Category Archives: Training

Three Bayern Munich Training Sessions (2014)

The following training sessions were broadcast in full by FC Bayern Munich and are available on their YouTube channel.

1. Training session date: Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014.  This training session would represent the tougher session before the match on Oct. 18.

Previous match Saturday, Oct. 4 vs Hannover 96 (Bayern won 4-0).

Next match Saturday, Oct. 18 vs Werder Bremen (Bayern won 6-0).

2. Training session date:  Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014.  This training session is the day before the German National Team plays Gibraltar so most of the German Bayern players are away with the national team.

Next match Saturday, Nov. 22 vs Hoffenheim (Bayern won 4-0).

3. Training session date:  Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014.  This training session would represent the first full training day after the match Saturday, Nov. 29 vs Hertha Berlin.  Days immediately after a match are either OFF or focusing on recovery (light).

Previous match Saturday, Nov. 29 vs Hertha Berlin (Bayern won 1-0).

Next match Saturday, Nov. 6 vs Bayer Leverkusen (Bayern won 1-0).


Pass Rebounder

A rebound wall for passing is a great addition to a teams training equipment.  They can be used to develop and improve passing ability and are helpful when numbers are low.  Apparently Kwik Goal is selling a new product called a V.A.T. Board.  V.A.T. stands for “variable angle training board.”  It sells for $385 + tax & shipping, which I think is vastly over-priced, just like most things sold by Kwik Goal.  It’s also on back-order.  Not wanting to pay the exorbitant price for such a simple training device, I designed my own, the Passing Rebounder.


The Passing Rebounder (VAT BOARD-ANSI-C) is made from 5/8″ or 3/4″ thick plywood and is designed to be easily constructed with minimal equipment and skill.  All of the equipment should be available at your local home improvement store (I sourced everything at my local Home Depot).  Also, it should cost no more than $50 to $60 in total – about one-seventh the cost of the V.A.T. Board from Kwik Goal.


  1. Cut the pieces from a single sheet of 4 ft x8 ft plywood (5/8″ or 3/4″ thickness).
  2. Cut two slots for hand-grips so you can more easily move the rebounder.  It will weight approximately 30-40 lbs, depending on which thickness plywood is used.
  3. If desired, drill large holes in the braces and/or board to help lower weight.  Be careful not to decrease weight too much as you want the rebounder to have some heft so it doesn’t move around too much during use.
  4. Attach the braces to the board first with construction adhesive, 90-degree angle brackets (90-deg bracket spec sheet).  The brackets are bolted to the board using 1/4″ carriage bolts and lockwashers.  The brackets are bolted to the braces using 1/4″ hex head bolts and lockwashers.
  5. Lastly, paint the entire rebounder so it can withstand the constant abuse and weather.

That’s all!!  If you make a rebounder I would love to see pictures of the finished product.  Also, if you have any suggestions for improvement, please share.

AFC Ajax Amsterdam: Advanced Coaches Clinic, Part II

It’s is interesting as I transcribe my notes the unprecedented access and tactical information that Hoek and van der Lem bestowed upon us.  I dare say that this type of presentation would not be possible today.

Part II concerns the description of the team roles and responsibilities during the first of three moments of play, defending.

Please note that what I am sharing is very nearly verbatim my notes from the clinic.  I’m trying not to add any extra information as I want the transcription to be historically accurate and whole.

Ajax System of Play

  • Positional system of play
    • 4:3:3 -> 3:4:3 -> 3:3:4
    • Depends on situation & opponent
    • May change during game


    • Use numbers to describe positions
      • Allows players to understand all positions & their role when/if they move during a game.
    • Attacking soccer
  •  Main Moments




  1. Defense:
    1. Usually man-to-man against opposing attackers
    2. All players press immediately after turnover
      1. Win possession back quickly
    3. Occupy space in middle
      1. Pinch in on wings
    4. Most important is #4
      1. Controls defensive play
      2. Communicator/organizer
    5. Play at half line
      1. Stay in opposing half and press
    6. #3 predicts attacking movements – reads the game
    7. Press as a team
      1. DO NOT press if #4 and #10 out of position
      2. #4 signals for press/no press
    8. GK does not stay on line
      1. Moves out to cutoff long through pass
    9. Double-team press in attack
      1. i.e. when #7 presses wing defender with ball, #11 moves into middle & leaves far defender alone (and vice-versa)

Line-up vs 3 opposing strikers (3:4:3)


Line-up vs 2 strikers (3:4:3)


  • Note above:  #4 and #3 switch places.  Danny Blind was too slow and short to play in this formation.  Reverse roles.
  • More defensive space in back vs 2 strikers so use incidental pressure determined by #3.

