Pre-Practice Planning

This is what you will need

The FUNdamental soccer practice should focus on making it enjoyable for the players. For a fun practice, you will need:

PLAYERS

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to consider the role of players during practice. Plan according to their age, interests, needs, and the number of players you have.  The players will be in the roles of:

Teammate: For realism and to establish familiarity

Opponent: For realism and  to force decision-making

SAFE FACILITIES

ONE + ONE and ONE vs ONE

Small Sided Game Field(s)
Checkerboard System

ONE + ONE and ONE vs ONE

Illustration of flags and cones to use as markers

Small Sided Game Field(s)
Checkerboard System

Illustration of flags and cones to use as markers small sided game
Note: Your use of cones, flags, and other markers becomes extremely important if you don’t have the luxury of using marked fields.

TWO GOALS

It is vital that all practice games include two goals: one to Attack and one to Defend.

Players must learn to instinctively respond by reading ball possession.

When its their Ball

When its our Ball

When its their Ball

DEFEND

Illustration of girl running between cone markers

When its our Ball

ATTACK

Illustration of boy hitting the marker goal with his soccer ball

DEFEND

ATTACK

Good Habits are created in a good practice environment. 

They are time savers because they allow players to “Attack” and “Defend” without having to stop and think. Two-dimensional players, ones who can attack and defend, are developed in this habit-forming environment.

EQUIPMENT

Coaches Responsibility (Team Manager)

Players Responsibility (Parent)

Coaches Responsibility (Team Manager)

  1. Clipboards or Index Cards (with practice session notes)
  2. Bibs (to distinguish between teams)
  3. Soccer Balls (just in case)
  4. First Aid Kit
  5. Goal Nets (create realistic shooting situations)
  6. Cones (mark goals or boundaries)
  7. Water Container (assure availability of water)

Players Responsibility (Parent)

  1. Sweatsuit
  2. Socks (second pair)
  3. Shoes (same pair to be used during league game)
  4. Shoelaces (extra pair)
  5. Soccer Ball (mandatory and initialed)
  6. Shinguards (to be worn at all games & practices)
  7. Individual Water Bottle
  1. Clipboards or Index Cards (with practice session notes)
  2. Bibs (to distinguish between teams)
  3. Soccer Balls (just in case)
  4. First Aid Kit
  5. Goal Nets (create realistic shooting situations)
  6. Cones (mark goals or boundaries)
  7. Water Container (assure the availability of water)
  1. Sweatsuit
  2. Socks (second pair)
  3. Shoes (the same pair to be used during league game)
  4. Shoelaces (extra pair)
  5. Soccer Ball (mandatory and initialed)
  6. Shinguard (to be worn at all games & practices)
  7. Individual Water Bottle

TIME TABLE

The FUNdamental SOCCER Practice truly establishes each practice as a Rehearsal for Game Day!

Sample Timetable

Sample Timetable

example time table

A THEME

Having a theme will give players both focus and clarity of what you want to teach and what they will learn. 

Carefully observe your team in action and determine: What is their major weakness?

Key on this one topic or theme to be discussed, developed, and improved at the next practice.

Using a popular and proven teaching method, we’ve condensed all themes into the
5 R’s of Attack and Defense

Carefully observe your team in action and determine: What is their major weakness? 
Key on this one topic or theme to be discussed, developed, and improved at the next practice

  • THEMES FOR ATTACK
  • THEMES FOR DEFENSE

Read the Game

Peek

Points to cover:

  • At the moment your team gains possession of the ball, players must consciously see what is happening on the total field.
  • “Ball in flight, look left and right.”
  • All players must be mentally prepared to become attackers at any time. 

Run to Attack

Proper Positioning

Points to cover:

  • Run without expecting to receive the ball. 
  • Players should position themselves to help teammates and hinder the opponent.
  • Confuse the opponent by changing direction quickly and unexpectedly.
  • Learn to conserve your energy.

