Football Coaching Session: Using Scenarios

I was skimming through some of the Youth Mod 2 content last week and came across a note I’d made about using scenarios in sessions as a way to get your topic across. I always try and use different sessions so thought I’d look at using scenarios/situations to continue our recent theme of defending (pressing or being compact).

I’ve heard coaches talking about using situations previously, perhaps at the end of the session or just to introduce a different angle to a game but having tried it last week I think there were good benefits to using this type of session.

Firstly, the setup. We had 12 players so it was perfect for 6v6 in the 35 x 35 area we have (we sometimes have 17 players which is hard work on such an area!) and to begin with they played a 10 minute game to get started. This gets rid of a bit of early energy and also allows me to see if the teams are evenly matched (they create the teams, not me). I also split the pitch in to thirds and asked them to “defend in two but attack in three”.

We then stopped it, allowed them to get a drink and I explained that we’d now play a 10 minute game where the situation was that one team had a 2-0 lead to defend. The team who were to lead were the team who’d lost the opening game so it was an interesting change of focus and challenge for them.

What I like about the situation approach is that it gives team’s a chance to set out a strategy or plan for how they play before the game and it gives you an opportunity to explore what they come up with via some Q&A. What I found interesting was their response to the challenge – they defended more aggressively than in the opening game, generally worked harder and actually won the game.

Before the first situation I was going to give each team the same challenge but due to the outcome of the second game I instead used the same challenge but this time spoke more to the alternate team about how they could change their approach to win the game.

To summarise:

1st Game: Team A beat Team B (by a couple of goals)

2nd Game: Team B beat Team A (Team B had started with 2-0 lead)

In the 2nd game there was no change in performance from Team A but Team B, as shown above, improved considerably.

Game 3 used the same situation but I spoke to Team A about their approach because I wanted to see how they’d react. They wanted to try and draw out Team B who’d sat in a compact shape and didn’t feel they should press because Team B were “going long”. Team B were happy with their approach from the previous game but felt they could be better in possession.

Outcome of Game 3? Team A won, comfortably. The difference? Team A scored an early goal and Team B’s work rate / belief dropped so they didn’t defend as aggressively and conceded soft goals. This provided an opportunity to talk about this with them after the game finished.

In the final situation I wanted to challenge a couple of players in Team A (as they’d won two of the games without too much challenge) so I changed Team A to 4 players and had 6 on Team B. I gave Team A a 2-0 lead and then asked them to discuss how they would approach protecting that lead. The result? The 4 players won the game by securing a 2-1 win.

The different perspectives to the game certainly opened up interesting decisions for them to make regards their game plan. It also altered their work rate and most noticeably, how hard they worked when out of possession.

In addition to this I also had players on Team B being responsible for organising their team’s defensive shape and that was given to a different player in each of the 3 games which gave them a separate challenge to think about.

All in all it was a really good session and a great way to discuss strategies to the game from both an attacking and defensive approach but with the main focus on the latter.


Football Coaching Session: Playing out from the back U16s

I’ve been doing a lot of possession work with the U16s since starting with them 4-5 weeks ago and on Wednesday I did a session on playing out from the back. I want us to be comfortable in possession and believe that it starts from your GK and defenders, otherwise you’re trying to play possession from a long goalkick.

The images below detail how the session was setup.





As the session progressed the boys who played CB & full-back (I rotated positions) picked it up well and some of them were switching on very quickly as soon as our GK got possession which was great to see. I could also observe that it gave the attacking team more to think about in a defensive capacity because of the full-backs pushing higher up the pitch.

It’s something I’ll work on with them again in August when we resume for pre-season and will also look at how the midfielders and full-backs then support by providing good angles for passing out from the back.

Very interested to know how others are coaching this – what setup are you using? Are you building up to this type of scenario through other means? How are you working with the midfielders? I’m doing some reading around the topic where I can so will share what I learn/find out.

An Introduction to Futsal

On Wednesday night I attended a course run by the Oxfordshire FA on An Introduction to Futsal. I’m the first to admit that, despite my obsession with football, I only found out about Futsal a relatively short time ago and I’ve been quite interested in finding out more about the game.

The OFA run a number of evening sessions during the year for members of their coaching association which I presume is the same as other county FA’s, and this seemed a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Wednesday night (although it did result in me missing the Barca game!).

As far as 2 hour introductions go this was pretty good. We spent the initial part of the session looking at some Futsal-specific warm ups we could do, we then looked at practices which focused on ball manipulation and then moved on to attacking in 2v1 and 3v2s before finish with a game of Futsal.

The game was interesting because we started with a normal size 5 football before moving to a size 4 Futsal ball. The difference was we saw far less of the ball bouncing around and players appeared to find it a bit easier to control the ball and keep it close whilst dribbling. It’s the first time I’ve played with a futsal ball and it’s heavier / denser design certainly makes it easier to try tricks with and keep close to your body.

