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19. 9. 2011


64 Small-Sided Football Games.



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Dear {sForename},Space... wouldn't we all like to see more of it in all standards of soccer? - Tony Carr and I have some exercises to help your players create space in matches, and Michael Beale shows you how to get them exploiting that space.Yours in Football, David Clarke, Editor

Football Coaching Tips and Advice
Issue number 137
Thursday, 25 September 2008


Smart Sessions Training Plans

Soccer Coach Weekly

Football Warm-Ups

64 Small-Sided Games

Improve Player Speed

Football Fitness DVD

Goalkeeping DVD

  • INVESTING IN SPACE: Having a forward who can pass back is the key to making space for attacking play (David Clarke)
  • THE WINNING DIFFERENCE: How players off the ball can use space to help the player in possession (Tony Carr)
  • WISE UP: How to exploit space using a small-sided game (Michael Beale)


  • Comment: "I am always looking for ways to make training more enjoyable"
  • Blog: Short skirts and tight tops - the latest 'sexy' football strip
  • Rory scores a Spanish hat-trick - on holiday in Majorca

* Hot tips: Fitness *

Fitness tips to avoid football injuries

It's difficult to avoid certain injuries caused by impact during football, although improved conditioning and technique may reduce the likelihood.

However, a large percentage of the injuries that players sustain do not involve impact. Lower-back problems, hamstring strain, and tendon inflammation are just a few of the injuries that often result from having poor technique or weak stabilizing muscles, or from simply failing to warm up correctly.

Gradually increasing the intensity of drills during a warm-up will reduce the chances of injury - don't start a session with a 'full-on' game of 5-a-side!

Find out more fitness tips here.

Making sure young players do simple things like warm up properly will help them to say injury free. Check out our fitness website to find out about injury prevention.

INVESTING IN SPACE: How passing back creates space

By David Clarke

When you start coaching young players, you quickly realise that majority of them are most comfortable playing the way they are facing, and to get them to do things differently can end in disaster.

But young players also expect the opposition to do the same thing - who ever heard of attacking play that went backwards?

If you can get a strong forward to play with his back to goal and fire balls into him so he can pass back to advancing midfielders you will reap the rewards.

But to get those rewards you have to put the time in at training to develop one of your players to do it.

Look at it like this, if you coach a target man to lurk around the 'D' of the penalty area you can get your midfielders to run at the defence drawing them forward which opens up space for the 'back to goal' attacker. A pass into the attacker and back again leaves space for the midfielder to launch an attack.

Look at this diagram - the simple pass back from the striker has created space for the ball player and the right winger. The midfielder moves past the approaching defender creating a 3 v 2 situation.

  • Practice getting your midfield players to pass the ball to a target man -
    one of your attackers in the middle of the opposition defence. Play it into the attacker’s path as he moves across the defensive line.
  • The attacker is surrounded by defenders with no space to play into, so he has to seek other options to create space.
  • This is countered by getting your attacker to play a ball back to the midfielder who has moved wide to escape the defenders.
  • In the diagram you can see how the defenders have moved to block the attacker, and a quick one-two has opened the defence up bringing other players into the attack.

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

Make the most of your creating space training sessions with Tony Carr's Smart Sessions - see the one below to get your players moving off the ball and creating space.


* Communication *

THE WINNING DIFFERENCE: Moving off the ball to find space and take advantage of it

Finding a way to get your players creating and making use of space in matches is not easy. I often find the best way to do is to use one of Tony Carr's ready made coaching sessions.

When I come home late from work and go straight out to training I look with envy at the other coaches sitting in the clubhouse around the bar. Somehow I've got to get my brain around the problems we are trying to solve from last week's matches.

That's when Tony's Smart Sessions come into their own. It doesn't matter that I haven't prepared anything Tony has done that for me. And it's the players that benefit as well - they don't want to be standing around waiting for me to decide what warm up or drill we will be concentrating on. That's also when discipline problems start because everyone is bored.

Look at this one - it tells you how to coach your players to find and create space and how to anticipate using space.

What you get your players to do

Set up a 10m x 10m square with cones with four players and a ball. Within the square, the players must pass the ball and immediately run into space. The first movement after passing the ball is relatively easy. It is harder for the players who are moving without having passed the ball, but they will be creating the most valuable space.

What you tell your players to do

  • Pass the ball and immediately run into where space will be created.
  • You should be constantly on the move except for momentary stops for passing.
  • Make the pass and run at a player without a ball. He should be doing the same.
  • When a defender has been added to the drill, make sure you run behind him to find space


Once the players have got the hang of it, move from two or more touches to one touch passing to increase the pressure. Then introduce a defender. Often this will cause the movement to stop, or you will see players start to move towards the ball to receive a pass rather than find space. For further development, extend the size of the square and add a player on each side, making a 5 v 2.

