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CoachesNet Insider: U-14 GNT Training Journal from Carson, Calif.


U.S. U-14 Girls National Team Training Camp
Carson, Calif.
Aug. 23-30

Coaching Staff
Michael Dickey (Head Coach)
Michelle French (Assistant Coach)
Fran Kulas (Assistant Coach, Goalkeeping)
David Rubinson (Assistant Coach)

Camp Facts

  • 36 players invited into camp. All players were born in 1995.
  • Players were broken into two teams of 18.
  • The players were chosen from a pool of 101 that were invited into a U.S. Soccer-run U-14 ID Camp, held in Pomona, Calf., this past July.
  • The team trained at The Home Depot Center.
  • Games were played against local U-17 Cal South teams (Arsenal FC, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf and So Cal Blues).
  • The primary goal was to expose new players to how a national team camp is organized and run; how players should prepare on and off the field; and to prepare the next group for the 2012 U-17 World Cup.
  • Other items the coaching staff focused on: Technical corrections and repetitions; working collectively in small groups to create chances to score and defend; improving speed of play in transition from defense to offense; improving decision making against high level opponents.
  • Players were also introduced to active recovery, nutrition and video work.

Day 1 - Arrived into Southern California

  • Dynamic warm-up without a ball for 15 minutes (coordination and flexibility).
  • 3v1 keep away in a five by five grid.
    • One touch restriction.
  • Groups of five juggling while moving across the width of the field. 
  • 9v9 game.
    • The focus was to allow players an opportunity to play free and get to know one another.
  • 8v8 (six minute games).
  • Session ran for one hour.
  • Coaching staff and players met in the evening at the team hotel.

Day 2 - Morning Training

  • Dynamic warm-up without a ball (coordination and flexibility).
  • 3v1 keep away in a five by five grid.
    • One touch restriction.
  • Groups of five juggling while moving across the width of the field. 
  • 8v8 possession game.
    • Two touch restriction.
    • Used half field.
    • Field was broken into four boxes. Teams defend penetration of the boxes in their own half and attempt to penetrate with a pass and reception in opponents half. Ball must be dribbled out of box under control in order to score (a version of a four-goal game). Unlimited touch inside of each five by five box.
  • 9v9 game
    • Each team asked to defend and attack one large goal and two small gates.
    • Points awarded for scoring on big goal or dribbling through small gates and maintaining possession.
    • Focus is on defending as a group and transitioning to attack after the ball was won.
    • Eventually game is expanded to 11v11.
  • The session ended with technical finishing.

Day 2 - Afternoon Meeting

  • Coaching staff met with entire group to discuss roles of each player.
  • Roles, movement on and off the ball and formations were reviewed and discussed.

Day 2 – Evening

  • 11v11 controlled intra-squad scrimmage.
    • The coaching staff worked on team organization and defending and attacking concepts.

Day 3 - Morning Training

  • Dynamic warm-up without a ball (coordination and flexibility).
  • 8v8 in 20 wide by 40 long grid. A grey line was put through half of grid.
    • One point awarded for team that can make four consecutive passes in one half of the grid.
    • Focus of this exercise was on angles of support, quality of pass, different types of passes, shielding and supporting the play as it transitions from one half to the other.
  • Players were broken into four groups to work on technical passing over short and long distances.
  • 9v9 (six goal game).
    • Focus was on switching point of attack and shifting as a group defensively.
  • The session ended with technical finishing.

Day 3 - Afternoon Training

  • Passing and turning warm-up in small groups.
  • 11v8 shadow walkthrough.
    • The coaching staff focused on defensive shape and roles and requirements of each position.
  • The session ended with technical finishing.

Day 4 – Game Day for Blue Team vs. Real So Cal/Training for Red Team

  • Areas that were worked on during the game:
    • Double teaming defensively.
    • Speed of play in midfield.
    • Quality and accuracy of passing in wide areas (crossing to runners that get separated from defenders).
    • Staying connected defensively.
    • Winning the ball back immediately in opponents half after possession is lost in attack.
    • Change of speed to get by defenders.
  • Training with Red Team
  • The warm-up focused on technical passing and turning.
  • Defending in small groups.
    • Technical breakdown with demonstrations and tips.
    • How to recover defensively; slide as a group and when/where to step up to pressure opponent.
  • 9v9 game to two big goals.
    • Limited touch in central part of the field and unlimited touch in wide areas.
    • Three points for a goal scored when served or penetrated from a wide area.
    • One point for a goal scored from the middle of the field.
    • Worked on timing of runs, quality of service, penetration on a dribble and shots from distance.

