FineSoccer Drill 10 - Developing Patterns in the Attack
This is the first step in the progression on developing patterns in the attack. In order for a pattern to work properly (and for it to be incorporated into an actual game situation), passes must be hit with the proper pace and to the proper foot. You might want to check out the section on playing balls to feet, below, in order to get a better understanding of what this is about.
Work in groups of threes as a warm up. In the second set of drills of this progression we will add more players to some of these patterns and take it to goal.
Start out with the three players in the positions shown in the diagram below:
Player 1 plays a square ball to player 2's right foot and then steps up to toward player 3 who is checking back to the ball. Player 2 one touches the ball to Player three and then overlaps around player 3. Player 3 one touches the ball to Player who then finds Player 2 on the overlap. This is a very simple three person overlapping pattern. See the pattern in the diagram below.
The next step in this progression starts with the players in the same positions as before. Player 1 plays the ball to Player 3 who is checking back to the ball. Player 1 then overlaps around Player 3. Player 3 one touches the ball back to Player 2 who has gone to meet the ball. Player 2 then one touches the ball to the overlapping Player 1. See the diagram below to see the pattern.
With both of these simple patterns, you will want to have the players rotate positions so each player gets experience doing each of these roles.
There are many alternatives and options you can add to these patterns. As you will see in the next set of progressions, this can go from a simple warm up to an entire team session real easily.
Playing Balls to Feet
I constantly hear players and coaches say "play the ball to feet" This edition will discuss why this is not enough and what exactly should be said instead.
While at the lower level of rec soccer, playing the ball to feet might make you a star, at any level above rec it is completely inadequate. To play at a higher level, you must be able to play the ball to a specific foot at a specific time. Simply playing the ball to feet will too often cause the intended recipient to end up with her body closed down to the field. I will now try to be more specific.
If you are playing the ball to an outside midfielder on the right side of the field and you play the ball to her right foot (or maybe even slightly in front of the right foot), then she will receive the ball facing in the direction she wants to attack. If this same ball is played to her left foot, this will cause her to close down her body. By closing down her body, she will most likely end up playing a negative pass (a negative pass is simply any ball played backwards). While there is certainly nothing wrong with playing a ball backwards, it should be done for a tactical reason and not simply because of a breakdown in your technical abilities. This is the difference between playing the ball to feet or playing the ball to the correct foot.
Another example of needing to play the ball to a specific foot is when a forward checks back to the ball and is going to turn. If you simply just play the ball to her feet, she then has to decide which way the turn. By playing the ball to a specific foot (and having teammates who understand that you are playing the ball to a specific foot) she will then have a cue as to which way to turn. If the ball is played to your right foot while checking back, this probably means the defender is on your left side so you should turn toward your right. This is not real complicated stuff but is frequently the difference between success and failure.
Even when a teammate is in a position when it appears like she can receive the ball with either foot, there should be an intended target. Part of being a successful soccer player is to understand the game, your teammates and your opponents. You must know which foot your teammates are most comfortable with and also which foot is most appropriate in that given situation. Again, this is the difference between success and failure.
In summation, play the ball to a specific foot at a specific time and you will find the game much easier to play (as will your teammates).
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