Improving Dribbling Skills for Soccer Players and Coaches with Concurrent Goal Training – Article 6

Just about everyone can dribble a soccer ball when there is no resistance coming from an opponent. Obviously however, there will be great resistance during competitive matches. So the objective here is to properly get young players comfortable and confident with dribbling while an opponent is applying pressure by endeavoring to gain possession of the ball. If any field-soccer player wants to improve, this skill is paramount.

These are the basic objectives that must be developed for young players and possibly others for maintaining possession of the ball.

1. Dribbling the soccer ball must be kept close to the feet around opponents. This is obvious.

2. But what may not be obvious is that the sense of balance of the body, needed for rapidly changing directions, must be developed.

3. Looking out around the field for open players and open spaces is another necessity. It can only be accomplished by keeping one’s head up while dribbling. This of course will not happen with newly introduced players into the game, but it is one of the dribbling objectives.

4. Another necessity for retaining the ball while dribbling is to shield it from one or more opponents.

So what is the optimum approach to improve the dribbling skills for young players?

1. In general, precious soccer practice time should not be spent on dribbling drills. Dribbling should be practiced away from the soccer practice. But, there are some exceptions:

  • (a) The youngest players must be taught the basics via dribbling drills at soccer practices. There is nothing new here.
  • (b) After say two soccer practices, end the dribbling drills at these practices. Valuable training time is needed for spending on kicks, trapping, defense, shielding, endurance etc.
  • (i)Without endurance, soccer players cannot perform to their maximum abilities
    and will make more dribbling and other errors.

    (ii)A professional should be consulted on the optimum level of endurance training.

  • (c) Then, assign homework drills. Drills that are designed to teach
  • (i)the young player balance while turning

    (ii)control of the sensitivity of touch on the ball

    (iii)players to keep the ball near the feet when moving with the ball.

  • (d) Coach demonstrations and player demonstrations should be performed so the players understand their assigned homework drill.
  • (e) At each subsequent practice (after a drill has been assigned), players should be asked to demonstrate their homework skills for about 30 seconds each. Say two players at a time–to conserve training time. After each player has shown his or her skill preforming the drill, a demonstration should be repeated by the best young dribbling player. This acts as a teaching-aid to the others.
  • (f) Every player is to own and bring an identifiably marked ball to practice. While on the subject, water and warm clothes in cold weather should also be a requirement.
  • 2. During scrimmage games, insist that players dribble with their head up and with the ball close to the feet when near opponents.

    3. The importance of shielding the soccer ball from an opponent cannot be overemphasized. Shielding properly keeps one, or possibly two or three opponents from dislodging the ball from a dribbling player.

  • (a) Various drills are designed to elevate shielding skills from its most elementary level on up. Start with little opponent pressure, as the players develop expertise add pressure to each advanced drill.
  • (b) In addition, there is another drill especially designed apply the shielding technique. It is a variation of the monkey-in-the-middle drill. When done right and constantly overseen by the coach, players properly learn to shield the ball from aggressive opponents. Furthermore, players also learn to make safer passes to «teammates».
  • The following notes should add clarity to this article.

    Note 1: Very young «talented» players often make «breakaways» and dribble the ball towards the goal unimpeded. Before taking the shot at the goal with only the goalkeeper in front, these players push the ball about two to three yards (or two or three meters) out in front of them. At this distance the ball is in an ideal position to kick it at the goal. Often these young players score against an unskillful very young goalkeeper, and of course the parents of the scoring child are elated. However, this may or may not indicate that this child will go on to be a great soccer player. That «skill» just witnessed is not a skill at all, because it was not learned. As the children progress up in age, opponent defenders ordinarily do not allow an attacker the room of two or three yards to set up the ball for the kick on goal. On older teams, this «tactic» is no longer a tactic. So what point am I making?

    Competitive soccer players need to discipline themselves in keeping the ball near their feet when opponents are near. This is a necessary skill that must be learned for dribbling as well as when making attempts at scoring. It takes training both with dribbling and while employing the various types of kicks to be competitive as a player goes on up in years.

