Monday, 15 November 2010

Preventing Bunching When in Possession


Objective: To encourage players to spread out when in possession

Warm Up: Follow the Leader - This session starts to give the players ownership for the decisions they make. Players stand in pairs, or groups of three with a leader in front. The lead player calls what action players must use to move to around the designated area. They are asked to incorporate as many of the warm up moves we have used in recent weeks (skip, run, jump, high kness, butt flicks etc). No matter what action is suggested by the leader, both he and the other players must carry it out. Reverse the roles at regular intervals.

Short Passing - The players are asked to get into pairs, or threes and to get a cone each and one ball for each group. The players are then asked to go a find some space put the cones on the floor and to start passing the ball to each other. Progressed to receiving on one-side of the cone and passing on the other, by getting the ball out of their feet on the first touch.

Work in small groups: Target Game - Set up an area approx 30 x 20 (dependant upon age and experience, with an end zone at either end. Players will be taken through a series of progressions that will take them from passing the ball by hand to using their feet. Split the players into small groups 3 or 4 players  with one ball for each group. I like to play this on one pitch to create the "chaos" of a normal game.
  1. Then challenge them to move the ball from one end zone to the other by throwing and catching the ball with the emphasis on the players moving into space, but being close enough to receive a pass. Once they reach an end zone they turn and attack the other.
  2. This can then be progressed to rolling the ball along the ground, because they can make longer passes this way the players need to make different decisions about space and distance.
  3. Next the progression is to get the players to put the ball on the floor and have the players pass the ball to each other.
For each of these steps the objective is to pass the ball to a player running into the end zone.


Work in small areas: Target Game -  Dependant on the number of players you have you may have to use more than one pitch. Using the same set up we now start to introduce some opposition into the games. Initially starting off with 1 defender for each group (i.e 3v1 or 4v1). This can become quite tiring for the defender so rotate them regularly. We then work through the same progressions as above:

  1. Challenge them to move the ball from one end zone to the other by throwing and catching the ball with the emphasis on the players moving into space, but being close enough to receive a pass. Once they reach an end zone they turn and attack the other.
  2. This can then be progressed to rolling the ball along the ground, because they can make longer passes this way the players need to make different decisions about space and distance.
  3. Next the progression is to get the players to put the ball on the floor and have the players pass the ball to each other.
You can reward the defenders with a point for each time they recover the ball and return it to an end zone, where play restarts.

Group Work: Normal Match –  Focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players passing well and moving into space when their team is in possession

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Player Development

Here are some messages I believe every adult involved in youth soccer should know:
  • Give the players time.
  • Dont shout from the touchline. You dont shout at kids when they are learning to read, so why is it appropriate when they are learning to play a game.
  • Let players unwind and reflect before you start talking about what they could have done differently in the game.
  • They are children so they do not see things like you. Try getting down to their level and watching the game - you will see something different
  • Learning is long term not short term.
  • Making mistakes and understanding consequences is an important part of their development.
  • A game is short term. If the adults make all the decisions for the players by telling when to shoot, pass, tackle etc you disempower them for short term rewards (A win!)
  • Disempowering players means they never learn to be self-reliant and trust themselves.
  • Player performance moves upwards and downwards in cycles, just like your performance would at work. 
If every adult at youth games understood and took action on these points the game would be more enjoyable for the players. Unfortunately even adults who are aware of this information choose to ignore it because "Its what they have always done" or "Its expected".

Can you add anymore? If so, please leave a comment