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State DOC Blog

A blog from Jacob Daniel, the Georgia Soccer state Director of Coaching. If you have comments, questions, or topic suggestions, you can email Jacob at


we have always done it this way

Jacob Daniel- State DOC

First, allow me to philosophize a bit.  In many group or communal settings, some habits are passed on from one generation to the next, with no one questioning the wisdom of the habit.

In soccer, the throw-in is one such moment where the most common play is throwing the ball down the line into a mix of players in a congested area.  If you asked the players why they take a 100% possession and turn it into, at best, a 30% chance of retaining possession, they will likely shrug and say "we have always done it like this".

Goal kicks are another example of such habits, where keepers punt the ball up the field and turn possession into a low percentage play.

On average, teams have 30-40 throw-ins per game and around 20 goal kicks each game.  That's a lot of missed opportunities to do something constructive to possess and penetrate if all you do is throw the ball down the line or punt it.  Considering that teams have between 100-150 possessions per game, throw-ins and goal kicks represent one third to one half of these moments.  Coaches who don't invest the time to prepare their teams to take full advantage of these set plays are giving up a lot of possession for no reason.

We constantly remind our players in ODP practices to use the throw-in to switch the point of attack and we show them how to do that.  We insist that our keepers distribute the ball rather than punt it up the field.

to illustrate how the outcome of these set plays impacts the game, let's use statistics from the recent game between the USA U-17 Women's team versus Japan in the FIFA U17 Women's World Cup.  the USA teamhad 31 throw-ins and 20 goal kicks.  Of the 31 throw-ins, they threw the ball down the line 30 times and only played it back to a defender once.  They lost the ball 24 times from their own 31 throw-ins.  Of the 20 goal kicks, they punted all of them and lost possession in 9 of them (they did score their goal off a long goal kick but we cannot count on that to happen often at the highest level).

Japan, on the other hand, had 36 throw-ins and they played to possess all of them.  They kept the ball 26 times off their 36 throw-ins and only lost possession 10 times.  They had 19 goal kicks, of which they played out of the back 11 times, and kept possession all the times they attempted to play out of the back.  they punted 8 times and lost possession off the punt 3 times.

So, Japan had kept possession 42 times out of 55 throw-ins/goal kicks and the USA kept possession 18 times out of 51 throw-ins/goal kicks.

There is a lesson here for coaches.  Throw-ins and goal kicks can be used to gain an advantage and it will be worth the time invested to prepare the players for these set plays.  Just because we have always done it this way doesn't mean it's the best play.


where are the american creative players?

Jacob Daniel- State DOC

We hear quite often soccer experts lament the lack of creative players in our country.  Just recently, a few of our soccer analysts complained that youth soccer in America does not produce creative players and that all our players look robotic, clones of the same make.  The writer agrees with this opinion.

So the question is:  How do we produce creative players?? The obvious and most common answer is that coaches should allow players to make mistakes without fear of criticism and encourage them to express themselves and try the unpredictable in practices AND games.

This sounds like a sensible approach, and it is.  but here is the problem:  our players are still tactically naive and do not have a game awareness.   They tend to ball watch, which means that when they get the ball, they have no idea where their teammates and opponents are.  Our players play with their heads down and only think about what they will do with the ball after they receive it, when it is already too late.  This lack of awareness and vision causes a lot of turnovers since players get into trouble with their first touch.

So, before we give our players the license to be creative, we have to teach them a few fundamental concepts:  get into the habit of looking around and 'taking pictures', opening their body to the field so they can receive the ball facing up, adopting a good team shape with good support angles, and learning some basic passing patterns and player movements that get the whole team on the same page.

Only then will our players be ready for creativity.  A player who has his head down tends to dribble more out of a desperate attempt to get out of trouble than as an expression of creativity.  There is a difference between expressing yourself and simply being tactically naive.  One cannot be 'unpredictable' if one does not understand 'predictable'.  If, say, an attacking midfielder gets the ball and he/she knows what's going on around her, she is in a much better position to decide between making a predictable/safe play or doing something special.  This is the proverbial 'cart before the horse' scenario.


coaching manuals cover all ages and levels

Jacob Daniel- State DOC

The Georgia Soccer web site Coach section has 5 coaching manuals posted in the Coaching Resources page to help coaches of all levels with their training.  The 5 manuals are:

1. Club Player Development Manual - addresses the structure of a club and recommendations on the coaching philosophy, coaching structure, training priorities for all the levels of the game, the role of the Director of Coaching as well as parent education.

2. KINS Manual - provides guidance on how to coach U6 and U8 players.

3. Academy Coaching Manual - addresses the key philosophy for coaching U9 through U12 academy players and provides pointers on how to structure practices to improve players' technical and tactical development.

4. U10/U12 Academy Coaching Manual Part II - a sequel to the previous manual.  Here the focus is on how to teach academy level players to play possession soccer within the small-sided environment and provides sample activities.

5.  ODP Coaching Manual - the official manual used by all states and region ODP coaches with a focus on teaching possession soccer in the 11v11 environment.  the principles of possession soccer and the player roles are outlined, with sample activities.



National Youth Coaching Course 20 years old

Jacob Daniel- State DOC

The National Youth Coaching Course is 20 years old.  This unique course was created by US Soccer and US Youth Soccer to fill the gap that existed in the then national coaching school educational pathway.  The existing courses focused on teaching the coaches how to read the game, tactically, strategically, and technically,  But there were no courses dedicated to teaching the coaches how to read the players, psychologically, emotionally, developmentally, and ability-wise.  This educational void was addressed by the National Youth Coaching Course.  It teaches coaches how to work with players, understand what makes them tick, and what makes then quit.  It is a truly unique course that every coach working with 4-12 year-old should take.  This summer, Georgia Soccer is hosting this course in Atlanta in the first two weekends of August.  check out our web site for more details.

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