Posts tagged ‘Passing’

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’ »

3 v 2 Defending

This week’s post is from Don Herlan, author of Smedley’s Drills Volumes 1-4 and Smedley’s Defending 20.

This is a drill that I stole from the men’s basketball coach at St. Francis University back when I coached there. He was working with his players on defending the fast break, and I thought that I could use this same drill to work on tandem defense. And it worked great. To me, this is a classic example of what makes for a good drill—there is enthusiasm, there is learning, and there is a total involvement on the part of the players. And like all effective drills, the longer it runs, the better it gets.

‘Numbers down’ drills like this one will get the defenders a ton of repetitions with 3 v 2, 2 v 1, and 1 v 1 situations. And it is essential that they learn how to deal with the dilemma of being a man down until help arrives. Also, they will get to see all kinds of looks and combinations from the attackers—overlaps, takeovers, switches, thru runs—while having to go 1 v 1 with the dribbler at the same time. When this drill is run at top speed, it becomes incredibly game-like and valuable for the defenders.

*Note for the coaches: It takes a little while to get this drill set up and organized, and a few of the players may be a little confused at first about switching in and out of the Continue reading ‘3 v 2 Defending’ »

Different Diamond Passing Drill

Teaching players the technical skills of the game is the most important job of a coach who is working with young players. Finding new and creative ways to help the players groove passing technique is one of the more challenging things to do. The players need hundreds of repetitions of the correct technique before their muscles can repeat the motion accurately. There’s only so long that two players can stand across from each other and pass the ball back and forth before they’ll grow bored and loose focus. But if you move too quickly into competitive passing and possession games, which are fun and engaging, then the players won’t use the correct technique and they’ll end up repeating poor passes. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes permanent.

So new ways to present the same technical challenge becomes the objective. One of the variations I’ve used is from a session that I found in our, ‘Training Sessions of Europe’s Top Teams‘. It’s a session that Jan Prujin of Ajax F.C. Continue reading ‘Different Diamond Passing Drill’ »

Relating Diamond Drills to the Game

I use diamond passing drills as often as possible in my sessions because of how closely they resemble the shape of the game. They relate to every age and and every level of the game.

They are the most powerful when you’re able to connect the passing movements in the drill with the movements on the field in a game situation.

This progression of exercises increase in complexity and finishes by putting the patterns on a field using the formation the team will be using in the game.

Diamond Drill – Passing & Turning
In the following diagrams, five players are lined up in a diamond formation 20 yards apart. Each drill begins with X1 starting with the ball.
• X1 begins by passing to X2 and follows the pass
• X2 moves away, first to create space in front, and then checks back
• X2 turns with the ball around the OUTSIDE of the cone
• X2 then passes to X3, and follows the pass
• X3 moves away and then checks in
• Repeat sequence

Diamond Drill Passing &Turning – Variation
Players must now Continue reading ‘Relating Diamond Drills to the Game’ »

Five Goal Warm-Up Game

Lately I’ve begun many of my training sessions with a game. Not necessarily as a Whole – Part – Whole practice progression but just as a way to engage the players from the start and get them energized and excited to at training.

This is a game that I’ve used as a warm-up and in the main part of the session. I like it because of how many different things you can coach depending on your focus. As with most small-sided games, the kids really enjoy playing it so they get a lot out of it.

Here is how the field is set up:

The size of the field and goals can vary based on the Continue reading ‘Five Goal Warm-Up Game’ »