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Passing Combinations

UEFA A Licence Coach, Tim Wareing, operates his Academy in Belfast. The ex Academy Director of Irish League side, Lisburn Distillery, shares his latest elite session with The Soccer Store. All the equipment that Tim uses can be purchased direct from The Soccer Store.  The focus this week is on passing.

It’s a pet hate of mine that with some coaches the first they do at training is send their players for a run as they arrive.  I want my players good on the ball & enjoying the sessions so the first thing they see is the ball.  Below is a typical warm up with the ball.  I delivered this to my younger group at the academy aged from 6-10.

Warm Up With Ball

Warm Up With Ball

Emphasis

Dribbling warm up with the ball with series of turns & movements.

Set-Up

All players have a ball & dribble inside a 30 x 30 yard area.

Objectives

All players dribble around the grid with their ball attacking space. Players should listen to the instructions called by the coach. Encourage players to attack space, use different fakes, moves & turns.

Progressions

  1. Players exchange balls with each other.
  2. Stop their ball & take another one.
  3. Stop their ball, jump in the air (while calling their name) & take another one.
  4. Stop their ball, touch the ground with both hands, then take another one.
  5. Stop the ball, roll it back with the sole of the foot, then take another one.
  6. Stop the ball, sit down, get up quickly & take another one.
  7. Stop the ball & take another one away at pace.
  8. Stop the ball, jump & shoulder charge the opponent, then take their ball.
  9. Stop the ball, jockey back three steps, then take another one.
  10. Stop the ball, run to touch the other ball, then run back to their own.

Add more as you please.

Coaching

  • Dribbling skills.
  • Close ball control.
  • Lots of touches, left & right foot.
  • Head up.
  • Turns & change of direction.
  • Awareness.
  • Attack space.
  • Speed.

The main focus of the session today was passing.  Although I generally don’t like boring drills I introduce a gate for a target that the players must make accurate passes for the ball to go through.  For a bit of fun you could play a game of ‘donkey’ that if a player makes an wayward pass they receive a letter.  Adds a little competition & helps keep players focus.

Passing / Receiving Through Targets

Passing / Receiving Through Targets

Emphasis

Passing accuracy.

Set-Up

One ball between two players.  Players should face each other 5-10 yards away from each other with a mini gate set up in the middle.  The gate should be approx a yard wide.

Objectives

X1 passes to X2 through the gate placed in between the players.  X2 controls the ball & passes it back through the gates to X1.  Players count how many passes go through the gates successfully in the time limit.

Progressions

  1. Condition passing foot.
  2. Players have to control with the left & play with right foot & vice versa.
  3. Reduce time.
  4. Increase the distance.
  5. If players miss a gate – there score returns to zero – keep count.

Coaching

  • Use inside of the foot.
  • Lock ankle square to the target.
  • On toes to receive a pass – move into line with the ball.
  • Communication – call partners name.
  • Try to be quick but maintain accuracy.
  • Help partner with straight passes.

I soon progressed the session so that players had to think how they received the ball along with shifting the ball.  This encouraged a good open body & worked on first touch as well as changing the angle of their pass.

Passing / Receiving Through Targets 2

Passing / Receiving Through Targets 2

Emphasis

Passing accuracy & shifting the angle of the ball.

Set-Up

One ball between two players.  Players should face each other 5-10 yards away from each other with a mini gate set up in the middle.  The gate should be approx a yard wide.

Objectives

X1 passes to X2 through the gate placed in between the players.  X2 takes the ball to the outside of the right foot & plays back down side of markers to X1.  X1 keeps playing the ball through the centre cones.  X2 uses alternate feet & plays back down alternative sides – reverse roles.

Progressions

  1. Players then use the inside of the foot & take the ball across the body.  Use disguise before making a move & playing the ball back to a partner.
  2. Reduce time.
  3. Increase the distance.

Coaching

  • Use markers as a defender.
  • Take the ball out of the feet & make crisp passes back.
  • On toes to receive a pass – move into line with the ball.
  • Communication – call partners name.
  • Throw a dummy / disguise movement.
  • Quick change of feet after a dummy to make a quicker return pass.
  • Look up before passing.

