Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3 Most common mistakes first time soccer coaches make and how to avoid them

If you are new to world of soccer coaching and the challenge feels daunting then here’s some great advice on some of the most common mistakes and the steps required to avoid them.

1. Planning
Choose drills that are fun. All kids need to have fun otherwise you will loose their attention quickly. If you choose drills that are fun then the players will focus allowing you the coach to concentrate on teaching.  One of the greatest skills that a coach of young soccer players can develop is how to create fun, engaging activities that allow the players to learn and develop at the same time.

2. Over-coaching
Over-coaching means talking too much or in the wrong place. Trying to do too many drills or moving on too quickly. Don’t try to put too much into each session. You will often find that drills go on longer than intended. A good idea would be to have a buffer in place. For example an extension of a drill that can be skipped or included depending on whether or not the session is running to schedule.

One observation that I often see with coaches of very young players is that they talk too long.  Training sessions should be about the players playing and developing skills, not sitting in a circle on the ground with long conversations by the coach.  Additionally, spending only a few minutes speaking with the players before the game at at halftime and keep focus to 3 points.  Too much talking and addressing too many ideas can be overload to young players.  You will keep their focus and attention with brief, concise conversations better than long talks.

3. Focus
Finally focus. Remember that you are a development/youth level coach. It is therefore key that the players are developing each session. Even if the team isn't winning its important that the players can identify progress in their game and overall ability. Structure training sessions and the activities in each session to progress through a particular theme.  This keeps the players focus on one topic and allows you as the coach to focus on key coaching points over a 90 minute period of time.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hello Coaches,

Here are some thoughts and ideas for a U7/8 training session with multiple activities that use the same training grid for the first part of the session.  I highly recommend that you allow the players the opportunity at every training session to just play (20+ minutes) with very little coaching.  Let them have fun and see if they can utilize some of the ideas and focus in the game phase that you work to teach them in the teaching phase of the session.

The first activity is essentially a square grid, either 10x10 or 15x15.  Use your best judgement on the size as you can always adjust it as you go along.  Have each player inside the grid with a ball with the coach on the perimeter driving the moments and activities.

  1. Start with players killing the ball (stopping with the sole of their foot) and then restarting their dribble.
  2. Next have the players "Kill the ball" and then move in the opposite direction.
  3. I use the explode command as well to get the players moving more actively.  When the coach calls explode, the players "Kill the ball" then must explode outside of the grid and then back to their ball.
  4. Finally, the coach can call "Switch" with the players killing the ball and then switching balls with a team mate.
There are countless different activities that you can have your players do in a similar setup.  Examples are you can have the players touch body parts to the ball, after killing the ball (butt, head, elbow).  Players can "kill the ball" then run a quick circle around the ball, players can "kill the ball" then hop over the ball.  You can incorporate specific turns, changes in direction, tag activities just to name a few.  Be creative and vary it up with your players over the course of the season.

This next activity can use the exact same grid you used in the first activity, but with the addition of many gate goals.  If you are able, ensure that you have 2 more gate goals than you have players.  If you want to make it more game-like for your players, divide the players into two teams before you begin.  

Start with having the players dribbling through as many gate goals in 30 seconds.  This gets the players acclimated to the space and activity before you give them additional constraints.  You can add up all of the gates that one team made it through compared to another.  Variations on dribbling through the gates are to have players dribble through a gate and make a circle around one of the cones.  or have a player dribble through a gate, then turn around and dribble through the same gate in the opposite direction.  You can also have the players dribble up to the gate, "kill the ball" (leaving the ball in front of the gate) the player must then run through the gate and then come back to collect his/her ball.  Again, there are many different variations that you can use and be creative for the players to remain engaged and active.

One last activity that you can use with the same space, before just allowing the players to play 4v4 is a 2v2 game.  Using the same grid, create 2 very wide gate goals on each side of the grid.  Divide the two teams of players as shown with the coach on one side with all of the balls.  The coach starts the activity by playing a ball to a pair of players.  The team then tries to dribble through either gate goal with possession of their dribble.  If the defending pair wins the ball, they can then dribble through the 2 gate goals on the opposite side for a goal.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Session - Technical Passing and Receiving

Hello Coaches,

Throughout the season, I will be updating this blog with information to serve as a resource for you as the season progresses.  With this week being the start of the season, I have added a complete session from Tracie Foels, one of my assistants, entitled Technical Passing and Receiving.  You can find this session on the left side of the blog in the "Complete Sessions" tab.  Please note, that this session was designed for 11v11 teams with up to 16 players, but please have a look and modify/adapt as necessary for your teams and age groups.  For example, if you have a roster of 12, use 4 lines on the outside of the grid (instead of 8) and then play 4v4 in the middle with 4 support players on the outside throughout the progressions.

