Category Archives: Drills

Another Q&A

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After a little break we are back asking more questions, today we have another coach from somwehere in the UK happy to give his own thoughts and expressions in the world of football. Lets get started!

So our keen and enthusiastic audience would love to know a little bit about you?

I’m Danny, 30 years old coach from Oldham. I have coached and managed 2 disability sides for 16+ open aged teams (Stalybridge Celtic FC and Oldham Way FC).  Both were mixed ability with men and women for both setups. I was at Stalybridge for 1 year in a temporary role and had been with Oldham for 5 years. I also at the beginning of my coaching career started at 3D Dynamo’s as an assistant to a Under 9’s team for 6 months, before taking over as head coach of the Under 7’s side and did this role for 3 years until the end of the Under 9’s season.  I also spent 2 years with AFC Oldham, setting up an academy for the club recruiting players as young as 2 right up to the ages of 16. I also recruited coaches, and set up a link with a local school. I also spent a 12 months assisting with the Under 18’s side within the club. 

So lets go back to the beggining, what inspired you to become a coach?

As a kid I played for primary school team, and if wasn’t playing outside or for the team I was always playing football somewhere. Playing all the football manager games, so I quickly realised I had a big passion for football.  As I grew up I realised I wasn’t going to get scouted, so instead of wasting what I had learnt playing, I decided to coach. Got my level 1 and started assisting with 3D Dynamo’s. I also love seeing people achieve, and I have always enjoyed helping others.  So everything made sense to go into coaching and see where it takes me.

Specific philosophy or attitude towards development?

I personally like players who are exciting, creative, and in general terms, that are ‘different’.  I generally more observe sessions, letting the players think for themselves. Players need to be exposed to tricky situations where they need to make decisions.  I also think its important towards players, that they are going to make mistakes. We have to remember whether your professional earning 350k a week, or you’re a child at a grassroots team, emotions, feelings and confidence are all an important part of the person before player mode.


Who would you consider some of the best teams or players you have worked with?

At 3D Dynamo’s we had a really good 3-man partnership.  3 lads called Mason, Tom and Matthew. Mason had an immense left football, but wasn’t shy of using his right foot neither, the unpredictability made him an exciting watch.  Tom, who had experienced a case of ADHD, but that didn’t stop him in anyway. I was an assistant then to the manager Gary, who had really supported Tom, and helped channel the ADHD into something really positive.  Being able to work with Tom for the 6 months I did as an assistant, I learnt a lot, and have to say I am extremely proud of Tom, finally Matthew who had an excellent right foot, but like Mason, wasnt afraid to cut in with his left. In term of the group of players I worked with classed as having a disability I worked with a young man by the name of Chris, who at the age of 18 has some anger concerns in the past, he has an extremely powerful shot and is quick, most importantly his leadership skills have come on leaps and bounds. Needless to say he is soon to become captain of Oldham disability side very soon.

Who would you consider your coaching role models or inspirations?

In terms of man management, Sir Alex Ferguson is of course top of the list, his father figure approach whilst also exercising authority makes him best in the business.  Like I said before, I think personally it is always the personality before footballer. I also have rated the jobs both Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, especially Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, have been brilliant. Klopp more so now with Liverpool, working with the likes of Gomez and Alexander Arnold, the 3 man partnership of Firmino, Salah and Mane and signing Robertson for what is considered these days as a bargain price tag. I love the 3-5-2 system Sheffield United had in place in their promotion season this season. Frank Lampard, signing a lot of youth on loan, but the way they have blended in, you can clearly see that Frank has done an exceptional job given the circumstances, only just in a new positon, the transition has given him a great start to his coaching career.

What is the current enviroment you are working in?

At the moment I am attached with Oldham Way disability team mentoring a new coach. I am also currently doing a fitness coaching course, which could lead to doing strength and conditioning work and working with a few players doing 1on1 fitness sessions, and very small group sessions.  I am also looking at different futsal groups and networking with other coaches in Wales and Scotland for new opportunities.


Do you have any future ambitions at all?

