Youth Development

SoccerSpecific

Paul Halford has spent the past 30 years educating players and coaches of all levels. Currently he is Director of Coaching for Pennsylvania West and is responsible for designing and implementing age appropriate coaching guidelines for some 60,000 youth soccer players. Pa West is a National State Association under the auspices of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). Paul holds a USSF ‘A’ License, a National Youth License, is a Region 1 ODP staff coach as well as a member of the USSF licensing staff.

Emphasis:

Passing: Angles and distance of support to create opportunities to play forward.

Activity 1:

Set Up:

Squad of 16 players split into four teams of 4 players. Two 20 x 30 yard grids are created. Two groups of 4 players are positioned inside each grid.

NOTE: For illustration purposes only one 20×30 yard grid is shown below in Diagram (a). The shown setup is replicated to accommodate the remaining two groups of 4 players. One ball per group of 4 players.

DIagram A
DIagram A

Objective:

Each team of four players passes and moves inside the playing area. Teammates must offer appropriate angles and distance of support as well as execute each pass using correct technique (inside of foot). Players must receive the ball, move into space and then pass to another teammate. In Diagram (a), above, the red team is playing with a good team shape – Player (B) is in possession of the ball. Players (A), (C) are offering width while player (D) is offering length (depth). Play is continuous for a designated period of time.

Coaching Points:

  • Emphasis on correct passing mechanics
  • Passing should be sharp (accuracy and weight)
  • When providing width players are encouraged to receive the ball in a half-turned position
  • Players must constantly adjust their positions as the ball travels.

Activity 2:

Set Up:

Same field dimensions as above. 8 players per 20 x 30 yard grid organized as shown in Diagram (b) below – 3v3 inside grid with target players positioned at opposite ends of the grid.

Diagram B
Diagram B

Objective:

Both teams compete for possession of the ball. Players must constantly move to create passing options. Points are awarded for passing the ball to EITHER target player. The target players are limited to 2 touches and must pass the ball back to the team from which they received the pass. The three players inside the grid are encouraged to make penetrating passes to the target players early and often. In Diagram (b) above player (A) has passed to the target player. Players (B) and (C) are running to offer support to the target player. Play is continuous for a designated period of time.

Coaching Points:

  • Players must look to play to the target players early
  • Players must travel to support the target player as the ball is traveling
  • Players must concentrate on angles, distance and timing of support
  • Emphasis on correct passing mechanics

Activity 3:

Set Up:

Same field dimensions as above. A 4v4 with two target players at each end of the grid is organized as shown in Diagram (c) below. The four target players make up a third team.

Diagram C
Diagram C

Objective:

Both teams compete for possession of the ball. Teams must attempt to maintain possession through constant movement and sharp passing. A point is awarded for successfully passing to a target player and then working the ball to the opposite side target player. In Diagram (c) above, Player (A) has received a pass from a target player. Player (A) has passed to (B), who in turn has passed to (C). Player (C) has passed to an opposite side target player for 1 point. Play is continuous for a designated period of time. Rotate the teams after each round of play.

Coaching Points:

  • Mobility is essential if players are to create passing options
  • Players are encouraged to look for penetrating passes to the target players as early as possible
  • Emphasis on correct passing mechanics

Final Game:

Players are organized into a 7v7 plus goalkeepers as shown in Diagram (d) below.

Diagram D
Diagram D

Objective:

Both teams compete for possession of the ball and attempt to create goal-scoring opportunities through sharp passing. In Diagram (d) Player (A) has made a penetrating pass to teammate (B). Player (B) has laid the ball off for Player (C) who has made a supporting run inside. Player (C) can attempt a shot on goal.

Coaching Points:

  • Players must concentrate on good angles and distance of support
  • Players should look to make penetrating passes to teammates in advanced positions
  • Constant movement (mobility) off the ball
  • Emphasis on correct passing mechanics