Centre kick offs


My under 9s team struggle to pass the ball long to wingers from the centre kick off. Can anyone recommend 1 or 2 plays we could adopt when it our centre kick off and which would allow us to keep possession and go forwards mainly? Thanks 

  • I always try to remind coaches you can’t ask players to do something they cannot do, no different to your boss asking you to do something at work you can’t do without training.

    in games - use more passes to gain distance instead of trying to use 1 pass

    in training - football golf is brilliant for gaining range of pass, make gate with poles for change of direction so the need a range of distance and focus on demonstrating technique for this. 

    key thing is take all pressure away from the player, if they can’t do it but keep trying that’s fine because our job as coaches is to teach them. Hope that helps mate? 



  • Andrew, thanks for posting on our new platform and you raise an interesting point. The Foundation Phase is the place to establish a real connection with the game and the enjoyment that can come from being active, part of a team and developing new skills. This must be our main priorities so the issue you mention might become of more importance later on when the players are older. Many 8 year old children are unlikely to be able to pass over long distances but they can improve their individual ability on the ball and their combination and support for each other. At this young age we need to ensure this is the priority. If you concentrate on this aspect then you will be preparing the players for the increasing demands of the game whilst meeting their needs as 8 year old children. I hope this helps. Pete

  • Hi, yes thanks Peter. Ive seen a few teams now play long ball but Im trying to coach my team to play in triangle shapes as a way to stay on the ball, keep possession, and as a way to move forwards. They often try the lung bursting solo runs and im teaching them that passing to teammates and combining play is much more effective. Tricky balance between focusing them to stay in positions and pass in triangles, without losing their appetite or natural instinct to attack. Im doing loads of SSGs to try and show them what happens for example when I give 1 side a challenge that they cant pass and whoevers on the ball must score (and they end up losing the ball) to show that doesnt work, and the next challenge of making as many passes as they like to change their thinking. Challenging !!

  • Andrew, concentrating on individual technique development and then seeing this develop into the use of these techniques in a tactical way (ie staying on the ball to attract defenders towards the ball knowing that you will then have teammates free) is a must for our young players. It's interesting that you mention the game where the player on the ball must score (if I have understood it correctly). If the player on the ball loses it there are two options not one: you can try to pass as you suggest but in the Foundation Phase we must also encourage the individual players to get better at retaining possession themselves so that they now have TWO options when faced with this situation. The option to retain possession as a team is NOT always to pass it. If each player develops their individual ability to keep the ball for their team this is also so useful at all levels and the FP is the ideal time to develop these other capabilities - just a thought for you to consider. Pete

  • Isn’t insisting on passing counter productive? They may turn the ball over more by staying on the ball and taking risks but that’s the development. If we adopt a pass pass pass approach we are in danger of creating f safety minded players who lack the individual ability? Surely at U9s we focus on developing individuals? I do appreciate passing is a skill, and developing that range is essential, but as a follow-on from mastering the ball?

  • So at u9s the pitch size is suddenly a lot bigger and for the first time the team are learning as well to play with a midfield. The size alone means individuals who would normally make attacking runs (head down, fast pace with 1 thought in mind to score) often from deep or the midfield therefore tire very quickly. I think it is is fundamental to still coach ball control as nbr1 thing to master, but the boys at this age do also need to get a sense that combining with team mates is a good way to progress up the pitch and is a feature which also means they dont burn all their energy that they would have done had I encouraged "lone" attacking runs. I do encourage 1v1 scenarios the boys to beat an opponent but to then consider a hold or a pass to combine with team mates as a means to move forwards. Also there is psychological reports by sports scientists which do show that at this age, boys do develop spatial awareness so they naturally should start to see others around them more. Our mentality at the moment is long solo runs, and as you say this leads to loads of transitions which is fine, but the energy loss in these players is huge as the pitch is much bigger this year. In all levels of football at older ages, players do combine more often than not, so why not raise the possession style of play to the boys at a young age as it can help them work as a team and a unit, whilst still encouraging lots of good ball control/tricks/dribbling to beat opponents. To me, and many other teams and managers in my u9 league, passing, ball control, possession, dealing with transitions, out of possession movement, is football, and is also very much in line with what the FA advocate and the phases of the game.

  • Good afternoon, 

    i'm not sure how learning to pass is ever counter productive? at U9 they will/should be learning all disciplines of the game continuously and passing is a key one. There is surely a balance of encouraging individual creativity and good decision making, as they develop awareness of the bigger pitch and space around them their decision making will improve so encouraging retention of the ball is great but coaching the how and when to release is key to game success and progressing up the pitch. i have 32 U9's signed on at 3 levels and they all want to succeed in their Saturday matches so Andrew i understand your challenge and believe a balanced approach to your training with the team is key. 

  • Daniel 

    I completely agree with you and a balanced approach is what I'm doing although at the moment the concept of combination play is still an area my team need to improve on so my focus is slightly weighted to that for now but definitely not at the expense of other aspects like ball control. Passing as you say is a good option to master as well to move up the bigger pitch. Thanks.

  • moving to the bigger pitch is something i was a little worried about to be honest but i found a good session of splitting it into thirds and playing possession games with points for progression and retention work really well. you can add in magic men (wide) that can use the whole wing of the pitch and pass into the next third when they receive the ball for additional points and chance of a goal.

    good luck

  • We have also moved to u9s this season, despite our previous comments I dont think we are that far apart in our approaches. I have a mixed ability team, a couple can spray the ball around long as me short, along the ground or over the top   (when they want to), but others don’t actually have the power to play longer passes, others have the strength but not the accuracy.

    We work on passing as well as dribbling, other skills etc in training but come matchday I let them figure out what to do and when.