Develop Competitiveness In Training

By Keith Scarlett

These activities help to begin bringing out the competitiveness of all the players and their drive to win.

Four 5 X 5 boxes are set up with balls piled up in between the 4 boxes.


The team is split into 2 groups. In each box there are 3 on offense and 1 who will be on defense. Each group has 2

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Runs to Beat a Compact Defense

By Stevie Grieve

In the last analysis I made which was on Algeria’s solid defensive system, I looked at how they made Germany predictable, and how they almost defended in a 6-3-1 formation, playing on the counter attack behind Germany’s high line.

In this, I will look at the slight tactical alteration Jogi Loew made in regards to the runs that Germany looked for, and how it won them the game in Extra Time.

Highlighted areas and runs to exploit the spaces

Germany v Algeria runs


Germany v Algeria runs 2

When Germany had the ball in deep or wide positions, there were 2 main areas that were available on both sides (due to the symmetrical nature of the Algeria defensive block shape) which were;

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Critical Technique Training

By Keith Scarlett

This activity works on technique of playing and receiving long balls both in the air and on the ground, first-touch, passing, receiving and striking a driven ball approximately 30 metres.

Set-up: 4 cones are set up in a diamond. The top and bottom cones are 40 metres apart and the two side cones are 25 metres apart; per the diagram. Players should be broken up and evenly placed at each cone. All balls should begin at one of the cones that are 40 metres apart.


How it Works: The player starting at the top cone starts with a ball plays

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Team Shape and How to Effectively Coach It

Our recently released Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1 has been getting lots of attention recently, especially for its use of the “grid system” when setting up training sessions.  I have copied an excerpt from the book which is part of the introduction and explains what the grid system is and how it should be set up and used.

Grid System

The grid system is a coaching aid I developed to improve what I consider to be the number 1 problem in youth soccer, player spacing (shape) on the field. How many times have you watched a youth soccer game where players are huddled round a ball and fight for a kick? A soccer game quickly descends into a frantic display of kick and run. I have created a system that allows anyone, no matter what your level of soccer knowledge, to coach your team how to spread out when playing soccer.

This system is called the Grid System and it increases the efficiency and awareness of how to coach shape within formations. It is a system that breaks down the fundamentals and increases the coach’s and players’ understanding of how to keep the desired shape during play. Simply put, according to the formation (1-3-3-1 or 1-2-3-2 etc.) each player is assigned a grid to play in. Grids are connecting but players have limits as to which grids they are allowed in during any specific play. The grids relate to field positions and stop players bunching whilst allowing them to play in a more structured setting. Using this system, we go through step by step what to do to achieve success, beginning with simple movement patterns through to more advanced tactical choices.

I think it is important to relate everything you do during a training session to a scrimmage, therefore keeping it GAME REALISTIC. Thus terms used in this guide will relate to player and body positions according to the type of play being focused on.

When laying out your grids, each is 10×10 yards in size and each grid connects to another grid (Fig.1).


Whichever formation you choose to coach all bearings are the same. The grid directions are taken when attacking. So, facing the opponents goal, the grid line in front of the players is

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How Brazil Exposed Croatia’s Midfield

By Stevie Grieve

In the opening match of the FIFA World Cup, Croatia played against hosts Brazil, and were tipped to struggle against one of the favourites for the tournament. Croatia can always feel confident against any team boasting a midfield of new Barcelona signing Ivan Rakitic, Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric, and Inter Milan attacking midfielder Mateo Kovacic, they have a slight defensive imbalance as despite all 3 being able to play as a playmaker or a number 10, none of the 3 are natural holding or defensive midfielders, and in this game it showed with the distances and angles of defensive support and lack of speed to reshape in defensive transition, particularly from Modric and Rakitic.

Brazil’s opening goal – Rakitic and Modric are too far apart as the ball breaks loose

Art 12BrazilCroatia1

Brazil and Croatia are battling for a loose ball in midfield, Croatia should win it but don’t which leaves the midfield open as Rakitic shifts wider to intercept/press Alves. In doing so, this leaves

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Coaching Technique With a Conditioning Element

By Keith Scarlett

This activity works on technique, first-touch, passing, receiving, turning and fitness.

Set-up: The players break into groups of three. Two players start 40 metres apart with the third player in the middle. Each player on the outside has a ball while the player in the middle does not.


How it Works: The player in the middle is working while the other two are serving. The servers play balls in on the ground for the worker to do different moves/turns. Each player works for 1 minute then switches with one of the servers until all three have been in the middle. The first sequence is the middle player plays a one-time ball back to the server who played the ball in.


The next sequence begins with only one server having just one ball. The player in the middle takes a touch with the outside of their foot, turns and plays the ball out the other side to the other server. The other server then returns the ball back in to the player in the middle who repeats this to the other side.


Next, the working player receives the ball with the inside of their foot, cradling it and spinning to face the opposite direction all in the same motion, then playing it out to the other server who then returns it back as in the previous sequence.


In the next sequence, allow the players in the middle to be creative and show some individual flair by doing whatever they want in the middle. Many different things can be substituted for what the middle player does with the ball.


Progression: Partner up two groups of threes. Therefore, there will be four servers and two players working.



In this set-up, each player in the middle checks for a ball from one of the servers and then turns and plays the ball into the open server who does not have a ball or is not preparing to receive one from the other player. Each pair works for 1 minute.


Coaching Points:

  • Players need to check hard to the ball.
  • Players should take a look behind them when checking away, as they turn to check towards and as they receive the ball.
  • Players should receive the ball while turning and then find the open player with their next touch.

By Keith Scarlett Assistant Women’s Football Coach – Perth Glory FC, Australia, U.S. Soccer National Staff