Posts tagged ‘Passing’

Teaching Possession Play

Telling a team that they need to, ‘Keep possession’ is such an abstract and nonspecific concept for so many young players. Teaching them what it takes to keep the ball gives them specific things that they need to do in order to ensure that the team has the best chance to retain the ball.

In David Goldstein’s book, ‘Improving Your Team’s Possession Play‘ he outlines simple system that can be taught to players at any age or level of play. The core principle is that the player with the ball must have a, ‘Left, Right and Split’.

Here is an excerpt that explains this and the other important concepts of the book.

Possession_play_cover-500

 

So what is left/right/split support? It is simply that the person with the ball has someone on the left of them for support, someone on the right of them for support and someone working to Continue reading ‘Teaching Possession Play’ »

Teaching Pressing to Increase Effort Level

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.

102714-1

Warm-Up 

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.

Progressions

  • 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.

102714-2

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.

Progression

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.

102714-3

Pressing

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.

Progression

Allow the player with the ball to decide where to pass based on which side the defender tries to take away.

102714-4

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.

101111-1

Transitional Possession

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.

Scrimmage

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!

Tom

 

Dutch Up, Back and Through to Finish

Some  coaches may consider pattern play to be limiting. They say, ‘I don’t want my players to be robots that just pass and move in the patterns that I’ve taught them.’ I can understand this and I agree with it but where are our players supposed to get their creative ideas from?

We want our players to combine and be creative in attack but our challenge in the United States is that most of our players don’t watch the being played at the highest level every week. They don’t see the intricate patterns and movement of Barcelona  or the timing and runs of Manchester United’s Sergio Aguero’s. When it comes time for them to play they don’t have pictures or patterns to emulate. If we want our players to be creative we have to give them a framework to start with.

1042

Coaching Soccer Champions by Terry Michler, has some great patterns that build off of very simple foundations. You can add layers to them as the player become more comfortable with the basic set up. Here are a few examples:

102014-1

Up – back – deep – and go to goal in a half field area or less
This is the first of 12 progressions with the same starting action.
The back plays up to the midfielder and gets the ball back. He then plays a deep ball to the striker who dribbles to goal and shoots.

Coaching Points

  • Good sequence between the back and midfielder with crisp passing.
  • The midfielder should check and come back to the ball and lay it off to the back — in 1 touch.
  • The back then plays deep to the striker who receives ball and advances it to goal for a shot. Strikers should focus on scoring with every shot !

102014-2

Now when the striker advances to goal, the player must avoid the obstacle and then finish with goal-scoring attempt.

102014-3

Up – back – deep – give and go – and then shoot

The midfielder, after laying the ball off to the back, will turn and play a give and go with the striker.  The striker should shoot first time.  Encourage quick, crisp passes in the give and go sequence and the midfielder should be close to the striker.

102014-4

Progression

Place 1 obstacle for the give and go sequence and the other for the striker before shooting.  This will more closely resemble actual game play.  Ball control is essential as the play is now at speed and around fixed obstacles.

102014-5

Here’s the last pattern in the progression just to give you an idea of how the complexity can be increased as the players become familiar with the patterns.

Do you agree with me that teach patterns gives the players ideas and enhances creativity or do you feel that we are better off allowing the players to find combinations of their own?

Have a great day!

Tom

 

 

Technical Passing Practices Using Different Shapes

Once we’ve taught players the proper technical components of passing (foot next to the ball, toes out and up, ankle locked, pass through the middle of the ball) then the natural progression is to have the players pass and move in a pattern in order to accommodate team of players and to replicate the shapes found inside of the game.

The most widely used shape is probably the classic ‘Dutch Square’

101314-1

Continue reading ‘Technical Passing Practices Using Different Shapes’ »

A First Touch with a Purpose

The most important touch is a player’s first touch. If that touch is a positive touch away from pressure and in the direction that they want to play there is a much greater chance of keeping possession. When the first touch is poor, into pressure and away from support, the chances of losing the ball are much greater. If your player’s first touch is putting them into a tackle, it was a poor first touch.