As I spent a lot of my time watching Italian football as a child growing up, I would love to coach in Italy.  I would like to spend time in either Scotland or Wales. Love both countries. I would also like to spend time in Japan, with the possibility of setting up a small mental health project. Who knows what the future holds?

A big thank you to Danny for coming along and having a chat with us today, hopefully todays conversations provide a little more diversity into your own coaching thought process.

Mental Health Support

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I am so excited to say that the Scottish Association for Mental Health have granted me permission to express my encouragement for their cause through my blog, a small “signpost” will be added to the header as a simple note of support. The charity is the biggest and most effective force that helps people who suffer on a daily basis through any sort of health condition, the world is evolving and support and talking points are improving but conditions are often still considered a taboo subject so I would like to say thank you once again.

Q&A with Alfie Tate

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So tell us a little more about Alfie Tate?

My current roles include being at Peterborough United as an Academy Coach within their Foundation Phase while also working with two local grassroots clubs at both U13 and U18. I’m also doing school clubs within Cambridgeshire a few days a week. They all have their different challenges but I enjoy all of them hugely and learn from every group which is massive for me – hopefully the players feel the same in me aiding their development. Not being full-time, I have some spare hours during the day and between sessions where I have the freedom to study the game a lot. Whether that’s going out to watch games, watching games back on TV, reading articles, meeting up and speaking with coaches, I’m always looking for ways to learn from other people and resources

So what inspired you to become a coach?

I got into football all together very late. I didn’t start playing until I was 13/14 years old and wasn’t that great, I wanted to try a range of positions which I didn’t get the opportunity to do so I left my team and didn’t get back involved. I wish I had continued playing as I think it’d have been beneficial. Before I had stopped playing I was already coaching after school clubs twice a week and involved with a local grassroots club working with the U10’s. I felt I suited coaching as I was always someone who was a leader, taking charge in group work, maybe sometimes a bit bossy! It was just in my personality, that’s how I was. I enjoyed the responsibility of managing and working with people to get desired outcomes and success and that’s exactly how I am with my coaching/management. 

Do you have any specific type of football that you have a love for?

Has to be the possession-based sides – Barcelona, Bayern, Man City under Pep Guardiola. Liverpool under Klopp, there’s so many managers I admire for the way they play. Some go less recognised such as Roger Schmidt, Juan Lillo, Marcelo Bielsa. I look up to a lot for their playing style and identity as a coach. Some are admirable simply for their innovation and creativity as a coach, others for the success and trophies they’ve delivered. But I particularly love the sides that try and build from the back, dominate possession throughout the thirds and find creative ways of opening up teams. It’s almost an art. Each phase takes great intelligence, finding ways to get out of tight spaces to exploit other areas of the pitch. It takes great decision making and confidence. Playing route one doesn’t give you that. There’s minimal risk and often frustrating to watch. To dominate the ball, find ways out of certain areas, breaking down low block teams is both very entertaining but also takes time to develop and work on. It’s not an overnight build and takes time to implement which makes it interesting from a coaching perspective. There’s so many fine details to each factor you work on. 

Do you have the best player you have ever worked with?

Hard for me to define the best player I have worked with considering I’ve only worked with youngsters during the 4 years I’ve been coaching. Every group I’ve worked with, there’s always been that stand out talent where you go “Wow. Yeah, there’s something there for him to go and have a career in the game”. Whether those players do or not, is ultimately up to them. We don’t get the contact time with them that we’d obviously like to, but I’d like to think I’ve always given players the tools to go away and know what to work on in their own time. I’d also like to think I’ve always been approachable for players to come up to me and ask “What can I improve on? Can you help me with this?”. For example, with our U18’s, there’s a good number of them who have asked for ways to improve, we regularly have individual conversations on different aspects on their game and I think it’s fantastic. The players deserve credit for that attitude and application to improve since I came in. We’ve also recently started doing position-specific practises before or after training. Allocating 15-20 minutes to focus on key aspects of the game with loads of repetition. For example, last week we worked on finishing with our forwards and midfielders. They all got about 20 shots each and the keeper has probably had 100 saves to make. It’s short, quick and repetitive with lots of decisions to make. 