As I wanted the session to become more game realistic & offer more freedom for the players we took away the cones & used the open pitch.  We simply encouraged them to take up positions to receive the ball & form a triangle shape in groups of 3.  I was that encouraged on how they performed we then operated the session open play.  Basically we had 12 players & 4 balls on the go.  It was great to see how well they carried this out!

Combination Play

Combination Play

Emphasis

Combination passing.

Set-Up

Players spread out over half a pitch.  1 ball between 3 players.

Objectives

Players begin with playing any combination of passes to each other & moving anywhere through the half of the field.

Progressions

  1. 1 player must now play a series of give-and-go with the other 2 players.
  2. Once a player has performed a give-and-go, 1 of the other players does a takeover (1 play dribbles the ball toward another player & then leaves the ball for the other player to take.)  This will alternate the passer each time.
  3. Players make the following combinations; short pass, long pass, take-over.
  4. Finish with players being given free roles & allowing to make / receive a pass from anyone.

Coaching

  • Communication & understanding.
  • Players should use 1 or 2 touches only & use both feet.
  • Speed of play.
  • Quality passing, weight & accuracy.

As always it is important to keep that theme throughout.  We finished with the 5 Goal Game so that players were awarded points for dribbling & passing through target gates.  There was also bonus points on offer for passing combinations.

5 Goal Game

5 Goal Game

Emphasis

Possession & combination game focusing on changing the point of attack.

Set-Up

2 equal teams play on half a pitch.  5 mini goals / gates are set up within the area using poles or dome cones.

You can adapt the size of the area & the amount of mini goals set up to suit your group.

Objectives

Teams combine to score a point through dribbling through the gates, passing through the gates or score a bonus point by playing a 1-2 / give-&-go through the gates.

Players are not allowed to score back-to-back goals in the same gate.

Progressions

  1. Add more mini goals / gates.
  2. Colour code certain gates, i.e. gates on the wing to encourage good width.

Coaching

  • Good first touch.
  • Quality passing.
  • Movement & work rate on / off ball.
  • Don’t force it through gate, look to open up & switch.
  • Always receive ball side on.
  • Awareness.
  • Communication.

This was a nice session.  The players really enjoyed it & it offered progressions that challenged the players.  We have some terrific little talents that have a hunger to learn & carried everything out so well.  Let us know how you get on with your squad.

Session Notes

Here is my session notes from a recent academy session.  After the players warmed up with the ball through dribbling & juggling we transferred into some fun warm up activities.  This developed into a terrific passing, receiving & turning exercise that I received from Rene Meulensteen from Manchester United.

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction

Emphasis

Fun warm up concentrating on speed of thought & reaction speed.

Set-Up

Vary size of grid but generally 20 x 20 yard grid is nice size.

Adapt depending on your squad size.  The diagram is based on a squad of 14.

Objectives

Players should inter link arms in groups of 3 to create chains.  In the diagram you can see 4 chains of players leaving two players free in the middle.

Player 1 tries to get on the end of a chain before player 2 catches them.  If player 1 links onto player C from the red chain then player 2 tries to catch player A from the reds before he reacts & then they try to join another chain.

Progressions

  1. Introduce a ball.

Coaching

  • Speed.
  • Reaction.
  • Communication.

This always offers great fun & laughs with the players & is a simple warm up session.  We then developed to increase the tempo & introduce the ball as early as possible with the session below…

Quick Feet

Quick Feet

Emphasis

Quick feet & reaction.

Set-Up

Place a number of random cones set out in the middle of the area.  Have 4 groups spaced around each side of the square about 10-15 yards away.

Objectives

On the coaches call, the first player from each group attempt to get across the coned area.

Players must side step the other players & use quick feet to avoid touching the cones on their way across.

Progressions

  1. Introduce a ball for each player.
  2. Set up goals in each corner.  After players dribble through the cones they finish with a strike at goal.
  3. You can introduce goalkeepers & defenders.  If on grass use poles rather than cones in the middle.