Day 5 – Game Day for Red Team vs. Arsenal / Recovery Training for Blue Team

  • Areas that were worked on during the game:
    • Double teaming defensively.
    • Speed of play in midfield.
    • Quality and accuracy of passing in wide areas (crossing to runners that get separation from defenders).
    • Staying connected defensively.
    • Winning the ball back immediately in opponents half after possession is lost in attack.
    • Change of speed to get by defenders.
  • Recovery training with Blue team (45 minutes) in the morning.
  • Blue team did a pool work-out.

Day 6 - Morning Training with the Blue Team

  • The warm-up focused on technical passing and running off the ball.
  • The team played 3v1 possession with a restriction of one touch.
  • 10v10 incremental possession game.
  • 10v10 + three with a limit of two touches.
  • Goalkeepers worked on parrying and boxing.
  • Final third exercise 10v7 to goal. Restriction added was that goals could only be scored on a one touch finish.
  • Recovery training with Red team (45 minutes) in the morning.
  • Pool work-out in the afternoon.
  • Individual meetings took place on Friday night. Coaching staff met with each player to review performance, areas to work on with their club teams and the notes the players were required to keep during the during the week.

Day 7 – Game Day

  • Blue Team vs. So Cal Blues
  • Red Team vs. San Diego Surf

Day 8 – Departure

  • Departures in the morning for players and staff

CoachesNet: How did you and your coaching staff prepare for this training camp?
Mike Dickey: “We had our initial look at the group at the ID camp in Pomona. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have a strong emphasis on technique (ball striking, turning, receiving and defending). Speed of play was going to be an issue and we had exercises and games which would help them deal with a faster and more physical game. Many of the players were still new to positions and we had to spend a lot of time helping them understand what their role would be in a new spot. We wanted to make them sharper than they were at the ID camp but in a positive way which would help them enjoy their experience with the national team.”

CoachesNet: What roles were given to your coaching staff during the week?
MD: “Michelle French and David Rubinson each coached one of the teams and they took certain parts of the training and ran them with their respective teams. They also did all of the individual evaluations with the players and worked with individuals that were seeking out more information than what was given to them in the group training. Fran Kulas worked with the four goalkeepers, so he was working two training sessions a day and at all the games.”

CoachesNet: This was the first official camp for this age group. How did you go about setting expectations and relaying this?
MD: “This was the first camp for the 1995 birth year. The bar has been set very high by our Women’s National Team, our U23’s, 20’s and 17’s. They have a good example to take a look at and they all understand that it is a privilege to wear their national team jersey. They went away realizing that they all have to earn additional call-ups by working hard with their club teams and training on their own. We have also asked them to start watching more pro level soccer live or on television. Many of them still do not understand the game well enough and that is because they do not have a good picture of what the game looks like at the highest level.”

CoachesNet: What goals or objectives did you have for the team going into camp?
MD: “We wanted their first national team experience to be one that was positive. They were going to learn more than just what a national team player does on game day. They were to learn about good nutrition, proper rest, and hydration, getting treatment with the athletic training staff, behavior with your teammates, communicating with coaches and working hard in training to set the stage for a good performance on game day.”

CoachesNet: Were there certain things you and your staff focused on more for this particular age group?
MD: “We still spend a lot of time on technique while under pressure. This is very important if they want to progress as National team players. Decision making off the ball is an area which we spoke to them about throughout the week. We also wanted them to build up their concentration so they could play the game for an extended period without being subbed out.”

CoachesNet: Can you give us an example of a dynamic warm-up you used during camp?
MD: “Warm-ups include actions which require a great range of motion from the legs. The feet are constantly moving and adjusting and the focus is on muscle/ligament groups which are involved while playing the game of soccer. Some of this can be done with a partner and a ball. It can also be done with rhythm in a large group without a ball”.

CoachesNet: How was the group broken into two teams? 
MD: “Each team was intended to be balanced and we wanted an even distribution of players that could play in different areas of the field”.

CoachesNet: When is your next camp?
MD: “The 1995 team will become the next U.S. U-15 Girls' National team and they will have a camp sometime in early 2010.

Stay tuned for future Insider postings the U.S. National Teams.

Questions and comments can be directed to coachesnet@ussoccer.org.

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