What are your ambitions as a coach?

“What’s the point of running a race if you’re not in it to win it?” was a quote I heard a little while back which has stuck with me. But ultimately, I’ve always been a winner. I want to win. That might not always be winning games, but at youth level and in terms of developing players, that might be seeing a player develop a new habit that we’ve been plugging away at with him for a while, that might be a 15 year old scoring a goal for our U18’s or ultimately getting a player into the reserves or first team – that’s my main objective when working with U18’s this season. Similar when at Peterborough United, our ultimate aim is to develop each individual and move them on to the next age group – we want players going through each phase at the club and getting into that Youth Team before pushing on to the U23’s and first-team hopefully.

We always remember that there is an extremely slim chance of these boys getting into the first-team, we know that and they and their parents know that. It has to be mentioned, as you have to remind them and essentially keep them grounded and ensure they make use of the experience being at a professional football club. Enjoy the experience, learn from it and work hard.

I know a lot of Academies get criticism nowadays but they genuinely offer a great experience for young players, it’s a great learning curve for them all and they develop as people ultimately. They develop important life and social skills, they get to go away on tour and experience different cultures, they get to meet the first-team stars and watch them play and train on a weekly basis, workshops that are delivered by the Academy staff. I think they’re very fortunate for their age.

So ultimately to answer your question, I want to manage and coach at the highest level and win trophies because that’s what is expected of you at that level. It’s a challenge but I’m always learning and trying to develop myself.

Any advice you could offer aspiring coaches?

Be yourself. I think too many coaches look at the FA Courses and feel they have to copy everything from the England DNA to the practises that are delivered, worrying over whether they’ve done enough Q&A during their session or got “enough” technical detail out. It’s a big bug bear of mine. They say their courses/observations aren’t all tick box and they want you to be your own coach but I haven’t experienced that from tutors or courses yet – you have to get a certain amount of ball rolling time, have to manage the opposition, paint pictures, loads of Q&A, everyone opting against ‘command’. If you don’t do that then you don’t pass your courses, but they want you to be yourself?

Hence why I genuinely believe you have to be yourself and be creative. Go and watch other coaches, study what they do, what and how they deliver. There will be ideas you love and might implement, there might be ideas you don’t like and wouldn’t include in your own coaching, and the best ones are where you watch a session and you see something where it triggers a thought in your head where you change it, you tweak it there and then. “Yeah I like that, but I could actually do it like this, or change that and that could work” – those are the best moments when trying to take ideas away from other coaches. Sometimes those ideas that you experiment at your own training session but don’t work, it’s great because you’re learning, you’re trying to be creative. You can go away and tweak it again and try again the following week.

I’ve recently started recording our training sessions and games which has been really useful – it allows a better quality of reflection and allows us to also feedback to players on specific areas of training and games. There’s so much to learn and improve on yourself when you can record and analyse the sessions and games. I’d definitely recommend that and wish I had done it sooner. So ultimately, try and be yourself. I’m not saying you can’t learn from the FA courses, you absolutely can, but don’t replicate every message they preach and every session they deliver. But try and learn from everyone and develop your own coaching identity and beliefs. I’m always open to learning from people, but I will also challenge their ideas, just like I’d want them to challenge mine – because it gets me to question myself and my thinking and ultimately improve those aspects of my identity as a coach.

A shopping list

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Alot of people who read this column, and I hope there is a few, make an important and valued contribution to clubs, players development and progress. It is also important to keep in mind that there is always the question of money and keeping clubs and age groups operational consistently. I have made an offer to establish a club shop of sorts, the place is entirely free and all you have to do is send me information on what you would like to sell, I can place it on the web site and the visitors can take a look. This will raise much needed cash for the club you contribute too. The reason I write to you today is to find out if there is any clubs/coaches out there interested in taking part in this?

Post me a DM @gillenreid

Waving to football

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Another routine that worked out quite nicely for me, highly flexible also.

Split your group into 2 teams one with bibs, start with having one team attack vs defence. In order to keep the intensity of the routine up ensure the pool of footballs is accessed immediately once the active ball leaves the pitch. When you run out of footballs get the 2 teams to go and start the shuttle running, afterwards switch the attacking team to defending and vice versa – once completed do another set of shuttle runs.

