A fantastic coaching bonanza

It is that time of year when coaches of all nationalities are drawn to the United States to gather together at the largest soccer convention in the world.

And, yes, I will be in Chicago because this an unmissable event. I love to see all the coaches that I have come to know through so if you see me there make sure you make yourself known to me! I try to see as many coaches as I can.

There is always so much to see and so many events I want to go to … its mind boggling. Over five days there will be more than 250 educational opportunities consisting of live field demonstrations, classroom sessions, meal and social functions, award presentations, coaching diplomas and more… a fantastic coaching bonanza.

For those who are attending and those who are unable to attend, I thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase a few presenters past and present from the Convention with sessions that all coaches can use to help develop their players and make a success of their teams:

We all love attacking sessions and Ian Barker, Director of Coaching Education at United Soccer Coaches has some great ones. Speed of play and penetration looks at getting the ball behind the defence to attack the goal in 1v1s. Good movement and passing with a smart final pass are the orders of the day. Attack from deep looks to improve the combined play of a team’s forwards and the attacking midfielders. This is vital for teams that play the ball quickly to get into the final third and threaten the goal.

Explosive squares from Adrian Parrish, the Kentucky Youth Soccer Technical Director, is one of the best ways to coach support and movement off the ball as well as making sure players learn how to deal with the basics of passing and receiving. After making a pass you will often see players standing still and admiring their work, you will also see players struggling to create good supporting angles for the player with the ball – this session helps you deal with that.

There are many things for a coach to work on if he/she wants a successful team. Ball master from the Coaching Director at US Youth Soccer Sam Snow looks at players’ awareness of group shape and off-the-ball movements. The presence of the other groups executing the same objectives in the same space raises the demand on players of tactical decision making and precision of their ball skills. It’s good fun and a fantastic session for player movement and passing combinations.

Youth teams often find they are crowded out when they are in a good position to attack the goal. Charlie Slagle, the Chief Executive of Capital Area Soccer League, has an answer to this problem. In Create goals from tight spaces players learn the benefits of playing quickly when tightly marked. Try it to see if your players can get themselves out of situations where the opposition get a stranglehold in the final third.

Ricky King head coach of Vancouver Whitecaps FC Alberta South Academy Centre has a fantastic session Double team that helps coaches to build on the defensive relationship between centre backs and central midfielders in a phase of play. It’s a great session. It involves midfielders blocking routes through the middle of the pitch and also recovery when the ball is lost.

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