    Note 2: Advanced players must also develop the ability to lunge in one direction while flicking the ball in the opposite direction. There are several of these feinting moves that a skillful soccer player must master, but they are beyond the scope of this article.

    Note 3: What do the young goalkeeper(s) do while the field players are training for their skills? They need to be developing their skills. They need an assistant coach to train them on defending the goal, to practice diving and punting. The coach must instruct the assistant coach in proper goalkeeping-training techniques while overseeing these techniques until the assistant coach gets it right.

    Note 4: Much of the above training information can be learned from good soccer books containing further descriptions and applicable drills.

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    5 Mistakes Youth Soccer Coaches Make

    Being a great youth soccer coach is not rocket science. You can do it, but you might need a bit of help to get off on the right foot. I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years as a coach. Most of them weren’t fatal, but having a good understanding of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them will help you have much more fun as you develop your own winning team of soccer studs.

    5 Coaching Mistakes You Must Avoid:

    Mistake #1 – The No Fun Coach

    Members of the media call the NFL the «No Fun League» because the commissioner has outlawed

    the celebrations and other things that really make the game entertaining. Unfortunately, the same

    can be said of the majority of youth soccer coaches. Remember whom you are coaching.

    Remember their age and think about how kids this age see things. Put yourself in their shoes if you can and always ask yourself «Would I have enjoyed this when I was a kid?» I’ll give you a key hint here…Kids want to have fun playing soccer. They enjoy the game more when they get to touch the ball A LOT! They don’t want to stand in line.

    Mistake #2 – The Survivor Coach

    The basic premise of the hit show Survivor is that a group of people are left on a deserted island to fend for themselves. They are given a couple of items when they arrive, but are not allowed to bring anything with them. I have witnessed numerous coaches that come to practice with that same philosophy.

    They hardly bring any equipment with them at all. Fortunately, you don’t need a ton of gear to run a quality soccer practice. With that said, having the right equipment can make all the difference between a losing team and one that gets better every single week. There are certain must-have items in your kit that so that you can go quickly from drill to drill and keep your players motivated and attentive. Be sure to bring plenty of balls and cones to every practice and things will run much more smoothly.

    Mistake #3 – The Cool Hand Luke Coach

    One of my favorite movie lines is from Cool Hand Luke where Strother Martin says, «What we have here is a failure to communicate.» Most coaches and parents have this same problem. Establishing a clear line of communication with your soccer parents can be the difference between a fun-filled season of soccer and a descent into the depths of hell. Soccer moms and dads can be your strongest advocates or worst nightmare. If you set up a good phone & email system ahead of time, you can bet that coaching your team will take less time, be less frustrating and be much more productive!

    Mistake #4 – The Drill Sergeant Coach

    Most of the drills that you find in coaching books take way too long to setup, don’t hold your kids interest and have your players standing around too much of the time. Good drills should feel more

    like games to your kids. Your team shouldn’t spend all of their time waiting in line to kick the ball.

    They should be actively involved in the drills, get lots of touches and be on the fast track to becoming better players. Look for drills that involve most of your players at the same time. Look for drills that minimize standing in line and maximize time with the ball at your players feet.

    Mistake #5 – The Nutty Professor Coach

    I am constantly amazed at the coaches I see that just show up with a bunch of balls, some orange

    cones and NO plan. They either forget what they were going to do, or don’t have any idea in the first place.

    In order to get the most out of your weekly practices, you need a solid plan for each practice. Ever see a coach who’s team is running around all out of control? If you don’t have a plan for your team, they will quickly develop a plan for you. Players should move from drill to drill and spend the majority of their time actually playing soccer. Designing a good practice plan can take a lot of time, but it is worth it.

    Make sure that your players get a good warm up, individual skill time, group skill time & group game time in each and every practice.

    In Conclusion

    What kind of coach do you want to be? A frustrated, pulling your hair out babysitter? Or a fun-loving coach that is developing awesome soccer players on a weekly basis?

