Supra United Soccer Club
416 845 5698
Toronto, Canada


Supra United Soccer Club:COACHES CORNER

Supra United Soccer Club

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Plan your practices ahead of time by using this link to the Canadian Soccer Association .
There are a lot of great practice plans for all age groups there.

It is our job to convince you, the youth soccer coach, that our Nine Step Practice Routine will develop soccer players. Since your duty is to improve youth soccer players, you will find the Nine Steps invaluable in accomplishing this task.
We (staff) are not in the business of providing age appropriate games/activities. We (staff) are soccer coaches who would be thrilled to have our children love to play soccer than other games and activities.

So, what is this new and revolutionary Nine Step Practice Routine? The steps are as follows:

1-Begin Practice: Demo/explanation of theme
2-Warm-up: Move-Stretch
3-1 + 1: Cooperative play
4-1 v 1: Competitive play
6-Small Sided Game(s): Cooperative and competitive play
7-Scrimmage: Cooperative and competitive play
8-Cool-down: Physical
9-End Practice: Review, compliment and homework

What does all this mean to the youth coach? The steps are clear, but to understand the entire process, a coach must understand the definitions of each step. The definitions follow:

Fundamental Soccer Routine:

This is a revolutionary coaching methodology aimed at youth player development
·Practice: Rehearsal for game day
·Routine: Course of action regularly followed helps create the habit of “loving to play soccer” every day.

·Pre-practice ritual done by the coach:

* Greeting the players and socializing
* Encouraging the players to socialize with each other
* A time to juggle and make the ball your friend
·A time to play a fun game of the players choice

1. Begin Practice

·Moment at which coach and players begin to concentrate on improvement
·Explanation/demonstration of the theme of the practice
·Showing and telling the players what they are expected to learn or improve
·Stating clearly the ONE goal to be achieved

2. Warm-up

Stretching routine (this can be found on the book mentioned on the next page).
Confined area activity that maximizes ball touches and creates a habit that may prevent injuries in the future

3. 1 + 1 (cooperative play)

Two player-one ball activity that is aimed at reviewing previously taught techniques to provide continuity
Two player-one ball activity, where players are introduced to new techniques to be learned and developed
A cooperative time during which coach and players are prepared to stop action to make and take “points of refinement” on the theme of the day
A cooperative time when players apply the “stages of play”
* Beginning stage- perform theme at controlled speed vs. walking opponent
* Intermediate stage- perform theme at controlled speed vs. jogging opponent
* Advanced stage- perform theme at controlled speed vs. game speed opponent
A cooperative time when the coach:
* Realizes that some players may never get out of the beginning stage, which is
* Is careful in advancing players through the stages since success is the key
* When in doubt puts player back in previous stage since success is the key
A cooperative time when coach and player work on learning how to play 1v1                     
4. 1v1 (competitive play)

The time during which each player experiments with the new technique and plays
      his or her way to success
The time when players test their ability to perform the theme against real
The time during which the coach observes the players to see who will need help
      with the theme at future practice sessions
The time during which the coach observes individual strengths and weaknesses

5. Half-time

This is a time for rehearsal of game day activities which need to take place in a
restricted amount of time such as:
* Gathering in a defined, secluded, shaded area to replenish liquids
* Check for injuries
* Give points of refinement (if necessary) to:
* Prepare the team for the second half

6. Small Sided Games

Cooperative and competitive games that are framed inside a set of rules to correct
a weakness (this is the theme) observed in the previous practice or game
* Cooperative small-sided games are controlled by the coach and players
understand (are taught) that the coach may stop or interrupt play to make
points or refinements
* Competitive small-sided games are “free” games that are controlled by the
players. The players and coach understand that there will be no stopping or
interrupting play to make points or refinements. The coach observes and takes
mental or written notes.

7. Scrimmage

Cooperative and competitive full team games that are framed inside a set of rules
to focus on the theme for the day
* Cooperative scrimmage is controlled by the coach.The players understand
(are taught) that the coach may stop or interrupt play to make points or refinement.
* Competitive scrimmage is a “free” game controlled by the players. The
players and the coach understand that there will be no stopping or
interruption of play to make points or refinements. The coach observes and
takes mental or written notes.

8. Cool-down

A time period focused on the goal of relieving the tightness created by running
and other soccer related activities. A habitual practice created which may prevent
future injuries.

