Small Ball: Skills Development ~ Windows 3 & 4
Executing the fundamentals of passing & receiving under control with an idea of the next move is critical to a successful passing game. Emphasizing good passing & receiving discipline in practice is essential to helping players develop these skills and to compete at higher levels.
Developing the passing game in increments is the best way to create solid fundamentals. Emphasize good technique, well placed and well paced balls that lead a player away from pressure or into an opportune space that enable a good trap under pressure or on the run.
Below is an exercise that gives players an opportunity to execute the necessary skills in traffic with no pressure. We like to design exercises that offer large quantities of quality touches in our sessions.
Set up: Build a grid large enough to accommodate the players involved. For 16 players a 30 yard x 30 yard grid might be appropriate.
Using cones create windows 8 – 10 yards wide along each sideline to accommodate half the players. Example; 16/2 = 8 windows, so 2 windows on each sideline. Half the players are stationed in the windows, the other half work inside the grid.
Phase 1: Each player inside the grid needs a ball. Players inside the grid pass their ball to a player in a window and follow their pass to receive the ball back , trap, turn and find a new window. Players must make sure not to pass to a window that already has or is receiving a ball, this is equal to making a pass to a player that is marked = turnover. If the window the passer chooses is engaged, simply look for another window. Maybe execute a move to buy time or change direction… pass, follow, receive repeat..
Rotate players from grid to windows every 2 to 3 minutes to keep work rate high. Emphasize crisp technically sound passes, tight traps, fluid and tight turns with the ball and most of all good communication. Passers will need to call names of window players as windows will be scanning the grid for balls coming their way. Players in the grid should work on tight turns with the ball under control ready to avoid traffic or a would be tackler etc.
Penalty options; if a ball leaves the grid due to an errant pass or a missed trap then player(s) involved does push ups.
Phase 2: Players in the window start with the ball. Players in the grid show to a window to receive a pass and play the ball back first touch. This is a simple drill which provides players an opportunity to work on many aspects of passing and receiving. The grid is crowded so the player receiving the ball needs to communicate, show to a good space (or channel or alley) and signal which side of the body he/she wants the ball played to and then play a well paced first time pass back to the window. The window player needs to have their head up looking for players showing to receive a pass and then play a well paced ball to the runner away from pressure (or crowds) that the runner can play back on first touch.
Next phase of this is to require players in the grid to trap and execute a move before passing the ball back.
Phase 3; Players work in pairs. A team of 16 would have 8 pairs. Three pairs occupy the windows while the other 5 pairs work in the grid.
A) Pairs working in the grid have a ball. Work on 3rd man. Player 1 (P1) plays ball to a window Player 2 (P2) shows to receive the ball from the window, traps and passes to a different window and P1 shows to receive the ball from the window. Repeat sequence continually for 2 minutes. Communication is key as the 3rd man must make it clear he/she wants the ball and shows to a good space for the window. As players begin to understand the drill place a 1 touch restriction on the window and 2 touch on runners to speed up play and force quicker decision making.
B) Same drill except add a mandatory give and go (or wall pass) to the mix for players in the grid. The sequence should be; P1 passes to window, window passes to P2, P2 passes to P1, P1 passes back to P2, P2 passes to window, window passes to P1….. Again, as players begin to understand and execute with efficiency place 1 and 2 touch restrictions to speed up play and decision making.
Phase 4; Players work in pairs. A team of 16 = 8 pairs. Three pairs in the windows, 5 pairs working the grid. Ideally, if you have odd numbers or odd pairs set up more players in the windows that there are pairs working in the grid.
A) Each player in a window needs a ball. In the grid P1 & P2 will play against each other. Start with P1 as offense and P2 as defense. P1 shows to a window to receive a ball and plays it back with 1 or two touches. P2 tries to deny pass from window to P1. The offensive player will have an advantage because they can show to any window that has a ball and is ready to play. The downside is that the window may be playing the ball to another offender or may not see the runner checking to him/her. The art of this drill is to shake the defender to create 2 to 3 yards of separation when the pass is made, then the offender must hold off the aggressive defender and play the ball back to the window. Defense works on tight aggressive marking and denial. At first you may want to have the defender work to just stay close enough to bump the player receiving the ball so the offender gets used to pressure and contact when receiving and handling a pass. Work for 1-2 minutes and then switch. This is an exhausting exercise.
B) Players in the grid have the ball. 1 ball per pair. The game is keep-away. Players are allowed and encouraged to use the windows. Place 2 touch restrictions on windows (eventually moving to 1 touch). It is crowded and chaotic in the grid. Players will need to shield the ball and/or dribble, executing moves to elude their defender while trying to find a window to pass to. Then they must find space to receive the ball back. Sometimes it is a simple check run back to the ball, sometimes a wall pass, sometime the window will need to lead the player to an open space if the defender is cheating or anticipating something simple. Defender is allowed to attack the window, intercept passes, tackle etc. Play strict boundaries. Run for 1-2 minutes and switch.
Great warm up drills. Works on the fundamental required passing skills in an interactive environment