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    How To Buy Football Shoes

    Football is fast paced and requires a lot of stamina and agility. When you play football it is very important that you wear the right kind of football shoes as they will directly impact your game. When you decide to buy football shoes you will find a huge variety to choose from, especially at an online sports portal. Therefore it becomes very important to be able to choose the right football shoes that compliment and improve your play. Here are some of the points that you should consider the next time you buy football shoes:

    Feel the football

    When you are selecting football shoes the most popular material is leather because of its high quality. But when you have to select the material of the football you have to ensure that you are able to actually feel the ball as you kick it or nudge it any direction. Also make sure that the material feels comfortable when you put the shoes on. Another factor that makes shoes comfortable to wear is that they allow for the air to easily circulate around your feet. The latest footballs shoes made from synthetic material are very good because they are made with the latest technology.

    Flexible & Light

    Imagine having to run around with really heavy shoes, would you be able to do it? Therefore when you have to select shoes for football check that they are light weight. Apart from being light weight they should also be flexible enough to be able to adjust according to the movement of the feet. But the toe or tip of the soccer shoes should be rigid so that you can shoot the ball effectively.

    Comfortable

    It is very important that the shoes should be comfortable to wear. It is very likely that you will be on your feet and wearing the shoes for a long time. And if the shoes pinch then there is really no point in getting those shoes, also checks the studs on the shoes are placed in the right place. Never compromise on the comfort for the sake of looks.

    Changeable Cleats

    When you play football you have to play on various surfaces and weather. So you may have to change the cleats according to the surface and weather. Being able to do this with the football shoes that you buy will be advantageous.

    Budget

    If the budget is not a concern for you then you can buy any shoes you want, even the most expensive. But we suggest that you select the best shoes at a reasonable rate. If you are looking for a deal on shoes for playing football, then we suggest that you buy football shoes online. These days you can really buy sports equipment online for any sport you want. If you are undecided then you can always ask for advice from the online store experts.

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    Creditable or Calamitous? Reflections of a Derby Fan on a Season That Promised Promotion

    As this 2014-15 Championship season races toward its conclusion, it’s hard to determine whether it represents success or failure for Derby County Football Club. Perhaps any individual assessment depends on one’s glass being generally half-full, or half-empty. As a Rams fan exiled in the Middle East, but able to see many of their games live or recorded in full afterwards, I haven’t made up my own mind on the matter just yet. This article is intended as a means toward that end.

    Last season ended in play-off heartbreak. Derby were, of the play-off quartet, comfortably the form side going into the end-of-season event, and swept aside sixth-placed Brighton 6-2 over two legs. In the other semi-final, a dangerous Wigan side, who had earlier defeated eventual Premier League champions Manchester City in an astonishing FA Cup result, were edged out 2-1 by QPR, whose own form had been anything but convincing during the second half of the season. Derby controlled the Wembley final, and seemed almost certain to win when Rangers were reduced to ten men for a professional foul early in the second half; however, not for the first play-off final in their history, the Rams were defeated by a late winner, the product of two substandard pieces of defending and a wonderful finish by Bobby Zamora.

    Such was Derby’s style and momentum, so impressive their individual performances – midfield starlet Will Hughes and prolific target man Chris Martin the most prominent among them – that the bookmakers installed the Rams as pre-season favourites this time around. Prospects were boosted still further when George Thorne, composed loan signing and Wembley man of the match, was signed permanently during the summer. Within days, however, Thorne – already no stranger to injuries in his short career – was ruled out for most of the season after damaging his knee in a friendly against Zenit St Petersburg. Appearing not to trust a whole season’s work to his natural replacement, the experienced John Eustace, Steve McClaren was delighted when the club’s player recruitment team snapped up Omar Mascarell, a stylish holding midfielder on the periphery of Real Madrid’s squad. It appeared to be a real coup, although all parties recognised that the Spaniard would need time to adapt to the greater speed and physicality of the Championship.

