Posts Tagged ‘small-sided games’

Passive Defending

May 10, 2010

Passive defending is when a defender applies little or no pressure on an attacking player. Using this defensive posture in practice is a great way for players to work on fakes and feints with an actual player in front of them. However, passive defending may also be a good strategy to employ in a game as well.

I typically see passive defending used in 1v1 and 2v1 drills. The defender is there to take up space and force the player with the ball to make a move around him/her. Passive defending is great when the focus of the drill is on the offense. Going against an actual player is certainly more realistic than beating a cone.

At a recent camp where I was an instructor, I employed this tactic in the World Cup tournament, small-sided games. Every opportunity I had (I was playing in the games), I would challenge the player with the ball by running at him/her and assumed a passive defensive posture. Once in position, I commanded the attacker to, “Make a move” while reminding him/her that I was only there to apply pressure and had no intention of taking the ball away. Then they did.

With players it will be more challenging to get them to practice passive defending, especially during small-sided games. The trick is to make sure that each player is given a chance to go up against a passive defender whether the player with the ball is an attacker, midfielder, or defender. To help the passive defender, call out “Passive” when you want this tactic employed. The player nearest the ball will know what to do.

One of the benefits of passive defending is that it will give the player who is asked to defend in this manner an opportunity to rest. On a warm afternoon after an hour-and-a-half  of practice, you will have players calling out “passive” themselves.

So how can passive defending be a good strategy during a game? How many players do you see or have on your team who blindly go after a ball that is in possession of an attacking player only to have him/her baited into stabbing at the ball? Attacking players love these types of defenders. Change this defender’s behavior by having him/her stop in front of the attacking player and become a passive defender. Once this has been accomplished and the defender is tired of the attacking player still getting around him/her, have this player start back pedaling as the attacking player approaches. In one game you will have broken the player of this bad habit.

Go ahead; implement passive defending in your next practice or even in the next game.

Advertisements

Fun Practice Games: World Cup Tournament

April 11, 2010

At a recent 360 Soccer Training camp where I was a trainer, each daily session ended with a World Cup Tournament. The tournament pitted four teams of four playing a round-robin tournament. A team received 3 points for a win, 2 for a tie, and 1 for a loss (after all, no one or no team ever likes to receive zero points). The team with the most points each day was declared World Cup Champs.

Like many other trainers, I strongly recommend that each session or practice end with some sort of scrimmage, preferably small-sided to maximize touches. Besides having an opportunity to apply and reinforce new skills that were learned that day in a game-like setting, the players will feel rewarded for their hard work and strong effort they had put in earlier.

Each World Cup team received a different colored pinnie. Each team then had to choose a country to represent. The caveat was that the selected country had to have the same color in their uniform as the pinnie that was assigned to the team. For example, the green-pinnied team chose Mexico one day and Nigeria the next day and the red-pinnied team chose the United States and Japan.

I recommend taking the World Cup Tournament concept one step further. Players should also assume the identity of the professional players that represent each of the countries selected. For example, the United States team of Bornstein, Donovan, Bradley, and Dempsey could play against Mexico and Israel Castro, Gerardo Torrado, Giovanni Dos Santos, and Carlos Vela.

If you are like me, you will quickly run out of teams and players. In this case, assign a different player each week the task of coming up with team names and players for each pinnie. Team and player names can also come from the WPS, MLS, EPL, Bundesliga, and La Liga leagues. If you decide to incorporate the use of professional names, make sure teammates call each other by their new names. This will force players to concentrate more and play with their heads up.

Players should enjoy their own version of the World Cup Tournament. In the process, they will learn more about the game of soccer and some geography. Who knows, maybe a nickname or two will stick as well.

Improving Throw-ins: Putting it All Together (part 4 of 4)

January 8, 2010

In this (potentially) final posting on improving throw-ins I write about putting all the pieces of the earlier posts together into a game plan and philosophy so that teams that have adopted the ‘let’s-throw-the-ball-down-the-wing’ strategy can be more imaginative and use the throw-in more to their advantage.

First a quick recap.

  • Checking-in: Instead of a field player running down the wing or simply standing still, field players should check-in to the thrower in order to improve the throw-in retention rate.
  • 180 Choices: Too often, throw-ins are simply thrown down the wings. On most areas of the field, the thrower should exercise his/her options and also look to throw the ball backwards and into the middle of the field. The 180 choices refers the number of degrees in a semi-circle and thus, the number of throw-in options a thrower should exercise.
  • Hit the Feet: The easiest way to control a soccer ball is with the feet. Therefore, it is imperative that the thrower aim for and hit a field player’s feet. This becomes more difficult when the player is moving and checking-in.

The final ingredient that binds these aspects of the throw-in together is ‘movement’. For most throw-ins, especially those between the penalty areas, a minimum of three players should make themselves available to receive the ball from the thrower. Let’s look at the examples below:

  • An attacker (A1) should check-in to the thrower (Thr). When an attacker checks-in, a defender (D1) will usually follow. If the defender follows, A1 can pass the ball back to the thrower, pass it to another player, or make an instant move and beat the defender. If the defender does not follow, A1 should control the ball and turn up field. It is a good idea for the thrower to get into the habit of communicating with the player(s) checking-in. For instance, ‘man on!’ can be called out by the thrower if the defender is following his/her teammate or ‘turn!’ if the defender does not follow.
  • A midfielder should also check-in (M2). It is important that the player checking-in does it abruptly so that he/she can separate him/herself from the defender (D2). Equally important, M2 should either make eye contact with the thrower before checking-in or call for the ball to get the thrower’s attention. ‘Here!’, ‘ball!’, or calling the thrower by his/her name are acceptable commands.
  • The thrower’s defensive teammate (D3) should also be available to receive a throw-in. However, instead of checking-in, D3 should move away from the thrower while keeping constant eye contact with the thrower. The reason you don’t want a defender to check-in is because if the ball is misplayed, it could lead to a scoring opportunity for the other team. Usually there won’t be an opponent on the defender so having a greater distance between the thrower and the defensive teammate should not cause a problem. There is no need for this teammate to draw attention to him/herself. The thrower should always know that a defensive teammate is available for a throw.

A fantastic by-product of checking-in is that it creates open spaces and, therefore, more throw-in options.

  • When M2 and D2 check-in, they create open space where they once stood (denoted by the orange circle). When M4 moves into the vacated space, he/she becomes a fourth option available to the thrower.
  • The same thing happens when A1 and D1 check-in. The wing area (blue circle) is now open space that A5 can fill and give the thrower yet another throw-in option.

With seemingly little effort by the field players and recognition on the part of the thrower, any team can turn the throw-in into a more advantageous play. However, this is easier said than done; otherwise all teams would be doing this. I have found that movement off or without the ball is one of the toughest things to teach and instill in young players. Many kids simply focus on the ball and many times get so captivated by its movement that they become spectators on the field. Conditioning, or the lack thereof, also can play a role. So what is the solution?

As I wrote in my other throw-in posts, the best way to instill the concept of movement for throw-ins is to instill this concept with non-throw-in drills and small-sides games. Checking-in, seeing the field, accurate passes, good ball control, communication, and movement takes place every second during a game. If these skills are developed on the field, improved throw-ins will be a by-product of these new and improved skills.