22 COACHING "RULES"
(U-8 & up)

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These "Rules" Are Easy To Teach Your Players and Will Quickly Improve Your Team's Play
Some Are Worth a Goal or Two per Game and Can Change the Flow of the Game

"Coaching Rule No. 1 (Don't get thrown over) really is worth a couple goals a game. When we marked up properly , we easily won the ball 90% of the time. Super easy to teach, and super easy to coach from the sidelines." Coach Bob, U10, Premium Member

"For about 2 weeks, we worked on nothing other than soccer Coaching Rules 1 - 3. We won our next 5 games scoring 20 goals and giving up none, we won 6 - 0, 3 - 0, 4 - 0, 3 - 0 and 4 - 0." Coach Tony, U16, Premium Member since 2004

"Coaching Rule No. 3 should be Coaching Rule No. 1, as it is why my girls are so successful at dominating the opponents - it is rare that an opponent manages to get the ball clear from their end on a goal kick as my girls just step in front of them and steal it. I have also done your revised Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race game, and it is a favorite with the girls - they are *very* competitive, so that sort of game always works well. We do Dribble Across a Square every practice - it really makes a difference." Bryan, Premium Member

"I taught my players Coaching Rule No. 3 from Premium and the results were immediately phenomenal! I couldn't believe I had neglected this basic tactic - they immediately stole several balls in the game following our 1st practice where I had introduced the concept, and it completely changed the flow of the game during several long stretches. This resulted in our nearly tying what had been the best team in the league. While we lost 2 to 3, it was night and day compared to how they had played just a week or two before." Coach Charlie, U10, Premium Member

Stating important concepts as simple "rules" is a useful way to teach young players, since most have been taught to "follow the rules". The following aren't real rules, they are just my "rules". You may want to teach your players some of these:

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  4. "Where will the other team score from?" Answer: "In front of our goal." (See "Where....From?" in Dictionary of Soccer Terms, Concepts & Rules).
  5. "If the other team has the ball & you are the closest, you must be the "First Defender" & slow down their attack & try to block any shots. Teach your players the meaning of ther terms "First Defender" & "Second Defender". Demonstrate how the Second Defender supports the First Defender. How to teach "First Defender and Second Defender" is explained in No. 3 of Quick Team Improvement Program.
  6. "If the other team has the ball & you are second closest, you must be the "Second Defender" & back up the First Defender & stay between the ball & the goal. (Stay 5-7 steps behind the First Defender). How to teach "First Defender and Second Defender" is explained in No. 3 of Quick Team Improvement Program.
  7. "If you have a pass, take it. Only dribble if you don't have a pass or if you can dribble & score".
  8. "Don't pass or dribble across the front of our goal".
  9. "Why isn't your pass staying on the ground?" Answer: "You are contacting it too low. Strike the ball half way up & follow through".
  10. "No straight legs. Knees should always be bent" (I can't think of a single instance when a player should have straight legs).
  11. "When waiting for a pass, stay on your toes & move as soon as you see which way the ball is going". (A quick first step is very important).
  12. "You should always be shifting with the ball". (When the ball moves, so should you).
  13. "When our goal is under attack, the Far Mid-Fielder (the MF farthest from the ball) or Far Stopper (if you play 2 Stoppers) should cover the Penalty Box Arc" to stop crosses to that area which could result in easy goals." (See "Formations").
  14. "If the referee leaves his arm up after a foul, is it a direct or indirect kick?" Answer: "An indirect kick".
  15. "Forwards, when you are pushed up & waiting for a pass, stay 2 steps behind the Last Defender so you won't accidentally be called offside".
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  17. "Which way can you run faster - - forward or backward? The answer: forward. This is why when we're attacking you should stay behind a ball that is going to be crossed & why you should not get so close to the goal that rebounds go behind you". (See "Rebounds" in the Dictionary for more details).
  18. "Don't try to dribble through the Last Defenders, it won't work. Instead, kick a "through ball", do a "give & go" or "pass to yourself" into open space behind the defenders."
  19. "If you are playing on the left side (LF, LMF, or LFB) or on the right side (RF, RMF or RFB), don't cross the center of the field". (LMF is Left Mid-Fielder, RFB is Right Fullback, etc.).
  20. "We must mark any attackers who are in front of our goal & in scoring range, staying "goalside" & slightly "ballside" (i.e., 1/2 step closer to the ball than the attacker). Mark them tight if they are close to our goal (e.g., stay within 1 or 2 steps) & looser if they are farther away. Don't give them a clean shot and stay on your feet & don't jump at them or they will fake you & get a clean shot".
  21. "Shoot high if outside the Penalty Box (i.e., toward the top of the goal) and low if inside the Penalty Box (i.e., on the ground & toward the corner)."
  22. "If you have a clear shot, take it."
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  24. "If you are helping attack, stay a pass away from the ball -- don't get too close to your teammate with the ball or he can't pass it to you." (See Best Tips and Tactics #20 for 2 types of "Movement Off the Ball" that are easy to teach teams U-8 and older, and that are very important.) The Premium "Bunching Up" game can teach players not to bunch up and to spread out to attack.
  25. "If you are a Fullback, when clearing the ball away from our goal, kick it straight ahead." This is simple for your FBs to remember. Along with this, you need to teach your MFs and Fs to always be shifting from side-to-side with the ball. That way, they are in position to win a ball that is cleared "straight ahead". Teach the MF's and Fs to stay a short pass apart so they have some "width" and aren't bunched to close together. When the ball is in your Defensive Third, teach your MFs to stay a pass away from the ball (say 15 of their "steps") and the Forwards to stay a long kick away from the ball (say 25-30 of their "steps"). That way you will have "depth" and your MF's and Fs will be in good positions to win those cleared balls, and even if the opponent wins the ball, you will have defenders in a good position to stop a counterattack. For Rec teams, clearing the ball "straight ahead" works better than kicking it to the sideline because you will win the ball more, won't kick it out of bounds, there won't be as many mis-kicks, you don't risk unintentionally clearing it to your "weak" side where you don't have defenders in place, and if the opposing FBs are Pushed Up you will get breakaways.
NOTE: See the Section titled "Scoring More Goals" for 35 Attacking Tips.

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