    The season began with a 1-0 win over newly promoted Rotherham United, courtesy of a fine late strike from Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick; a victory earned, in no small part, by the exciting contribution of new full-back Cyrus Christie, acquired from Coventry City to replace the solid, but now departed Liverpool loanee, Andre Wisdom. Christie’s defending was at least adequate (if not as impregnable as his predecessor), but it was the newcomer’s marauding runs that led many fans to feel hopeful that, far from the position being weakened, Derby might attain to greater attacking impetus from defence this season.

    Of more concern, with Eustace out of favour, was the decision to play Hughes in the team’s apparently non-negotiable holding midfield role. While the player was undoubtedly good enough to play there, it was clear that neither of the more advanced players – Bryson, who many had expected to begin the season playing his football for a Premier League team, and Hendrick – could do exactly what Hughes was capable of further up the field. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the slight Hughes was not as comfortable with the physical side of the position as either the stocky Thorne or the guileful Eustace, and found himself almost sharing the position with substitute Mascarell from very early in the season. The Spaniard’s passing and energy did much to compensate for the evident weaknesses that many had predicted in his game: opponents gave him little time on the ball, and he quickly found himself on the receiving end of some rather combative challenges.

    There were warning signs for Derby in a spirited but disjointed second league match at Sheffield Wednesday, which ended goalless. A first defeat followed in the next match, as stylish Charlton outplayed their more fancied guests, winning 3-2 and leaving many to wonder when the Rams would hit the performance levels of the previous season. They were encouraged by a merciless second-half display against Fulham, as Derby pummelled the plummeting Cottagers 5-1. Welcome to the Championship.

    The Rams then embarked on an unbeaten run that spanned twelve games, including wins against expansive Bournemouth (2-0), Blackburn (3-2), Bolton (2-0) and Reading (3-0) (the latter three away from home); and resilient draws against early leaders and local rivals Nottingham Forest (1-1), and Cardiff (2-2) at home, a match in which the Rams had trailed by two goals. Derby’s comeback that day was begun by a debut goal from a new season-long loan signing from Liverpool: the fleet-footed and direct Jordon Ibe, whose contribution, with hindsight, seems as significant in Derby’s fortunes as was his premature return to Anfield in January.

    That unbeaten run was curtailed by dogged Wigan, who belied their poor early season form by coming from behind to win 2-1 at the iPro Stadium. Derby then played two games in West London, hitting Fulham for five again (this time in the League Cup) before once again throwing away a lead against Brentford who, it seems, have never looked back since their last-minute win that day, courtesy of a fine goal from Stuart Dallas.

    Derby needed to find their form – and find it they did, deservedly seeing off Huddersfield 3-2, before arguably their finest performance of the season in the annihilation of Wolves, 5-0 at the iPro. In the next match, Craig Bryson, who had so far struggled to reproduce his high standards of the two preceding seasons, scored a beauty to edge out Watford on their own turf. Suddenly Derby looked ready to seize their opportunity and run away with the league, just as their East Midlands rivals from Leicester had done the previous year.

    It wasn’t to be so straightforward, unfortunately. The Rams went into their away match at Leeds, a team Derby had beaten for fun in recent seasons, seemingly unprepared for the grit and graft that would be needed to return with the points. They were outfought, and defeated, 0-2. But Steve McClaren prided himself on a team that could bounce back from disappointment, and Derby erupted out of the blocks against Brighton, winning the game with three first-half goals. In the opposing eleven that day was loanee Darren Bent, a wily, seasoned striker unable to convince then manager Paul Lambert of his right to a place in the Aston Villa side. Derby fans would be glad to see more of the discarded Bent very soon.

