Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Concentration: Maintaining Focus

Steve T

I found this 'little gem' in a yoga book recently, which involves focusing on the tip of your nose for about five seconds, then on a specific point on the horizon for about five seconds.

To minimize risk in a game situation, I would suggest that this could be carried out when a ball goes out far behind the opposition's goal, allowing just enough time to prepare for the next phase of play. Alternatively, the keeper could do this from a dead ball (goal kick), or even as his own team is preparing to take a corner.

This exercise can actually provide keepers with a slightly different visual perspective; allowing them to adjust their stance or position accordingly in preparation for the next phase of play.

I would love to hear other keepers' or keeper coaches' tips for ensuring a high level of concentration and alertness during a game.


3Style @ Custodians

This 3-player format can be used as a dynamic warmup, or combined with a game of 2 v 1 as part of a coaching session.

Steve T

Groups of three players offer the coach an ideal format for a dynamic warmup with a ball, as well as a tool for developing a particular technique. Adding a competitive phase using 1 v 2 (rotating the players), allows coach to use this format to build a complete coaching session; providing a good deal of functionality and flexibility.

Pass & Move (Two touches)

Players A and B here - distance at coach's discretion - Player C here

Player A passes the ball ===============> to Player C

Then follows (avoiding path of Player C) ---------------------------->

(Player B [waits behind Player A])

Player A immediately moves to replace Player C, who takes one touch before following his/her pass to take up the position that will soon become vacant once Player B takes one touch before passing to Player C. The cycle continues in this way ...

This 'shuttle' is clealry perfect for developing the concept of 'pass and move' among young players. It develops space awareness, highlighting the need for players to avoid the space required by the receiver to complete their subsequent pass.

A 'Flexible Friend' (Two Touch to One + Virtually Unlimited Variants)
The simplest option is to use this format to develop passing with the inside of the foot. However, this setup can be used to develop virtually any form of passing, such as the outside of the foot and toe.
The most obvious progression is to remove the first touch and make it 'one touch'. The second coaching point (below) refers to the development of this progression.
Coaching Points:
  • Ensure the players understand that in the two touch version need to use the first touch effectively to prepare for the pass - iron out any problems relating to the technique. A common problem among novice/young players is that they do not push the ball far enough in front of them to allow them to make a pass comfortably. Correct this, ideally by encouraging the player to 'discover' the solution.               
  • Ensure the player is sufficiently confident when using two touches before adopting a 'one touch' phase.
  • Other 'specific' coaching points will apply if using this format for a more complex skill, such as passing with the outside of the foot. In this case (for example only), the coach may show the players how to comfortably position the ball to allow for successful completion.
Warm Up Option
How many coaches have seen players 'messing around' with little purpose while awaiting their teammates arrival? This format allows coach to get these players warmed up in a 'football-friendly' format. Coach can demonstrate if the players are not already familiar with this format, then step aside when a third player arrives. This is a perfect solution, too, for coaches who find themselves with a small group of players due to 'unforeseen circumstances' (extreme weather or transport difficulties etc).

2 v 1
To add a more 'competitive' element, move from the shuttle format to a game of 2 v 1. Coach can again adapt this to develop a specific skill, so that the two must complete five passes (with the outside of the foot [if this is being developed initially, for example]) before scoring, while the single player can only score by using a shot/pass with the outside of the foot. If each player must experience a turn on their own, this can also be excellent for developing fitness and stamina among your players. Play 'first to 5' (or 10), depending on your needs / time constraints.

Finish With a Game

These components can easily account for a one-hour or even a 90-minute session if ending the session with a short game of 'regular' football/futsal.
Variants: Control-pass with toe/one touch pass with toe, control-pass with the opposite foot (left-right, right-left) and so on ... (almost limitless possibilities ...)

Additional Progressions: Rotate players among groups that have multiple groups of three players.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Soccer Stretches: A Yoga-Inspired Stretch For Footballers & Goalkeepers

Soccer Stretches: A Yoga-Inspired Stretch That Can Benefit Footballers

If you are a 'leggy' footballer or goalkeeper, you may at times experience a rather unpleasant 'clicking' sound around the hip area. As a 'veteran' player this can become more apparent and I cannot begin to imagine on a technical/medical level precisely what is taking place when this noise occurs. What I can say is that, through the practice of gentle yoga and self-awareness through correct breathing and positioning, this discomfort can be eased significantly by following these steps.

Breath by Breath

Lie gently upon the ground and bring each knee gently and slowly towards the chest on inhaling, pulling the knee near more tightly towards the chest on exhaling. I generally feel discomfort on one side and can slightly diminish the presence of this discomfort by adjusting the approach from the knee to chest and down to the floor. Five repetitions only can be very beneficial; consider 10 for a longer, more thorough stretching session.

Tangible Benefits: This cycle of movement 'frees up' some movement around the hips and this can be beneficial for both outfield players and goal keepers, Steve T (Custodians founder) suggests.

Level of Difficulty: Very easy yet very beneficial.

Added Value: Since goalkeepers can tend to be among the larger players at a football club, this stretch may be of great use to custodians.

Sunday, May 27, 2012