Gian Piero Gasperini – Atalanta – Tactical Analysis

If you had told Gian Piero Gasperini at the start of his reign in charge of Atalanta that he'd make the Black and Blues into one of the most lethal attacking sides in European football within three years, he probably wouldn't have believed you. But with a stellar recruitment process and hard work on the … Continue reading Gian Piero Gasperini – Atalanta – Tactical Analysis

Chris Wilder – Sheffield United – Tactical Analysis

Sheffield United have been the surprise package not only in the Premier League in 2019-20, but arguably anywhere in Europe's top five leagues. The recently promoted side went from 2nd place finishers in the 2018-19 EFL Championship to one of the most resilient Premier League sides in 2019-20, currently sitting in 7th place in the table with a game in hand. Chris Wilder meanwhile has gone from a manager virtually unknown, to one of the most celebrated in European football this year. His 3-5-2 system of play has been consistently one of the most well-set-up systems in the Premier League this season and every single player just seems to fit into it like a puzzle that has come together better than anyone could have dreamed of. Here is a tactical analysis of Chris Wilder's robust 3-5-2 formation and style of play with Sheffield United.

Nuno Espirito Santo – Wolves – Tactical Analysis

Wolves finished last season in 7th place, an admirable finish for a team who had just come up from the EFL Championship. This season they've fared even better and as things stand have a real shot at securing European football for another year. Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo has been absolutely essential to their success since taking over and deserves an immense amount of credit for everything that he has brought to this team since 2017. Despite being in the Premier League for over a season and a half now, Santo has won over 50% of his games as Wolverhampton Wanderers' manager. This is a Tactical Analysis of the wonders of Wolverhampton Wanderers and their manager Nuno Espirito Santo.

Switching Play – Session Plan and Key Coaching Points

The popularity of switching play as a tactical concept has long been a dominating strategy in the world of football. Its popularity is exemplified by the many different forms and names it has taken on over the years such as changing the point of attack or playing across the direct game channels. Even at the younger ages, switching play can be an essential tactic to deploy with any team. Concepts like maintaining width, crossing, and shifting the ball from left to right are universal to the sport, regardless of age.

Attack-Minded Fullbacks – Full Session Plan and Key Coaching Points

All of the best professional teams in the world have attack-minded fullbacks deeply rooted into their system and style of play. The likes of Liverpool have achieved much success with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson bombing down their respective sides from their positions as fullbacks. Between the two of them, they've assisted 42 goals in the last two Premier League seasons, breaking records left and right as Liverpool have completely dominated the league. But it's not just Liverpool. The growing importance of fullbacks further up the field has been one of the most popular revolutions of the modern game and it is no longer just the very best of the best that deploy these types of players. Defenders at the youth level often see themselves as only defenders. They tend to believe that there is an imaginary line that they simply cannot cross. But this is not the case! Fullbacks can make a massive difference to the attacking prowess of a team and if our youth teams are to achieve greater attacking success, the fullbacks need to be more heavily involved. This session plan provides coaches with an opportunity to start to develop that attacking-mindset in fullbacks.

Combination Play – Full Session Plan and Key Coaching Points

All of the best professional clubs in the world have some clearly defined method of combination play in the final-third of the pitch. Although our youth teams might never be able to achieve the attacking flair of Borussia Dortmund or Liverpool, working hard on the training ground on Combination Play can still be tremendously helpful in the quest for greater attacking prowess.

How To Keep Your Players Engaged During COVID-19

Over the past couple of weeks, much of youth sports around the world have been postponed due to COVID-19 and the ongoing spread of the virus. For both coaches and athletes this presents a unique challenge, as self-isolation and social distancing makes practicing a team sport particularly difficult. That said, it's not as though nothing can be done in this time of self-isolation or as though players must spend all day on their phones. Here are some ways to keep your players engaged during this time.

5 Common Mistakes Coaches Make

Recently I had the privilege of helping teach a coaching course at my university institution to eighty students, most of which had never coached before. Not only was it (hopefully) a valuable learning experience for the students, it was also a great learning experience for me and my development as a coach. Across the course, the students adapted well to the teaching methods of the course. However, a few common mistakes could be found in nearly every single session that the students delivered. As a result, I have developed this list of the most common mistakes coaches (not just beginners) often make. This list should be a helpful reminder to all coaches on how to be better in their roles and ensure participants get the most out of their experience.

