AYSO Region 104

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FineSoccer Drill 83 - Passing and Receiving

Here is an excellent activity to work on passing and receiving as well as communicating.

Start with a square shaped grid with a player on each of the corners. Each of the four players should have soccer balls. There should be another 4 players in the middle of the grid (see diagram below for set up)

The players in the middle of the grid go towards one of the players in the corners who have a ball and call for the ball. The ball is played into the feet of the players calling for the ball and then the ball is played right back to the corner and then the player EXPLODES to another corner to do the same thing. The balls should be played properly with good pace and the players should communicate ("Jeff, Ball" and "Back"). Do not have the players going in a certain pattern (for example, the players in the middle should NOT go in a clockwise rotation to make it easy). This will force the players to keep their heads up to see who has a ball and is available. Do this for one minute and then rotate the players (players in the corners go to the middle and players in the middle to the corners).

Next get rid of one ball and now the players receive the ball from a person in one corner and with their second touch play the ball to a person in another corner who does NOT have the ball. Now all of a sudden, it becomes important to receive the ball and keep the ball moving (see below for more on this). It also requires the player to take a look around before receiving the ball in order to see which corner is open to pass to. Also, there is a lot more communication in this version as the person passing the ball from the corner should be instructing the person receiving the ball which person to pass to next. There also will be communication between the players in the middle as to where each is going to run next.

You also can do this with one touch but that gets quite complicated as all balls must be played perfectly in order for there to be success.

The next progression in this series would be for the ball to be served from the hands of the corner people so that the person in the middle must receive the ball with the thigh and bring it down to the ground before playing the ball to the next corner. From there, you can go with receiving the ball with the chest as well as receiving the ball with the head and then playing it to a corner.

Once a group gets proficient at this activity, you can add defenders so that now the players in the middle must do the exact same thing but now under pressure. Please do NOT progress up to this level until the players are comfortable with receiving the ball without pressure because otherwise you are putting them in a position to fail. Let them get the basics down before putting too much pressure on them.

Difference Between Trapping and Receiving

While some people might consider the difference between trapping a ball and receiving a ball to be simply semantics, I see them as two different terms. When I hear people say they want to learn how to trap the ball, I believe what they are really asking for is how do you stop the ball from moving, right at the feet. There are a number of ways to teach this depending upon how the ball arrives at the player. If the ball is played directly to a player's foot, she can use the bottom of her foot to stop the ball (simply by keeping the heel of the foot almost on the ground and pointing the toes up at a 45 degree angle to make contact with the ball). By using this technique you "trap" the ball between your foot and the ground. Another technique is to receive the ball with the inside of the foot and to pull the foot back upon contact to cushion the ball and to make it stop moving. It's actually almost the exact opposite technique that is used than if you were passing the ball with the inside of the foot. You can also use the outside of the foot as well as the top of the foot for trapping.

The difference between trapping the ball with the foot and receiving the ball with the foot is that when trapping a ball, the ball comes to a complete stop. When receiving the ball properly, the ball will almost always keep moving in a different direction to avoid oncoming players to or change the point of attack.

In most cases during a soccer game, when the ball is coming to a player, there is also an opposing player pressuring the ball. If the player traps the ball dead, the oncoming player has the opportunity to challenge her for the ball and this puts the attacking player at risk of either losing possession of the ball or possibly having unnecessary contact that results in an injury. If in this same situation the player receives the ball by playing the ball softly to herself away from where the oncoming player is coming, it greatly increases the probability of the player maintaining possession of the ball and also greatly decreases the probability of the player getting injured.

The way to receive the ball away from pressure is to first know where the pressure is coming from. This requires the player having her head up and knowing where all of the players are around her. Next, once she knows where the pressure is coming from she must decide where she wants to take the ball. If the pressure is coming from the players left side, she will most likely decide to receive the ball towards her right side to go away from pressure and give her more time and space to work in. In order to do this, the player must turn her hips while initially making contact with the ball so that they end up facing the direction that she wants to go (this is true whether she is using the inside or outside of her foot). Once she cushions the ball in the same way that she does while trapping, she then pushes the ball in the direction she wants to go so that the ball never comes to a complete stop.

Receiving with the thigh, chest and head are all done the same way. Rather than simply stopping the ball dead, the players turn their hips upon making contact with the ball and take the ball in a different direction. This is NOT an easy thing to do in the beginning so it takes much practice to perfect.

By receiving the ball in this manner, she will be able to have more time, more space and more vision of what to do with the ball next. In other words, once players start working on receiving the balls as opposed to just trapping the balls, they will become better players.

Once the players have the technique of receiving down, the easiest way I know to practice it is simply to scrimmage where the one rule is that any time the ball is killed (meaning anytime the ball stops moving completely because of a trap) it's an immediate loss of possession. In the beginning of doing this, you will see a lot of losses of possession because of this rule but the players will quickly get the hang of it and once they do, it becomes a wonderful habit to develop.

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