I receive a lot of questions on teamwork and passing. In other words, how to get your teams to string more passes together.
One of my favorite exercises, both as a player and a coach, is a possession game we do with the national team. It is really simple and you all probably use it in some form already. But it's the simplicity of this drill that makes it perfect for all ages.
Set up a grid that gives enough space for possession, but is not too big so that the kids have no pressure on them when they receive the ball (the size depends on the number of players, the age of the kids, etc).
Create two teams of five, plus two permanent attackers that only play for the team with the ball.
The two permanent attackers create "numbers up" for the offensive team, which hopefully creates success in possession. If the players are still having a hard time with possession, add more permanent attackers (maybe go to 4 v. 4, plus four permanent attackers).
The team that can successfully string 10 consecutive passes together gets one "goal."
Time them and get the score at the end. They must play lines and keep score. Competition is crucial for success at all levels of soccer.
The reason I love this simple drill is there are so many great opportunities for coaching points, for all levels:
- Demonstrating basic support angles
- Movement off the ball
- Balance of support runs (some must go short to ball and other staying out for long ball option)
- Body shape
- Seeing the whole field
If you have a young team, this drill is a great way to show support angles, and the necessity of movement to get into those support angles.
Also, you can demonstrate proper body positioning. Many younger players (and older, I get caught doing this all the time myself!) forget to open their body up to see the field BEFORE they receive the ball.
It is so critical to adjust your body so you can see the whole field every time you receive the ball, no matter where it is played.
Most important for coaches: tweak the game to create success (for example, bigger grid, more permanent attackers, smaller number of passes that equals one goal).
If the players are doing really well, challenge them. Decrease the size of the grid, limit their touches, decrease the number of permanent attackers, make it directional, increase number of consecutive passes that equal one goal, etc.
Lastly, have fun!
Julie Foudy was a member of the United States women's national team from 1987 to 2004. She had 271 career caps and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.