Best Formations for 6v6

Once upon a time 6v6 was a popular game format in the United States at the youth level, but in recent years has been phased out in favour of 7v7. However, many leagues and tournaments, particularly indoors, still use 6v6 as their game format. We've examined the best formations to play for 5v5, 7v7, 8v8, … Continue reading Best Formations for 6v6

Antonio Conte – Inter Milan – Tactical Analysis

Since Antonio Conte's arrival at Inter Milan, the Italian giants have completely transformed into the most effective side in all of Serie A. Conte's start to life at San Siro has gotten off without a hitch and I Nerazzurri have won all six of their matches to the start off the league campaign. In that … Continue reading Antonio Conte – Inter Milan – Tactical Analysis

Coaching the 3-2-3 (9v9)

Over the past year of coaching 9v9 soccer, the 3-2-3 has become my favourite formation to use. I am a firm believer that the formation of any team should not be based around a club identity or a coach's personal style of play, but rather based around the team's style of play and the personnel of the team. However, I have found that the 3-2-3 is fantastic in suiting nearly every type of player and the simple and easy variations that can be created using the formation such as shifting into a 3-1-3-1, allow coaches to tweak and change their style of play to fit the needs of the vast majority of youth soccer players.

Best Formations for 8v8

Before the USSF switched to 9-a-side for U11 & U12, 8-a-side was the common standard. Today, 8v8 is not a common playing format. However, it is useful to discuss from a 9v9 standpoint, to elucidate what formations might be useful when a team has to play short. Here are the best formations for 8v8, a … Continue reading Best Formations for 8v8

The Rise of the 3-1-4-2

In terms of formations and tactics, one of the major surprises of the 2018-19 season in Europe has been the rise of the 3-1-4-2. Although the formation is only a very minor spin on the popular 3-5-2, seemingly a host of teams around Europe have implemented this formation, and not just in Italy where back-three … Continue reading The Rise of the 3-1-4-2

Best Formations for 9v9

9v9 is one of the most exciting stages in the development of young players as it's the first time they are truly able to understand positioning, formations and how to play to the strengths of their teammates. In The Mastermind's hometown province of Ontario, 9v9 starts at the U11 stage and ends at U13, when … Continue reading Best Formations for 9v9

5 Things I Learned From Teaching a Coaching Course

This winter, I had the privilege of helping to teach a coaching course at my university institution. The experience was absolutely amazing and better than I could have ever hoped for before beginning the course. Here are five things I learned from the teaching experience.

Restricted vs. Conditioned Games – Coaching Soccer

Many coaches often add restrictions to games. Restrictions like needing to complete three passes before the team can score or players being locked into different zones on the field can be valuable to teaching certain topics to young players. But restrictions need to be used wisely. Instead of restricting behaviours, coaches should look to encourage behaviours and do so more carefully through encouraging something to happen, rather than restricting it. In this article I will outline why restricted games should be more scarcely used, and why the term 'conditioned game' should possibly have a change of meaning to urge coaches to encourage the behaviours of their players in games without restricting their players.

Teaching First Touch in Youth Soccer

The first touch that a player makes after receiving the ball is a highly underrated skill. The first touch can often make or break an attack and in some cases make a break a player's ability to score a goal. Here is a quick-fire guide to teaching young players how to take their first touch.

Maurizio Sarri – Juventus – Tactical Analysis

Maurizio Sarri's career at Chelsea never quite got off to the way the Italian manager might have planned. But that didn't stop the former Napoli man from landing a job at the top club in Serie A - Juventus. Maurizio Sarri's Juventus have been at the top of the table throughout 2019-20 just as you'd expect them to be, and as far as their status as one of Europe's elite clubs, they have continued on exactly where Massimo Allegri left off. However, The Old Lady have been a completely different side under Maurizio Sarri this season, deploying tactics that make Juve a unique outfit anywhere in the footballing world today. This is a Tactical Analysis of Maurizio Sarri's newly revamped Juventus.