Speed of Play

By Chris Kouns
USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Women’s Soccer Coach – Georgia Gwinnett College

In these activities we are working on the player’s body positioning, movements and ability to receive & play the ball at pace.

Exercise #1

Up to 18 or 20 players will be facing each other along the width of the field. The ball will start with a coach passing to the player on the first cone. As that player back pedals and opens up their body to receive the ball the player to their side will begin to do the same. Each player will receive the ball across their body, take a big diagonal touch in the direction opposite the arriving pass and then play a diagonal ball to the next player. This pattern will repeat across the field. When the ball gets to the other side the player will play the partner who is across from them (who is dropping & opening when the ball travels) and they will continue the pattern back across the field to where it all began.


  • A) As soon as the pattern is understood additional balls should be introduced to the mix so that they are having to work up & back, as well as, keeping their head on a swivel for the next ball.
  • B) If players are struggling to keep up with additional balls while maintaining the integrity of the technical work involved double up the people per cone so that they will have 1 rest between each time they go.
  • C) Once dropping movement is consistent then refine it so that it is not dropping vertically, but, rather the players will drift back at an angle to receive the ball.
  • D) Once drifting is consistent readjust the players to have three players on the cones on one end and then on the opposite end three players on the other side. This will allow you the pattern of dropping it twice and then changing the point to the other side with a big diagonal ball.

Coaching Points

  1. Focus on making a big vertical 1st touch that changes the passing angles the defenders would need to cover.
  2. Make sure you drop with your body open so you can receive the ball across your body away from passer.
  3. When drifting try to use the space between the cones as your visual cue for where you should end up.
  4. When playing the ball to the next person your ball must be in front of them so they can take it with their front foot, but, not so far ahead they must chase the ball and slow down possession.
  5. All possession should be received and played within two touches and at game pace.

WCC Article 19 #1

Exercise #2

In one half of the field place a box measuring 10 yards x 10 yards in the center. There will be either one or two goal keepers in this box and teams will score a point by playing the ball, in the air, to the (their) goal keeper. Outside the box will be two teams 9 v 9 or 10 v 10 (numbers can be smaller with a smaller space). Their goal is to keep possession, by receiving all balls across their body, until they are able to play a ball to the (their GK).

Note: Forcing all balls to be received in this manner is artificial. However, make sure you offer them options of how to receive it across their body but still play back to where it came from or even utilize a move, such as a half-Brazilian, in order to keep the ball while still getting the repetition under pressure. You may also choose to use “negative reinforcement” when players do not receive and drop correctly. We utilize ten seconds of running in place as a reminder!


Once you feel they are in the right mindset regarding how to open up and receive balls you can alter it to a period of “positive reinforcement” where they will not be punished for receiving it with the wrong foot, but, for every four passes they connect correctly with players drifting, opening up and across their body they will get an additional point.

Coaching Points

  1. Encourage players to focus on the space they are “drifting” or “backpedaling” into so that they can find separation from their defenders allowing them to receive the ball across their body.
  2. Encourage players when receiving the ball can they take their diagonal touch in a location that will force the defenders to make a choice or reestablish their defensive position.
  3. Make sure goal keepers do not return balls to players close to them, instead, have them find players who are opening up their bodies away from the defenders in other parts of the fields.
  4. Focus on players either hitting the goal keeper with their second touch, or, playing another player who has opened up. Encourage them not to hold onto or slow down the ball when it is at their feet.

WCC Article 19 #2

Exercise #3

Two teams are playing 11 v 11 on a full field. In order to go to goal a team must complete four consecutive passes where they perform the drifting and receiving desired. Once that is completed (in any portion of the field) then the team is allowed to go to goal until they have actually lost possession. (If the ball is knocked out but their team is in possession of the throw in they do not need to get four more passing & receiving combinations before going to goal.

Coaching Points

  1. Work with the different lines of players to help them understand how they can incorporate each other into keeping possession while drifting and playing the ball in the manner deemed appropriate.
  2. Pay special attention to central players so that they will focus on their bodies and initiate movement of the ball while facing forward rather than receiving it with their back to the goal.
  3. Encourage supporting players to recognize when a ball is travelling to a player who will be under pressure so that they can adjust their bodies to help as the ball arrives rather than when the person is fighting to keep possession (Be an early option)
  4. Depending on your formation make sure that players are aware who is responsible for offering width in any given scenario.

WCC 19 #3

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)

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