Coaching

  • Quick side stepping.
  • Reaction movement.
  • Good ball control.

We progressed to a great session that was created by Manchester United first team coach, Rene Meulensteen.  This is terrific for passing, receiving, turning, timing & understanding.  There is 2 great progressions to the below session that we will share at a later date.

Link Up Play – Receiving & Turning

Link Up Play - Receiving & Turning

Emphasis

Receiving, passing, turning & link up play.

Set-Up

Vary the size of the grid to suit your players & what you want from the session.  Larger grid offers further distance for passing but smaller sized grid offers less space for turning & keeps the session game realistic.

I’ve carried this session out in a 12 x 12 yard grid.  Great – especially when the session develops & 4 players have to turn with the ball & deliver it to another wall player!

Objectives

The outside red players pass to the red players inside the grid.  They return the pass then switch to the opposite player on the other side.  The yellow players carry out the same process.  Aim for 1 touch passing.

Session develops from red pass to red / yellow pass to yellow to red receives from yellow & yellow from red etc.

Timing of pass, look over shoulder, turn & receive is essential from all players so the session doesn’t break down!

Rotate & switch the players roles.

Progressions

  1. Players in the middle turn whilst receiving & play to the player on the opposite side of the grid.
  2. Players receive take the ball across then take the player on in 1 v 1 on the other side of the grid.

Coaching

  • Movement.
  • Accuracy.
  • Change of direction with / without ball.
  • Awareness & communication.
  • Timing.

The players then transferred to my Academy assistant for some tactical training through small sided games.

Coaches, always adapt.  My diagrams above will show a certain amount of players but if you don’t have enough – adapt!  Adjust the size of the pitch too.  Insure your players enjoy the training but demand a lot of hard work from them at the same time.

Let me know how you get on if you use with your own team.  Always feel free to re-post & share as long as you link back to my blog.

Want more info?  You can access over 450 of my session plans by clicking here!  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube

Passing Sequences & Movement Off The Ball

Sundays Academy session concentrated heavily on passing sequences & movement off the ball.  It was a nice session that developed well from the typical drills to offering players a bit more freedom & creativity to develop passing combinations & support play.  We used Barcelona as a prime example.  Their build up play can be patient then all of a sudden carve a team open.  Short passing through likes of Xavi or Iniesta then the through ball to Messi.

As always we filmed the session.  I was happy with everything up to my possession game.  The idea of the possession game was to take the idea of the passing short & keeping possession to a set number of passes before switching the ball to another grid.  I must admit I didn’t get the results from it that I intended but as coaches it is important to realise this & adapt.  Either by making a change to the game or simply bin the idea!  Never continually force the players to do something that is not achieving what you have set out to do.  I quickly assessed this & knew it was time to switch the session.  My Academy assistant had the next stage of the session set up & transferred the players over.

Warm up…

Control Game With Keepers

Control Game With Keepers

Emphasis

Passing, control / first touch, communication & catching for goalkeeper.

Set-Up

Players spread out around half a pitch in a circle.  All players on the outside have a ball.  One outfield player works inside the circle without a ball & with a goalkeeper.

Objectives

In turn outfield players drive the ball in toward the middle player.  They must control for the keeper to combine & catch.  For each successful touch by the outfield player & catch by the keeper they receive a point.

Keeper should throw the ball back to the server.

Progressions

  1. Rotate outfield player in centre.
  2. Operate as a competition.
  3. Set a time limit.
  4. Vary the service.
  5. Limit the outfield player in the centre to one touch.
  6. Condition what part of the body they must use.
  7. Get the inside player to work the keeper by not offering them ‘presents’.  Make them work to catch the ball.

Coaching

  • Quality passing from servers.
  • Good first touch.
  • Communication.
  • Catching technique.
  • Distribution.

Again we operated with a few variations.  We started with the player in the middle taking turn to rotate with outside player while juggling the ball.  This developed to adding 2 players to take it in turn to remain in the middle of the circle to combine together.  This is ideal to work with an outfield player & goalkeeper.

