-in.
  • With a goal kick.
Note: Speed walking is allowed in Slow Soccer but if anyone breaks into a run, even for a second, a free kick is awarded to the other team.

Progression: After five or 10 minutes, lift the "no running" restriction and allow your players to play normally.

Why this works: Not being able to run to get back in defence or chase after a misplaced pass, makes young players see the importance of accuracy and anticipating what might happen next. And, believe it or not, it's great fun!

Please give me some feedback on how this worked for your team!

Discipline Problems? Read on...

Credit to Steve Watson @

How to deal with discipline 'problems'

During the years, I have received hundreds of emails from coaches asking me to help them restore order to undisciplined teams and there is no doubt that "misbehaving" is the biggest single concern for many youth soccer coaches.

The coaches who write to me complain about a range of problems: Players not showing them any respect, mud slinging, chatting during team talks and even players who would rather fight each other than play soccer.

While there are several control techniques that will help coaches with "difficult" players, they do not address the real cause of the coaches' frustration, which include:

1. False expectations

Many new youth soccer coaches walk onto the field expecting their players will turn up ready and eager to be taught how to play soccer.

These coaches spend a lot of time and effort planning their coaching sessions and they expect their players to reciprocate by hanging onto their every word and to do exactly what they are told. That is their perception of what coaching should be like.

It doesn't take long, however, for these eager new coaches to become disappointed and frustrated by their players' lack of attention and apparent refusal to engage with their carefully crafted plans.

But they have forgotten soccer is a child's game. It is "play time" for the players and they really don't want to be told what to do.

If the coach and the players are unable or unwilling to adjust their expectations there can only be one result: Frustration and anxiety for all concerned.

2. I want to be liked!

New and inexperienced youth soccer coaches who are worried they are not controlling their players also want to be liked but these two interests are seen as incompatible. 

"If I am friendly, I can't control them," and "I can control them but they won't like me." Thus many coaches think they have to choose between being friendly and not in control or tough disciplinarians who are disliked.

Unfortunately, both of these approaches have undesirable consequences.

Friendly coaches may feel that their players are taking advantage of them while tough coaches usually cause young players to feel resentful and make them want to fight back.

3. It's all my fault...

As my email inbox proves, some inexperienced coaches who have difficulty managing their players place the blame squarely on the players: "They just won't listen to me!"

Others, after several unsuccessful attempts to restore discipline, become increasingly frustrated, start to think that it's all their fault and that they will never become a good coach.

That's why many youth coaches decide that coaching children is too stressful and they pack it in.

So what's the answer?

As we have seen, discipline problems are often the result of the coach and the players having different expectations and needs.

It would be unreasonable to expect your players to adjust their expectations in line with yours so the answer is obvious: Realise that young players play soccer because they want to play, not listen to lectures or be regularly stopped from behaving in a child-like way.

Your job is to help them enjoy their play by teaching them skills, not trying to force them to conform to what you think soccer coaching should be look like. 

So relax and fun with your players!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Joe Cannon 5 P of Performance

Joe Cannon 5 P of Performance


After spending lots of time reflecting on my last coaching session, I have come to my own critical formula for the sessions I want to run. There are certain elements that I need in place to make sure the goalkeepers I train are getting the most out of the sessions and growing as goalkeepers. It is important after every session to evaluate not only the performance of the kids you teach, but also your own performance.
Here are my 5 P's to great performance:

Passion: All the best coaches I have ever played for and even against have a sincere passion for the game or in my case, the position I play. It is important to bring a level of enthusiasm that is contagious. Whether you have to spend time in your car talking to yourself beforehand or remind yourself the impact you will have, one needs to find a way to convey this passion for what you are doing to your players. Be very conscience of the tone which is set during training.

Persistence: Do not be afraid to take more time than you want to drive home your most important points. Many times, players who are exposed at something for the first or second time have a hard time grasping what you are trying to convey. Break down the drill and use a step-by-step process. When I coach the collapse dive, it takes awhile to get the right technique down before I even have goalkeepers try to do it with a live ball. Persistence means working time and time again on the basics.

Practice: Make sure that you give your players something they can go home with. Whether it's a drill or video or a little story about a famous pro, try to give them a push to be self-motivated and give them the tools to succeed on their own. Too many coaches will try to suggest that goalkeepers need to see them all the time to improve. As coaches, you will have more success in the long run with goalkeepers and players who can evaluate their own play even when you are not there.  

Psychology: I talk about this on my own blog probably more than anything else. As coaches, remember that a good player who thinks he/she is great will most likely will beat a great player who doesn't think he/she is any good. Confidence is a huge issue with children and younger players. Self-esteem through sport is one of the best contributions we can make as coaches. Do not be afraid to take time out of your session if you feel that maybe someone needs a few words or reassurance or just a reminder of how
important they are to the team and it's goals.

Planning: After failing to organize a few recent sessions properly, I realize how important this is to my coaching. How many players are going to be there? What level are they? How old? These are all questions which need to go into your thinking before the session. I recently was bombarded with 15 goalkeepers of all ages and skill levels. After spending 30 minutes of trying to teach them footwork, I realized I needed to change my strategy.  I ended up playing team handball the last 20 minutes of the session due to my mis-assessment of the situation.
It is important to have the confidence in yourself as a trainer or coach. Realize the important impact you have on our youth. If you invest yourself into the lives of these children in a positive and sincere way, you will not only benefit their lives, but your reputation and business as a coach will thrive to greater heights.
Feedback is also key. After every few sessions, try to find out what is working and what might not be.

The NSCAA Coaching Academy launched its Goalkeeping Academy in 1998 to focus attention on the education of coaches working in the specialized area of goalkeeper training and to improve the ability of all coaches to integrate goalkeeper training into total team training. Courses are offered both residentially and non-residentially. [+] Find out more

Thursday, July 26, 2012

David Beckham Surprises Team GB fans in Photo Booth  Little kid cries he's so star struck. -- Jared Montz (@JaredMontz)
There’s a simple solution for forwards enduring a goal drought, say boffins – think BIG  -- FFT Performance (@FFTPerformance)