Improving in possession under pressure

Hi all coaches

We have just moved to a more competitive league,U14 boys. We have lost heavily the last two games and although we have worked and improved our shape and defense out of possession we give the ball away cheaply when in possession either by being under pressure or rushing the ball forwards.

does anyone have ideas on training session to help keep possession but under pressure?

thanks all

  • Mike, this is not going to answer your immediate issue but what you describe highlights perfectly why we must adopt a DNA approach in the Foundation Phase. It is more difficult to develop the technical levels of 14 year old players, a large window of development has been missed so coaches tend to revert to even more work on shape, positioning and formations so the real problem never gets addressed - the players need to go back and improve their individual relationship with the ball because this is the first thing that breaks down under pressure. I'm not saying you haven't had this approach but it does highlight the importance of the foundation Phase DNA key messages. We want to avoid lots of other players experiencing the same deficiencies. Pete

  • Hi Pete. Even though it is more difficult to develop the technical level of a 14 year old, for those that have missed out do you think it is still worth really focusing heavily on it as you would with younger age groups? I think girls might have been more likely to miss out on skills development at younger ages, and am wondering how the shape/tactical vs technical balance might be dealt with for older kids in that situation?

  • David, as with most things - it depends. I would rather we didn't have this issue because players had passed through a Foundation Phase that had prioritised individual technical and tactical development. This pays dividends later on as players are comfortable under pressure and their decision making has been refined over those years. If players are technically lacking it will always let them down so we must attempt to address this in some way. The issue is made more difficult because the players have to compete in a league each week so they have to try to exist and be competitive in this environment so I understand why shape and formations might take over - if you can get them organised it might help but this still doesn't address the underlying problem I am afraid. We have to help the players develop such a strong and robust technical base when young as we are just storing up problems in the future if we don't.

  • Thanks Pete. Many coaches (and as I say this may be a particularly be a girls issue) are working with players who 'missed out' on Foundation DNA but the imperative to give them a lifetime of enjoyment and participation in football is no less strong. So - without wishing to hijack the thread - I'd be interested if anyone has any thoughts on technical development at older ages for those who missed out.

Reply Children
  • David, I know I haven't directly answered your question, instead I wanted to highlight an issue which really does concern me. In the pursuit of trophies, and to appear like a Premier League coach on the touchline (I'm not saying this is your approach, David) some coaches are denying the players the opportunity to develop fully and reach their potential. Adopting a pressurised, win at all costs approach that denies the players the opportunity to make their own decisions and to become independent thinkers is such a short term, selfish approach that has nothing to do with player development. Competence is linked to enjoyment and hence long term engagement. If you feel you are competent and capable when playing football you are likely to engage for longer. This is why the Foundation Phase is so important and hence, the coaches who are involved with the players during this phase. We have to make a stand and ensure our young children get the best and most memorable FP experience instead of thinking and acting in the very short term. Rant over, sorry David:-)