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Fundamental Soccer Blog


In soccer, there are Two Events: The Game and Practice.

For me, the game is simple. Let the kids play. Let them solve the problems that they face. It is their game, not the coach’s game. I seldom speak and never yell at them. What is the point? They only become distracted by people yelling at them. Also, what can be changed once the game begins?

Technique? I doubt it. Tactics?  Too late.  Minor adjustments at best.

Practice is a different story. I love practice. That is where the kids can learn. And I love to teach soccer. Good soccer.

We begin with the games, which are two types. The first is even aside, such as five on five or seven on seven. We never play games of eleven on eleven for practice. That involves too many kids to supervise and teach. Even-sided games give practice in basic technique. Pass, trap, shield, shoot, and the rest. It is not a time to teach tactics.

Tactics are best taught in uneven aside games. We like to start with a two-on-one ratio, like four-on-two or five-on-three. We also like six-on-three. When things go well, we move on to five-on-three and six-on-four.  (Four-on-three is reserved for very strong teams.)

We play games with all kinds of goals. We place two small goals at one end and one large at the other end. Or two small ones at each end. Etc.

We construct a long and narrow field to stress the long axis pass or a wide field to stress the cross pass. Different fields for different purposes. What needs to be stressed?

We play two games at the end of each FUNdamental SOCCER- Practice. The first game is coached with stops to make points. The second game is just played with no stops or comments. If taught, things work great. If taught things do not work, we need to go back to the drawing board for the next practice. That game is the time to take notes and plan adjustments in the training program.

Now, we come to exercises or activities. They must be part of any training program to teach techniques and tactics. We want the players to learn and practice basic things like passing, controlling, shooting, and all the rest. Then we want a quicker response from them. Two-touch and One-touch work.

We also want to pass the combinations taught. We teach two-player work followed by three-player work. We add a little four-player work and end at five to a side to learn and practice pass combinations.

We do not have a big collection of drills or books on drills, as we like to Keep It Simple.

That is, it after thirty-seven years of coaching. Keep It Simple. We like practice done with intensity and games played for fun. If practice is easy, the game will be challenging. That makes sense to me.

Finally, do not feel that you have to listen to any one person. But on the other hand, do not listen to too many as that will cause problems.

Have a Happy New Year, and Keep it Simple!

Alan Maher

You may recognize Alan Maher from his many articles published by FUNdamental Soccer over the last three decades. What you may not know is that for more than a quarter of a century Alan Maher was the chairman of printed training material for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. His articles can be read not only in NCAA's own magazine, Soccer Journal, but in every soccer magazine in the country. Alan also published the extremely educational/innovative "Attacking Soccer with the Neutral Player" book as a supplement to FUNdamental SOCCERS' popular '9-Step Practice Routine'.