Session-Technical Passing and Receiving

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hello Coaches,

I started this blog as a means to reach out to the CASL coaches and provide a forum for which I can relay information, thoughts, and ideas.  This log will be a dynamic one that will be continually updated  weekly throughout the season.  Being on the preseason, with the start of training for most teams a few weeks away, I wanted to start this communication with a question.

If I were to ask, how would you answer : What is your coaching philosophy? 

I realize that there may be many new or novice coaches, alike we have many veteran coaches. Whether you are a new, novice coach or a veteran coach, you should be able to answer this question.

A coaching philosophy is central to define how you want your team to play in games, which in turn defines what you need to do to prepare these players in training.  For example, if I want my team to attack on the wings, I better focus on developing wingers, crossing, and finishing.  If I elect that I want to focus my team on possession and build up play, I need to ensure that I focus my development in those areas.  I recommend that coaches think about the end goal first, and work backwards to define and formulate a plan.

There are a number of different coaching philosophies and components of coaching philosophies.  Therefore, with this time in advanced of training think about some of the following and what is important.  Factors to consider:

  • How do you measure success?  Wins? Players developing? Player passion for soccer? Fun?
  • Are you a coach that wants to develop players?  Win at all costs?
  • Are you a players coach? More authoritative?  What is the best approach for your age of players and the program level that they currently play?
  • Do you want to develop the individual player? Or focus on the team?
  • Do you want an attacking-focused team or defensive?

Take some time and put in some thought before you step out onto the soccer field with your players and have a plan.  Know what you are going to do with your players before you do it. 

My recommendations for all coaches are that before you step onto the soccer field, you need to have passion, energy, enthusiasm, and structured preparation for your players. 

Bryan Farnsworth
Director of Recreation and Challenge.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hello CASL Recreation coaches,

With the start of a new season on the horizon, I wanted to start my communication.  I first wanted to make everyone aware of an important date, February 16 which will be scheduled the spring CASL kickoff.  At the WRAL soccer center, from 3-5pm we will have all coaches packets and uniforms for new players.  As part of this event, I have two separated coaching education activities scheduled.

  1. First, from 1:30-3pm on the Durham Bulls stadium, I have a classic staff coach conducting a coaching education clinic entitled "Numbers up Attacking"
  2.  The NCYSA will be conducting age-specific training for U6, U8, and U10-12 recreation coaches from 1:30-3pm.  
  3. The NCYSA will be conducting a coaching education clinic from 3-4pm on "Parent Education and Coaching Education for the Volunteer Recreation Coach".  
  4. Finally, I will plan to conduct a informational session from 4-5pm for all U7-U10 recreation coaches (rules, policies, tips, advice, etc) specifically targeted for any new coaches to CASL within the past year.  
Please make an effort to stop by for one or all of these activities if you are able.

Bryan Farnsworth
Director of Coaching Education
Recreation and Challenge Divisions

Friday, January 24, 2014


I hope this communication finds all of you off to a great start to the New Year. My name is Rusty Scarborough and I am the Director of Soccer for CASL. Since we do not have our Annual General Meeting anymore it may be that we have not met or seen each other in a while.
Beginning this month, January, 2014, I will include a post, monthly, on the CASL Challenge and Recreation Division blog. Each month I will have a theme to discuss and this one is just to say hello and make a few announcements for the upcoming season. I will also include a Technical Training segment each month, provided by Sean Nahas, our ECNL Director at CASL. The ECNL is our Elite Clubs National League that our top female players play in throughout the year. In future post, I will have themes on Coaching Education, Parent Education, Player Development and different announcements recognizing our teams, players and coaches form all of our playing divisions.
This post is the first of many and I want to thank each of you for all you do for CASL. I hope you join me in saying that we are a part of one of the best youth soccer clubs in the country. I feel fortunate to be able to work with so many quality people, day to day, that show the Character, Attitude, Success and Love of the game it takes to be great.
Now I would like to make a few announcements that will help you prepare for the next 6 months and catch you up on some exciting news. If you ever have anything that warrants inclusion to my monthly communication please do not hesitate to send to me.

February 17thStart of spring training
June 13-15 – NSCAA and CASL will be hosting a NSCAA Level 6 coaching course for our Recreation and Challenge coaches. Because of our partnership with NSCAA and CASL being the only Platinum Club member, the first 75 CASL coaches that register will be able to attend at no cost. This course will be held at our WRAL Soccer Center and I will be the lead instructor along with additional staff assigned at a later date. Please stay tune for more details about how to register.