Have your weekly coaching sessions gone a bit stale? Do your players moan about the same old thing every week? Then click here to improve your team with fresh weekly coaching ideas from West Ham Academy Director Tony Carr.

* Small-sided games *

WISE UP: How to exploit space using small-sided games

One of the great things about using small-sided games is the amount of time each player can spend with the ball at their feet - but you can also use the amount of time they HAVEN'T got the ball at their feet.

Because you can load the games so that one team has more players than the other, you can coach aspects of the game that are about making yourself available, or running into space, or anticipating the space your team-mate will pass the ball into.

Since we're highlighting the importance of creating space and using it in this issue of Better Soccer Coaching I thought I'd use one of Michael Beale's sessions in his 64 Small-Sided Games manual Middle or Wide Advantage shows you how to coach your players to use the advantage of having more players to create space and score goals.

How to set it up

  • Pitch size: 30 x 20 yards (minimum) up to 40 x 25 yards (maximum).
  • Two keepers.
  • Two teams of four players.
  • One team play with all four players on the pitch.
  • The other team play with two players on the pitch and two wide players off the pitch.
  • This set up gives the teams different tactics when in possession and when defending.

How to play it

  • White team
    The white team have all four players on the pitch. When in possession they need to pass the ball quickly in order to create an opening to score a goal. In defence, this team can pressure quickly as they have the extra players and attempt to force the black players to play inside and not towards their wide advantage.
  • Black team
    In possession the black team need to try to pass out wide quickly. This enables them to get another one of their players into the game. The receiving wide player can choose to dribble down the outside unopposed or dribble onto the pitch and attempt to score. In defence, the black team must try to drop-off and reduce the space for the white team to exploit.

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

* Reader Feedback *

"I am always looking for ways to make training more enjoyable"

Says Michael Denton, North West Development Officer, Football Federation Tasmania, Australia

I am a big fan of your Football Warm-Ups manual which I have bought for the coming season.

As an experienced coach I am always looking for new ideas and ways to make training more enjoyable and I have already identified several warm ups that I will make use of.

[What have Football Warm ups done for your team? Email us at david.clarke@coach-soccer.com]

* Soccer coaching blog *

Football women in 'sexy kits' - short skirts and tight tops

By David Clarke

I’m sure there were many in the women’s game who raised their eyes to the heavens when they heard this one. It reminds me of the statement by FIFA President Sepp Blatter that women should wear tighter shorts in soccer to attract more investment - a statement ridiculed by people in the women’s game.

So what will they make of this I wonder. 

Dutch women’s side FC de Rakt say their new 'sexy kits' are not a publicity stunt. The launch of the new kit - short skirts and tight tops - has seen a huge surge in interest in the team. They were all over the news last week.

Captain Rinske Temming says "It’s just a practical kit. Many girls have long wanted to play in skirts. We’ve opened the game for them."

Here at Better Football Coaching the words exploitation, women’s lib and beach volleyball have all been muttered. Although I did note that Ronaldo sat without a shirt on for a good few minutes before he put on his strip for the Manchester United game against Chelsea…

See what the kits look like or comment on the blog here.

* On the touchline *

Rory scores a Spanish hat-trick - on holiday in Majorca

Never lie about your exploits as a club - you'll get found out!

Read this tale about an English non-league team who mislead its supporters with reports of its pre-season tour to Spain.

On its official website, Bradford Park Avenue claimed its new striker had scored a hat-trick in one match, and that the tour had been played out against “tough opposition.”

But it has now emerged that Rory Patterson, a new signing from FC United of Manchester, did not even take part in the tour, let alone put in a heroic debut performance against FC Soto Grande. Nor did the team participate in matches against tough opposition, instead contesting games against opposition more comparable to a Sunday morning team.

Park Avenue bosses have now admitted that accounts of the tour were not 100 per cent true and that reports of Patterson’s hat-trick had been “a bit of a wind up”. Kevin Hainsworth, director and spokesman for the club, said the tour had definitely taken place, but accepted that some of the details in the reports had been misleading.

When asked about Rory Patterson’s apparent goal-scoring exploits during the tour of southern Spain, Mr Hainsworth said: “Rory was actually in Majorca at the time."


* Inspirational Quotation *

"I wouldn't swap him for anyone at the moment - except Pele."

Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa striker gives team mate John Carew
a vote of confidence


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