Roles in Youth Soccer for a 433

After coaching academy age groups for the past six years, my coaching assignment for next season is a girls U14 D3 team. Tryouts for this age group have come and gone, with team meetings haven taken place and camp is coming up in a couple of weeks. I’ve seen most of these players train and play over the latter part of the spring season so I feel like I was adequately prepared for tryouts – the age group is pretty deep and my group competes with some of the top teams of other clubs.

I saw something several months ago that had me interested in creating a handout for these players at the very beginning of team camp where we’ll talk about objectives, ¬†expectations, and roles. It was on the Premier League Review Show and a former midfielder, I believe it was Freddie Ljundberg, spoke about the roles of the midfielders. I’m going to create the same for the Keeper, defenders, and striker.

We’ll initially set out to play a 4-3-3. A back four, one holding midfielder, two central midfielders, two attacking wide midfielders or wingers, and our main striker up top. The wide midfielders can also rotate with the top striker.

Goalkeeper:

  • Be an option at all times
  • Be the originator of our distribution from the back

Defence:

  • Protect the keeper (make it as difficult as possible for the opposing team to score)
  • Be a force in the attacking half (can we create numbers up situations?)
  • Stay compact
  • Be difficult to beat
  • Be an option for the keeper

Midfield:

  • Vision (find the runners)
  • Feed the striker
  • Don’t give away the ball
  • Workrate (protect the team)
  • Dictate the tempo

Strikers:

  • Score goals
  • Be selfless by making runs for the team
  • Be a target (always be available)
  • Defend from the front (put pressure on the opposition’s defence)

Once finalised, I’m going to put this into a PDF and hand it out to my players on the first night of team camp. I’d love to get some thoughts and comments on this. I’m fine if you want to use this with your own team, as long as I get credit.

GABOO – A Fun Soccer Game for Kids

I’m currently coaching two teams right now. A ‘Premier’ group or very strong group of U11 Boys, and a select group of U10 girls. We’re in pre-season training through July and are practicing on a Saturday morning (when it’s still bearable outside).

Trying to find fun games for both groups of players can be a challenge. We still want them to be challenged physically and mentally, but want them to have fun as well. This is where GABOO comes in.

Organization

You need to divide your team into two groups, and then split them in pairs between the group. They will line up about 10 yards apart with a coach in between them with a bunch of soccer balls. You will need two goals for this. The coach will throw the ball in and pairs from each side will challenge for the ball and play against each other. However, this is no ordinary 2v2, they have to follow the GABOO rules.

G – Ball has to cross the goal-line on the ground.

A – Ball has to cross the goal-line in the air.

B – Goal has to be scored backwards (backheel works)

O – Off a pass (think wall passes and one-two’s)

O – Own choice!

The first team to get to the final O are the winners!

I really like this game because it demands that the players are creative, use different techniques and surfaces to score a goal, and need to work as a team. You’ll find that the pairings who work together often have the best success at this game.

 

Defending a Lead in Youth Soccer – Motivation is Key

This past weekend we took two groups of players from our 01 academy to a local youth soccer tournament. The tournament is fairly competitive in the area and provides a great environment for players of all abilities to play soccer. We played one group up and had a parity team playing in their own age group. The players playing up could probably have played up one bracket further (there were gold, silver and bronze brackets – they were entered in the Bronze bracket).

Both teams had a very successful Saturday conceding very few and scoring lots. In training recently we’ve been working on possession, shooting and finishing, and encouraging creativity in the final third. At the start of the season we weren’t being ruthless enough – we would let teams back into the game after spurning chance after chance – it was great to see the hard work pay off.

As a coach, I’ve had experiences in soccer tournaments where a very successful Saturday led to an overconfident group of players, and a disappointing second day of the tournament. Fortunately, this wasn’t one of those weekends.

Our first semi-final game was at 8am on Sunday morning. Our requirement from the players is that they are on the field and ready to warm up thirty-minutes prior to kick-off. My concerns were that the players would still be half asleep, some would be late, and others full after eating donuts for breakfast. When kick-off is this early I like to run a short, high-tempo warm-up which encourages the players to continually look around. The dew on the grass was very thick so I also wanted the players to get plenty of touches on the ball during warm-up.

The game started very well for us, we were 2-0 up at half-time against one of our strongest local rivals. Coaching on the sideline is good natured, but very competitive. At that point the game wasn’t really what I would call close, we had the majority of the possession and the best chances. At half-time we spoke about responsibility on the soccer field. If we make a mistake how do we respond to it? If a defender goes forward, who’s covering? If the keeper parries the ball who’s there to clear?

