Tips on Coaching Beach Soccer
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup has been played on beaches in the US, Asia and for the first time, in Tahiti, in 2013. Besides being an international sport, beach soccer is often played recreationally -- occasionally away from a beach and in a man-made sand pitch. Played differently than traditional outdoor soccer, beach soccer has a number of specific techniques that coaches might want to know.
Scooping, or lifting the ball up with your foot, is a key skill in beach soccer. To scoop the ball in sand, you must get underneath the ball and quickly flick it up in the air with their foot. Since sand is bumpy and unpredictable, most plays in beach soccer start by scooping the ball up. Your players should practice scooping the ball to themselves in the air and giving the ball to teammates by scoop passing.
Since the ball is often in the air in beach soccer, it is important that players practice their heading. Players should be able to pass effectively to each other with their head as well as shoot with their head. Have your players practice keeping the ball up with their head by making two lines facing each other and counting the number of times they can pass the ball in the air before it falls to the ground.
Not as much passing is in beach soccer compared with traditional outdoor soccer because fields are smaller and almost anywhere on the field is within shooting distance. Your players should practice shooting from all angles. Since goals are smaller than traditional soccer goals, your players should work on power shots that can beat a goalkeeper in a small goal. For one shooting drill, have a passer stand with his back to the goal about 10 yards away. A shooter will be facing the passer about 5 yards away. The shooter will scoop a pass to the passer. The passer will set a ball for the shooter to shoot on goal. Players will switch places with the shooter becoming the passer.
Beach soccer is known for its athletic volleys and acrobatic bicycle kicks. In soccer, a volley is considered any shot where a player shoots the ball out of the air. Your players should practice volleys often because the ball is often in the air in beach soccer, your players must be able to do a volley shot at any time. To start off, toss a ball in the air to a player who must shoot the ball in the air at the goal. Once your players get more comfortable, have them try scooping the ball to the other player to volley in the air toward the goal.
Effective set plays and pattern plays are important in beach soccer. As a coach, you should design a few plays where you move the ball around the field, both on the ground and with scoop passes, and end with a shot. For one pattern, start the ball in the hands of the goalie. Have the goalkeeper throw the ball to a forward in the air. The forward will head the ball to a player behind him who will pass it again for a third player to shoot. Patterns like these are critical for success in beach soccer.
Julian Valentin is a professional soccer player who has been involved in journalism since 2003. He has contributed to the U.S. Soccer and L.A. Galaxy websites, as well as "Major League Soccer Magazine" and other publications. Valentin earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wake Forest University.