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Football Coach

20. 10. 2008


10 Proven Tips For A More Successful Football Season - FREE


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Dear {sForename},Heading is a vital part of football matches - you can clear your lines at one end, head into the net at the other or you can or use it to make a good pass anywhere on the pitch - so why are so many young players scared of heading? In this issue I'm giving you the chance to get ahead with some simple yet effective heading exercises.Yours in Football, David Clarke, Editor

Football Coaching Tips and Advice
Issue number 143
Thursday, 16 October 2008

  • HOW TO GET PLAYERS HEADING: From the age of 8 or 9 players should be heading the ball with confidence (David Clarke)

  • THE WINNING DIFFERENCE: Once your players can head the ball get them doing it in matches (Tony Carr)

  • WISE UP: Advance your heading session in a small-sided game situation (Michael Beale)


  • Team sponsors that feel the bite of the credit crunch
  • Comment: "Having just started my portfolio for the FA Level 2 coaching certificate I found the 64 Small-Sided Games manual absolutely brilliant"

  • Forum: I need some simple but effective exercises to help me pick my Under 8 team

  • Quote: Arsenal and England's Theo Walcott on wanting to be a hero


HOW TO GET YOUR PLAYERS HEADING: Taking the fear out of heading can have positive results on the pitch

By David Clarke



How often do these thoughts go around your head? One of the golden rules of defending is don't let the ball bounce from a high ball into your half of the field (You can look at Ashley Cole's failure to deal with a high ball for England against Kazakhstan last Saturday to see can happen if you let the ball bounce!). It makes a huge difference to your team if the ball is headed away.

It's the same in attack. How often do you see Billy Elliott style high legs trying to get at a ball that needs heading into the net?

It happens all the time. And why should an 8-year-old put his head in the way of the ball? - it hurts!

You are going to have to convince young players that heading the ball the right way doesn't hurt. Show them how to do it so they can head it naturally in matches. At this age, rarely will the ball be kicked at them with great power so they will be able to ease their way into heading before they have to dive or head out a hard free-kick.

The simplest way to gain confidence is to gradually introduce players to the feeling of their forehead meeting the ball. Begin by asking them to balance the ball on their forehead.

You can progress to the quick exercise below that gets players used to the ball approaching their head, while maintaining control of the ball throughout.

Then allow them to have a ball each, and just gently throw it up, head it in the air and catch again.

Once they’ve tried that several times, ask them to try to head it twice before catching the ball. Then three times and so on.

You should be encouraging your players to:

1. Watch the ball
2. Keep their eyes open
3. Head the ball with the forehead
4. Aim for the middle of the ball

It's that simple to coach heading. Don't be rushed into advancing them just yet keep it at this level before you move on to throwing the ball to each other in pairs to head it.

Get more secrets, tips and advice on how to run a successful team in my weekly coaching publication Soccer Coach Weekly.


* Soccer Coaching Forum *

I need some simple but effective exercises to help me pick my Under 8 team

"Gav" an U8 coach from Canada has been active on the forum this week. He wants to know if anyone has any good ideas for drills that would be appropriate for trialling U8s.

Here's what he has to say:

"I've been asked to take over my club's Under 8 Select or Rep Squad. This is the first year/age group for my club where kids have to tryout and get selected or cut. I expect around 30 kids to tryout and I select the 13 or 14 best for the team.

It's been many years since I attended these as a player and now as a coach I'm drawing a bit of a blank as to what simple but effective drills and excercises I might run the kids through that will help me identify the most skilled. I know many of them and in fact have a reasonably good idea who will make the grade already."

Click here to read the rest of Gav's post and add any advice or drills you know that will help him and his team.

* The Winning Difference *

Older players should be heading the ball in matches

By Tony Carr

When your players get to U10 and U11 this is the age they become strong enough to use heading properly in matches. Having instilled in them the confidence to head the ball at an early age they will move onto more aggressive heading with some good coaching from you.

I use this session to coach my players once they have become aware of the way a header can influence matches.

This is a good way to develop heading technique.

Arrange your players into two teams.

You and a helper act as servers.

The two servers continually throw balls to their team who must try to head and knock the balls off the cones. The first team to knock all three balls off is the winner.


Vary the height and strength of the throw - remember you are developing heading skills so your players should be heading hard thrown balls.

If you found your players enjoyed this session why not give them more? Simply click here to subscribe to coaching ideas from West Ham Academy Director Tony Carr.

* Reader Feedback *

"I have included one small-sided game in every training session so far and the boys love it"

Says Christopher Hissey, Chairman/Coach, Heath Panthers FC, Leighton Buzzard, Beds, England

"Having just started my portfolio for the FA Level 2 coaching certificate I found the 64 Small-Sided Games manual absolutely brilliant for adding new ideas to my coaching.

Variety for kids of all ages is essential so that they do not get bored with repetitive drills. I have included one small-sided game in every training session so far and the boys love it.

[What has 64 Small-Sided Games done for your team? Email us at david.clarke@coach-soccer.com]

* Wise Up*

Advance your heading session with a small-sided game

By Michael Beale

There are a number of small-sided games that can be used to develop heading technique in a fun and competitive way such as the one below.

Arrange your players into three teams of four. One team stays off the pitch placing two players at each end beside the goal.

To score; the attacking team must pass to the players at the end they are attacking and then head for goal on the return pass.

The game can be played with or without keepers, depending on the heading ability of your players.

Play for a set period of time or rotate the teams after each goal so everyone has a turn at attacking and serving.

Michael Beale is Chelsea FC's Youth Development Officer and the author of 64 Small-Sided Games.

* The penalty box *

Team sponsors that feel the bite of the credit crunch

Here's a brief history - any other examples please let me know:

The demise of XL caused West Ham some trouble earlier this year, with the possibility of a £30m payout over the Carlos Tevez affair compounding the financial implications of the travel company's collapse.

Real Madrid lost their sponsor BenQ after the company went bankrupt during the 2006/07 season, just over a year into a five-year deal. The Spanish giants, however, signed a new €60m deal with gambling company Bwin at the end of the season.

Parma, Cup Winners' Cup winners in 1993, Uefa Cup winners in 1995 and 1999, faced financial ruin after the Parmalat scandal broke in Italy. The ruin of the Tanzi family and of the club led to a player exodus, with Alberto Gilardino among those leaving, and the side went from top-half contender to a relegation battler, a fight that they finally lost last season.

Back in England, Charlton Athletic have had a double disaster. After their shirt sponsors all:sports went into administration in September 2005, they signed up with Spanish property company Llanera, who proceeded to go to bust 2½ years into a 4½-year £6.6m deal.


* Quotation *

"When I first started playing football, I was in goal - and that was because I really loved the penalty shoot-outs, where I could save it and be the hero."

Theo Walcott, England and Arsenal striker


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