The next goal would be crucial. Fortunately, we got it about seven or eight minutes in and appeared to be cruising at that point.

Then, out of nowhere, encouraged by their coaches they started playing a lot more physical, they were first to every ball, and our players were a little sheepish – it was clear this was a game we were going to have to work hard if we wanted to progress. Sure enough, they scored from a corner and were very eager to keep the game going – in doing so keeping all their stronger players on the field. We went back up the other end and hit the crossbar, and they came back down the other end and scored again. What a game!

As their coaches were yelling at their players to score more, our players seemed a little overawed by it all. They went close again and with a few minutes left our keeper made a great save (one of many). At that point the game appeared to change. Our players appeared to be spurred on by the threat which the other team posed – the more they pressed, the more we we matched it. They were motivated to play and defend as a team. We’ve worked on the principles of defending so they all know about the roles of the first and second defender, but this was the first time they’ve really defended in unison and for each other. They were up for it.

As a coach this is great to see because it tells me a lot about the mentality of our players and how they respond to challenges. They’ve certainly played better this season but rarely have they fought for each other with such determination. I was a proud coach.

Both of our teams went on to win the tournament. The team described here came back from behind in the final and won with a golden goal. Our other team playing up also won. For some of the players this was their last tournament soccer of the year – to end like this was a very good way to end the season.

Has the Art of Tackling Disappeared?

I’m watching the Champions League semi-final between Bayern Munich v Lyon. Frank Ribery was sent off during the last 10 minutes of the first-half. The challenge looked innocuous when watching it without the replays, but when the replays where shown, it was clear that Ribery went over the top of the ball and into the opponent’s ankle. It was deserving of a red card – the referee made the correct call.

As a player back in England I used to enjoy the physical side of the game more than I did scoring or creating. Going in for a sliding tackle, winning the ball, then distributing it to a team-mate was what I enjoyed to do and was how I played. I think there’s a part for this defensive minded player in every team – either the anchor man or defensive midfielder who’s happy to sit back and let the others go forward.

As a youth soccer coach I always encourage my players to challenge strongly for the ball, but to do so within the laws of the game i.e you must win the ball. We don’t work on tackling specifically in training, but we do touch on it if we lose the ball in dangerous situations on the field – we must regain possession as quickly as possible.

We do work on defensive positioning  in 1v1, 2v2, and 2v3 situations and some players do have the natural tendency to put in a tackle, while some are more inclined to stand-off.

If you’re a referee and a coach, I’d love to hear your opinion. How do you advise your players? Do you work on tackling in training? What do you tell your players?

Coaching Soccer Through Small-Sided Games

When I first started coaching I asked a lot of questions about different kind of soccer drills. However, the one thing wrong with drills, is that they only teach one part of the game – there is no room for transition into defense or attack, or allows off the ball movements.

small sided soccer gamesIf you break down different areas of a youth soccer game, you’ll see that they generally involve only small amounts of players. So a 4 v 4 or 4 v 5 situation can be common. I have a large roster, so getting all of the players as many touches of the ball as possible in training is my main goal, and I can’t do that with regular drills where they are waiting in line for their turn.

Small-sided games which include numbers up, numbers down, or the use of all time attackers or neutral players is the best way to accomplish the objective of making sure all of the players are involved as much as possible. I did a search and was curious about about how other coaches used small-sided games in their sessions. It turns out that professional clubs in England, Spain, Italy, and the U.S (I’m sure there are many more) use small sided games for their U10 teams through to the professionals. If it’s good enough for them, it’s most certainly good enough for me. If you’re a youth soccer coach and you want to use small-sided games in your training sessions then check out the book – Coaching Soccer Through Small-Sided Games.

The Four ‘R’s of Coaching Soccer

Regardless of the level of soccer you coach, from Rec to College, you have an important job. Impressionable youngsters are looking to you as an example, as someone to lead and teach them. How you react, how you talk to them, how you encourage them, are all lasting memories that they will take with them into adulthood.