Receive the Ball

1st Touch

Points to cover:

  • Consciously see what is happening in the immediate area. Put yourself in a position to receive/control the ball with minimum hindrance.
  • Mentally prepare your next movement according to the position of opponents and teammates.
  • Always step towards the ball. Do not wait for the ball to reach you.
  • Control and play the ball in one motion.

Retain the Ball

Dribble

Points to cover:

  • An effective attacking player knows how and where to dribble.
  • Peek from the ball to opponents and teammates. Scan the immediate area to find freeways made available.
  • Avoid keeping your head down, seeing only the ball.
  • Make controlled movements to deceive the opponent.

Release the Ball

Shoot or Pass

Points to cover:

  • Consciously see what is happening in the immediate area. Put yourself in a position to receive/control the ball with minimum hindrance.
  • Mentally prepare your next movement according to the position of opponents and teammates.
  • Always step towards the ball. Do not wait for the ball to reach you.
  • Control and play the ball in one motion.

Read the Game

Peek

Points to cover:

  • At the moment the team loses possession of the ball, players must consciously see what is happening on the total field.
  • Find your goal to defend, then seek the ball.
  • All players must be mentally prepared to go on defense at any time.
  • Direct attention to the flow of the game and ignore distractions from on and off the field.

Run to Defend

Proper Positioning

Points to cover:

  • Move to block the goal through proper positioning.
  • Prevent the first attacker from moving directly at the goal with or without the ball.
  • Defending Third: Apply the greatest amount of pressure on the ball with the least amount of risk. No fouls!
  • Mid-Field Third: Apply the greatest amount of pressure on the ball with a minimum amount of risk. Make play predictable!
  • Attacking Third: Apply the greatest amount of pressure on the ball with the most amount of risk. Take chances!

Ready Stance

Proper Body Positioning

Points to cover:

  • All defensive moves are initiated from the Ready Stance. This position should be instinctively assumed whenever the opponent gains ball possession.
  • Mentally prepare to defend movement according to the position of the opponent and teammates.
  • If you are able to intercept the ball, do so!
  • The player nearest the attacker controlling the ball always becomes the first defender.
  • If the opponent has gained control of the ball, an effective defender prevents the opponent from turning toward their goal.

Reject Advancement

Delay the Dribbler

Points to cover:

  • Stop a dribbler from gaining superior positioning by “Shepherding.” Force the dribbler to move toward a less dangerous area or toward a teammate, just like a sheepdog does with sheep.
  • Peek: Glance from the ball to the goal. Scan the immediate area to find teammates, goals, or touchlines.
  • Keep your eyes on the ball. Avoid looking at the opponent’s foot or body movements.
  • Take advantage of your peripheral vision to see what is happening around you.

Regain Ball Possession

Poke and Tackle

Points to cover:

  • Stop a dribbler from gaining superior positioning by “Poking.” Make attempts at the ball with the front foot, similar to the jab in boxing.
  • Entice the attacker into making a mistake.
  • Mentally prepare your tackling movement according to the position of the opponent and the position of your covering teammates.
  • Ask yourself: Can/should I aggressively tackle the ball or wait for help to arrive. Make aggressive tackles only when you have a covering teammate.
  • Effective defensive players know how to shoulder charge. Lean on your opponent’s shoulder as you attempt to play the ball.

Using a popular and proven teaching method, we’ve condensed all themes into the
5 R’s of Attack and Defense

Carefully observe your team in action and determine: What is their major weakness? 
Key on this one topic or theme to be discussed, developed, and improved at the next practice

Illustration of 5 kids playing soccer with the coach watching them
  • THEMES FOR ATTACK
  • THEMES FOR DEFENSE

Read the Game

Peek

Points to cover:

  • At the moment your team gains possession of the ball, players must consciously see what is happening on the total field.
  • “Ball in flight, look left and right.”
  • All players must be mentally prepared to become attackers at any time. 