The Technical Bit…

We then got players to work in groups of 3 with 2 balls.  This was to get their footwork & passing going to a nice high tempo.  Nice session to improve peripheral vision & of course when we talk about that the player that springs to mind is Paul Scholes.  Did you know he used to do a warm up with his eyes before every match?!

The Paul Scholes Passing Session

The Paul Scholes Passing Session

Emphasis

Paul Scholes of Manchester United is renowned for his vision.  His ability of passing the ball over 40 yards at ease is superb to watch.  What makes Paul Scholes a world class player is his vision.

This session is perfect to improve your players’ peripheral vision.  This is a part of vision that occurs outside the very centre of gaze.

Set-Up

3 players stand in a triangle.  The player at the top of the triangle stands in between the 2 players with the ball.

You can use cones if necessary.

Objectives

The players with a ball, in turn, pass to the target.  They must pass the ball across the targets body so they pass back with the inside of their foot.

The target player works both feet but should stand with open body looking straight down the middle of the facing players.  They should look to play one touch & increase the speed of play.

The player at the top of the triangle works for 30 seconds – 1 minute then changes.

Progressions

  1. Instead of letting the ball come across your body & passing with the inside of your foot, vary to pass near side & with the outside of your foot.
  2. Increase / decrease distance between players.

Coaching

  • Stand open body.
  • Weight & accuracy of pass.
  • First touch.
  • Peripheral vision.
  • Communication & understanding.

This then led in nicely to our passing drill.  When you watch the video you will see I had 2 grids set up to suit my group size.  This also formed the basis for my development in the Barca Passing Sequence before using the set up for the final possession game.  Use your set up wisely.  No waiting about for players & it doesn’t put you under pressure either!

Passing Drill

Passing Drill

Emphasis

Pass, move & support session.

Set-Up

20 x 20 yard grid with 2 players & one ball at one corner & then another player at each corner.

Objectives

Player passes to next corner & follows their pass for lay off & return the pass, one-two.

Progressions

  1. Change of direction to use other foot.
  2. Skip out the return pass & play direct to the next corner, i.e. play ‘give & go’.  (See diagram.)

Coaching

  • Good passing.
  • First touch & lay off.
  • Movement, don’t wait on pass.
  • Timing & weight of pass.
  • Communication.

This is what I call my boring passing drill.  It simply was to get the players used to playing the ball…also checking before receiving & some basic combinations like ’1-2′s’ & ‘give-&-gos’.  This developed on to the next development that allowed the players a bit more freedom.

Barca Passing Sequence

Barca Passing Sequence

Emphasis

Emphasis is based on pass & move that the great Barcelona demonstrate with the likes of Iniesta, Xavi & Messi.  Looking for the short pass, short pass then killer through ball.

Set-Up

Set up as per diagram, 2 cones facing each other approx 20 yards apart.  Have a supply of balls at either end.

Objectives

First passing sequence with the red players;

  • Player A makes the first pass to player B who has checked & moved away.
  • Player B then lays the ball off to player C.
  • Player A then over laps player B to receive the pass in space from player C.
  • Player A then passes to player D.
  • Player D operates the same sequence but as a mirror image.

Second passing sequence with the yellow players;

  • Player A makes the first pass to player B who has checked & moved away.  Player A then follows their pass.
  • Player B then lays the ball off to player C.
  • Player B then over laps player C to receive the pass in space from player A.
  • Player B then passes to player D.
  • Player D operates the same sequence but as a mirror image.

Progressions

  1. Vary distance & technique of pass.
  2. Look at creating different passing movements.
  3. Finish with a shot at goal.

Coaching

  • Communication & understanding.  Player should shout, ‘set’.
  • Players should use 1 or 2 touches only & use both feet.
  • Play ‘side on’.
  • Movement on / off ball.
  • Speed of play.
  • Quality passing, weight & accuracy.

Really happy with the session & players find it easy to identify by using pro players / teams to explain.  How many times do you see Xavi, Iniesta & Messi combine like this?  To finish of my part of the academy session I took everything that we had worked with into a possession game focusing on switching the ball.