I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve learned during my four years of coaching soccer:

Responsibility

Responsibility as a soccer coach comes in all different sizes – you have to be responsible for your players, their safety, their behavior, and their education. You can only do this by being focused at the job in hand. During your training sessions are you aware of your surroundings? Are the goalposts secure? Is the playing surface fit to use? I turn up before every training session and walk around the field to make sure there are no sharp objects, no left over rubbish, or anything that would injure my players. I remember playing in England and we had to deal with bottles, tin cans, dog waste – pretty much anything you can imagine. But we played because we loved to play. As a responsible soccer coach, player safety should be paramount.

Impressionable young soccer players will look up to you for leadership. You are responsible for your words and actions. What you do, your players will look to emulate – you set the standard. After a tournament last Fall I sent out an end of season email. One of the responses I received from a parent was that they had witnessed some less than positive behavior from coaches. The email said that they never had to worry about their son hearing any bad language or bad behavior and that they were glad I was their son’s coach. I make it clear that I don’t tolerate bad behavior, but I hold myself under the same rule. I don’t scream and yell at the kids on the field or in training, shout obscenities at the officials during games, or show any kind of disrespect to the other teams. I let my players know that without the officials, there wouldn’t be any game – they have a tough job as it is. As players and coaches we are all responsible for our behavior, both on the field and off it.

I strive to give the players on my team the best soccer education that I can. If I don’t know something, or there’s something I want to teach and I don’t necessarily have a lesson plan that will work, I will call my DOC and ask him for advice or some drills I can use. I try to attend a license or coaching course annually so I can expand my knowledge of the game – I watch soccer every day of the week, I love the game – I hope to pass on not only my knowledge but my passion for the game because ultimately, if youngsters don’t have passion for soccer, the game in this country is gone before it even arrived.

Respect

As in most walks of life, respect is not something that your players or their parents will give you freely, you have to earn it. Set out your own personal goals for the team at the start of each season and communicate those goals clearly and honestly. Whenever I’ve done this the response has always been appreciative.

On game day don’t ignore the officials, opposition players and coaches, and all of the fans. At the end of the game, make sure your players shake hands or high-five the opposition players and coaches (for the older players shaking hands is appropriate), and make your players also do the same to the officials. Although the game has seen increased popularity, it’s still a relatively small community. Being seen as a coach and a team who is disrespectful is not likely to win you many fans or friends.

Your players will respect you if you’re open and honest with them and they will return the favor. Some of the best coaches I’ve had knew when to kick my butt and when to talk to me one-on-one. I knew where I stood and I respected them for that – respect is a mutual relationship but is beneficial to all.

Relationships

Building relationships is all about trust, it is no different in soccer. When I first took over my current team I stressed that the team comes first. There are no star players, superstars or primadonnas and there are no exceptions – we win as a team and we lose as a team. I like to use this quote from Mia Hamm:

I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.

Wow! What an inspiring quote. As a team there are multiple levels of relationships, and not everyone will be friends, and they don’t have to. If you’re all pulling in the same direction and for the same reasons, the team will be the winner. Foster and work on team building. Make sure there are team social nights. Sometimes off the soccer field you can work on those relationships and build strong bonds with the players and the parents.

I’ve found that coaches meetings are a great place to get to know the other soccer coaches at your club. You can’t really get to know the coaches immediately before or after a training session, so when your DOC holds coaches meetings, be sure to attend. Get to know the experienced coaches and learn from them. I also try and set up lunch meetings with my DOC before or after a season. I get to tell him how the season went, how he would have approached certain situations, and what he thinks I should do to improve or work on for the next season. This is great feedback – I’ve been coaching soccer for a little over four years and the amount of things I’m still learning is amazing. Plus, I’ve never known a DOC to refuse a free lunch.

Reputation

Pele and Sepp Blatter

There is often a reputation and a stigma which comes from being a foreign soccer coach. A lot of coaches get by just with their accent. They’re foreign, from a soccer nation, they have the accent, they know soccer – right? Well, sometimes. There is a difference in knowing soccer and being able to teach it. Would you rather have a reputation for soccer knowledge or being able to teach it? At coaching licenses they stress upon being able to teach in the moment – get in, get out, get on with it. Good coaches will teach not dictate, regardless of their nationality. When I talk with other coaches about coaching and they’re complimentary about opponents they’ve faced, the question which always gets asked is who was the coach? The response being it was coach X, they’re a real teacher, those kids are in great hands.

Be aware of who you are, where you are, what you’re saying, and how you’re saying it. Your actions and words have a great impact on today’s young soccer players. Their future in the game would be a terrible thing to waste.

