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


maximizing the benefits of practice scrimmage

Jacob Daniel- State DOC

Most coaches typically finish their practice with a scrimmage without giving it much thought.  Many coaches regard the scrimmage as mainly a fun activity, a reward for the players after making them go through the coach-directed rigors of the session.  Scrimmaging is definitely the most fun part of the practice for the players, but coaches should pay more attention to the planning and running of practice scrimmages in order to derive the maximum benefits, other than just a fun reward.

The first consideration is to make the scrimmage position-specific by playing in a set formation.  A formation-based scrimmage puts the players into roles similar to what they will experience in the game on the weekend.  This allows the coach to focus on teaching specific behavior for each player, based on their position.  So, if your team finishes with a 6v6 scrimmage, put the players into roles, for example 3-1-2 (three defenders, one midfielder, and two forwards) and teach them the team shape, movement off the ball and decisions on the ball relative to their position.  choose a formation that resembles the most to the 11v11 formation you will use on the weekend.

Other considerations are to add an offside line to the scrimmage to replicate the conditions of the game.  Also, create a scenario and ask the players to manage the game according to the scenario.  For example, give one team a 1 goal lead and tell the players that there are only 15 minutes left in the game. How should the trailing team play?  How should the winning team play?

Use big goals and keepers in the scrimmages as much as possible to replicate the conditions of the real game.  This approach derives more out of the scrimmage and improves your player's tactical awareness.


New U.S. Soccer Digital Coaching Center

Jacob Daniel- State DOC


Over the past 3 years US Soccer has been revamping its coaching education program. One of the main changes is the emphasis on 'reality based training' which basically means that each practice activity should address a moment or a specific situation in the game and recreate it in practice and teach the players the right behavior to fix the specific problem.

This means that the activities need to be in the same area of the field as the game, using the same player positions of the game, and involving all the players that would have an impact on the target situation. This is done by the coach asking himself/herself the where, who, why, and when questions to recreate the game scenario accurately.

This is a welcome change to the courses and should help our coaches be more effective.


ODP Integration Project

Jacob Daniel- State DOC


While attending the US Youth Soccer annual workshop in conjunction with the NSCAA convention in Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to update all of the State DOC's on our ODP Integration Project.

As the Region III boys ODP Technical Director, I was asked to provide a progress report on the ODP Integration Project that we launched in 2013. The objective of the project is to improve the player development component of the ODP (ODP has two components: Player Identification and Player Development). A new training methodology was created to achieve our objective.

The new methodology involves all 55 state associations and 4 Regions training to play the same formation and playing style of possession soccer playing out of the back in a 4-3-3 formation in accordance with the recommendations of US Soccer. To accomplish this, we created a new ODP Coaching Manual and ODP Player Manual and a set of training principles that optimize the effectiveness of ODP. The manuals include the 10 principles of possession soccer that form the guidelines for players and coaches. These 10 principles are used to teach our ODP players the correct behavior and decision making in the game.

We are now in year two of the project and the level of play in ODP has improved noticeably throughout the country. This is an exciting project that impacts 20,000 boys and girls and hundreds of coaches and is of a magnitude never tried before in our country.


Value of Coaching Clinics

Jacob Daniel- State DOC

One of my most common tasks as a state DOC is to deliver free clinics throughout the state.  I find that although most Club DOC's intuitively know that clinics can benefit their coaches, they are so busy running the day to day affairs of the club that coaching education is often neglected.  This is a reminder of the impact coaching clinics can have.

After conducting one such clinic at one of our member clubs I received the following email from one of the coaches attending the clinic:

Coach Jacob,

Thank you again for the great instruction tonight at the coaches clinic. I have to say it was probably more helpful than I expected or that any one would have realized, but it really energized me as a coach. I had a bad practice on Tuesday with my u8 boys team. My u6 team practice went fine, but I couldn't get my u8 kids to listen they kept running off and doing their own thing. I was trying to show them something I thought was essential to creating a good team. I got really frustrated and discouraged. Afterwards I told my wife I don't think I'll coach that age group next year.

After the clinic I realized it was my fault. I was doing drills that were too hard, too slow, and only occupied one or two kids. That was why tonight was so important. Beyond just learning a couple of new drills to run. I realized what TYPE of drills to run. I came home from the clinic and I was really excited about my next practice.

This note from an appreciative coach hit home as to the value of these clinics.  It also reminded me how important the clinic is beyond just the X's and O's and a recipe of activities.  These clinics, when properly structured and delivered, can influence the coaches in many aspects of coaching, such as the correct player development philosophy, the best way to motivate and keep players enthusiastic, while teaching them to become better players.

And just as important, clinics help keep coaches fresh and energized.  Youth soccer cannot afford to lose coaches to frustration and despair.