The key to having a good first touch is giving that touch a purpose. Too often players are only concerned with Continue reading ‘A First Touch with a Purpose’ »

Teaching Build Up Play Progressively Part 2

This session builds on the one I described in last week’s post. The focus of this session on taking the shapes and patterns that were taught in the last session and making them more function.

This is a session I did with my U9 team. In our area we play 6 v 6 at this age so that’s how we set up the game related patterns.

2 v 2 + 3

090914-1

This is really a 5 v 2 game at it’s heart. The idea is to Continue reading ‘Teaching Build Up Play Progressively Part 2’ »

Teaching Build Up Play Progressively Part 1

I’ve written before about our club’s philosophy that encourages teams of all ages to play out of the back as often as possible. The key to implementing this with your team is to teach the players what visual cues to look for so that they can see patterns in the options that are available.

These are the exercises we’ve used to teach our young players how to build from the back.

Diamond Passing

DiamondPassing

This is a simple pass-follow-your-pass pattern but it’s an easy exercise that you can use to teach the players to create an angle for the passer, open their body to face both the passer and the player they will pass to, use their ‘back foot’ to control the ball toward their next pass and then pass to the next player.

There are multiple progressions to this basic pattern which also make it a good starting point.

4 v 1

4v1

Starting with a low level of pressure will give the players a chance to see their options clearly and also give them time to make the right pass.

The focus here is on creating the passing angles to support the player on the ball so that they always have a least two choices. If the defender takes away a pass to one side or the other the pass can still be made to the opposite side or through the middle to the far side.

4 v 2

4v2

Once the players can easily keep possession away from one defending it’s a natural progression to add a second defender. This limits the choices of the player on the ball. The defenders may be able to take away two of the passing options but if the support is good then there should always be a third option; a pass to the right, left or split.

4 v 4 + 3 Target to Target

4v4+3SplitGrid
This looks very similar to the players because the grid is divided into two zones. But the goal is to move the ball from the target on one end to the other.

4 v 4 + 3

4v4+3

By removing the separation this turns into a more open game but the players need to understand that to keep possession they must spread the field when they are in possession. At first it is helpful to give the players a certain quadrant to play in. This makes it easy to see where they should open up when their team gains possession and where they should pinch in when defending.

I end this session with a 6 v 6 game to see if the players can apply what they’ve been taught to a game.

In the next post we will build on the ideas taught in this practice and apply them to a formation in a match.

Have a great day!

Tom

5 v 2 Progression

I feel confident in saying that most coaches use a 5 v 2 possession game in their training plan. It’s a great exercise that is a technical challenge but also requires the players to make good decisions about where to pass and how to support. Like any exercise, if you use it too often it can become stale and boring for the players. You can avoid this by using variations and progressions to increase pressure or change the focus of the drill.

Possession_play_cover-500

Improving Your Team’s Possession Play by David Goldstein is a great resource for training your players to better understand the concepts that are important if you’re going to keep possession. It begins with the concepts and explanations important to possession play but also include a number of exercises to teach these concepts to players.

This 5 v 2 progression is from the drills and exercises section of Goldstein’s book.

 

5 v 2 Run Around Exercise: Grid size is as small as the players can handle with success.

I observed this exercise in a camp I was working at in Western Pennsylvania. It was being taught by a high school coach who deserves credit and recognition but after 20 plus years the name of the particular person sadly escapes me. The concept of the exercise is brilliant. The exercise causes everyone to constantly readjust their supporting positions.

The starting organization and the rules are all the same as 5v2. The big difference is one rule:

  • If a player passes the ball immediately to their left or right supportplayer they must make a run around them and back into the edge of the circle. If the ball is split across the circle the player making the pass does not have to run.