    The following week, Derby were conquered at the summit by Middlesbrough, after a dour display in the North East demonstrated the worst they were capable of; Boro were organised and clinical, and undid Derby in their first attack, with former Rams loanee Patrick Bamford celebrating his opener gleefully – much to the annoyance of Derby fans, who had always had to overlook his affinity for their hated rivals, Forest. The Rams showed more fight and no little skill against a tidy and pressurising Norwich City side a week later, but were fairly denied a win when they conceded another late goal. The pattern of the previous season, in which Derby had become famed for their indefatigable spirit and late goalscoring, seemed to be shifting in the other direction.

    The Rams began the festive period with a thumping win, 4-0 in the Birmingham snow. That was backed up with a revenge reversal of their 2-0 defeat at Leeds, and an excellent 1-0 win at Ipswich. John Eustace, hardly a fixture in the team, was immense in front of the back four, but his late dismissal and injury – from which he has yet to return despite two operations – would lead the Rams into the East Midlands derby once again relying on the unconvincing Mascarell. Even Forest fans approached the match fearfully. Their side had lost the previous season’s fixture 5-0, and the early season pacesetters now found themselves on a run of eight games without a win. Derby, fortuitously ahead but easily the better team before the break, gave a sickening validation of the phrase «game of two halves», and Forest exulted in a deserved shock win that would prolong the tenure of manager Stuart Pearce for a few more weeks. (This represented a bright side for many Rams fans, who were convinced their rivals’ progress would remain stagnant with the former England legend at the helm). Stunned at forfeiting local bragging rights, Derby fans demanded better, and were rewarded with three straight wins against Blackburn, Cardiff and Bolton.

    The January transfer window had brought Bent in without a recall clause for his parent club, as well as Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, and Hull City’s Tom Ince, who made an instant impact with a fabulous brace in the 4-1 destruction of Bolton. Leeds United captain Stephen Warnock, still not fit after being injured in the Rams’ 2-0 win over his side, came in to «add experience» to the squad, and presumably to spur the unspectacular Craig Forsyth to higher performance levels. An interesting further addition was the Spaniard Raul Albentosa, who Derby’s recruitment team appeared to have been stalking for some time, and who arrived in Derby having bought out his own contract with La Liga team Eibar, for whom he had offered some impressive performances throughout the season. Unfortunately, a niggling injury would delay Albentosa’s league debut for over a month.

    Ince found the net again in an encouraging 2-2 midweek draw at top-of-the-table Bournemouth, where the most significant moment of the match would prove the early replacement of nineteen-goal Chris Martin. He would not return for eleven games; suddenly Bent’s loan signing seemed very important indeed, although a slightly different system of attack was needed to accommodate the latter’s style. The Rams approached the following midweek match at struggling Rotherham knowing that a win would take them back to the summit. Yet, once again, they failed to take their chance, with only a spirited fightback earning them a 3-3 draw, having trailed 1-3. Inspired by the return of George Thorne after seven months on the sidelines, Derby then won back-to-back home games against Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton, and found themselves on top of the league for the third time this season. Despite having repeatedly failed to press home the advantages they had gained, the bookies still made McClaren’s dangerous Derby side favourites for the title. They were to be proved emphatically wrong.

    What followed resembles the stuff of nightmares for Derby fans. It began with a lacklustre defeat at Fulham, in which now pivotal loan signing Bent limped off, forcing the industrious and vastly improved Johnny Russell to assume a central striking role that he would retain for the next four games, without once finding the net. In addition, Thorne was again out of action, replaced in West London by the still-misfiring Mascarell. Typically, after the Fulham defeat, McClaren demanded a response. He got one, but not a result; the Rams battered Brighton but somehow contrived to lose the match 0-2. The focus intensified on Derby’s defence, arguably culpable for both goals. A performance and a win were needed when Birmingham came to the iPro, and the Rams picked them off easily, strolling toward a 2-0 victory as the match entered the third of four added second-half minutes. A few hearts were aflutter when the unspectacular Blues won, and converted, a penalty; Rams fans redoubled their whistling for full-time, the match length having already surpassed the additional time indicated. Nevertheless, a team with pretensions of winning promotion would surely be able to see the game out. Birmingham equalised in the seventh minute of injury time. The day ended with four teams on 66 points, separated by goal difference. Derby were still «in the mix», but nobody was quite sure how they were going to stay there on current form. And the games were only getting harder.