The Tactical Bit…

Break Out Game

Break Out Game

Emphasis

Possession game encouraging movement off the ball & support play.

Set-Up

Session takes place in a 50 x 20 yard area.  3 sections are divided inside this area.  First section is 20 x 20, second section is 10 x 20 & third section is 20 x 20.

Objectives

Play takes place in the first section with a 5 v 2 possession game.  After set number of passes have been reached the ball should be passed into section 2 for a team mate to run onto.

They then pass & link up in section 3 to continue the possession game of 5 v 2.

For each successful attack the attackers receive a goal.  If the defenders should win possession they receive a goal for 3 consecutive passes.

Progressions

  1. Rotate players roles.
  2. 1 or 2 touch passing.
  3. Ball must be chipped into area 2.
  4. Extra players introduced.
  5. Area made smaller to demand better control & movement.

Coaching

  • Work rate on / off ball.
  • Quality passing.
  • Look for space.
  • Width & support.
  • Look to switch.
  • Communication & understanding.

With being a player short I operated 4 v 2 in each end zone.  Although this offered no real incentive for the defending team.  I adapted the game so we had 3 teams, i.e. 3 teams of 4 players.  The focus was still on 4 v 2 in each end zone.  If the orange team kept the ball for 5 passes in their zone they would transfer the ball to the yellow team in the other end zone to do the same.  If the 2 players from the blue team won the ball from the yellows the other 2 blue players would switch from the other end zone to join them while 2 yellow players would switch grids, i.e. it was the yellow team trying to win the ball back as their punishment while the blue team tried to complete 5 passes before combining with the orange team.

The players found this quite confusing & as I was not getting the results I wanted from the game I decided to finish this part of the session early.  As coaches never be afraid to change or move on.  Don’t force players to continually do something that no one is benefiting from!  My Academy assistant was then ready to transfer the players over to work on playing through the midfield.  We then finished with some free play.

Coaches, always adapt.  My diagrams above will show a certain amount of players but if you don’t have enough – adapt!  Adjust the size of the pitch too.  Insure your players enjoy the training but demand a lot of hard work from them at the same time.

Let me know how you get on if you use with your own team.  Always feel free to re-post & share as long as you link back to my blog.

Want more info?  You can access over 450 of my session plans by clicking here!  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube

Passing Time

Here is my session plan notes from my Academy session a few weeks ago.  The focus was on passing.  I started with basic technique to working in groups of 3 & developing into some free play & a tactical game focusing on the technical sessions.

Warm Up…

I like my warm ups to introduce the ball straight away.  My players know on arrival to get a ball & go for a dribble & have some fun.  You see the main use of a ball net for me is to carry the balls from my van to the pitch.  Unlike other ‘coaches’ I don’t use it to keep all my balls sitting in it as some sort of blackmail that if they listen & do laps for a warm up their reward will to be to open the bag & get a ball!

Barca Keepie Ups

Barca Keepie Ups

Emphasis

Fun game for players to ‘show off’ their juggling skills!

Set-Up

Split players into groups.  They make a circle & join hands.  One ball per group.  Mark out an area using cones where groups have to start from & finish.

Objectives

Groups must perform keepie ups & move from one side of the area to the other.  They can then race back to the starting point.

The ball must be kept off the ground while performing keepie ups between each other.

Progressions

  1. Rather than move from one side of the coaching area to the other have groups perform in the same area joining hands.  If a player mis controls they leave the circle.  Play until there is a winner.

Coaching

  • Be confident & comfortable on the ball.
  • Keep body relaxed.
  • Keep eye on the ball.
  • Good control over ball.
  • Communication.

Fun & increase the tempo…

After the fun juggling exercise I introduce another enjoyable session (although without a ball – shock!) that helps to get your players switched on & increase the tempo & concentration…try this & even join in for a bit of fun!

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction

Emphasis

Fun warm up concentrating on speed of thought & reaction speed.

Set-Up

Vary size of grid but generally 20 x 20 yard grid is nice size.

Adapt depending on your squad size.  The diagram is based on a squad of 14.

