The Best Free Soccer Drill – Tactical Lessons from Jürgen Klopp

There are many layers that compose the beautiful game. There is a technical component - possessing the ability to shoot and pass the ball accurate

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soccer tactics

There are many layers that compose the beautiful game. There is a technical component – possessing the ability to shoot and pass the ball accurately- there is a physical component – possessing great speed, agility, and power on the field – but one major component that goes greatly unnoticed is the tactical component.  This aspect focuses on the player’s awareness  of the game. Meaning, his/her ability to react and respond to the picture of the game changing as effectively as possible.  This  is a broad concept to know how to exercise, as it is intricate and not easy to condense.  In fact, out of the three components, tactics is  the least practiced/taught to players. It is one thing  to be a talented player, however, if you cannot put your skills to use on the field in a creative manner i.e., shooting when you should be passing,  how effective are you really ? Read on to find out about the best tactical soccer drill out there. No cost, completely free 🙂

Liverpool’s Manager, Jürgen Klop’s, Approach to Tactics         soccer huddle

Top professional soccer clubs  spend countless hours teaching their players tactics alone. German football manager, Jürgen Klopp of English soccer club, Liverpool, has mastered putting tactical theory into practice. Tactical theory is most easily recognized through a teams formation – for Liverpool, usually a 4-2-3-1.  What makes Klopp particularly unique from other managers is his ‘gegenpressing’ which is another way of saying, counter-pressing situation. This is an organized, aggressive way to regain possession. The idea behind a counter-press is that it  can create chances within seconds.  Implementing this tactic requires a lot of time and awareness, as it demands all his players to function as one in order to be successful. It is stressed that if one player is unfocused,  the whole attempt of the counter-press fails entirely resulting in the opposition manipulating Liverpool’s defense. The react and respond that I broke down  in paragraph one, is exactly what is going on constantly when they’re counter-pressing, or transitioning back to defending.  Players are reading the picture of the game by  analyzing their players in position of the opposition’s players.  Reading the picture is extremely demanding because it changes within milliseconds, and the window for processing what your options are and responding is very tiny. There is not much room for error.


A few great examples of  players  that are very strong at reading and responding to the game are Eden Hazard , Willian Borges Marcelo Vieira da Silva Júnior  , Luka Modric . They are all creative players that play positions (midfield, wing) with very limited time, yet they’re able to make split second decisions with limited reaction and response time. It is no coincidence that these players are ranked as some of the worlds best.

Split Decision Making Makes You An Intelligent Player

In this post I have chosen to  focus on reaction. As previously mentioned, a player only has a less than seconds to process new information happening on the field. This skill is extremely vital, and if exercised right, can lead you to becoming a more intelligent, and therefore better, player. By simulating drills that target split decision making, you are activating your brain to work quickly under a short amount of time. This is very unnatural for your brain. In fact at first it will feel very uncomfortable, but by training that region of your brain, the game will become easier and quicker to read. This is good, because the more intelligent you are as a player, the more creative you will be with the ball.

Throughout my soccer career, I have bounced around from position to position. In my last 5 years , I  have remained as an attacking midfielder, and right wing midfielder.  Attacking mid is the heart where non-stop quick decision making occurs. With little space to navigate, I have seconds to look up as I receive the ball, and respond by making a choice that I feel is right.  It has taken me time to read the game well, and develop fast reaction skills.  With patience, and repetition I have improved and because of that I am definitely a smarter and stronger player.

The following is a great drill that I work on that forces me to think quick on the spot, and respond by carrying out an action. This is a great drill because there are several progressions, so once you become familiar with a level, you can challenge yourself by going to the next progression which becomes increasingly harder.


The Four Cone Drill

This drill must be carried out with a partner.

First Progression
1. Place four soccer cones in a square roughly 5 yards apart. Having each cone be a different colour is better for the drill, but not necessary.

2. Your start position is always in the center of your square. You will want to assume an athletic run position as that will be where you first explode from, so you never want to be flat.

3.  Have your partner have pinnies that match the same colour as your cones. A green pinnie for a green cone, a red pinnie for a red cone, and so forth.

4.  Your partner must randomly  lift any of the coloured pinnies in the air, as soon as you see the pinnie, you must run to cone that matches the colour of the pinnie.

5. Then run back to your initial start position.

6. Repeat this several times. A good way of timing it is by setting a timer for 30 seconds. Take a 30-45 second rest, or switch with your partner and repeat 3 times.

Note: Your partner should be creative with showing the pinnies. Don’t just do the same order of colour, switch it up, make it difficult for the player in the middle. Be creative.

Second Progression
1. Eliminate the the pinnies and order your cones from 1-4. It does not have to be in chronological order. Mix it up. Make the order confusing. You want the middle player to really have to think where he/she has to go.

2.   Your start position is always in the center of your square. You will want to assume an athletic run position as that will be where you first explode from, so you never want to be flat.

3.  This time, your partner will show a number between 1-4 using his hand.  Now you will have to organize yourself so that you see the number he/she has chosen, and will have to think where that number is and run to it.  Run straight to the cone that is appropriate to the number and run right back to your starting position.

4. Repeat this several times. A good way of timing it, is by setting a timer for 30 seconds. Take a 30-45 second rest, or switch with your partner and repeat 3 times.

Note:  Your partner should be creative with showing the numbers on his/her hand. Don’t just do the same order of numbers, switch it up  make it  difficult for the player in the middle. Be creative.

Third Progression
1. Keep using the same idea of numbering your cones from 1-4.  It does not have to be in chronological order. Mix it up. Make the order confusing. You want the middle player to really have to think where he/she has to go.

2. Your start position is always in the center of your square. You will want to assume an athletic run position as that will be where you first explode from, so you never want to be flat.

3. Exactly like progression two,  your partner will show a number between 1-4 using his/her hand. Now you will have to organize yourself so that you see the number he/she has chosen, and will have to think where that number is and run to it.  Run straight to the cone that is appropriate to the number and run right back to your starting position.

4. Now instead of starting over with a new number, after you have run to the number your partner has called out,  you have run to the cone and run back to your start position, your partner will now pass you a ball that you will have receive nicely on the inside of your foot, you will  look up at your player and pass him/her  the ball back.  After  you have
passed him/her the ball, the sequence starts over again.

5. Repeat this several times. A good way of timing it, is by setting a timer for 30 seconds. Take a 30-45 second rest, or switch with your partner and repeat 3 times.

Note:  Your partner should be creative with showing the numbers on his/her hand. Don’t just do the same order of numbers, switch it up  make it  difficult for the player in the middle. Be creative.  Also, it is very important that you do not lose momentum, and that your passes remain on target (to your partner) and don’t get sloppy. We are simulating a real game scenario  – reacting by running to the cone, and responding, by making the pass. In games, if we get sloppy or tired, we lose the ball to the other team  for them to get and counter, which we don’t want. Here is a link that best illustrates what to do if you are confused.

It is never easy  when you have to think and perform an act in such a short time frame. However, this is the basic fundamental to achieving excellence. You will be smarter, stronger and sharper by completing this drill.

Best of luck!

Let me know how this drill works for you. What you found hard, what you liked in the comments below. Also, let us know if you like this kind of content and want more in the comments below.

COMMENTS

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  • comment-avatar
    Brendan 1 year

    Thank you very much for the advice. I will take this drill and integrate it into my game. I will see how the progression goes along with it and see what improvements I will make. Thank you for the great drill and I can’t wait to put it into use!

    • comment-avatar

      Hi Brendan,
      Good luck! Let us know how you’re coming along. Also be sure to check out our other posts, as they are sure to help you improve 🙂 Best of luck!

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