Objective: To encourage players to use the ball to prevent bunching
I was likely to be coaching up to 16 young kids on my own, so wanted a session that needed little explaining and as little setting up during the session as possible.
So with some forward planning and inspiration from a fellow coach this is what I put together. Once set up, I only needed to take cones away for the progressions to the next stage.
Warm Up: Ball Work - In a grid appropriate to the age of the players set up a number of gates using three different coloured cones. All the players have a ball and the coach calls out one of the three colours, the players then have to dribble their ball through those coloured gates, when the coach shouts out a different colour the players change and dribble through those. The coach should change the colour frequently (20 to 30 seconds). Or why not try getting the players to perform a skill or turn as they go through the gate.
After 2-3 minutes stop the players and run through some dynamic stretches.
Follow the stretching with some light jogging. As at the beginning the coach calls out a colour while the players are jogging in the grid but the players must now sprint through a gate of the colour the coach called and then return to a light jog.
Passing in Pairs - Every pair takes a ball and stands opposite each other at a gate with one ball for each pair. The coach gets the players to start passing the ball between the gate 1 and 2 touch (make it a competition by asking them to count the passes). The coach should then progress the passing to using the weaker foot and then getting the pairs to take it in turns to take a touch and pass the ball back to their partner around the outside of the cones. As before practice with the weaker foot.
Work in small groups: The Parma Game - Split the group into 4 teams and play two of these games parallel to each other. To score a goal, a player from one team has to pass the ball through the goal, where a player from his team controls the ball on the other side without any of the opposition touching it first. (You can score in either side of the goal.) You then have to score through a different goal before you can return to the one you have just scored in, unless the opposition get the ball. Players need to get their heads up to see the full picture and pass accurately.
Work in small areas: Through the Gates - This small sided game like the Parma Game above I can accredit to Paul Cooper. Again run with two games running in parallel. The game is run like a normal game without keepers, but with a condition that for a goal to count the ball has to be passed or dribbled through one of two gates placed on the halfway line during the approach play from a teams defensive half.