In my most recent article, Coaching Youth Soccer Part I, I spoke about decision making.
If you struggle making decisions you’ll struggle knowing how to play soccer.
For what it is worth here’s how I teach decision making as part of coaching players how to play soccer.
My main training tool is Rondo. My training plans are mostly made up of “Rondo” sessions intended to use EVERY INCH of the pitch.
The critical part of these sessions is coaching muscle memory mentality/actions players need to have relative to where they are on the pitch and how near or far the defenders are.
An expectation going in is the players have already begun to master technical skills they need to control the ball.
Muscle Memory Mentality; using Rondo.
- Five vs four or three or two Rondo’s can be used to teach how to play soccer across the entire pitch.
- Set up controls and boundaries for ‘recycling and penetrating passes as needed’.
- Let them know which part of hte pitch they are working in and reinforce what technical skills they need to execute based upon defenders and pitch location.
- For example, if you set up your rondo session in the defending final third do not encourage dribbling skills – encourage controlled passing and quick ball movement (two-touch soccer preferred) while allowing them opportunities to ‘clear the ball’ and/or recycle the ball to the keeper.
- When setting up the same rondo in the attacking third encourage one touch soccer as well as dribbling skills leading to shots taken. Also recognizing that ‘if it’s not there’ they should recycle the ball back to open space and restart anew.
All told one rondo session of five vs four or three or two can be set up to represent any area of the pitch.
To change things up add ‘tactical passing/ball movement’ requirements where the players can be rewarded with a shot on goal/point when they’ve successfully completed the task.
I ensure all players are trained in all aspects of the rondo session.
A winger who learns how a fullback is going to play by playing that role is going to be a better winger.
A forward who learns how a center-back is going to play is going to be a better forward.
As the end of the training session nears put them into competitive scrimmages where they can practice what was trained.
I work to help the players better understand how their technical skills can be used relative to:
- Decision making,
- Positional Shape,
- Control, and
It takes training to turn ‘guidance’ into ‘instinct’.
When your play becomes instinct you naturally do it quicker.