West Ham United's Academy Director Tony Carr
releases a new book today, offering professional advice to coaches
on how to build a winning team at all levels of the game.
How to Coach a Soccer Team includes fully illustrated, easy-to-follow drills for every aspect of the game, from warm-up to tactics and team play to goalkeeping skills and set plays. The book emphasises fun and enjoyment throughout, ensuring that youngsters retain their passion and enthusiasm for the game while learning valuable skills such as team work and fair play.
Tony, who has been involved with youth football at Upton Park for the best part of 40 years and has nurtured the development of some of English football's finest young prospects in recent times, is widely recognised as one of the most respected coaches in the game and admits producing the book has been a labour of love.
"This is the second coaching book I have produced," says Tony. "My first was 'Youth Soccer Coaching' published by Cassell in 1997, and when Hamlyn approached me about writing another one, my initial reaction was: 'what can I write that is new and hasn't already been written?'
"When I thought about it more, though, I realised that the one thing coaches should always be looking for is fresh stimulus. It may be old hat to me but the methods and ideas will be new to a lot of coaches, so if it helps them to develop and improve their team, then it has been worthwhile.
"Tragically, the guy I originally started writing the book with, Adam Ward, was killed in a road accident soon after we began, and so the whole project was put on the backburner for six months. A new writer, Jonathan Hayden, then came in to help me put it together, and two years down the line we have reached the finished product."
Including a foreword by Rio Ferdinand, one of Tony's most famous Academy graduates, the book is 144 pages long and is split into seven major sections - getting organised, ball skills, team play, goalkeeping, set plays, solving problems and small-sided games. Members of the Upton Park youth academy were used to illustrate the techniques and routines, while clear diagrams and instructions will ensure that all youngsters can benefit from Tony's teachings.
"The book is designed to appeal to coaches at all levels," he says, "from those who are working in the professional game now to mums or dads looking after a kids team over the park on a Sunday morning. We've tried to lay it out in an easy-to-follow, logical style, using pictures and diagrams to illustrate the techniques and routines.
"It basically consists of ideas that I have used throughout my coaching career, and will enable coaches to organise their team and create a basic 90-minute training session, which of course mirrors the length of a football match.
"There is also a section at the end of the book on fault-finding and problem-solving, which is a new idea that some people might find useful. If you recognise a certain problem within your team, there are techniques and methods that will hopefully enable you to solve it and improve your team.
"It's a book that people will hopefully be able to pick up and put down, and keep in a bag or locker for reference whenever it is needed. From my point of view, it's nice to have everything down in print - to look back on the methods and routines I have used to develop the young players at West Ham United over the years."
*Look out for a candid and in-depth interview with Tony Carr on
the influence of the late Ron Greenwood on the Youth Academy
structure at Upton Park, coming soon on whufc.com
Meanwhile, we have five copies of How to Coach a Soccer team to give away, each personally signed by Tony Carr. To stand a chance of winning one, simply answer the question below and fill out the form. Closing date for all entries is 5.00pm on Friday, February 17.