Training sessions have started in our area and it’s great to get back on the field with the players again. The summer provides a welcome break but I enjoy working with kids and watching them develop so I’m always excited to start a new year. I have a range of age groups that I’m working with again this year.
The youngest are our U8 Pre Academy boys and the oldest is a U16 girls team. In between I have U10 and U12 girls teams. I enjoy coaching teams that play 6v6 8v8 and 11v11 so these are great groups to have. It also means that I’ll be able to bring you topics that span every age group. Which will keep this podcast relevant for most coaches.
I really enjoy having discussions with coach who comment on the show or send me an email. This week’s topic comes out of one of those conversations.
The focus is on teaching players the importance of constantly checking their shoulder and scanning the field around them so they are aware of the space, pressure and support that they have.
This is a challenge for coaches at every level and I think that you’re going to enjoy this exercises and games.
Vision and Awareness
I recently received an email from a coach, Daniel A. I won’t use his full name because I didn’t ask him if I could. He is looking for some ways to teach his players to be constantly checking their shoulders. Another way to say it is to, ‘Play with their head on a swivel.
I recently read a stat that Xavi, formerly of Barcelona, checked his shoulder and looked around more than 890 times in a single 90 minute game.
Creating this habit will make your players more aware of the position of the ball relative to their teammates and their opponents. The more they are aware of these factors, the easier it is for them to make decisions about where to move and where to play.
When I read his question from Daniel I instantly thought of a DVD that had been sent to us at WORLD CLASS COACHING several years ago call, ‘Developing Vision and Awareness’. I really liked the ideas and methods they used and I tried them with my own teams.
I’ll give you a couple of examples today and put a link to their website in the show notes because there’s a lot more to their methods than I’ll be able to share with you here.
Checking the Shoulder
- Three Players
- Two Passers
- One player in the middle
- Player in the middle looks behind them (checks their shoulder) after the pass is made
- Middle player can pass the ball back one touch or play two touch
Identifying a Color
- Three Players
- Two Passers
- One player in the middle
- Player in the middle checks their shoulder after the pass is made
- Calls out the color of the cone or bib that is held up before their first touch
- The color is held up as the pass is played
- Receiver adjusts to the ball just before checking the shoulder
- Watch for the players moving away to buy time
React Based on the Color
- As before but now two cones are added to the middle
- They match the color of the cones being held up by the passers
- The receiver stays behind the cones so that they can take their first touch outside of the cone to pass it back
- Continue to call out the color
- Get first touch outside of the cone
- Shift the ball with the inside foot and pass with the outside foot
- Checking over both shoulders
One Ball Progression
- The player now turns with the ball and passes it to the player on the other side
- No cones
- With cones
- Cones are spread wide to create a diamond with the players on the end
- The middle player moves between the cones
- Open your body
- Check shoulder after the ball is played
- Call the color out
- Receive with the back foot and pass to the other player
- When the color is red the ball is played back to the same player
- If the color is the same as the one you’re standing on you pass it back
Find the Open Player
- One receive
- Three players with cones (red and yellow)
- Two Players have a ball
- One player passes to the receiver
- Free player holds up a color
- Receive calls the color before taking their first touch
- Pass to the open player
- One or two touch
- Receive with the back foot
- Across the body to set up the pass
- Make sure the players with the balls and colors are always thinking and ready
Position the player in a triangle around the receive
Have the players move freely around the receiver
Two Team Passing and Moving
- Two teams of player in side an area 20×20
- One ball per team
- One player from each team outside the area with two color cone
- The ball is passed from one player to another on the inside
- Receiver calls out the color of the cone held up by their teammate on the outside
- Two teams of players move around and through each other to find space and create angles for passes
- Move without the ball to receive it
- Always know where the ball and the colors are
- Open body to both
- Pass must be to a player on the other team
- Add a red and yellow ball and make players with cones where either a red or yellow penny
- When receiving the red ball, check the red player on the outside
Fun Game – Soccer Tennis
- 10×20 with line of cones down the middle
- Two players on each team
- The ball must bounce before you play it
- You have one touch
- The player who receives it from the other team sets it for their teammate
- That teammate allows it to bounce and plays it over the cones to the other team
- You must check both shoulders before playing the ball
- Add players behind each team with cones
- Call the color of the cone before playing the ball
- Add player in front as well
- First player calls the color behind
- Second player calls the color in front
There are a lot of other great ideas on the DVD. There are some 2 v 1 and 3 v 2 games that help to transfer the concepts to game situations more quickly.
They also have some other tools and ideas for adding even more complexity. I highly recommend you checking the ‘Developing Vision and Awareness’ DVD out soon.
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In the Next Episode
At the start of each year I always plan a shooting session for my teams regardless of the age group or experience level. Players at every level need to be reminded of the key principles of ball striking and finishing. On next week’s show I’ll share a progressive training session that I used this week with my own teams.