When trying to unite a group of club players in giving their all on an international stage, it takes an innovative and empathetic leader like England manager and League Managers Association (LMA) president Gareth Southgate to really make it work. MORE
Coaching U10s to spread play
I used this session on spreading play to give them a good work out.
I then asked the players to take the elements that they’d learned into a training game. As the match progressed, I could see that one of the teams was moving the ball around with much more fluidity.
I had split them evenly, but the difference was that one side was spreading play from one side to the other and creating space – they’d scored two goals to grab a lead.
The other team was sitting deep and trying to play down the center of the pitch with long balls up to the forward.
I stopped the game and spoke to the side that was losing. I asked the forward to drop deeper and instructed the defenders to push the ball wide so they could bring the midfielders into play. This would allow them to look for space on the opposite side of the pitch.
With clear instructions, I sent the team back out and, slowly but surely, they started getting more of the ball and spreading the play.
The losing team pulled the score back to 2-1 and were much happier for having done so. It was a good point to end the session on and gave the Under-10s a good workout.
So what’s the point of all this? Well, it’s that you can use the coaching handbook to the letter, but sometimes you have to talk to your players individually to have an effect on the outcome. Communication is key.
We all know lots of sessions designed to get players reacting in a certain way, but without combining attention to detail (to see if a move is working or not) with the experience that we all pick up every step along the way (in this case telling the losing team to switch things around a bit), our players won’t progress as we want.