Player Development Card – 1v1 Skill Moves

Calling all players for another challenge! Test your ability with our 1v1 Skill Moves Player Development Card. Just print this PDF and check off your progress as you go.

The Art of Persuasion in Coaching

The art of persuasion is a useful tool that all coaches should understand. Social psychologists identify two basic ways to persuade people: through what's called "the central route" and through what's called "the peripheral route". This article examines both, in the quest to help coaches understand the art of persuasion and the best approaches to motivating their players to perform.

Understanding the “Mere Exposure Effect” in Sport

In my early days of coaching, I picked up very quickly on the fact that players developed an affinity for positions that they played more often. Therefore sometimes when a positional change became necessary, simply playing the player in that position more regularly allowed the player to develop greater confidence and affinity for playing in that position. These effects occurred even when the player started out by dreading the role and thinking themselves to be ill-equipped to perform there. In psychology, this is called the "mere exposure effect". Quite simply, by having more exposure to something, one's motivation, desire and enjoyment of that thing can often be elevated to higher heights. This is relevant for both players and coaches. But how? Here is why this phenomenon is relevant for both coaches and players and how they can use an understanding of the effect to further their craft.

Marcelo Bielsa – Leeds United – Tactical Analysis (2020-21 Edition)

Marcelo Bielsa is one of the most fascinating managers in the world of football and is currently tearing it up in the Premier League with Leeds United. After earning promotion from the Championship to the top flight last season, Bielsa's side sit only 14th in the table. But the performances have been far better than the results and his side have achieved impressive performances and results against the likes of Arsenal, Man City and Aston Villa so far this season. Either way, the football that Leeds play can be described as genius, and simultaneously as one of our readers described it - madness. With that, here is a Tactical Analysis of Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United and the impressive exploits his team have pulled off in the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Small Group Training Session – Spatial Awareness & Scanning

With all the restrictions going on in the world of COVID-19 right now, small group training sessions are becoming more and more common-place, as coaches are forced to split their groups into smaller numbers. Here is a session plan all about scanning & spatial awareness for 4 players.

How To Play Against the 3-2-3 (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 tactics, positioning, formations and how to play to the strengths of their teammates. With so many different formations to choose from, 9v9 offers just as much flexibility and creativity for coaches as 11v11. But all 9v9 formations have limitations, gaps and disadvantages that can be exploited when played against correctly. In the next few weeks, TheMastermindSite will be taking a look at how to stop every single major 9v9 formation. First, we discuss how to beat the 3-2-3.

Unai Emery – Villarreal – Tactical Analysis

After a brief, relatively unsuccessful spell at Arsenal, Unai Emery is back in Spain and back in the big time, leading Villarreal's charge toward the top of La Liga. The Spanish giants currently sit second in the table, while playing some fantastic football along the way. Under Unai Emery, The Yellow Submarine also have a coach who won the Europa League three times with Sevilla, and made it to the final once with Arsenal. Given what he's achieved in the game and the very decent record his team actually had at Arsenal, the Spaniard has become something of an underrated manager since his Sevilla days and is now building his reputation back up as one of the best managers in world football. Here is a Tactical Analysis of Unai Emery's Villarreal.

Mikel Arteta – Arsenal – Tactical Analysis

The common opinion on Arsenal these days is that they have massively improved under Mikel Arteta and that better times must be ahead. The manager's been given the benefit of the doubt so far in his time at the helm of the Emirates, but other than an FA Cup win, there hasn't been too much to celebrate for Arsenal fans since Arteta took charge. The Gunners have been lackluster to start this season, particularly in front of goal, which is always going to be a problem given that their primary dilemma over the past decade has been at the other end of the pitch. With a few key additions in Gabriel and Thomas Partey, Arsenal could be set for another season in the top six. But they have a massive job to do to get there, especially given the topsy-turvy start to this Premier League season, and their own personal woes to start the campaign. The Gunners currently sit 11th in the table, with a goal differential of -1. But still, many believe Arteta is the right man for the job and that better times are ahead. So with that, here is our Tactical Analysis of Mikel Arteta's Arsenal.

Brendan Rodgers – Leicester City – Tactical Analysis (2020-21 Edition)

After missing out on Champions League football on the final day of the 2019-20 season, many might have thought Leicester City's early season form of last year might just have been a stroke of good fortune and nothing more. But their stellar play has continued at the start of 2020-21 and other than a few disappointing losses to West Ham and Aston Villa, the Foxes have been flying high to start this campaign. After eight matches, Brendan Rodgers' side sit top of the table, with six wins so far. Significantly, they've experimented with different formations and a host of different, less luxurious players in the absence of talents like Ricardo Pereira, Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison and of course Ben Chilwell, who left for Chelsea. Their impressive form after missing out on Champions League football last year definitely deserves further examination, so here is our early season tactical analysis of Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City in 2020-21.

