Sir Alex Ferguson – 5 steps to running a successful training

Although the exact type of training that should be implemented varies, Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) likes to follow a basic training structure.  Use this structure as the foundation for any practice but be sure to tailor the exercises to your team and to your players as no one team needs the same practice.

  1. Small square passing drill – keep away
  2. Possession and passing
  3. Strategic & Technical work
  4. Shooting & Finishing technique
  5. Practice game – 6v6, 7v7, 8v8, or 9v9

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Side-foot Shot – Like Steven Gerrard

Imagine yourself with a free-kick right on the 18 yard box.  You know you are the one that is going to take the free kick, so you begin to ask yourself:

  • Can I go through the wall with a hard shot? – I do not think so; it is too wide and I can barely see the net
  • Can I go over the wall and dip it in? – I doubt I can get it over the wall and under the ball with enough pace to beat the keeper
  • I need to get around the wall somehow, or at least make the wall break – my best bet might be to place it low in the corner.

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Protect Yourself, Learn to Shield and Never Lose Possession

In many sports, when you know how to protect yourself, you easily avoid knocks, bruises, and worst of all, serious injuries.  In soccer it is no different.  When you know how to defend yourself in every situation of the game, you will not only decrease the chance of getting hurt, but you will increase the difficulty for players to get close to you and get the ball from you.  Moreover, in the air, you will become almost impossible to hit and knock over.

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Playing with a man down

Once a player is given a red card and sent-off, game tactics change drastically for both teams on the pitch.  Depending on the scoreline and what’s at stake, a few traditional approached are taken to dealing with one less player.

Let’s analyze the team that has just lost a man.  In a traditional 4-4-2, the most common tactical move is to appoint one player as a lone forward, and the remaining players will maintain the same formation.  So, your new look will be a 4-4-1.  Again, depending on the circumstance of the game, a 4-4-1 might be too conservative.  If you are desperate to score a goal and tie the game or win the game, you might want to take away a midfielder rather than a forward.  What this creates is a 4-3-2 formation.  Nonetheless, a 4-4-1 is your best option.

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Lead the Way – Passing in the Defense

There are many components of the game of soccer that are over-looked – much like every aspect of life.  The reason some players are better than others can be attributed to talent and work ethic, but quite a bit can also be attributed to paying attention to all the details of the game; that is what makes a player great.  The difference between good and great is inches; the difference between good and great boils down to the meticulous fine points.

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Never been taught? Here’s How to use your chest

In soccer, the ball can come at you any way.  It can come to you on the ground, bouncing, to your chest, to your head, and etc.  Deciding how you will receive the ball can be the difference between a goal and a miss.  Being able to receive the ball on any part of ones body will automatically make the difference between a good player and a great player.

Many balls come to a player at their chest.  It might be from a cross, goalie kick or simply a miss hit pass.  Understanding how to stop it on your chest is more important than most players can ever realize. 

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Defensive Strategies: Dealing with Fast Attackers

It is a problem players and coaches of all levels face and often struggle with – speed.  In soccer, as in many sports, teams have a very difficult time arranging a strategy to deal with pace.  The saying “speed kills” is more often true than not.

When a soccer team is put together, the fastest player is usually put in the forward position.  This does not always hold true, but is a tactic many coaches use.  A quick forward does not necessarily have to be skilled to be effective.  Because there is so much room in an outdoor soccer field, quick forwards have endless opportunities to put their speed to use.  When a forward has speed, his teammates will send him on runs to out-run the defender and score breakaway goals.

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Defender’s Guide: Left & Right Back

The fullback, aka the left or right back, plays a very crucial role in modern day football.  It is not to say that it never played a crucial role, it suggests that in today’s day and age, the fullback is given much more room to maneuver, but much more responsibility as well.

In the modern day 4-4-2 formation, the fullback has very little support from a defensive standpoint.  Because the defense is arranged in a flat line and the two central defenders have the responsibility of marking the two forwards, the fullbacks are left to fend for themselves in many regards. 

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Curving-Cross to the Near Post

 There are multiple crosses that can be executed from multiple positions on the field.  One of the most difficult crosses to execute – and to deal with as a defender and goalie – is the curving cross to the near post.

Whenever crosses or freekicks are mentioned, David Beckham’s name is usually mentioned in the same breath.  He has established himself as a great freekick taker, but also as a pin-point crosser.  In order to develop the ability to cross the ball like Beckham and many other effective crossers, there are a few techniques that need to be understood, practiced and eventually mastered.

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90% Mind – 10% Legs

Mind over matter.  The power of the mind has proven to be the most powerful force on earth over and over.  In the realm of business, health, relationships and even sports, the mind is the catalyst to success and often greatness.

Realizing that soccer is a very physically demanding sport is crucial.  However, this does not suggest the physical aspect of soccer is the dominating characteristic of soccer.  Being in shape, fast and strong will absolutely help in the making of a great player, but all great players have one common characteristic: they understand the game.

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