AFC Ajax Amsterdam: Advanced Coaches Clinic, Part I


In 1995 AFC Ajax captivated the world by beating the previous champions AC Milan 1-0 to win the UEFA Champions League with a young, relatively unknown squad playing an energetic, attractive, attacking, possession-oriented style of soccer.  They had a visionary coach, Louis van Gaal, who helped to revitalize the vision of Ajax soccer made famous by such legendary figures as Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels.  In 1996 Ajax returned to the UEFA Champions League final but eventually lost to Juventus in penalties.  In the summer of 1996 I attended a coaches clinic at the University of San Francisco hosted by Ziemer Brothers Soccer Camps and presented by Franz Hoek and Gerard van der Lem, two of the assistant coaches for the AFC Ajax team.  This was an extraordinary clinic conducted by coaches literally at the top of the international game.  The level of detail and instruction I experienced during the three-day clinic was breath-taking.  Many of the concepts introduced to me by Hoek and van der Lem revolutionized the way I viewed and understood the game of soccer, and still, to this day, influence my thinking.  Recently, in cleaning my office space, I came across my notes for the clinic.  I thought it would be nice to share.  The notes are quite detailed, so I will present them in several parts (I can’t say how many yet.  There are lots of notes).

AFC Ajax Amsterdam:  Advanced Coaches Clinic – Level II

University of San Francisco campus

Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 23, 1996

Gerard van der Lem, Assistant Coach

Franz Hoek, Goalkeeper Coach

Structure of Ajax (Friday)

Aim of the game:  winning

How?  Only attractive, beautiful soccer

Main moments in the game:

1)      We have the ball – Possession-style means we must control the ball the majority of game time (60-70%).

2)      They have the ball

3)      Transition/change of possession –  Important – can often be deciding factor in the game.

– Every player and positional line (i.e. defense, midfield, offense, and goalkeeper) knows exactly what their job (task) is during each of the main moments.
– Analyze problems with system and break them down into smaller, easier or more difficult part of the game.
– Always game-related exercises.
– Players know why things are done.

Elements of the Game

  1. The ball:  Different balls have different characteristics.
    1. Train with a ball that you will play with in the game.
  2. Opponents:  Practice with their style and system.
  3. Teammates:  Team-building exercises
    1. Team sets rules
    2. Discipline
    3. Teamwork is paramount – No Individuals!
  4. Space:  Practice on half-field or smaller to simulate game situations (microcosms).
  5. Pressure:  Defensive and offensive; external.
  6. Rules:  Training rules mimic rules of the game, including yellow and red card violations.
  7. Time:  Game-related
  8. Direction:  Towards opposing goal.

– During training include all elements to reach objective.


Every training session contains:

  1. Soccer-related objectives
    1. Scoring
    2. Build-up
    3. Defending
  2. Many repetitions
    1. Detailed planning
    2. Sufficient materials (jerseys, balls, etc.)
  3. Group considerations
    1. Skills
    2. Age
    3. Skill/experience level
  4. Correct coaching (openness, communication)
    1. Influence players
    2. Give instructions
    3. Demonstrate
    4. Q & A

Ajax Training Sessions:

  1. Vision:  Ajax way – Explanation – Training objectives
  2. Warm-up
    1. Player led (alternate)
    2. Group run/jog/running stretches
    3. Individual stretching (static/dynamic)
  3. Exercises – with specific aims
  4. Games

Do not talk about giftedness, inborn talents!

Do not talk about giftedness, inborn talents! One can name great men of all kinds who were very little gifted. They acquired greatness, became “geniuses” (as we put it), through qualities the lack of which no one who knew what they were would boast of: they all possessed that seriousness of the efficient workman which first learns to construct the parts properly before it ventures to fashion a great whole; they allowed themselves time for it, because they took more pleasure in making the little, secondary things well than in the effect of a dazzling whole.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Mind Control


The mind controls the body and not vice versa.  Manage the mind and you compel the body to follow.  Lose the mind and the body is lost as well.  For the athlete:  Perception is the reality. 

Four reasons why coaches must manage the mind of their athletes:

1)      Limits to exercise tolerance are controlled by the mind not the body.  Recent research has shown that the mind can put the brakes on exercise well before the body is at a point of exhaustion.  Fatigue has been found to be derived from thoughts which are aimed at preserving the safety and stability of the body.  Players who can control their mind and suspend thoughts of quitting can be compelled to go farther, faster, and harder.  Coaches who help and encourage this will improve the performance of their players and teams.  This has obvious implications for training, match performance, and general habit-forming.


2)      Mental imagery and visualization is widely regarded as beneficial and an important tool to improve performance across a wide array of sports, disciplines, and environments.  Many professional and Olympic athletes use mental imagery as a matter of course to prepare for a match or event.  In fact, it has been shown that mentally rehearsing a skill, if done properly, is equivalent to actually performing the skill.  Learning requires myelination, or the thickening of the myelin sheaths inside the brain which facilitates improved transmission of information in the brain.  Your brain, however, does not differentiate from actually performing the task or just thinking about it.  Mentally rehearsing can also alleviate performance anxiety and fears, increased focus and awareness, and lead to automaticity in performance.  That being said, the skill of mental imagery and visualization is rarely, if ever, discussed in youth sports, let alone practiced.  Coaches would be advised to educate themselves about mental imagery techniques and learn how to apply them properly so their athletes can benefit from this wonderful and powerful tool.


