I was reviewing the sessions I've run in the first two months of the season and noticed that I hadn't run a session on dealing with balls in the air.
This is a topic that I usually do once or twice a month with my girls teams because they seem to have more difficulty in this area than my boys teams do. I'm not sure why this is the case. In talking to other coaches, some have suggested that girls don't play as many throwing and catching games as boys do. Whatever the reason, I've used this session with a number of teams over the years.
I begin with a juggling warm-up. It begins with free juggling and progresses to include some form of limitation depending on the level of the players.
- One juggle and catch - for players having trouble with the technique of juggling
- Progressive Juggling - One and catch, two and catch, three and catch, etc.
- Right Foot, Left Foot continuous pattern
Throw, Receive and Dribble Away
The players each have a ball in their hands. They jog around the area, throw the ball slightly above head height, receive with the top of the foot and then dribble away.
- Receive with the sole of the foot, pushing the ball out in front to dribble away
- Sweep the ball with the inside of the foot
- Sweep the ball with the outside of the foot
- Use a move to change direction once the ball is on the ground
Punt and Receive
I have the players punt the ball to each other to begin with because that usually provides better service than a chipped or driven ball would. The emphasis is on getting in line with the ball, selecting the service to use and keeping the ball in front to dribble away. This turns into a competition when I ask the players count the number of consecutive, 'perfect settles'. To be 'perfect' the player needs to only use two touches and keep the ball in front of them. The first team to reach five consecutive wins.
The server plays lofted or chipped balls to the receiver.
6 v 6 + 1 - Punt and Possess
This is organized as a traditional possession game except that each possession begins with the coach punting a ball into the area. The players battle to control the ball and then complete five passes. If the defending team gains possession or the ball goes out of play the coach punts another ball into play. The emphasis in on taking the first touch away from pressure moving it into space quickly.
3 v 3 to Goal
The team is divided into teams of three. The goalkeeper punts the ball to an attacking team near the halfline. Three defenders move to pressure the attackers after the punt. The attackers receive the ball and combine to score. The teams change roles and wait their turn.
8 v 8
The session ends with an 8 v 8 game played on a narrow field so that there are numerous throw ins that will require players to deal with balls in the air.