AYSO Region 104

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FineSoccer Drill 45 - Chipping and Driving Balls

The drills shown here are designed to work on both playing and receiving long chips and driven balls which are integral parts of the game at the higher level.

First start with 3 players in two lines 30-40 yards apart (distance will depend on the abilities of the players). Player A chips the ball to player B and then runs right at Player B. Player B receives the ball and one touches the ball back to Player A who one touches the ball softly to the side for Player B to then chip the ball to Player C and then Player B sprints toward Player C and Player C one touches the ball to Player B who lays it off for Player C's chip back to Player A (see diagram below). This is working on chipping, receiving, laying balls off and following your pass (how many times do you see a player clear a ball from the back and then stand or slowly jog up the field when the truth is they should be sprinting up to support their pass. See below for more on that subject! This simple short, short long passing drill can help to develop a lot of really good habits.

The next drill requires 4 players in two lines 40 yards apart or so. Player A drives the ball to Player B. Player B one touches the ball to Player C who is slightly in front of her. Player C one touches the ball to the side for Player B to drive the ball to Player D who is slightly behind Player A. Player D one touches the ball to Player A who one touches the ball to the side for Player D to run onto and drive the ball to Player C. This rotation continues. (See diagram below). One of the keys here is that while at first this might seem like a very static drill, in order for it to work properly, the players will be constantly moving and communicating as the player who wants to receive the ball must get somewhat behind the other player. There also must be communication between the two players regarding which side to lay the ball off to and where the players should be positioned. Done properly, this is a very quick moving and difficult drill.

Some variations you can add to the above drill is to put a goalkeeper in the middle. Each of the chips or driven balls must be done over or around the keeper which just adds another variable to the mix. Also, you can add some conditioning to the mix by saying that once the ball is played away from your side, both players have to do 5 push ups or any type of conditioning exercise which will force them to move quickly and think a bit more.

Responding to a Long Ball Out of the Back

Too often I see a team play a long ball out of the back and do nothing with it. This ball could have been hit long for any number of reasons including seeing a player running into space, being under pressure and not wanting to risk a short pass or just not knowing anything to do with the ball. Although it’s not the subject of this newsletter, I should say that although I love ball possession and put a great deal of emphasis on keeping possession of the ball until a scoring opportunity arises, I do think that way too many players who play in a system such as mine take too many chances in back. If you are a defender and are under pressure, there is absolutely nothing wrong with knocking a ball long or out of bounds in order to eliminate mistakes. Too often, defenders do things like try to dribble out of pressure or make short dangerous passes that when they do work look great but it always comes back to a risk/reward situation and the risk is too great for the reward possibilities. Be willing to knock a ball long or out of play when under pressure in the defensive third of the field.

If you do knock the ball long out of the back because of pressure (or any other reason) it’s important to then compress the field by stepping up and supporting the midfield and forwards. Too often, a player knocks the ball long and stands or slowly walks up. Instead, knock it and step up hard. Many things happen by doing this will almost all of them being positives. First you will most likely get the opponent offsides (this is NOT an offsides trap but rather a supporting run that just puts them offsides as a bonus). Also, it will allow you to win many more second balls (if your long ball is headed back in your general direction, by stepping up you will be closer to the ball then the opponent so either you will win the ball or she will be offsides). The next advantage is that once the forwards get caught offsides a few times or get beaten to the ball a few times, they will start running with you. This is an example where you are dictating the game to the opponent. When you dictate how they will play and make them make adjustments to your style of play, you will normally be successful.

When you do step up after a long ball, it’s important that you step up and in. This means as you step up, head toward the center of the field as well as forward. The reason for this is that while we want to be wide in our attack, until we see that the ball is won, we must be thinking of compressing the field both horizontally as well as vertically.

The only disadvantage to stepping up after a long ball is played is that it does require good conditioning (there actually isn’t much more running because once you step up hard, you can relax some) but it does mean some additional sprints. Also, the idea of stepping up and putting an opponent into an offsides position is only effective if the assistant referees are staying in position. Factors like conditioning, speed of the opponent and positioning of the AR are extremely important in situations like this.

Step up as a team and with confidence and you will find you actually have to defend less and can get into the attack more. In other words, it’s win/win situation for you and your team.

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