    Derby went to resurgent Norwich the following Saturday with assistant Paul Simpson vowing that it was time to «win ugly» if necessary. Realistically, most Derby fans would have taken a draw, and when debutant Jamie Hanson’s corner was spilled into his own net by England goalkeeper John Ruddy, that’s exactly what they got. Hanson retained his place for the crucial midweek home match against Middlesbrough. Derby were toothless, loanee Lingard missing the best chance to fall to a white shirt. Once again, Boro were resolute; once again, it was Patrick Bamford, object of fear and loathing in Derby, who settled the match with an excellent finish. Derby were rocking.

    The final game before the latest international break would take them to Wolves, hapless victims of the Rams’ finest moment of the season to date. McClaren and Simpson warned that the returns of Thorne and Martin may not be risked before the international break, but Bent was back to take his place at the centre of a truly astonishing refereeing controversy. Through on goal, the returning striker was fouled by Wolves captain and last man Danny Batth. Ince swept the ball into the net. The referee, who had already whistled for the foul, disallowed the goal and awarded a free-kick just outside the area. Rams fans watched in horror as the official, smiling sickeningly, refused to find any card in his pocket for the offender, much less the red one he clearly deserved. In some sort of grotesque tribute to John Ruddy, the normally reliable Lee Grant punched the ball into his own net to help Wolves wrap up a 2-0 win and move to within two points of Derby, who were slipping further from automatic promotion with every match. Fans picked the team apart, looking for an XI who could win the next match at home to high-flying Watford, thereby dragging the Rams’ promotion wagon back on track. Full-backs came under fire most of all, and here it was difficult to make a case for the defence. Left-back Forsyth, far superior defensively than in attack (perhaps surprisingly for a former midfielder), had compounded the injustice at Wolves by facilitating their first goal, inexplicably passing the ball to an opponent in a dangerous position. It was by no means the first time the Scotsman’s distribution had been found wanting during the season.

    On the other side, Cyrus Christie was a nerve-shredded shadow of his early-season self. His first-half gift to Watford’s Vydra was cancelled out on the stroke of half-time by a Bent penalty, as the Rams’ opponents were reduced to ten men. Christie would not re-emerge after the break. Sadly, nor would George Thorne, attempting his second comeback of the season but lasting little more than twenty minutes. Once again, Derby contrived to throw away a winning position; Watford celebrated their 2-2 draw with delight, strengthening their own push for automatic promotion, while Derby retained their play-off place only on goal difference. The solitary silver lining seemed now to be the brief substitute appearance of Chris Martin, to whose absence so many had attributed the Rams’ slump.

    On Easter Monday, with over four thousand Rams fans roaring them on, Derby finally picked up their first win in eight matches, as the talismanic Martin came off the bench to sweep them ahead at lowly Wigan. A typically opportunistic strike from Bent wrapped up the victory, leaving the Rams fascinatingly poised before the following weekend’s home match with Brentford. On paper, it seems the most difficult of the Rams’ remaining five fixtures, of which three are to be played at the iPro. However, with second-placed Norwich already five points ahead, and Watford and Middlesbrough much better placed to take advantage of any slip by the Canaries or leaders Bournemouth, only the most optimistic of Derby fans could reasonably expect automatic promotion at this stage. On the contrary, with Wolves in the best form of the current play-off place occupants, and Brentford able to overhaul the Rams with a win in their head-to-head, Derby still face a fierce battle to ensure their own place in the end-of-season competition that has already caused them so much heartache.

    How has it come to this? And does the season represent a success or a failure for the Rams?

