Category Archives for Coaching

The Importance of a Dynamic Warm-Up

A dynamic warm up is vital to a successful training session.    There are many different versions and mixed feelings regarding whether there needs to be a ball involved or not.  Many feel any time in training that doesn’t utilize a ball is wasted time.  I, and others, feel it’s more important to get a good warm up and to have the players truly ready (both physically and mentally) for when the ball is then added to the warm up.

In this activity, start with 4 cones in a line, 10 yards apart.  Another 2 cones are in a different line 10 yards apart and 10 yards to the side of this first line. 2 more cones are in a similar line 10 yards to the Continue reading

Competitive Shooting Activity

When WORLD CLASS COACHING conducted a tour of Dutch club a few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend. While visiting the Ajax Academy I watched a session presented by Robin Pronk, coach of the U17 Boys Academy team. The focus of his session was on passing combinations but after going through a number of progressions that lead to a small-sided game the team then moved to a series of shooting competitions.

Shooting Game
The teams from the 7 v 7 scrimmage are used for thisContinue reading

Ajax Shooting Game

Like many coaches I focus on one particular aspect of the game during each training session. Sure, I try to train the technical, tactical, physical and psychological components around the specific skill so that the practice is as economical as possible. But in the past if my focus was on passing and receiving I wouldn’t have thought about ending the session with any type of shooting.

When WORLD CLASS COACHING conducted a tour of Dutch club a few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend. While visiting the Ajax Academy I watched a session presented byContinue reading

Train Like the Dutch

There are a number of books that I return to again and again for ideas and inspiration. Dutch Total Football is one of those books.


The author, Terry Michler, has studied the Dutch methodology over many years. This book is a in-depth review of all aspects of their system. It includes a history of Dutch soccer beginning with Continue reading

Dutch Up, Back and Through to Finish

Some  coaches may consider pattern play to be limiting. They say, ‘I don’t want my players to be robots that just pass and move in the patterns that I’ve taught them.’ I can understand this and I agree with it but where are our players supposed to get their creative ideas from?

We want our players to combine and be creative in attack but our challenge in the United States is that most of our players don’t watch the being played at the highest level every week. They don’t see the intricate patterns and movement of Barcelona  or the timing and runs of Manchester United’s Sergio Aguero’s. When it comes time for them to play they don’t have pictures or patterns to emulate. If we want our players to be creative we have to give them a framework to start with.


Coaching Soccer Champions by Terry Michler, has some great patterns that build off of very simple foundations. You can add layers to them as the player become more comfortable with the basic set up. Here are a few examples:


Up – back – deep – and go to goal in a half field area or less
This is the first of 12 progressions with the same starting action.
The back plays up to the midfielder and gets the ball back. He then plays a deep ball to the striker who dribbles to goal and shoots.

Coaching Points

  • Good sequence between the back and midfielder with crisp passing.
  • The midfielder should check and come back to the ball and lay it off to the back — in 1 touch.
  • The back then plays deep to the striker who receives ball and advances it to goal for a shot. Strikers should focus on scoring with every shot !


Now when the striker advances to goal, the player must avoid the obstacle and then finish with goal-scoring attempt.


Up – back – deep – give and go – and then shoot

The midfielder, after laying the ball off to the back, will turn and play a give and go with the striker.  The striker should shoot first time.  Encourage quick, crisp passes in the give and go sequence and the midfielder should be close to the striker.



Place 1 obstacle for the give and go sequence and the other for the striker before shooting.  This will more closely resemble actual game play.  Ball control is essential as the play is now at speed and around fixed obstacles.


Here’s the last pattern in the progression just to give you an idea of how the complexity can be increased as the players become familiar with the patterns.

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Do you agree with me that teach patterns gives the players ideas and enhances creativity or do you feel that we are better off allowing the players to find combinations of their own?

Have a great day!




Dutch Style 4v4 Small-Sided Games

Terry Michler, author of the Dutch Total Football book is the winningest high school coach in the country. He’s been the Head Coach at Christian Brothers College in St. Louis for more than 40 years with more than 800 wins.

Michler’s coaching has been heavily influenced by the Dutch methods and philosophies. As a result, his teams play a lot of 4 v 4 and many of these games are detailed in his book, Coaching Soccer Champions.

Here are a few examples. Some you may be familiar with and others may give you ideas that you can use with your teams.

4 small line goals without keepers
The goals are positioned on the end lines spread to the width of the field.This encouragesContinue reading