EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

How the World Cup can inspire your team

Your players are certain to catch World Cup fever during the tournament, so why not make that work in your favour at training.

Keepy up tennis

Argentina’s Javier Mascherano playing keepy-up tennis during training at the World Cup

> Favourite player

Give each player in your squad a World Cup team to look out for and ask them to pick their favourite player from that team. Once they have done this, ask them to find out a little about that player’s strengths and then discuss briefly as a group in training how they each might emulate their players in order to improve their game.

> Keepy-up tennis

Get your players warming up with a bit of keepy-up tennis, as played by the South American teams in Russia. All you need is a line instead of a net and you can play with as few or as many in a side as you like. Allow one bounce each side of the ‘net’ and use groups of between two and four aside to ensure plenty of touches. Depending on the ability of your players, increase or decrease the difficulty as you see fit by allowing an extra bounce or by stipulating every player on each side touches the ball each time it crosses the line.

> Replicate skills

Ask players to look for tricks, skills or great individual moments when they are watching the World Cup matches this summer. Then get together to discuss why they are effective and what they achieved. Choose one of these skills and get everyone in the team to try to replicate it. You could do the same with any really impressive set-piece goal.

> Wear the shirt training day

Ask your players to come to training in the colours of a team that’s competing in the finals. You might have to choose for them, as they will all opt for the same few big names. Choose lesser know teams and ask them to wear these colours next week if they can. Then during that session, you call each player by that country’s name.

> Player of the week

Start each training session with a quick vote for the best World Cup players of the week in each area of the pitch: goalkeeper, defence, midfield and attack. Make sure you ask why they have chosen those particular players and do the same the following week. By the end of the tournament you should have your own shortlist of the best players of the tournament. At the end of the World Cup test the kids to see if they understand the importance of each position: get them to turn this shortlist into your very own team of the tournament, asking them to debate the merits of each candidate for each position.

> Penalty shoot-out

Have a penalty shoot-out competition at the end of every training session. Do it in teams and keep a track of the score. At the end of the tournament, that team can be your World Cup winners.

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