I’m very keen to use our local sports hall to do Futsal in the winter across all age groups in our club but most of all I’d like to use it with the younger age groups to improve their ball skills. Futsal excites me and I want to send more time learning about its benefits as I think it can be a real compliment to players and to me as a coach.


FA Level 2: Day 5 Summary

 Another testing day today as we had to put on our small-sided-games and with real emphasis on our understanding of technical points and the coaching process. As with Tuesday, everybody put on a good session and I think everyone succeeded in improving & affecting the quality of both the individual and group during the session (although I had an AP on this).

I’d been given “Deep Defending” which I’d planned last night with some support from the coaches on Twitter but I was nervous about the session as it hadn’t been demonstrated by our tutor during the course.

I was on in the afternoon and the session went as follows:

  • I’d laid out a pitch which was too small (35 x 20) so the tutor asked me early on to adjust it and it was adjusted to something like 45 x 30. I think I’d made it on the small side to allow some success for the defending team (my focus) but the size prohibited any chance to play I behind which was one of they key coaching points.
  • I’d used two cones on the side of the pitch to represent an offside line of sorts and that was the area I wanted my two CB defenders to protect but the tutor then suggested I place a number of cones across the pitch to better represent and identify the zone which we wanted the defending team to protect.
  • This adjustment meant that we were actually asking the defending team to play a high line and press higher up the pitch so I think the topic could be better worded; if not to help the defending team better understand their objective.
  • Other than the adjustments my feedback was pretty positive and I had two action points. These were:
  1. Ensuring the size of the pitch is appropriate to the session
  2. Ensuring I also affect players off the ball and thinking about how I demonstrate where they could be (e.g. Q&A, self-correct or demonstrate myself).

It was a fairly difficult session to put on but obviously the point is to experiment and to learn, both of which have been achieved this afternoon.


My football knowledge has improved incredibly in the last 5 days and it’s changed the way I watch a game of football – be that an SSG or match on the TV.


Our 6th and final day tomorrow, then starts the work to embed what we’ve learnt.

FA Level 2: Day 1 Summary

 I’m doing the first six days of the FA’s Level 2 football coaching course this week and so I thought i’d write a brief summary of each day via this blog as I know the content we cover will be too vast to summarise in a single blog at the end of these 6 days.

So, what does day 1 entail?

  • As with other courses you start with the introduction from the coach and then do some activities which get you talking to the remainder of the group
  • We then did a few tasks in the classroom, such as defining the qualities and skills of a coach. You also write down your own goals for the course – mine was too learn more about the technical aspects of coaching and simply deliver a better quality of football education to the boys & girls I coach.
  • We were also asked to define the principles of play which was then expanded to the principles of football which got people in to thinking about themes which are topics within the coaching content of this course.
  • Following a break we went outside to look at somme,practical sessions. We looked at a warm-up where we were coached on having minimal interaction with the players and did what was a “Level 2 warm-up”.
  • Next we covered short passing and this was where we were introduced to the coaching cycle – Observe, See Fault, Coach & Correct, Recreate & Play. The principle is straight forward and the key for me seems to be picking the correct opportunity to step in and knowing what outcome you expected or what you could have the player improve.
  • After lunch we covered a long passing session and then a turning session. As well as the coaching cycle we also looked at progression from a “technical” to “skill” practice plus use of demonstration and self-correction when coaching the point or “fault”.

As with all FA courses you’re flooded with information and you have to ensure you keep your focus on the coaching, not the football, during the practical sessions.


Today’s been good fun and I’m already learning – if you’re thirsty for football and coaching knowledge the you’re going to enjoy level 2. Tomorrow is more learning and then on Tuesday we have our first go and running a 15 minute session on our own.


I’ll be back with another summary tomorrow night. 

Coaching Day 11: Football takes a back seat

Wednesday’s session seemed to be one of those where you spend more time managing the boys/girls than you do actually focussing on the football aspect of the session, which I guess is to be expected sometimes when coaching under 7s.

As someone who’s not a parent it can be far more challenging to ensure you’re dealing with children appropriately than it is to control & coordinate the games within a session. Knowing how to deal with the tantrums, the injuries, the tears and anything else which happens to crop up during a session is something which is taking time to develop and feel comfortable with – although it probably feels fairly normal if you’re a parent.

Wednesday’s session seemed to have all of the above and I’d only just arrived as the guy I coach with was walking a tearful boy over to the changing rooms as he’d lost a tooth when the ball hit him in the mouth! We then had one boy throw a major tantrum over something which seemed fairly trivial, there were two lots of tears caused by mis-timed tackles and a little bit of verbal bullying to sort out. Hence football coaching really took a backseat.

I’m hoping that my ability to deal with these types of situations will improve with experience, in fact I know it will, and I’m also hoping that the FA Youth Module is going to help with some of the “softer” side of football coaching.

As for the football? We worked on passing, control & dribbling throughout the session using a couple of different games and it’s great to see some of the kids starting to show signs of improvement as we’re another week closer to our first ever match! I think we’ll now look to start them thinking about formations and positioning on a football pitch so it makes the transition to a match situation much easier to handle.