You’ll often find that out of adversity comes opportunity. A player came to meet me with his mum and dad late last year. He had been having a tough time at his club and was both tearful about returning to the club and tearful about not playing football. MORE
Coaching in tight areas
Looking around some of the remarkable academies in youth soccer with all the facilities that they have it is sometimes easy to forget that a lot of coaches have to work in limited space. Sometimes that space can be part of a pitch or part of a training court where it is impossible to run sessions involving goals or sessions that need half a pitch or more.
For these coaches it becomes a weekly battle to adapt sessions to the smaller space so the players get good practice in all aspects of the game.
Often in matches players will find little space to work in, and they will struggle to hold on to the ball when surrounded by opponents. Playing games in tight spaces helps players to practise for this and it gets them used to being pressed quickly so they develop the ability to shield the ball and know that fast passing can make life difficult for opponents.
If you think about the way a player like Neymar holds onto the ball he is surrounded by opponents it gives you a clue as to what kind of coaching practice he enjoys. Think Ronaldo and the maestro himself Lionel Messi, and that is the kind of player you are looking to create from using tight games and individual skill sessions.
So it is not always a negative having small areas to train in. The other positive aspect of small areas is that the coach is very close to all the players involved, so the coaching point is a lot easier to get across. Planning for this is vital so the coach must understand the coaching point and explain to the players what the session will be teaching them to do. Without both coach and the player-understanding, the benefit of the small space is lost. So coaches should read the sessions carefully to make sure they appreciate the technique and the coaching point.
Of course, there are big downsides that coaches will find when they have a small space to work in. Set-piece play is the main one of these, with the limited area curbing any training that involves moves on goal. For this teams should use the main pitch they play on and, if this is not available, try to hire a pitch once a month so other aspects of the game can be practised.
TOP TIPS FOR TIGHT SPACE TRAINING
> Be prepared – take a print out of the sessions to training with you
> Make sure you have enough cones, bibs and balls
> Give yourself a clear understanding of the coaching point
> Make sure the players understand what the purpose of the session and what it will achieve