    On reflection, it is important to consider the weight of expectation that has hung over the team all season. It is true that Derby were formidable during the latter part of the 2013-14 season, playing some scintillating football, and with an embarrassment of (injury-free) riches among their playing personnel. Yet arguably only Hughes and Russell have improved on their performances of the previous season; the immaculate Thorne has managed only three starts; Martin’s contribution has been blunted by the disastrous timing and duration of his injury; and the likes of Hendrick and Bryson have failed by some distance to match their performance levels of the previous season. Some loan signings have contributed much – particularly Ibe – while others have offered mixed fortunes: the injury-hit but prolific Bent; the frequently fantastic but oft-frustrating Ince, whose ball retention has been disappointing but who has scored some wonderful goals; and Mascarell, possessing all the vision and passing prowess one would expect of a Madrid graduate, but without ever providing a satisfactory solution for the role he was brought in to play.

    Most attention has centred around the defence. In stark contrast to last season, during which the names of Andre Wisdom, Richard Keogh, Jake Buxton and Craig Forsyth seldom left the team sheet, McClaren has constantly tinkered with his defensive personnel this time around. Some fans have shown little patience with captain Keogh – possibly something of a hangover from his Wembley shocker – but in reality, the full-backs have proved a weaker link for most of the season. Christie, especially, seems particularly low on confidence, while the more self-assured Forsyth perhaps remains optimistic that his own form is solid enough and will improve still further; however, those who have endured his substandard performances throughout the season will likely have been glad of Warnock’s competent league debut at left-back in the victory at Wigan.

    Another bone of contention relates to formation. While Derby have been more than a little unfortunate to experience long-term injuries to three holding midfield players (Thorne, Eustace and Mascarell), the lack of alternative playing styles and formations have also been mooted by fans as sources of frustration and failure to overturn teams that have set up defensively against the Rams and gained their rewards by doing so. The recent switch, through necessity, to a 4-2-3-1 has only added weight to this argument, not least because the defensive contribution of Mascarell has been questionable all season, and has almost certainly exacerbated any problems among the defence personnel. The use of Chris Martin behind Darren Bent has been used only fleetingly (albeit injuries have undoubtedly reduced the scope for this), while there is also a strong case for positioning the incisive passing of Hughes behind the front man, a move that has not been tried at all. This is not to suggest that the fans know better than McClaren; yet fans are certainly in a position to recognise what has not been working for long periods of the season. Managers, like players, can be «lucky» – not just in what they and their teams do, but in how they are perceived. Most things McClaren touched last season turned to gold. Such has been the man’s redemption since his ignominious England denouement, perhaps supporters had become over-confident in his ability. His true managerial performance, perhaps, lies somewhere between those two extremes of appraisal.

    The mantra from the club, and the local press, remains that a Derby side returning to their best form are capable of ensnaring a promotion place this season. Some will fear that the likes of Will Hughes will be heading to the Premier League very soon, irrespective of how the Rams fare from now until the end of May.

    It is never an easy ride being a Derby fan; one cannot sit back and get comfortable.

    Derby have never been about coasting, but the rollercoaster.

    Soccer Coaching – Soccer Tactics Lessons From the World Cup

    Below are 8 lessons about soccer tactics and strategy that I learned from the 2010 World Cup:

    1. Soccer Formations and Tactics Make a Difference. If you listened to the commentators, they made some excellent points about this. Argentina, for example, played a 4-1-2-1-2 formation which left them defensively strong in the center (between the 2 goals) but vulnerable to attacks down the sideline. (They also had the problem of their Midfielders not going back to help defend). Spain was criticized for continuing to attack down the center when it wasn’t working. The commentators felt they should have attacked down the sidelines and then crossed the ball in to the Center. Germany played a 4-2-3-1 which gave them more width.

    2. Adaptability is Critical to Soccer Coaching Success. If you want to beat tough teams, you must be willing to adapt your formation and Style of Play and put players in positions where they can be effective against your competition. An example: The England coach played Defoe instead of Heskey in the critical match against Slovenia and Defoe scored the goal that won the game.

    3. Never Give Up. The U.S. had 2 goals disallowed that should have counted — one vs. Slovenia and one vs. Algeria — yet they persevered.