Run to Attack

Proper Positioning

Points to cover:

  • Run without expecting to receive the ball. 
  • Players should position themselves to help teammates and hinder the opponent.
  • Confuse the opponent by changing direction quickly and unexpectedly.
  • Learn to conserve your energy.

Receive the Ball

1st Touch

Points to cover:

  • Consciously see what is happening in the immediate area. Put yourself in a position to receive/control the ball with minimum hindrance.
  • Mentally prepare your next movement according to the position of opponents and teammates.
  • Always step towards the ball. Do not wait for the ball to reach you.
  • Control and play the ball in one motion.

Retain the Ball

Dribble

Points to cover:

  • An effective attacking player knows how and where to dribble.
  • Peek from the ball to opponents and teammates. Scan the immediate area to find freeways made available.
  • Avoid keeping your head down, seeing only the ball.
  • Make controlled movements to deceive the opponent.

Release the Ball

Shoot or Pass

Points to cover:

  • Consciously see what is happening in the immediate area. Put yourself in a position to receive/control the ball with minimum hindrance.
  • Mentally prepare your next movement according to the position of opponents and teammates.
  • Always step towards the ball. Do not wait for the ball to reach you.
  • Control and play the ball in one motion.

Read the Game

Peek

Points to cover:

  • At the moment the team loses possession of the ball, players must consciously see what is happening on the total field.
  • Find your goal to defend, then seek the ball.
  • All players must be mentally prepared to go on defense at any time.
  • Direct attention to the flow of the game and ignore distractions from on and off the field.

Run to Defend

Proper Positioning

Points to cover:

  • Move to block the goal through proper positioning.
  • Prevent the first attacker from moving directly at the goal with or without the ball.
  • Defending Third: Apply the greatest amount of pressure on the ball with the least amount of risk. No fouls!
  • Mid-Field Third: Apply the greatest amount of pressure on the ball with a minimum amount of risk. Make play predictable!
  • Attacking Third: Apply the greatest amount of pressure on the ball with the most amount of risk. Take chances!

Ready Stance

Proper Body Positioning

Points to cover:

  • All defensive moves are initiated from the Ready Stance. This position should be instinctively assumed whenever the opponent gains ball possession.
  • Mentally prepare to defend movement according to the position of the opponent and teammates.
  • If you are able to intercept the ball, do so!
  • The player nearest the attacker controlling the ball always becomes the first defender.
  • If the opponent has gained control of the ball, an effective defender prevents the opponent from turning toward their goal.

Reject Advancement

Delay the Dribbler

Points to cover:

  • Stop a dribbler from gaining superior positioning by “Shepherding.” Force the dribbler to move toward a less dangerous area or toward a teammate, just like a sheepdog does with sheep.
  • Peek: Glance from the ball to the goal. Scan the immediate area to find teammates, goals, or touchlines.
  • Keep your eyes on the ball. Avoid looking at the opponent’s foot or body movements.
  • Take advantage of your peripheral vision to see what is happening around you.

Regain Ball Possession

Poke and Tackle

Points to cover:

  • Stop a dribbler from gaining superior positioning by “Poking.” Make attempts at the ball with the front foot, similar to the jab in boxing.
  • Entice the attacker into making a mistake.
  • Mentally prepare your tackling movement according to the position of the opponent and the position of your covering teammates.
  • Ask yourself: Can/should I aggressively tackle the ball or wait for help to arrive. Make aggressive tackles only when you have a covering teammate.
  • Effective defensive players know how to shoulder charge. Lean on your opponent’s shoulder as you attempt to play the ball.

BE REALISTIC

The genius of good coaching is to make hard work seem like FUN! Your practices must duplicate the excitement of the game. You must create an environment that forces the players to make their own decisions. You must create an atmosphere where the players are allowed to teach themselves. You must have a practice that develops instinctive attacking and defending habits.

This can be accomplished by asking yourself

DOES IT HAPPEN IN THE GAME?
If the answer is NO, then DON’T DO IT IN PRACTICE

Up Next: Coaching Sequences – Fundamental Soccer Practice 

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