How To Move Like A World Class Striker

It's practically undeniable that a striker's number one role in a team is to score goals. But the actual art of scoring goals is so much more complex than many think. It comes down to far more than just finishing ability and instinct. Movement, particularly movement done off the ball, is so important to a striker's ability to score goals. The very best are masters of the art. Some are incredibly adept when it comes to movement in deep and linking up play with others lower on the field. But this article will explore those that are particularly adept at timing their runs into the box to perfection and scoring goals from their stellar movement off the ball. Here are 7 different movement patterns the world's best strikers often use in games to score goal after goal, game after game.

13 Warm-Up Activities with the Ball

It's seen less and less often today, but back in time warm-ups were hardly ever done with a ball and incorporated things like running laps and static stretching. Luckily, coaches of today have realized that warm-up activities can incorporate the ball, whether it be gradually or right away, and achieve the same outcomes of "warming-up". In fact, these activities not only get players moving and hypothetically help to decrease the risk of injury as a good warm-up should; but they also get players to practice their technical and tactical skills. This allows players to warm-up not just their muscles, but their brains as well. Here are 13 warm-up activities for young players, aged 6-14.

David Moyes – West Ham United – Tactical Analysis

After disappointing losses to Newcastle and Arsenal, West Ham United have been on a surprising run of form. The Hammers scored seven goals in the span of two matches, without conceding against Wolves and Leicester, before clawing their way back from 3-0 down at Tottenham to draw level in the final minute. David Moyes has … Continue reading David Moyes – West Ham United – Tactical Analysis

Switching Play – Full Session Plan & 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. Here is an updated session plan all about one of the most essential session topics in youth soccer/football – Switching Play.

Jose Mourinho – Tottenham Hotspur – Tactical Analysis (2020-21 Edition)

Before Jose Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur were 14th in the table, with 14 points from 12 matches. After his appointment, the club soared to sixth place in the table, clawing their way to Europa League football in the process. Now with some impressive new signings in Sergio Reguilon, Pierre-Emilie Hojbjerg and Gareth Bale, Tottenham look well on their way to better times in 2020-21. After their thumping 6-1 win over Manchester United this past weekend, we take an updated look at Mourinho's tactics with Spurs this season. Here is a Tactical Analysis of Jose Mourinho's revamped and revitalized Tottenham Hotspur after the first four Premier League matches.

Dean Smith – Aston Villa – Tactical Analysis

After surviving relegation by a single point in 2019-20, many would have tipped Aston Villa to go down in 2020-21. So even though it is still early days in this season's Premier League, Dean Smith could not have dreamt for a better start to the season. After beating Sheffield United by a narrow margin, thumping Fulham and then most recently, breaking records in a 7-2 thriller against Liverpool, Aston Villa look a much improved side from even just a few months ago. With their recent performances, many think that Aston Villa could be in for their best season in the top flight in over a decade. Here is a Tactical Analysis all about Dean Smith's Aston Villa.

Playing Out From The Back – Session Plan & Coaching Points (2020 Edition)

Playing out from the back is one of the most important elements of the modern game. Not only is it better for development than kicking it long, it is also easier and allows a team fewer risks at losing the ball. As a result, coaches of any age group should be looking to teach players young and old the necessary steps of playing out from the back. In order to help guide these coaches, we introduce a brand new session all about playing out from the back, for youth teams of any age.

Carlo Ancelotti – Everton – Tactical Analysis

After David Moyes left Everton for Manchester United in 2013, the Toffees haven't been the same. They had a decent three years with Roberto Martinez until 2016, and perhaps their biggest mistake was letting the Spanish manager go. Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva all failed to make an impact at Everton and finally the board said enough was enough and splashed the cash for one of the biggest names in the business - Carlo Ancelotti. Ever since, the men in blue have been flying high in the Premier League, playing fantastic football along the way. This season, Ancelotti's side have started better than any other Premier League team and as things stand, sit at the top of the table with three wins from three. With fantastic new signings in James Rodriguez, Allan, Abdoulaye Doucore, and the rising form of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton fans have plenty to be excited about this campaign. Here is a Tactical Analysis of Carlo Ancelotti's Everton so far in 2020-21

Frank Lampard – Chelsea – Tactical Analysis

Frank Lampard enjoyed a successful first season with Chelsea F.C., despite no new summer signings coming through the door. The Blues hovered around 4th for the majority of the season in behind Leicester City, and eventually secured 4th behind Manchester United. Lampard relied heavily on young talent in 2019-20 and the club were rewarded with fantastic performances from the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James. However, although all of those players have potential, they might not be at the level of Premier League champions just yet. Lampard and those above his authority recognized that and responded with several new signings of the highest quality. In fact, very few other clubs have (on paper) done better summer transfer window business...ever. Despite the promise all their new signings have, it remains to be seen how they will all come together and whether or not it's worth it to bench some of the young players that secured their Champions League finish last year, for a heap of new players that have never played together before. So with that, here is a Tactical Analysis of Frank Lampard's Chelsea heading into the 2020-21 season.