  • Damon Nahas, CASL Technical Director just got back from another stint as the U15G National Team coach and also has been involved with the US Full Women’s National team as a Technical Trainer
  • Sean Nahas, CASL ECNL Director continues to be involved with the U14G National team as a staff coach and also was a clinician at the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia
  • Taylor Otto, CASL player for the U16/U17 Girls ECNL teams received the Youth All American award at the NSCAA Convention 

Come out and support our partner the Carolina Railhawks at all of their home games. We will be sending out a calendar of all CASL and Railhawk game events very soon. Let’s make this season at the CASL Towers a big success.

Coming soon will be an announcement of a new NSCAA/CASL Co-Branded CASL Badge – Special Topics course to be taught in August, 2014. This will be an exciting new Coaching Education piece for us all

Finally, I have included a Technical Training segment from Sean Nahas, CASL ECNL Director for your enjoyment and education. Again, I will have one of these each month.  This session will also be stored in the "CASL Technical session" located on the left hand column of the blog.
Once again, thank you for all you do for CASL and if you have a question or something to include in my monthly communication, please do not hesitate to email or call me directly.

Rusty Scarborough
CASL Director of Soccer

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


We are now progressing through our second week of training sessions heading into our first weekend of games this weekend, so I wanted to reach out to everyone with some thoughts, ideas, and tips.  One thing that I will be doing this season with both the recreation and challenge divisions is that I frequently go out to observe training sessions.  Similarly, both of the staff working with me will be doing the same thing and we will be sure to get out to Garner, Cary, Raleigh, and Wake Forest.  So, you may see me out walking around the training ground.  On occasion I may stop over to speak with a coach, but very seldom as I do not want to interfere with your session, but I may follow up with you via email if there is anything that I want to pass along.

Here are some of the things that I look for with coaches/teams during training:

  • Energy and passion from the coach or coaches.  This is one of the most important aspects to coaching as players are going to feed off of and emulate the personality, energy, enthusiasm, and passion of the coach.  If you as the coach carry yourself as though you do not want to be there, your players are going to follow suit.  For the 90 minutes of your session with your players, bring the energy, passion, excitement, and love of the game of soccer.  
  • Organization.  Coaches need to be organized with their activities in order to maximize the value for which the players can learn and develop.  Good coaches have great organization and are able to have very minimal transition time between activities, which also helps to keep the players focused and on task.  Most silly incidents and injuries at practice will occur in the time between activities, so minimizing this time with good organization not only makes more effective use of your 90 minutes of training, but will also minimize silliness and accidents with players during this "dead time".
  • Communication:  At training I really like to find examples of coaches that are coaching and teaching.  For anyone that has been through any level of coaching course, one of the most prominent aspects of these courses are finding those coachable moments and making corrections and teaching.
  • Training session flow:  Within any training session there needs to be a connection of activities that all relate to one primary topic.  An awful training session will be one in which there is a dribbling activity, followed by a passing activity, then a shooting activity, and then some game.  Example of a session that focuses on 1v1 attacking:
    • Technical warm up with lots of touches on the ball to include a few 1v1 moves (no pressure).
    • Activity 1:  Simulate 1v1, such that the defender must apply no more than 50% defensive pressure.  
    • Activity 2:  Live defending of 1v1 play with line soccer.  Divide the team up into 2 and play 3 minute games between the teams.  Add a competitive element to the 1v1 attacking game.
    • End game.  Play a game as normal for the final 25-30 minutes.  Since the focus of the day was 1v1, award teams a bonus goal each time they successfully beat a defender with a 1v1 move.
  • Lines at training:  Far too often do I see coaches running an activity in which too many players are standing.  For example, I observed a team this past week doing a "running with the ball activity".  This was an older girls team of about 14 players.  The team was divided in half with 7 players on one side facing the other 7 players.  One player at a time had a ball and would speed dribble across to the other side and then it would repeat.  The problem with this is that with 14 players, only one is working with the ball at any one time, with 13 girls standing.  
    • Any activities involving lines should have no more than 4 players per line.  
    • For example, if I had a team of 12-16 players, I would split them up into 4 groups of 3-4 players each and each group gets a ball.  This ensures that the work to rest ratio is much higher with one player working and 3 actively resting.  This not only gets more touches for the players more frequently, but you can also add the component of fitness with higher work rates.