3)      Verbal and visual feedback has been shown to change hormone levels in subjects and improve or worsen performance depending on the type of feedback.  Positive feedback, either through phrases delivered by the coach or video clips showing great performances, increases the testosterone levels of subjects, thereby improving performance.  Negative feedback had the opposite effect.  Importantly, these effects were found to linger up to one week after the feedback.  What does this mean for the coach?  Control the training and match environment.  Do not let negative thoughts have any air to breath.  Instead ensure that your athletes are thinking and feeling positive and have no anxiety or fear.  This will allow the maximum potential for performance to exist.

4)      So what does a coach do if a negative performance or result occurs, as it inevitably will?  Lie about it and get your athletes to believe it occurred differently!  Actually, this last bit of advice is the most challenging and tricky to apply, for many reasons, but researchers have found that reconstructing a negative event into a positive event can have a profound impact on future performance.  In other words, the actual event is not important, but the memory of the event in the athletes mind.  And if the memory of the negative event can be nudged to a positive, then that’s what the athlete will remember, and it can prevent the athlete from being over-encumbered by self-defeating negative thoughts concern the event.  Obviously, it is not beneficial for anyone to live in state of denial, and truthful investigation and analysis of a poor performance is critical to learning and improving.  However, there are many instances where a poor performance, whether by a team or individual, can lead to a spiral of decay.  Self-defeating thoughts can stand in the way of performance improvements and create real fear.  In these instances, the coach should intervene to begin to re-cast the negative performance and nudge it more positively.   The tricky bit is obviously when and how to do this.  Learning from your mistakes is good, being frozen with fear is not.

The mind controls the body.  What the mind believes occurred is the reality.  Coaches must learn to manage the training and game environments so that negative thoughts and feeling do not limit performance, but instead allow the athletes to develop and maximize their performance potential.

The Learning Model


Coaching a soccer team, especially a youth team, is rather straight-forward, at least theoretically.  Like all things, the devil is in the details.  But so many coaches never even get beyond proper planning that the details are beyond a hope and a prayer.  Here is my outline for developing a training model for a youth soccer team focused on development:

1) Determine what the starting point is for each of the players.  What technical skills, tactical knowledge, and experience do they each come in with?  As a group on average what are the abilities that each player should possess?  Bear in mind, that individually there will be variations, deficiencies, and advanced abilities.  These provide areas where the coach can focus individual lessons.  But overall, we are looking for where the players are technical and tactically at the beginning of the season.  This largely is dependent, of course, on the previous seasons development and success, or lack thereof.

2) What is the end-competencies required for the players? What technical and tactical abilities/skills do you want the players to be able to accomplish at the end of the season?  Are you refining skills carried over from the previous season?  Are you introducing new skills or tactical concepts?  Each requires a different training methodology.  This list should also not be so all-encompassing to be ludicrous and not realistic.  Better to focus on a few critical technical and tactical abilities and teach them well than try to teach/train everything and do it poorly or without devoting enough time to each.

3) Write this list of objectives and end-competencies down.  This is the start of your training curriculum for the season.

4) Determine the optimum order for the training of the end-competencies.  How much time is required to teach each one?  How much repetition is required?  Are some skills and abilities progressive, meaning you have to reach a reasonable level of mastery of the first stage before you move on the the second?

5) Now you have a training curriculum.

6) Determine or develop the training lessons, exercises, games, etc, that you will use to teach these skills, techniques, and tactical abilities.  Don’t go crazy with training exercises.  Again, better to have a few that you can coach really well, that teach the necessary concepts clearly and allow for progressive increasing of difficulty, than to have a million drills that don’t allow the players to focus on getting better.  In general, the games should be as soccer-specific as possible, involve multiple phases of play (or all four, ideally), and provide a means to increase or decrease the level of difficulty so that your players can progress.

7) Plan your training week.  Determine how you are going to teach that week’s topic with the given exercises or games.  Allow for repetition and feedback.  Be realistic.  Adjust based on the teams successes or failures with the training.

8) The game at the end of the week is where two things need to occur – 1) The players who trained all week, working hard, and trying to learn new things, get to have fun and play the game of soccer, and 2) you watch, assess, and evaluate the previous weeks training.  This is not only feedback for the players but feedback for your coaching and training ability.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What still needs to be worked on?  This provides the starting point for next weeks training agenda.  Adjust, refine, continue to teach your curriculum.

So, that’s what I consider to be the Learning Model as applied to sports training.  I tried to keep it straight-forward.  Bear in mind that there are details in each step that must be addressed.  But overall, it is fundamentally about teaching.  Not one step is simple, and each requires a level of competency and ability on behalf of the coach.  However, when we can start to break complex tasks down to steps or chunks, then we can start to divide and conquer so that our coaching can improve, thereby improving our players, too.