By Chris Kouns
USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Coach Georgia Gwinnett College Women's Soccer
These Speed of Play activities are designed to allow players to feel pressure (both with and without defenders) while focusing on technical repetition necessary to increase Speed of Play.
Set up involves four mannequins with a cone approximately 1 yard behind each mannequin. Distance between each mannequin should be roughly 12 yards. To begin with there will be one (max of two) players at each mannequin so they can increase technical repetition. Make sure you do each activity in both directions so players will be equally comfortable with technique on both feet.
Player with the ball will allow player at the next mannequin to check away and return to the area between the mannequin and the cone. They will play a ball towards the front foot of the player who is checking for the ball. The player receiving the ball will take an angled touch through the area between the cone and the mannequin and then continue the pattern by playing the next person. This will repeat at least three minutes and may be more based on the technical challenges of those players.
Player with the ball will again allow the player at the next mannequin to check away and return, but, this time when they receive the ball they will lay it back to the passer, spin out behind the mannequin and receive a ball on the other side of the mannequin. All should be done at one touch.
- Check away and time your return to get the ball so that you are not standing and waiting on a pass
- Make sure the player receiving the ball takes it with their front foot (across their body) so they are in a running motion going through the opening.
- The weight and speed of the pass should be with enough pace and weight that they do not need to stop and can continue their movement on the first touch using in and around the box in a game
Basically the same set up as before, however, this time there should be at least four or five people per line. This activity will incorporate the passer and receiver accomplishing the same goals as in Activity 1, but, it will also include an active defender component as well as a movement component to create space for the passer & receiver. It is set up so that all players must be paying attention to the movement of the ball and anticipating where it is going.
The players on the mannequins will return to the original passing focus (receive ball on front foot, with first touch behind the mannequin, and then play the next ball while in full movement) HOWEVER, what is different this time is that after a player plays a ball in one direction they will
open up (as if they were an option for a return pass) and then they will make a run to the back of the line opposite from the one they passed to.
The players on the mannequins will return to the original passing focus (receive ball on front foot, with first touch behind the mannequin, and then play the next ball while in full movement) HOWEVER, this time the player who is across from the player receiving the ball will close them down as a defender and they must receive the ball, and make that touch, with a defender closing them down.
Coaching Points and Points of Focus
- When the player passes the ball to the next player they should assume an angled position of support which would allow them the opportunity to get the ball back while making a defender make a choice between the ball and the player.
- When they go to the opposite line they should not turn their back and run to that line. They should do so with their hips running to the line but their head and shoulder looking at the ball they passed as if it would be an up-back-through pattern
- When the active defender is included in Option B it is vital that they close the player receiving the ball AS THE BALL TRAVELS. Although this is a speed of play activity it is useless to have a defender coming in at an unrealistic pace or time.
- By the time the ball reaches the receiving player they should begin to have their hand closes to the defender out to protect the ball and their space. The elbow should be slightly bent as a shock absorber and they should make sure their palm is facing out from their body, not towards their body.
- All players must be “tuned in” to the movement of the ball so that they do not delay or miss their turn at defensive pressure. This will also help them understand just because the ball is not with them does not mean they can disengage.
This activity will feature a 9 v 3 possession activity with direction and end zones. The field set up will be approximately 40 yards long and approximately 30 yards wide. The goal of the team with 9 players (7 field players and one player in each end zone) is to take it from one end zone to the other where they will find the target player who brings the ball back into play with their first touch and the game continues. When the target player enters the field on their first touch a new player will assume their position in the end zone (you can have it be the player who played them the ball or the closest player). Change defenders about every two minutes.
- All field players should try to receive the ball at an angle from the pass and do so with “one hip” facing the person passing the ball. If they have both hips facing the passer then it is very difficult to open the
- body and take the ball with your front foot. So, if you can get them to focus on checking with one hip it helps their speed of play.
- All players should try to receive the ball on their front foot so that they can eliminate defenders with their first touch, be it a dribble or a pass.
- All players should work on passing at angles so as to eliminate the defenders rather than passing East/West where they will still have to beat the defenders to get to the end zone.
- There should be a high premium placed on balls that are to the front foot of the player receiving them. Do not give lazy passes or put your teammate in a bad position because you did not focus on the quality and placement of your pass
PROGRESSION OPTION B
You can put full size goals at the back of each end zone with goalkeepers. That will allow the attacking team to see the quickness with which they can attack using proper technique and will also allow the goal keepers to work on their quick distribution.
By Chris Kouns: USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Coach Georgia Gwinnet College Women’s Soccer (GA)