Occasionally a team will play a game when the effort level is just not there. There can be many reasons (or excuses) for it but when this happens with one of my teams I use it as an opportunity to explain that each player is responsible for their level of effort. When they go on the field it should not just be to make up the numbers but to make a difference in the game.
The next week I’ll often plan one of our sessions around activities that put the players in the position to give a maximum effort. This can push players to levels that they didn’t think they were capable of. It also helps to reinforce the idea that their effort level is up to them; they can play as hard as they choose.
There are many different exercises that can accomplish this goal. The ones below are taken from a session I recently did with one teams after a game where I new they could have been more committed than they were.
The diamond is only 10 yards across. The players move back and forth on their side of the diamond. We used four of these so that all 16 of the players were moving at the same time.
- Shuffle there, shuffle back
- Shuffle there, run back
- Run there, shuffle back
- Run there, run back
These progressions were interspersed with stretching and activation movements.
Next the players run to the middle and shuffle to the right. They do this in unison so that they move in and out together. Next run in and shuffle left.
One player has a ball in their hands and everyone follows their lead. The player with the ball can choose to shuffle right or left and the other three players must follow their lead.
Working on pressing is a great environment to talk about effort. The effort to focus and anticipate as well as the physical effort to pressure the player on the ball.
The key is that the player across from the ball is the one to press it. The player with the ball can be instructed to pass to the right and run left or the other way around.
Allow the player with the ball to decide where to pass based on which side the defender tries to take away.
1 v 1 Diagonal Goals
This is a fast paced, high energy game that requires effort and focus.
The attacker must get past the flags before they can score. Then they must immediately turn and defend the attacker from the other team.
I usually play this game to work on possession but by changing what earn the team a point, you can change the focus of the players.
When one team has possession the other team sends two defenders to win the ball. Each time the attacking team makes five passes the defending team can send another defender. If the attacking team makes 15 passes then they pass the ball across the half line to the defending team.
The defending team earns points based on how quickly they win the ball. If the first two defenders win it or force the attackers to lose it out of bounds then the defending team earns five points. If they win it with three defenders then they receive three points. If they win it with four defenders they one receive one point.
This point system creates the urgency for them to win the ball as soon as possible. To keep it simple I call out the score by saying, ‘The yellow team is up by three.’ Then, ‘The black team is up by two.’ Keeping the score this way is easier for me and keeps the players motivated because they know the score.
For the scrimmage we start by having each player match up with someone on the other team. When someone scores, whoever was marking them must leave the field and run all the way around it before rejoining the game. The team must play down one player until their teammate finishes their run.
This creates a very combative and competitive environment. I emphasis to the players that whoever works the hardest win usually be the one to win the 1 v 1 matchups and that will make a difference to how successful their team is.
The losing team puts the equipment away.
How do you create an environment within your team that fosters individual effort to support the team?
Have a great day!