How do you use game formats and different experiences to help players?

In the previous months, we have prescribed that you have the following space, equipment, and players whilst you work on coaching a certain theme. In June our focus is game formats and how you can use different experiences to help your players develop. Your challenge this month is the following… 

Using the players you coach within your environment and context, please plan a defending-based session with different area sizes. Consider the following: 

  • What space do you have available? 
  • What equipment do you have available? 
  • How many players and what positions do you have available? 
  • How are you going to use different area sizes across the session? (small, large, long, narrow, wide and thin) 
  • Why have you chosen to work on a certain topic within the defending theme for your players? 

Looking forward to reading through your ideas.

  • Glad you mentioned this because we are running more 1 v 1, 2 v 1 drills at training sessions now based on the good feedback from the players so far. However, these are very much focused on the attacking side. So this week, I have planned out a simple 1 v 1 with a defensive focus. This will involve setting up several channels (one for each small group) about 10 yards wide and 15 yards long. Different coloured cones will be used to denote the start and end of the channel. The attacker will be positioned at the start of the channel and the defender at the end. The game starts with the attacker passing to the defender, who controls and passes it back. This is an extra element to work on medium length passing and control. Once the attacker gets the ball back, the idea is for him/her to dribble past the defender to the end cones. The defender wins the duel if he/she gets the ball and knocks it out of the channel. Once the move is completed, the defender joins the attack line and the last attacker becomes the defender. The areas I will be coaching the defender here is: (1) press the ball (once that last pass is made); (2) get into a defensive stance able to pivot in any direction; (3) force the attacker where he/she doesn't want to go; (4) use body as natural block without fouling. Sounds simple enough in my head but I will see how it goes on Wednesday! 

  • Thanks for sharing this Steven, it sounds really good! Would love to hear how it goes! Have you got anything planned to make it harder or easier for the players if need be?

Reply Children
  • Hi Tim, I will report back (good or not so good). For such exercises, we try to work in small groups of similar ability so I would hope there are no blatant 1 v 1 mismatches. I do think it will be a useful exercise to identify strengths and weaknesses in both attacking and defending aspects and give us something to work on.

  • Ok, I'm reporting back and have to say there were more negatives than positives which was also the general consensus from the other coaches.

    Negatives: the age old problem of lines/queues. I believe this drill would work very well for older age groups because the transition would be far quicker. But for the younger kids, some of the 1 v 1s took a bit longer to complete. I wasn't helped by the group size - 7 - so attention spans wandered. I think a smaller cohort of 3-4 is probably the limit for such an exercise at this age. 

    Positives: the exercise highlighted gaps in technique, e.g. some 7 year-olds struggled to complete a 12 yard pass, and/or were toeing the ball. There were similar issues around receiving. Again, the drill initially showed most of the group thought it was best to defend their line rather than press. So the defensive coaching aspect worked well as they all began to press the ball and try and close the attacker down. 

    In summary, maybe best suited for very small groups and/or older kids.