Hansi Flick – Bayern Munich – Tactical Analysis

In his first season at the club, Hans-Dieter Flick has seamlessly achieved success with Bayern Munich in stunning fashion, reaching the Champions League final for the club's first time since Jupp Heynckes was at the helm in 2012-13. The former Bayern player achieved widescale success as Germany's assistant coach, even winning the World Cup as Joachim Low's assistant in 2014. With all his experience at international management, Flick has now taken his former side to new heights, creating the most exciting Bayern Munich team since the days of Ribery and Robben. In the 2019-20 Bundesliga season, Bayern won 26 of their 34 games, scored 100 goals in the process and won the league by 13 points over arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund. In the Champions League, they've fared arguably even better, winning all 10 of their games and scoring 42 goals in the process. That's right, they've averaged over 4 goals per game in the toughest competition in club football this season. So, as we prepare for Sunday's 2019-20 UEFA Champions League Final, here is a Tactical Analysis of Hans-Dieter 'Hansi' Flick's Bayern Munich.

Marcelo Bielsa – Leeds United – Tactical Analysis (2019-20 Edition)

Leeds United have waited 16 years to be back in the Premier League, and under Marcelo Bielsa that dream has now finally turned into reality for the 2020/2021 season. The Argentinean manager has long been hailed as one of the best in the world, not just by fans and players, but by other managers like Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino. It's easy to see why, as in just two years he has turned Leeds United into one of the very best teams in the Championship and has had the club hovering inside the top two for almost the entirety of both seasons. After a poor run of form at the end of the 2018-19 campaign resulting in Leeds missing out on automatic promotion to Sheffield United, Marcelo Bielsa has just continued to work his magic to the point where they secured automatic promotion this season with two games to spare. Here is a Tactical Analysis of Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United and the extraordinary exploits his team have pulled off in the 2019-20 EFL Championship season.

Julian Nagelsmann – RB Leipzig – Tactical Analysis

Julian Nagelsmann never made it as a player, thanks in large part to knee injuries that forced him to retire before his career even got started. However, that change of path allowed the German manager to take up coaching at a young age and after briefly working under Thomas Tuchel at Augsburg, Nagelsmann worked his way through the ranks at 1899 Hoffenheim, leading them into the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history. After three incredibly successful years with Hoffenheim, Nagelsmann departed the club in 2019 for RasenBallsport Leipzig. Due to his fantastic success with a club that is now firmly one of Germany's elite clubs, Nagelsmann is now one of the most sought after and respected coaches in the world, at 32 years of age. This is a Tactical Analysis of Julian Nagelsmann's revelations with RB Leipzig, as he looks destined to become the next big thing in football management.

Diego Simeone – Atletico Madrid – Tactical Analysis

Few clubs over the past decade have developed as succinct of a style of play as Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid. The 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1 formations have practically become synonymous with Simeone's side, as he's taken Atletico to two Champions League finals and one La Liga title. Although 2019-20 hasn't been the best of seasons for Los Rojiblancos, they've continued their usual defensive prowess, conceding the second least amount of goals this season in La Liga and beating Liverpool in both Champions League Group Stage encounters. Here is a Tactical Analysis of Diego Simeone's 4-4-2 system and hard-working Atletico Madrid team.

Lucien Favre – Borussia Dortmund – Tactical Analysis

The suspension of all football activity has been a unfortunate for Borussia Dortmund as they were on a stunning run of form in the Bundesliga before the break. Favre's newly introduced 3-4-2-1 has changed the way Dortmund play for the better, while simultaneously providing more defensive support, the area of the field in which they needed reassurances the most. The formation has given the likes of Achraf Hakimi and Raphael Guerreiro the freedom to go on and create more magic and has also given Jadon Sancho and Thorgan Hazard a necessary boost at a crucial time in the season. This formation suits the players and personnel that Lucien Favre has at his disposal tremendously well and it will be very interesting to see if they can continue to play to such great heights when the season comes to a conclusion. Check out or Tactical Analysis of Lucien Favre's stellar 3-4-2-1 formation with BVB.

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.

3 Ways To Play 3-5-2

After years and years of back-four systems being the dominating dogma in world football, back-three systems are now starting to take over. The growing popularity of formations like 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 has been matched by the variety of tactical nuisances that managers around the world have used to innovate these system of plays. 3-5-2, for … Continue reading 3 Ways To Play 3-5-2

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

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

The Premier League’s Surprising Performers so far in 2020-21

The 2020-21 Premier League season has been full of surprises, most notably a number of different teams topping the table at one point or another so far. As things stand, Leicester City sit at the top despite a horrendous injury list. But the likes of Southampton, Everton, Aston Villa and Spurs have impressed more than most would have predicted and each have had their turn toward the very top. Much has been made about the success of these teams, but perhaps certain individuals within these teams have gone a bit under the radar. As a result, this article attempts to uncover the eleven best surprise performers of the season so far, that have helped their teams to better times in 2020-21. Here is our Surprising Performers Premier League XI after the first eight games.