Objectives

Players should inter link arms in groups of 3 to create chains.  In the diagram you can see 4 chains of players leaving two players free in the middle.

Player 1 tries to get on the end of a chain before player 2 catches them.  If player 1 links onto player C from the red chain then player 2 tries to catch player A from the reds before he reacts & then they try to join another chain.

Progressions

  1. Introduce a ball.

Coaching

  • Speed.
  • Reaction.
  • Communication.

The technical bit…

We started with the basics with this boring drill but is great to remind young players how to pass a ball.  For older players it’s nice to offer something simple for them to touch & pass the ball many times.

Passing / Receiving Through Targets

Passing / Receiving Through Targets

Emphasis

Passing accuracy.

Set-Up

One ball between two players.  Players should face each other 5-10 yards away from each other with a mini gate set up in the middle.  The gate should be approx a yard wide.

Objectives

X1 passes to X2 through the gate placed in between the players.  X2 controls the ball & passes it back through the gates to X1.  Players count how many passes go through the gates successfully in the time limit.

Progressions

  1. Condition passing foot.
  2. Players have to control with the left & play with right foot & vice versa.
  3. Reduce time.
  4. Increase the distance.
  5. If players miss a gate – there score returns to zero – keep count.

Coaching

  • Use inside of the foot.
  • Lock ankle square to the target.
  • On toes to receive a pass – move into line with the ball.
  • Communication – call partners name.
  • Try to be quick but maintain accuracy.
  • Help partner with straight passes.

Develop to…

This allows players freedom for passing combinations to having some fun with long range passing & being able to ‘ping’ a ball to one of their team mates.

Combination Play

Combination Play

Emphasis

Combination passing.

Set-Up

Players spread out over half a pitch.  1 ball between 3 players.

Objectives

Players begin with playing any combination of passes to each other & moving anywhere through the half of the field.

Progressions

  1. 1 player must now play a series of give-and-go with the other 2 players.
  2. Once a player has performed a give-and-go, 1 of the other players does a takeover (1 play dribbles the ball toward another player & then leaves the ball for the other player to take.)  This will alternate the passer each time.
  3. Players make the following combinations; short pass, long pass, take-over.
  4. Finish with players being given free roles & allowing to make / receive a pass from anyone.

Coaching

  • Communication & understanding.
  • Players should use 1 or 2 touches only & use both feet.
  • Speed of play.
  • Quality passing, weight & accuracy.

The Tactical bit…

We take what we have worked on from the technical sessions into a game scenario.

5 Goal Game

5 Goal Game

Emphasis

Possession & combination game focusing on changing the point of attack.

Set-Up

2 equal teams play on half a pitch.  5 mini goals / gates are set up within the area using poles or dome cones.

You can adapt the size of the area & the amount of mini goals set up to suit your group.

Objectives

Teams combine to score a point through dribbling through the gates, passing through the gates or score a bonus point by playing a 1-2 / give-&-go through the gates.

Players are not allowed to score back-to-back goals in the same gate.

Progressions

  1. Add more mini goals / gates.
  2. Colour code certain gates, i.e. gates on the wing to encourage good width.

Coaching

  • Good first touch.
  • Quality passing.
  • Movement & work rate on / off ball.
  • Don’t force it through gate, look to open up & switch.
  • Always receive ball side on.
  • Awareness.
  • Communication.

Free Play…

Allow time for your players to finish with a small sided game at the end of the session.

Cool Down…

Football Tennis

Football Tennis

Emphasis

Fun cool down concentrating on control & first touch.

Set-Up

6 v 6 on a 30 x 20 yard grid with tennis net in middle or series of 6ft spiked poles. Obviously change the numbers / grid size to suit your group.

 

Objectives

Fun game of footy tennis. One team serves the ball out of their hands from the back of the grid. The ball is allowed one bounce before it has to be returned to the opposition.

Players can combine with each other before returning to the other side of the grid.

Can use any part of the body apart from your hands.

First team to 10 wins.