    4. «Boom Ball» Can Even Work in the Soccer World Cup. Some people mistake every long ball for a «Boom Ball». That isn’t true, but I will go with that term here for fun. If you have an attacker pushed up and send the ball long and your attacker can win the ball, it is a «tactic» that can result in a scoring opportunity. In England vs. Germany, there were hundreds of short passes, but the first goal scored (in the 19th minute) was on a very long goal kick that Klose ran on to and one-touched for a goal. The fourth goal in that game was also a «Boom Ball» when on a counterattack Germany sent a long ball to a breaking attacker. The Netherlands first goal vs. Slovakia was also a breakaway on a long ball. And in the final, late in the match Spain even started booming the ball to get it away from their goal.

    5. Short Corner Kicks («Short Corners») are Better for Youth Soccer Teams. I loved the way Spain mixed up short and long corner kicks. Even the Dutch tried one and had a good chance with it. I recommend Short Corners for youth teams because they teach possession and control.

    6. Great Soccer Goalkeeping Makes a Difference. In this World Cup we could see what a difference great goalkeeping makes.

    7. Don’t Disrespect Your Opponent, You Might Motivate Them. Maradona disrespected Germany and they crushed Argentina 4-0.

    8. Organization and Discipline Usually Beats Lack of Organization and Lack of Discipline. Germany, Spain, Netherlands and Uruguay are all well organized and disciplined.

    Why France Football Team Lost In The World Cup 2010 – Lessons Learnt From Sport Psychology Points

    Before the South Africa World Cup, nobody could ever imagine that the runner up of World Cup2006 would fall down that badly with two defeats, one draw, foul-mouthed squabbles in the dressing room and a team strike. So what happened with the French players psychologically?

    The start of all things came with the bad words by Nicholas Anelka to his coach Domenech during half time game with Mexico. Put aside his inappropriate saying, the worse thing was that somebody leaked that information to the media. In sport psychology terms, a norm in a team was broken. Norms are the standards for behavior that is expected of team members. Norms are not formally adopted by the team but result from a gradual change in behavior until a consensus is reached. Norms are different from rules in the fact that rules are formal for everyone and there are normally some punishments for breaking the rule. Because norms are unobtrusive, they are sometimes taken for granted and only become important when violated. In the case of France team, for some reasons, the norm of keeping team issues inside the locker room was violated. And the result was really destructive.

    Worst of all, the team represented by Patrick Evra boycotted training and some players showed the intention of avoiding playing the last game. In this case the whole team was united under the same cause: to protest against the decision to send Anelka back from the French Football Federation. In sport psychology terms, the team displayed very high cohesion. Team cohesion is defined as: «the resistance of the group to disruptive forces«. When a team is highly cohesive like French team, it would be able to tolerate a great deal of negativity arising from the occurrence of unfavorable events, such as losing games, or receiving criticism in the media… Team cohesion is also divided into 2 type: task cohesion (regarding team goals and performance) and social cohesion (regarding relationship outside the task). In France team, the players showed very high social cohesion that led to the boycott and protest to support their teammate.

    So what could have been fixed in that case? Obviously, there are many issues that had to be solved (from behavior of players to coach, setting up norms for communication with each other and to the media…). However, there is one main issue I believe should have been tackled. By interacting with players in an informal approach, a sport psychologist could help players restore and re-affirm their team goal. Obviously, they came to World Cup to represent their country and to make French people proud. As a national team, they carried the image of the whole nation and should behave accordingly, especially in front of foreign media. By reacting aggressively to coaches, they were successful in showing their team cohesion, yet failed to show their responsibilities for their nation and their fans. By re-aligning the team value and team goal to the players, a sport psychologist could help players redefine their priority and their purpose. This could potentially have led to different behaviors and performance by French players.

    Although France team issues were rather extreme, it gives a very clear picture of many sport psychology issues that should have been addressed before and during the tournament. By being aware of norms and cohesion level in your team, you can prevent and address problems as well as improve team performance.