Turning: The key to unlocking defences

Turning: The key to unlocking defences

The month of March saw us focus on the in-possession core skill of turning. If we can support our players with this core skill, we can help to develop them into more skilful players. In this blog, we explore the key messages from our March webinar: ‘Turning: The Key to Unlocking Defences’ hosted by Pete Sturgess, Matt Jones and Sophie Barker. They reflect on and discuss a variety of ways to support player development and how you can bring these ideas into your own environment.

What is turning in football and why is it important?

Turning is one of the six in possession core skills (along with finishing, receiving, moving with the ball, passing and finishing). Why is it a core skill? Because it happens a lot! And as the title of the webinar suggests, a good turn can unlock opposition defences.  It can help players keep possession by creating, exploiting or denying space. You can observe your players attempting to turn through observation. Turning is all about changing direction. So, how often do you notice your players turning, with and without the ball? When and where do they do it? Are they good at it or do they need a bit more work to help them to become more skilful at this core skill? Check out the clip below of Pete discussing the 6 capabilities as a tool you can use to observe what your players can do.

Have you considered what you think turning means to your players? What is Turning in Football?    

Understanding different types of turns throughout the player pathway

Just as there are many techniques a player can use to pass to a teammate, there are techniques a player can use to turn to stay on the ball. From a Cruyff turn to a Maradona turn, a drag back to a stepover, turning is a fantastic way for players to showcase their creativity in problem solving when being pressed or challenged by an opposition player.

In the above clip, Sophie Barker’s Leicester City are faced with a tough task: beating a Chelsea high press. Sophie’s turn is vital here, to ensure that (1) she does not lose the ball in this highly pressurised moment and (2) then has the ability to think, look and play forward. How can we attribute Sophie’s turn to the 6 capabilities when we observe the footage? What skills must she possess to ensure the turn is successful and that she does not lose possession of the ball?

What does this look like in practice?

How can we provide our players with opportunities to practice turning? When planning your sessions, make sure you consider the STEP Principles.

SpaceWhat size area could you use to encourage your players to turn? How can you increase or minimise the space within your practice to vary difficulty for your players?

Task - What ways can your players move and turn on the ball? What targets can you set your players to encourage your players to turn?

Equipment - What can you use as obstacles to encourage your players to turn in certain areas? Can you use goals to make the practice directional to encourage turning to go to goal?

Players - How many players do you need for the practice? Will you have the same number of players on each team, or look to have underloads/overloads?

Interested in the ‘No Going Back’ game? You can check out Bex Garlick’s version of the practice here. What other variations could you do within this practice? How can you make it more suitable to the age and stage of players you work with?

Has this blog made you want to learn more about Turning? You can check out the full webinar here Turning: The Key to Unlocking Defences