In essence this is a curved run. The player does not have to run if they pass the ball to a split person or if the pass is not to a player right next to them. Players only run if the ball is passed to the person on their left or right. This interchanging of people in support space means everyone is constantly moving to keep the left/right/split shape alive. It also starts to add flair and creativity to the environment. Players making runs around a player can receive the ball from flick passes and take over to escape high pressure. The exercise gets a bit confusing to players if two passes are sent to the right or left in a row. The player who is making the first curved run can stop running once the ball is passed again in the same direction. They do not overlap two players.

PossessionDiagram11A

This diagram shows player 1 making the first pass and then the required curved run around the player that they passed the ball to too start the sequence. The pass is the dotted line from player 1 to player 3 and then the run around player 3 by player 1 is shown with a solid line. Notice that this run strips support on the right of player 3 and creates support on the left of player 3 by player 1 who is making the run around them. This will require all the other players to adjust their positions to create the left/right/split support shape.

PossessionDiagram11B

Here, player 2 sharpens to supply support on the right of player 3. Player 4 sharpens to get in a split position between the two defenders in the middle of the circle. Player 1 has already finished their curved run around player 3 which supplied support on the left of player 3. These adjustments to supply support to player 3 helps players to learn about sharpening to create support. The runs may not be long ones in length but it is critical if possession is to be successful to the team in a match.

PossessionDiagram11C

In this example, player 3 sends a split pass to player 4. Because the pass was not directly to the left or the right of player 3 the player does not have to make a run after the pass. However, player 2 and player 5 both have to sharpen into better support positions on the left and the right of player 4. The pass by player 3 to player 4 is shown with a dotted line that runs between the two defenders. The run by player 2 and player 5 are both solid lines into positions where their sharpening creates positions where the defenders won’t be able to intercept the ball.

PossessionDiagram11D

Here, player 4 passes the ball directly to their right to player 5. This requires that player 4 make a run out and around player 5 to supply support on the right of player 5. Player 2 needs to make a run to replace the support on the left of player 5 and in this case the positioning of player 3 in the split pass requires no sharpening. The pass from player 4 to player 5 is shown with a dotted line. The run by player 4 around player 5 is shown with a solid line that is curved. The sharpening run by player 2 to supply support to player 5 on the left is marked with a solid straight line.

PossessionDiagram11E

Finally, player A passes the ball to the right and starts to make the curved run out and around player B. Player B decides that the best pass for them is another pass to the right to player C. As player B starts their curved run out and around player C player A stops their run and supports player C on the left side. Player A does not try to overlap two players in a row. If the player they are overlapping has to overlap the next player to them then the first player stops their run. In the above instance player A would stop their run and fill the space that player B is vacating thus supporting player C on the left.

The defenders’ movement will help determine who gets to the left/right/split support but this is the general concept on the fly. The exercise gets a little messy if two passes to the right or left are made consecutively (See Diagram XI E, page 42) because the players start trying to overlap two people at a time. Again, the first overlapping player needs to just hold and support in the space newly created as the player making the new run around goes out and around.

Please share your variations or progressions on the 5 v 3 in the comments section below.

Have a great day!

Tom

Build Up Play Through Quick Passing

This weeks posts is from the May edition of WORLD CLASS COACHING magazine that is available exclusively to Member Drills Database subscribers.

The training session was contributed by Kevin Thelwell who is the Head of Football Development and Recruitment for Wolverhampton Wanderers. Reed has been working with professional clubs for more than 13 years. He has earned a UEFA A License and is working toward his UEFA Pro License.

This session is specifically about build up play and providing players with the opportunity to understand specific patterns of play in keeping with the playing style of our club.

We believe it is fundamental that players understand their roles and responsibilities when we are in possession of the ball and are clear on how to progress the ball quickly and securely from one area of the pitch to another.

These activities combine the practice of both core technical skills and tactical understanding to support our players in refining these abilities.

Why is it important to practice this?
In the modern game it is no secret that the most successful teams are those that maintain good possession of the ball and limit the number of turnovers of the ball to the opposition. On this basis it is vital that our teams use the ball well when in possession and are clear about how they wish to play.