9. End Practice

Time to reflect and review the practice session and its theme
Briefly analyze the strong and weak points of individual performances
Make a positive statement letting players know they improved
Give each player a homework assignment, usually to play lots of 1v1 games

What makes the FUNdamental coach different from other youth coaches? The FUNdamental coach is simply an individual who is interested in the application of the above definitions and whose goal is personal self-improvement so that the children will benefit.

The Hamstring Epidemic - Pre-Game Preparation and Injury Prevention

Over the past several decades, the general public has been inundated with information from sports medicine practitioners regarding the prevention of hamstring injuries. One of the focal points of these injury prevention programs has been the use of static stretches as the primary deterrent for hamstring strains, or “pulls” (static stretches are defined as stretching a muscle to lengthened position and holding for a set time; for example bending over and trying to touch your toes and holding for 20 seconds). Unfortunately, the use of static stretches as an injury preventative measure has not been justified by clinical scientific research, which casts some doubt on its usefulness and effectiveness. The goal of this article is to: discuss the appropriate use of static stretches; and discuss the role of the pre-event warm-up in preventing injuries.

The initial emphasis on static stretching and flexibility originated many years ago with gymnasts, figure skaters, and track and field athletes. In these sports, especially gymnastics and figure skating, tremendous amounts of flexibility are required for successful performance in the respective sports. In the sport of soccer, the same amount of flexibility is not needed to succeed, and in all actuality, would probably be detrimental for the soccer athlete. However, it often seems as if we are determined to turn our players into contortionists in an attempt to prevent injury. Every sport has a minimum threshold of flexibility that is needed to allow proper execution of the sport-specific skills; soccer is no exception. Attempts at achieving flexibility greater than this threshold will not result in reduced injury risk.

In some circles, “stretching” became synonymous with “warm-up,” when in fact it should be at the maximum a small part of the pre-event preparation. It is not uncommon to see soccer players going through a 15-20 minute session of pure static stretching prior to a match. Unfortunately, excessive amounts of stretching before a competition may actually increase the risk of injury. The reason for this is that when a muscle is stretched, the nervous system is working at a very high rate to regulate the degree and intensity of the stretch, which can cause what is termed neural fatigue. When a muscle becomes fatigued, it is more susceptible to injury.

If you need further evidence of this theory, consider these questions: What muscle in soccer, track and field, etc. is the most commonly pulled muscle in the body? However, what muscle almost universally is stretched the most by soccer players and track athletes? The answer to both of these questions is the hamstring, without question. More evidence can be found by reading the injury reports from Europe; invariably at least 2-3 players a week are suffering from a hamstring injury, and it is doubtful that many of them are “tight.” Therefore, it would be appropriate to question the longstanding tradition of excessively stretching the hamstring muscles prior to playing.

So the question now is “Do we need to have our soccer athletes stretch at all?” The answer is a conditional “yes,” depending on the situation:

1. Players with tight hamstrings

Any player that has flexibility deficits should be placed on a formal stretching program; these players are more prone to injury. This program should be performed on a daily basis, preferably twice a day. Each stretch should be performed 5-10 times, for 20 seconds each. It is extremely important that each stretch is performed pain free. Stretching should not be uncomfortable; if it is, the muscle will fight against the stretch, defeating the purpose.

2. Pre-event / match

The most important aspect of the pre-match preparation should be on active warm-up and sport-specific movements. These types of activities result in an increase in muscle temperature and metabolism, which increases muscular elasticity and thus increases dynamic flexibility. Various running patterns (forward, backward, side shuffles, grapevines, shuttles) and active soccer specific movement patterns (kicking motion, lunges, hip rotations) should be heavily emphasized. After a significant active warm-up, very light stretching may be performed for approximately 5-7 minutes. This is then followed by more active movements, light 3v2 drills, shooting / long passes, wall passes, etc.

3. Post match cool down

This is probably the most appropriate time to perform static stretches. The inherent nature of the sport results in the tendency for the body to “tighten up” after playing, due to the significant number of eccentric contractions that are performed during the match. The cool down period should entail light activity, with a final static stretching session.

In summary, typical stretching programs are static in nature, while the sport of soccer is a highly dynamic activity. Thus, the optimal warm-up program is one that stresses dynamic, active movements that prepare the body for the positions that a player will have to attain during the course of a match. Not only will this reduce the risk of injury, but it will also optimize performance on the field.


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