Soccer Training Session: Passing and Possession Drill

Get help planning out your soccer training sessions

I’ve always wanted to share some of the soccer drills I use with my team. So, every week I’m going to publish one of the lesson plans that I’ve used in the past three years whilst coaching youth soccer.

The drills will be a mix of:

  • Technical
  • Tactical
  • Coerver

Before publishing just any soccer drill I have some criteria:

  • No (or very quick moving) lines: I like all of my players to be involved as much as possible so they have as many touches on the ball as they can. However, with some Coerver coaching drills that isn’t possible. So, what’s the next best thing? If you do have to use lines, make sure they are quickly moving and keep the kids on their toes.
  • Very few pieces of equipment: Since a lot of soccer coaches are volunteers and are involved because their son or daughter plays, they don’t have a lot of money to spend on equipment. About the most equipment you’ll use with my training sessions are balls, cones, Pugg goals, and bibs. Since most of the kids will have their own soccer balls, you wont often need lots of balls, but it’s always good to bring some in case the kids forget theirs.
  • Fun (but with objectives): Too much instruction and the kids switch off, too little instruction and the kids get bored. With the drills I use I will provide coaching points, and what the training session topic should be. I want my team to have fun when they’re playing and training. If they’re not having fun they won’t return.

To start us off, I’m going to use one of my favorite and most versatile soccer drills.

What You Will Need:

  • Two soccer balls
  • Different color bibs
  • Cones

What This Session can be used for

  • Passing – both technical and tactical.
  • Possession – keeping possession.
  • Defensive Principles – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd defender (pressure, cover, balance).
  • Movement off the ball – Do we have options up top, out wide and deep?

Warm-up / Fundamental

Regular readers of the blog already know that I’m a big fan of using soccer ladders. I do this for about 25 – 30 minutes at the start of each session. Once we’re done with the ladders, we then move onto working with the ball. I found that without doing the training ladders, the boys were too energetic and sometimes lost focus. The ladders make sure they’re ready to go and are ready to do some ball work.

  • Split up your roster into two groups. Give each group different color bibs and a ball between each group.
  • Have them pass the ball within their group. Make sure they don’t run into the other group – encourage looking up to see the field.
  • Reinforce the right passing technique – inside of the foot for short pass or pass on the ground, and getting underneath the ball for long passes in the air. Encourage your players to try passing the ball with both their left and right foot.
  • Once the players are moving the ball around well it’s time to change it up a little. Take away one ball. The players now need to pass the ball sequentially. Let’s say we’re using green and blue bibs. Give the ball to a player with a blue bib. That player now has to pass the ball to a player in a green bib. That player then has to pass the ball to a player in a blue bib. This encourages the players to look up and find the player who they need to pass to. Once the players are comfortable increase the amount of balls. Reinforce using all the space on the field and giving the player in possession of the ball more than one choice.

Non-Directional

We’re now going to introduce some game conditions. This part of the session is a possession game so they have play what I like to call smart soccer.

Start off with unlimited touches for both teams who’s aim is to retain possession of the ball. If you have an uneven number of players you could make one player an all time attacker (a player who is always on the side of the team in possession of the ball).

For the team in possession of the ball you should work on:

  • Range of passing – did we have to go long? could we have kept possession with a short pass?
  • Options – were other players available for a pass?
  • Communication – are the players telling each other if they have time on the ball, or calling for the switch?
  • The field – is the full width of the field being used? are we using depth to our advantage?

For the team trying to win the ball back:

  • Defensive shape – do we have pressure on the ball? how about cover and balance?
  • Options – are we limiting the choices? are we marking up?
  • Communication – is the first defender shouting “I’ve got ball”?

Objectives:

I like to give the team who has possession of the ball an objective. Can they reach 20 consecutive passes without losing possession? Set a time limit for this. If neither team can reach 20 consecutive passes within the time limit, both teams do push-ups. If one team manages to reach the goal, the other team does the push-ups. Be sure not to make the goal unattainable. With older players you should probably increase the goal to forty or fifty consecutive passes.

Restrictions:

  • Limit the touches on the ball to 2 or 1
  • Make the size of the playing field smaller

Directional

The final game of the training session is directional and similar to match conditions.

To score, players must stop the ball on the opposing line. We want to reinforce what we’ve been teaching in this final game with our passing, and making the right choices in our distribution of the ball.