1

 

Building from the Back to Score

Set-Up
Two attackers and two defenders are positioned in front of each goal. Two neutral midfielders are between these to groups of players. The remaining players serve as neutral wingers on the outside of the playing area. Two lines of cones running along the width of the 18 yard box through to the half way line.

The neutral contact midfield players build the attack and always play for the team in possession. The two neutral wide players are positioned in each corner of the pitch to support attacking movements.

To begin, a goalkeeper serves a ball to either wide player to start an attack. For each attack both wide players (left and right) are involved and support the progression of the ball by moving with the attack of the team, finishing at the opposite end of the practice.

The forwards for both teams are passive defensively and participate only when their team is attacking. All defenders are ‘live’ at all times.

The attacking team plays until a goal is scored, the ball goes out of bounds or the goalkeeper gains possession. A new attack by the opposition beginning with their keeper serving to a wider player (as previous) attacks the goal at the opposite end of the field.

What do I get the player to do?
The players have the opportunity to practice and work on several patterns of play that are important to our playing philosophy when we are in possession of the ball (see next diagram).

It is important to focus on key technical aspects including quality and tempo of passing, body position to receive and movements to receive the ball. However there is also a strong tactical emphasis to develop understanding between players around specific patterns of play.

GK serves into a wide area, Defenders drop into supporting positions. The ball is switch via a neutral central player and both defenders to the opposite wide player.

  • On this occasion the neutral central on the side of the ball drops deep to receive from the wide player. This player combines with central players to switch play.
  • The forward on the side of the ball drops deeper ‘in between the units’ to create a three in midfield. He combines with central players to switch play.
  • Nearest central player runs forward creating spaces for central player 2 to receive the ball and switch play.

What are the key things to look for?
Timing of movements to receive the ball are very important especially as they must be coordinated with other players.
Passing must also be of a high standard with the ball circulated quickly and securely.

 

2

 

How do I develop the Session?
Allow forward players to become active at all times thus pressurizing all players in possession, creating a 8 v 4 overload.
Add in opposing central midfielders creating 2v2 in central midfield, thus an 8 v 6 overload.
Ensure players handle the ball under pressure by conditioning the practice so that they cannot pass directly back to a ‘neutral’ wide player they received the ball from.

Progression
11 v 6 Overloaded Using Three-Quaters of the Pitch
The goalkeeper serves to any player in the back four who transfer the ball quickly using the patterns focused on in the previous practice.

Overloads can now be created in wide areas via a quick switch of play including wide players coming inside the pitch with full backs overlapping.

3

 

Build towards an 11 v 11 practice by positioning four attackers on the goal line of the attacking team. If possession is lost then these players can now enter play and a counter attack can be launched.

Once the counterattack is complete, these four players leave the pitch and return to their starting positions with the team of 11 players having another opportunity to build up play.

We find that this is an important practice in teaching our young players about maintaining possession of the ball and prioritising how to pass the ball securely.

4

 

Build towards an 11 v 11 practice by positioning four attackers on the goal line of the attacking team. If possession is lost then these players can now enter play and a counter attack can be launched.

Once the counterattack is complete, these four players leave the pitch and return to their starting positions with the team of 11 players having another opportunity to build up play.

We find that this is an important practice in teaching our young players about maintaining possession of the ball and prioritizing how to pass the ball securely.

You can see hundreds of other sessions like this in the Member Drills Database. Right now you can get more than $370 in eBooks and Videos along with access to the Member Drills Database with our Ultimate Soccer Coaching Collection.

Have a great day!

Tom

Progressive Turning Practice

Turning is an important skill to develop because players often receive the ball with their back to pressure and need to have the ability to control the ball around that pressure and move the ball forward.

As with all soccer skills, they developed over time through a number of training sessions but below is one example of a practice that will lead your players through the learning process.

Turning1

Each player has a ball except the first player in one of the lines. That player runs to show through the gate to receive a pass from the teammate across from them. That player then Continue reading ‘Progressive Turning Practice’ »