You may remember a little over a year back, we wrote about the rise of Coerver Coaching, not only in the UK but worldwide. Recently, I was fortunate to be one of the first participants in their latest course, entitled Play Like Spain. Using the record breaking Spanish national side as the star coaching model, the course is based around the four phases that they believe the team uses – Protecting the Ball, Pressing, Probing and Penetrating. The course took place on the weekend of 13th and 14th July at Greenwich’s London Soccerdome.
Now you may remember also that our first experience of a Coerver course took place at Fulham’s training ground and in the main took place in a torrential downpour. I was therefore quite pleased that this course was held under cover, however with the scorching weather of the weekend, the Soccerdome acted as a giant greenhouse, with temperatures reaching nearly 40C – those of us that took part in the demonstrations certainly sweated for the cause!
To move from the individual ball mastery into a team concept, Coerver have determined that each element of Spain’s play takes place in an active area, which is usually no more than 20 x 20 yards. Therefore by developing the team’s technical skills in drills over similar areas, it can improve their ability to play in a similar style to the likes of modern day Spain, Barcelona or Bayern Munich, and the examples of Ajax and Holland in times gone by.
Similar to previous courses, the course was split into theory lectures from Coerver Coaching co-founder Alf Galustian, and demonstrations led by him on the pitch with the help of some skilled assistance (many of the Coerver coaches, former professionals such as Mark Robson, and plucky volunteers such as me!). Also on the course were a small group of Spanish visitors, who have helped Coerver take their coaching to Spain itself, including former Athletico Madrid youngster Manuel Ojalvo, and former professional Diego Camacho, who has amassed more than 400 appearances in La Liga. What is interesting is that they are strongly in favour of the Coerver model as a way to teach young footballers in a country where seemingly they already have a system that produces top quality players. It shows that Spain are continuing to develop and look at ways to get even better, and there was also the suggestion that the Spanish have their own problems at grass root level. The Newcastle United coach Willie Donachie also joined us on the Sunday, and was treated to a video of a masterclass Spanish goal against his beloved Scotland!
Looking at each of the four phases, we looked at Protecting the ball – individually by using shielding techniques to keep yourself between the opponent and the ball, and then as a small group – moving the ball quickly and effectively to keep the ball away from opponents. We then looked at pressing – individually and as a team, probably as close to defending topics as Coerver is ever going to get, but of course an element that the likes of Spain do so well. Alf Galustian cited Lionel Messi as the best defender he’s seen, and Willie Donachie used the example of Ian Rush in the same vein. Next up was Probing – running with the ball into space or finding the killer pass, again with drills to develop individual and team skills. Finally, Penetrating, which is effectively finishing, again individually followed by small group play. You may notice that each phase begins with the letter P, this is no accident and makes things easier to remember!
Once again the course was supported with notes and drills provided on a memory stick, plus some bonus material, a copy of 442 magazine and a Spain international shirt. I’m not sure I’ll be wearing mine with pride even though I have great admiration for Spain’s football! The methods demonstrated gave plenty of food for thought into how this could be translated into our own coaching, and it was interesting to discuss with other coaches who were working with different age groups how they would use the knowledge picked up, and the challenges they faced. These courses are not necessarily the same as an FA course where you are assessed on your ability to coach at the end, but more a suggestion of how you might want to do things moving forward.
It is interesting to see how Coerver is developing its range of courses. I imagine their entry course, The Youth Diploma is quite different from when I completed it two years ago, and similarly the Play Like Spain course will move on with the feedback received from the two days just gone. Personally, I think their three initial courses could be moved into either two weekend courses, or perhaps a week long intensive course, as there was some repetition of drills from previous courses during the weekend. Understandably, even though Coerver is nearly 30 years old, it is still developing to try and find better ways to coach young footballers, and I’m still a believer that this is the right way to go for grass roots, and for developing elite players. Let us know your own thoughts on Coerver either on Twitter or by commenting below.
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