This past weekend, some of our coaches attended the EODSA’s Soccer Development Conference for 2016 held at the Louis Riel Dome in Orleans. The Conference offered on-field and presentation-style educational sessions for coaches and match officials. The coaches enjoyed sessions run by Kevin McGreskin, John Moreira, and Bob de Klerk.
The first session, run by McGreskin, focused on player vision and awareness of the field. McGreskin took a simple passing and receiving drill and provided the players with different tasks to complete of increasing levels of difficulty, in an effort to force players to pay attention to their surroundings. McGreskin pointed out that although we as coaches are constantly pointing out to players that they need to have awareness and vision of the field, we often do not provide players with the ability to improve on these skills. Therefore, when asked, a player may be able to identify that they need to be aware of their surroundings, but when put into a game situation they struggle to see what is going on around them. When tasks are added to the drill, it provides players with something specific to look for to help them learn the skill. All the FSTA coaches in attendance felt like the drill was something that any player could benefit from, and because of the endless number of changes or tasks you could add in, it would be challenging and helpful at any level.
The second session was entirely focused on goalkeeping drills, run by Moreira. The drills focused on basic technical skills that goalkeepers should possess in order to stop what are often referred to as “routine saves”. These are the most common shots that a goalkeeper would face in a game. He pointed out that these drills can be used at all levels, from beginners all the way up to the professional level. The only thing that changes across the levels with these drills is the intensity with which they are performed. These drills were excellent ideas for coaches who have very little knowledge and training with goalkeeping.
The third session provided coaches with a defending drill that could be expanded or minimized depending on the field space and the players’ capabilities. de Klerk emphasized the need for defenders to apply direct pressure when not in possession of the ball, and the need to push up, away from the net as much as possible. He also identified important coaching points for players, including the need for communication and proper positioning/shifting in different situations.
The day finished off with another session run by McGreskin. This session concentrated on movement, specifically in relation to attacking. McGreskin started by using a simple sequence passing drill and gave players restrictions that forced them to move depending on the players around them. He also pointed out the opportunity to incorporate some of the tasks used in his earlier session to encourage vision and awareness by the players. Finally, McGreskin set up a possession oriented drill with players trying to score points by attacking the goal and attacking through gates set up around the field. The purpose was to try and get players to identify areas of space they could move into or create when off the ball. McGreskin pointed out the different types of movement that would benefit the team when trying to attack, particularly what he referred to as “unselfish runs”. These runs are aimed at creating space for other players to move into instead of looking specifically for the ball.
The conference provided our coaches with some great tips as well as some new session ideas to bring to our players. At FSTA our coaches are constantly looking to learn and improve upon their own skills to ensure that they can provide the players with the best opportunities to develop.