The idea behind it is to get the players to adapt to a sense of intensity, the routine can be adapted to suit younger or older age groups.

 



Conditioning

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I picked this up from the world of Futsal.

Ball goes out of play the team in possession has to bring the ball back into play within 4 second or they have to hand over possession.

Encourages quick thinking and impact oppositions ability to regroup and organise.

Timing

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You have 90 minutes training available to you

To start with complete your standard warm up, then emphasizing the point of interval training start the session with a small game, 15 minutes after stop the game for a breather, water intake and reshuffle the teams.

Maintains freshness and improves fitness.

Remember you have the opportunity to play with the idea.

An idea channel

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The following is just a collection of ideas, I hope these golden nuggets of wonderful information prove productive.

“Picked up from the world of Futsal.

Ball goes out of play the team in possession has to bring the ball back into play within 4 second or they have to hand over possession.

Encourages quick thinking and impact opposition’s ability to regroup and organise”

“Really simple idea, sometimes you will see kids or adults time wasting pre-session, common occurrence and to be fair understandable.

Decent attention spans are nowhere to be seen, so a recommendation would be simply to implement a rule, do what you want pre-session whether it be chat or whatever, as long as you have a football at your feet”

“Corner taking is an important aspect of football, ideas on how to mix it up a little is always ideal. Have a player work with your regular corner taker to come short with a decoy run. This drags the opposition player out of the game, provides a potential advantage”

“Evolution of coaching these days has introduced more and more terminology,  a new one is SAQ. Which is of course Speed Agility and Quickness.

A standardized layout is an ideal option, three channel and split your team into three groups. Use one of the channels for ladders, another of zigzags and last simply quick feet. When time expires everyone moves to their left.

Again this is open to customization, ideas to suit your team’s development”

“A player doing keepy uppy with a rugby ball….

Why would they do this I hear you ask?

The key part of a rugby ball is its shape, if you ask one of your kids to try this sort of thing, the unpredictability of where the ball will end up will demand the players mind to work harder, this in turn develop the player’s anticipation and first touch.

The application has been used regularly with goalkeepers, former Swansea player Michel Armand Vorm regularly voiced his appreciation for this concept”

“Always remain open minded to the potential versatility of a player, have a look at what the player can and can’t do. Maintaining that state of mind may work to your advantage, what is your problem, what alternative’s do you have at your disposal, think what alternatives do you have and what further alternatives are your afraid to use. Take the risk as there will be the reward. At what point does this disallow you from adding the player to the potential position?”

“Why are there always shapes involved in the routines we do, triangles and squares and so on? Football is often played in squares and triangles, the routines are set out to look the same”

A rondo for a minute

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This is a routine that I love, I spend time using it every week and it has provided me with an end product, please spend time adapting it to your own requirement or just simply use it as it. Each drill that will be explained is set out on the principles below.

Layout

Based on 10 players we will have 2 rondo boxes 7×7 although the spaces can be expanded depending on the amount of players you have.

Action

Split the players into 5 and 5 – create a 4 v 1 in each rondo box – time the routine to 1 minute each and leave balls around the parameter of the boxes to ensure the players have free access to footballs. The reason for this is to encourage the players to be responsible for the routine they are taking part in, also improves the fluidity of the routing cutting down on the stop start problems that can often occur.

Outcome

A rondo can be adapted for several focuses, this one we will use the ball movement focus, part of your standard would be to make that point during the routine to your players. Other occasions you can perhaps make some changes to the rondo to focus on a different development.

 



Warm Up

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  • Run down length of cones both feet in gap between each cones x2
  • Repeat Sideways left and Rightx2
  • Side step through cones x2
  • Backwards Sidestep x2
  • Sprint length of cones x1
  • Reaction Sprints 360 Degree
  • Rondo/Passing/Sequence Passing

Recently left a club where I was lead coach of a u13s group. Above was the warm up routine that I used on a weekly basis. Might prove to be useful.