Posts tagged ‘Passing’

Fitness Training Indoors

The indoor season provides a change of pace and focus that I think is good for player development but you don’t want to completely lose the base of fitness that was built during the outdoor season. The challenge is that you have a limited amount of space to work with when you’re training indoor. We use a school gym, and a small one at that. I look for exercises that mimic the movement patterns of the game while using space as economically as possible.


The warm-up below is from Dave Tenney Continue reading ‘Fitness Training Indoors’ »

Dribbling and Passing Indoors

During the winter I like to focus on ball possession and combination play. The game of Futsal puts a high value on these skills and working on them often will not only make the team more successful indoor but also carry over to the outdoor game in the spring.


One of my favorite exercises to work on protecting the ball is a game where each team is in their own half of an area. One player from each team acts as a defender and enters the other team’s area and tries to kick player’s ball out of bounds. The team that keeps at least one ball in their area the longest wins that round. We play until each player has had a chance to defend.

The most basic way to play this game is as an individual possession game where each player tries to shield their ball and avoid the defender for as long as possible. As a progression, you can allow the players who lose the ball to stay in the area and support the other players who still have a ball. This way the game moves from individual possession to a game of keep away.

Passing and moving to create options is important in soccer in general but especially in a game with only four players on each team. We spend a number of sessions each winter on learning how and when to execute give-and-goes.


This simple exercise provides a great teaching environment for all of the key factors that contribute to a successful combination play.

Player A passes to Player B who then dribbles toward Player A. When Player A approaches, Player B passes to Player C and runs to the other side to receive the ball back with one touch. Player B then passes to Player D. The players all rotate positions so that Player A takes Player B’s starting position, Player B moves to the Wall Passer’s position (Player C) and Player C moves behind Player D.

Coaching Points

  • Player B must dribble at Player A to commit him
  • Player C moves along a line to create a passing angle for Player B
  • Player A acts as a passive defender; staying in front of Player B but not trying to win the ball

As the players improve and show their understanding I ask them to increase the speed of play and allow the ‘defender’ to try and win the ball from the dribbler to make the exercise more realistic.

There are many other games and exercises that we use throughout the season but shielding and the ability to understand and perform a well-timed give-and-go are so vital to Futsal that we return to these two often.

Are there exercises that you return to often during the indoor season to focus on certain skills that you feel are important?

Have a great day!


3 v 1 Instead of 5 v 2

Most coaches I know use some variation of a 5 v 2 keep away game in a limited area. I’ve never liked 5 v 2 as a teaching tool because I have always felt that it was too static. Anson Dorrance did a great demonstration at our International Seminar a few years ago where he showed us the coaching points they use at UNC. One of the most important was to move closer to the player with the ball using an open body position. This makes the game more dynamic but still falls short of what I feel is a good teaching environment.

I prefer to use a 3 v 1 keep away game because it requires the players to move in order to provide a passing option on both sides of the ball. This requirement means that the players have to be more aware of space, pressure and support than in the more traditional 5 v 2. It also means that the player with the ball has to improvise if the support doesn’t arrive before the pressure. These aspects make the 3 v 1 game more game related than 5 v 2.

The 3 v 1 game can be too challenging for younger or less experienced players. When I run into this situation I will regress the practice to 4 v 1. When this is necessary I always make sure that the players understand that they are not to stand in the corners. They should be moving between the cones to provide support for the player with the ball. My other issue with keep away games is that they often don’t translate to the real game. Non-directional possession games in isolation will not teach the players how to possess the ball and then attack with it.

This is a game that I have used with teams as young as U10 and as old as U19. As the players progress technically and tactically you can add complexity that will teach them new concepts and require greater precision and speed. The basic rules are simple: The three attacking players in the first grid must make three passes before they can move into the middle grid. The player that dribbles out of the first grid is supported by another player. Their goal is to get the ball to the attacking player in the last grid as soon as possible. If the defender in the middle grid tries to stop the direct ball to the attacker, the dribbler passes to the supporting player who can then play to the attacker. Once the ball reaches the attacker, the dribbler and supporting player move into the final grid followed by the defender and the pattern begins again.

If one of the defenders wins the ball and can keep it in the grid then they move it to the middle grid and play 2 v 1 against the player who lost the ball. If the ball goes out of any one of the grids then the ball is returned to the attacking team and they try to complete three passes.

Once this becomes easy for the attackers then you can add a defender to the last grid so that the attacker has to work harder to receive the ball from the players as they move through the middle grid.

Do you have ideas of how this could be progressed further? Do you have a way to progress the traditional 5 v 2 game to make it more functional?

Have a great day!


Repetitive Turning Exercise

I like using high energy, repetitive exercises for skill training. They engage the players and give them a lot of opportunities to practice a skill that we have worked on before.

One of my favorites is Tag Turning.


Basic Pattern

  1. Two lines of players are facing each other
  2. One player has a ball (Player 3)
  3. A player from the opposite line starts in the middle (Player 1)
  4. Player 1 goes back toward his line and tags the next player (Player 2)
  5. Player 1 then checks back toward the ball and Player 3
  6. Player 2 follows closely behind
  7. Player 1 calls for the ball and Player 3 passes it to him
  8. Player 1 receives the ball and turns around Player 2 using one of the four turns taught earlier
  9. Player 2 then moves to tag Player 3 while Player 1 passes to Player 4 and the pattern continues

Continue reading ‘Repetitive Turning Exercise’ »

Small-Sided Games to Encourage Combination Play

For me, the beginning of the season revolves around getting a group of players to work together within a framework of a system. Lately that system has been the 4-3-3. This involves teaching each player the role and responsibility of their position: How the defenders work together to stop attacks and win the ball. How the midfielders connect the team together. How the attackers create goalscoring opportunities. All of this gives the players a starting point but the most important learning comes next.

Helping the players to think and act creatively within the framework of the system is what will Continue reading ‘Small-Sided Games to Encourage Combination Play’ »

How to Teach Offside Without Working on It

Most young players (and many older ones) have a difficult time understanding how to stay onside. Last weekend I found that something I had worked on in our previous session made it VERY easy for even my U9 players to understand.

I have a training session focused on teach players how to complete a successful give-and-go. After a passing warm-up I have the players move through this pattern:


When I’m teaching the give-and-go I focus on Continue reading ‘How to Teach Offside Without Working on It’ »

Passing on the Move

We often train passing in static lines where the passes go all go in the same direction. Teaching players to pass while moving is important to transfer the techniques of passing to game situations. These exercises are ones that I’ve used to make the transition from static to dynamic passing.090815-1

Passing on the Move

Players pass the ball back and forth up the field receiving with Continue reading ‘Passing on the Move’ »

Moving to Create Options

If players don’t move without the ball they won’t create options for the player with the ball. I’ve found this training session to be an excellent one to teach players how to make runs for their teammate with the ball.

The three runs that this session focuses on are checking, drifting and Continue reading ‘Moving to Create Options’ »

The Most Efficient Form of Conditioning

We all have such limited time to impact the technical, tactical and physical abilities of our players that finding ways to integrate each of these into our training sessions is very important. If we were training four or five times a week we could afford to practice them in isolation but most of the coaches reading this won’t have that luxury. Continue reading ‘The Most Efficient Form of Conditioning’ »

Barcelona Passing Pattern

I’ve seen this setup credited to Barcelona but I can’t verify it. Whether it comes from them or not I like that movements and the fact that the players have to read each other’s movements before deciding where they should move.


A ten-yard box has a player on each end. A line of Continue reading ‘Barcelona Passing Pattern’ »