Progressions

  1. Players must juggle the balls a certain amount of time before returning.
  2. Certain amount of players must touch / combine before returning the ball.

Coaching

  • First touch.
  • Control.
  • Keep eye on ball.
  • Keep body relaxed.
  • Work as team.
  • Communication.

Coaches, always adapt.  My diagrams above will show a certain amount of players but if you don’t have enough – adapt!  Adjust the size of the pitch too.  Insure your players enjoy the training but demand a lot of hard work from them at the same time.

Want more info?  You can access over 450 of my session plans by clicking here!  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube

U12 Training Session

I took a session for a local U12 side last week.  I always prefer my sessions to run smoothly so players aren’t standing about but also that each session is based around the same theme.  Last Thursday was an awful night.  Strong winds and rain so essential that the players were kept busy and always moving.  Likewise, having your coaching area set up so players can move from one thing to the next without you having to have them stand about and take time to re-set your coaching area.  I like to see all players with a ball during the warm up dribbling, performing skills and juggling the ball.

My warm up started with all players in a 10 x 10 yard grid with a ball.  I made a further 4 different coloured 10 x 10 grids in either corner.  This concept is taken from my great Dutch friend, Bert-Jan Heijmans.  All players remained in the centre grid dribbling the ball, perfoming skills & juggling the ball.  I then performed the ‘Ronaldo 7′ which is 7 different skills performed while the ball is stationary.  The idea is that your feet is furthest away from your brain so through repetition will lead to improvement on speed, reaction and the idea of performing skills on the pitch ‘without thinking about it’ or if you prefer, instinct.

I then worked on a spatial awareness game.  I had 16 players in the centre zone so I wanted them to react on my whistle and dribble at speed to either of the 4 outside grids.  If done correctly we would have 4 players in each grid.  The players had great success from this.  You can also operate a number of  ‘mini games’ within each grid like ’3 v 1′ or ‘Ball Hunter’.

My diagram below doesn’t exactly show what I have explained as it is another variation on my session.  If you add another grid in the middle and obviously base on the idea that the players will be split equally amongst the grids.

Dribbling Grid Game

Dribbling Grid Game

Emphasis

Dribbling, spatial awareness & listening skills game.

Set-Up

Great game if you are on your own as a coach or waiting for another group to finish before your allocated time meaning no set up time or little preparation.

Start the session inside a 10 x 10 yard grid using all the same colour of cones (although in my diagram you can’t see this the grid should appear in the middle with the other 4 grids on the outside.) All players have a ball & dribble around. While the players are doing that set up another 10 x 10 yard grid alongside it, but leaving a 10 yard safety area. This time use a different colour of cones.

Encourage players to look for space & perform skills. Again leave another 10 yard safety area & set up a third 10 x 10 yard area using another colour but keeping inside a ‘square’ shape. Finally set up a forth 10 x 10 yard area using a forth different colour of cones.

Objectives

With four different coloured 10 x 10 yard areas set up on the outside players should dribble within the centre grid.  On the coaches call players should dribble at speed to the outside grids.  I worked with 16 players so ideally there should be 4 players in each grid (unlike my diagram!)  On the next call players return to the centre grid.

This is an excellent session for players to improve their decision making & getting their head up.

Progressions

  1. Play mini games when players are in the outside grids like ’3 v 1′ & ‘Ball Hunter’.

Coaching

  • Dribbling skills.
  • Tricks.
  • Head up.
  • Look for space.
  • Change of direction / speed.
  • Awareness.
  • Listening skills.

Set up well so players don't stand about

It is essential to plan and set your session up so that it runs smoothly and players aren’t standing about getting cold, distracted & bored!
I wanted to work on 1 v 1′s and continue the theme of dribbling, skills, turns and work at a high tempo.  My next session was easily combined into the set up from the first part of my session.
With having 4 grids set up on the outside all I had to do at the start of the session was leave a couple of extra cones down in each grid for the mini goals.
Players then worked in their groups of 4, playing 1 v 1.  This in turn kept the high tempo but also allowed enough recovery for each player.
Having mini goals on either side of the grid insures players can change direction to beat & fool the defender.  Although if the defender should gain possession they then become the attacker.
Rotate players so that everyone has an opportunity to play both as an attacker and a defender.  I named the session after PSV as I viewed it at their Academy!