Sometimes the players may have a tendency to dribble toward the end line. To counter this you can limit the players to two touches. If you have an uneven amount of players, and depending on what you’re using this drill for, you can play a numbers up or numbers down situation, or have a neutral player who is the all time attacker. I normally run this drill about once a month.

Hopefully this session plan will help you out. I’ll be happy to answer any questions and receive feedback. If you use this session with your team let me know how it goes.

Winter Soccer League Objectives

This winter some of my team are participating in a Futsal league which starts tomorrow. I’m taking a parity team, and I have several objectives for the boys:

  • Improve Their Ball Control: The game of Futsal is a fast paced game, and at times last season we seemed just a little off the pace both with and without the ball. I’m going to encourage them to try to play with some finesse and work in some moves to beat an opponent such as step-overs, Cruyff’s, scissors etc. Since the game of Futsal moves so fast, their body and mind has to think that little bit quicker. I would love that to transition into our spring soccer season in a couple of months.
  • Improve Their Fitness: Since a lot of players don’t work on their game or play during the winter, their match-fitness takes a dive. I’m only taking a roster of 8 for 5v5 games – the 5 includes a goalkeeper. There should be plenty of playing time for everyone.
  • Improve Shooting: One of my most talented players has a tendency to shoot toward the goalkeeper or at his near post. Since the Futsal goals are slightly smaller than what we’re used to playing with, angles become increasingly important – I want to see more shots across the keeper toward the far post.
  • Use the Weaker Foot: Naturally, I want my players to be comfortable with both feet. If they can use the Futsal games as a chance to improve their weaker side and do so at an increased pace, then they should be a lot more comfortable going into the spring season.
  • Have Fun!: I’m not concerned whether we win, lose, or draw, that is not my objective for these games. I want my players to go out and have fun, try some beat an opponent moves, and if they fall over flat on their backsides then that’s ok. This will be a pressure free environment.

Hopefully the boys will have a good time and learn. If they do that, then I shall be a happy coach. If you’re considering starting a winter soccer training program, hopefully you’ll consider Futsal. I can’t wait to see how my boys progress.

An Interview with Jared Montz

Today we had the pleasure of interviewing Jared Montz. Jared is a former MLS player with the Chicago Fire, and now is the owner of the first Online Soccer Academy.

Jared, tell us a little bit about yourself – your playing and coaching background.

I played college soccer with Lynn University. The team was made up of a bunch of English players so it was a great environment for me. I played pro soccer with the Chicago Fire in 2005 and 2006, then the Puerto Rico Islanders in 2007. I retired from injury in March of 2009 after two surgeries and sitting out a year.

My coaching background consists of taking a lot of notes from all my different pro and college coaches as well as my teammates along the way. Studying what they did well and what they didn’t do well. I pride myself in teaching the techniques in the game and the little things that often get overlooked by most coaches. I have run about 30 camps, I coach a ton of private lessons, group sessions, and team practices. I also coach through video in my Online Soccer Academy.

Who’s been the biggest influence on your soccer career and why?

Tough to say who has been my biggest influence. As a youth player it was one of my youth coaches Anton McEwen. He played pro in South Africa and the way he approached the game was so different. He showed me the mental side of the game. As a pro it was Chris Armas. He was the captain of the Fire when I was there. He taught me a ton and I learned a lot just by watching him and how he handled himself on and off the field. When you earned a compliment from him you felt like you were two inches taller. There are not too many leaders that have that type of presence about them.

What gave you the idea of setting up an online soccer academy?

I got the idea to start my Online Soccer Academy in the summer of 2008. I was speaking with a friend and the idea just hit me. Camps were great but people always complained about it being a bad time. I still had a great turn out but you could never please everyone. The Online Soccer Academy allows players to work at their game on their own time. Plus the problem with most American soccer players is that they only train twice a week with their team for 1.5 hours. If you want to play college or pro soccer you have to train almost every day and in America for most kids they have to do that training on their own. I know I did. The Online Soccer Academy teaches players how to train on their own. It just seemed like a great idea, my market research agreed with me, so I decided to work non stop and make one!

Why should a young soccer player sign up for your online soccer academy?

Players that are serious about their game and looking to take it to the next level should join my Online Soccer Academy because it will motivate and educate them on how to train on their own. As I mentioned in the last question players in America that are trying to play at the next level need to train on their own but they don’t always know how too. My Online Soccer Academy can fix that problem. It is a great motivation source too. A player can come to my Online Soccer Academy, enjoy some soccer highlights on my blog, listen to an interview from a current pro on MontzTV or the Jared Montz Soccer Podcast and hear the pro’s advice for them, watch a training video from me and then go out in the backyard and train totally pumped that what they do that day matters and it does make a difference towards their dreams!

