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Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.


A Few Tips On Running Your Training Session

Sam Snow

A Few Tips on Running Your Training Session

Before you take the field for your next training session, check out some of these tips that could enhance your session.


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Figure 1 -  At the outset get eye level with the players – it helps to bond the group and to keep the attention of youngsters


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Figure 2 - Get into action quickly - less talk, more play


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Figure 3 - When you are explaining the rules of the activity or making a coaching point for the team, gather them in front of you for clear communication and undivided attention


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Figure 4 - Organize the equipment, the training space and the players before you start an activity during the training session


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Figure 5 - Sometimes you can adjust the training space [dimensions of the grid] on the fly


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Figure 6 - There's not always a need to stop an activity as you set up for the next activity


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Figure 7 - Occasionally have a fellow coach video tape your training session


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Figure 8 - Ask for feedback on that video from your club director of coaching or a more experienced and higher licensed coach in your club


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Figure 9 - ALWAYS maximize the kids playing time

For more tips on creating a training session check out our freshly updated document on "How to Write a Training Session Plan"

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Defending Corner Kicks

Sam Snow

Iowa Soccer runs a wonderful coaching symposium each year in Des Moines. I had the privilege to conduct some sessions for the coaches at the 2015 edition. One of the sessions that I coached was on defending against a corner kick. I thought that I’d share with you my ‘cheat sheet’ that I wrote for myself as a reminder of key points before I ran the session.

Defending at Corners – Key Points:


  • The goalkeeper is the primary organizer
  • Near post cover
    • Far post optional
  • Angle of hips to see the ball and the field
  • Positioning to get a path to the ball
  • Jump early
  • Talk – keeper or clear (away)
  • Come out to the ball or stay to handle the shot
  • If you come out then catch or punch the ball
  • If you caught the ball then do you distribute immediately or hold the ball for 6 seconds

Field Players

  • Mark the best scoring spots and then pick up runners
  • Have a marker at short corners


  • Proper positioning of the goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and forwards
  • Deal with the type of service
    • Outswinger
    • Driven ball
    • Inswinger
    • Short corner kick
  • Move first
    • Get between the ball and the opponent
  • Jump early
  • Clearance (head or foot or fists)
    • High, wide and long
    • Make the clearance into an outlet pass if possible
  • Move out together after a clearance

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Wortwhile Coach

Sam Snow

Chris Panayiotou sent out this message not long ago to a group of coaches across the country.  I think it is one that all club coaches should read. Chris is the Developmental Director of Coaching for Virginia Rush Soccer Club and the Developmental Technical Director for Rush Soccer. Here’s the message:

See how your team does on this quiz…

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for Best Actor and Actress.

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series Winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They’re the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Now here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers or coaches who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

6. Name a half dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier? The lesson? The people who make a difference in your life aren’t the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They’re the ones who care.


Find more coaching information at


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ODP Trials in Arizona

Sam Snow

The US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program ( is flourishing under the Arizona sun. This past weekend I attended the open try-outs of Arizona Youth Soccer ODP ( I was pleased to accept the invitation from Austin Daniels, technical director and Karla Thompson, assistant technical director to attend the trials at the wonderful soccer facilities at Grande Sports World ( in Casa Grande. The visit allowed me to work with the state staff coaches, to observe the players and to speak with the players’ parents.

The weekend US Youth Soccer ODP trials began with a meeting on Friday evening for the state staff coaches. Coach Thompson heads up the Program for the state association. She ran an efficient and productive meeting for a room full of coaches from across the state who work in the clubs, high schools and colleges. Age group assignments, designated fields were noted and the detailed weekend schedule was reviewed. A very good professional standard was set. The staff stayed at the complex hotel and had their meals together. That allowed time and opportunity for the staff coaches to bond, extend their professional connections, review the player evaluations and share their ideas on coaching high performance players.

Saturday morning began with me running the coaches through a session on the field. The training session focused on playing out of the defending third and into midfield. That piece of the American style of play is the foundation unearthed in the US Youth Soccer ODP Coaching Manual. All four US Youth Soccer regions and the 55 state associations use the Manual as a progressive plan to help all of the players in the program evolve to an international level of play. The Manual gives us a uniform approach to develop players in the Program across the nation for both boys and girls. The starting point is how to keep possession of the ball and play our way out of the back third into midfield with good control of the ball and a tactically sound attacking shape around the ball.  Coaches may download the US Youth Soccer ODP Coaching Manual here.

Saturday afternoon arrived and the administrators did an outstanding job of checking in hundreds of players at a time. Each day was divided into three 90 minute sessions with three age groups of boys and girls attending the trials in each session. In the end, over 1,000 players turned up for the open try-outs, which was very impressive on its own account and even more so given the 110 degree days. The coaches and the players handled the climate well with water breaks every 10 minutes, player rotations in the training activities and eating appropriately to meet the athletic demands of the game.

The training activities consisted of small and large groups working on the tactic of buildup play from the back to the half way line. Once the groups were playing 9 vs. 9 at the end of the sessions on Sunday the players were showing real improvement on the tactics for this aspect of attacking play.  Goalkeepers consistently played short distributions, attackers worked to inter-pass to keep possession while penetrating up field and quality soccer ensued.

Each age group had two full sessions, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday. On Saturday once the training sessions began Coach Daniels, Coach Thompson and I met with the parents of the players. Coach Daniels gave a quick overview of the Program and then had Coach Thompson give details pertinent to the age groups for the parents in the room. I then spoke about the national scope of the Program, why there was a particular training theme and the reality of moving up the soccer pyramid which requires the adults to have a long term perspective. I told the parents that they must help their child with the proper balance of short and long term goals to stay on the pathway for high performance soccer. This is a twisting and turning pathway which demands confidence and perseverance from the players and their parents. Success is not instant nor lasting in high performance soccer. Coach Daniels and I then completed each parent meeting with time for Q and A.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill

The entire weekend went very well. Even though the challenge of the Olympic Development Program is steep, the players showed their best, learned more about the game and carried on down the path toward the possibility of playing in a World Cup or the Olympic Games. I encourage you as a player, coach, administrator or referee to participate in US Youth Soccer ODP as soon as you can.

Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes, courage is that quiet voice that says...I will try again tomorrow. – Mary Anne Radmacher

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