PSV 1 V 1

PSV 1 v 1

Emphasis

1 v 1 duel, beat the defender with a move at speed.

This is a simple session that I viewed at the PSV training ground.  The Academy played this at a high tempo.

Don’t have long lines although work in groups of 4-5 players per grid so each player receives a recovery period.

Set-Up

Set up 10 x 10 yard grids with a safety area between each one.

Players should position themselves at the top of the grid in the centre facing the defender at the bottom of the grid.

A mini goal should be placed on either side of the grid.

Objectives

Defender starts with the ball (red player).  They make a firm pass to the attacker (yellow player).

The attacker should meet the ball & both players come to the middle of the grid.  The attacker performs a skill & attacks one of the goals while the defender applies pressure.

Encourage the attacker to be brave, perform a skill & play at speed.  They should also be patient & if they cannot score in one goal look to switch & attack the other goal.

Progressions

  1. Increase / decrease area depending on age & group ability.
  2. Change roles so each player has an opportunity of being a defender & an attacker.
  3. If defender wins ball they can attack either goal.

Coaching

For attackers;

  • Accurate driven pass.
  • Good close ball control.
  • Assertiv, determined dribbling in tight space.
  • Use of both feet.
  • Change of direction.
  • Skills & turns.
  • Fakes.
  • Be direct.
  • Speed.
  • Be brave.

For defenders;

  • Deny time & space for opponents.
  • Pressure first touch.
  • Close down space quickly.
  • Jockey opponents.
  • Force player wide – away from gate.
  • Tackle opponent correctly – not from behind, make contact with ball & ensure correct timing.
  • Don’t go to ground unless the ball is played out of play.
  • Showing a player inside – outside.
I am always keen to take what is learnt in the technical session into a tactical themed game.  I thought the 5 goal game was perfect as it encourages spatial awareness with changing the point of attack.  The scoring system encourages 1 v 1 and dribbling as a player dribbling through the gates receives a goal.  It also combines team play & passing.  If a player passes to a team mate they receive 2 goals and to encourage movement and support the team is awarded a bonus goal for a 1-2.
I had 16 players so I played 5 v 5 + a neutral player (i.e. they play with the team in possession making it 6 v 5).  To keep all players active and not to over crowd the pitch I played another team of 5 as wall players.  They were spread around the outside of the pitch and were restricted to 2 touches and couldn’t be tackled but had to play at speed.  They could move up & down but not allowed to enter the playing area.  I played roughly 5 minutes a match with every team taking a turn as wall players.

5 Goal Game

5 Goal Game

Emphasis

Possession & combination game focusing on changing the point of attack.

Set-Up

2 equal teams play on half a pitch.  5 mini goals / gates are set up within the area using poles or dome cones.

You can adapt the size of the area & the amount of mini goals set up to suit your group.

Objectives

Teams combine to score a point through dribbling through the gates, passing through the gates or score a bonus point by playing a 1-2 / give-&-go through the gates.

Players are not allowed to score back-to-back goals in the same gate.

Progressions

  1. Add more mini goals / gates.
  2. Colour code certain gates, i.e. gates on the wing to encourage good width.

Coaching

  • Good first touch.
  • Quality passing.
  • Movement & work rate on / off ball.
  • Don’t force it through gate, look to open up & switch.
  • Always receive ball side on.
  • Awareness.
  • Communication.
I finished with small sided games with no restrictions (again I rotated the teams but the resting team played as wall players to stay active).  Apart from some encouragement, praise and lighted heartedness let the kids play – they listen to us coaches enough!
Let me have your thoughts on my session plan and if you have tried it.  Great to have feedback!  One thing you will see is that my players always have a ball at their feet.  With the session being set up so well players did not get cold or frustrated.  They were kept moving during the entire session and I kept my coaching points short and to the point.  They were that busy enjoying the session the gale force winds and rain were forgotten about!

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