Training in the backyard can sometimes make you feel so far away from the pro game. I want my players to believe that if they “Believe in it” and back that up with hard work the pro game is not that far away.

As a former player yourself, you know how important practice is. Just how important is it that youth soccer players continue to practice away from their team training sessions?

It is very important. I don’t know any pro or college player that made it by only training twice a week with their team. There were kids growing up as good as me or some better than me but they never practiced on their own. I did, almost everyday. By the time I was a Senior I was miles ahead of them and getting ready for college soccer and they only had regrets about what they could have done if they only did this, or did that.

Can we be expecting any updates to the academy in 2010?

Good question! Yes, we have some exciting stuff happening in 2010! I am calling it the playmaker year because the Online Soccer Academy number is 10, which 10 is the considered the playmaker number in soccer and with it being 2010 I thought it sounded good! We are very excited for this year.

We have not announced it publicly yet but we will have it on my website and start marketing them soon. We now offer personal college recruiting websites and highlight DVD’s for high school players. You can check out http://www.davidcollege.com which is our example site. There are lots of competitors out there who build profile pages, but what we do is build a personal website for players and then teach them how to use that to network themselves to college coaches. The sites have some great features as well. We have already built a few of these and are very excited about them.

We plan on adding a lot more video in the Online Soccer Academy including 30 minute and 1 hour workout videos this year. Right now most of our videos are one specific trick, skill, move, technique or exercise. These workout videos will be a whole training plan that a player can do on their own to get a full soccer private work out in. The feedback for our test video has been excellent.

Our 1st Live MontzTV Interview went very well so we plan on doing more free special events like that for the soccer community this year.

There are a few other surprises up our sleeves too but I can’t let those out of the bag just yet!

Finally, who’s your tip for the World Cup?

I am a player and a coach at heart so I am always going to root for my team to win it! That would be the United States of America! Go on boys!! Believe in it!

Many thanks to Jared for taking time out of his busy schedule and we wish him all the best for his online soccer academy. If you wish to participate in a coaching interview, please email coach lee AT soccercoachingcentral.com

When to Choose a Designated Goalkeeper

A Goalkeeper

Photo credit goes to Giampaolo Squarcina.

My roster for my U10 Boys team is about 17-18 and I have four or five who play as keeper. One of the problems I run into, is that my goalkeepers are some of the more talented outfield players.

To counter this, I have one Keeper play in goal one half, and another Keeper play in goal in the other half. This worked really well last season because all the boys are starting to grasp that every position is important in the game of soccer.

In the Fall, my group of boys will go from playing 6v6 to 8v8 so I have to take into consideration the Keepers that I have and what role they will play. Those of you who’ve taken licenses with the NSCAA and the USSF already know that the instructors tell you never to pigeon-hole a youth soccer player into any position. Your left defender at U10 could be your striker at U14, your striker at U10 could be your central-defender at U14. I know in my playing time through school and college I shifted from right-midfield, to right-back, to centre-midfield. I used to love to run up and down the wing as a teenager, but after ankle injuries and realising that I liked to tackle a lot, I was moved to suit my strongest playing points.

Even now at U10 level, I can notice player tendencies – some players like to take players on, some aren’t afraid to get stuck in, some have the ability already to strike a ball over a long distance to switch the point of attack, and some are showing really good natural keeper skills – knowing when to come out, diving on a loose ball, and shouting instructions at their defenders. Our club runs extra sessions during the season which include Goalkeeping sessions and Speed and Agility. I encourage all the boys who’ve played Goalkeeper for me, go to these extra training sessions to keep their eye-hand co-ordination up to speed. However, some of the boys who’ve played in goal don’t want to make that position their permanent position, but they’re quite happy to do the job if it means helping out the team (I place a big importance on ‘Team’).

From my own coaching point of view, I’m very happy with the way the Keeper situation is currently, and don’t see the need for adding a designated Goalkeeper until the boys move up to 11 v 11 (U13). So I ask the question to other soccer coaches – how have you handled the situation? Have you been fortunate enough to have a player who just loves to play goalie or are you rotating your Keepers like I am? I’d be interested to see what’s worked for you (as well as what hasn’t).