Receiving vs. Trapping

You hear it at every game from the parent's sideline and sometimes from the coach's side as well-- "Nice trap, Johnny" or "Trap that ball next time, Jane." When a kid stops the ball by placing a foot on top of the ball you'd think Ronaldinho or Mia Hamm was on the pitch.

While there is a place in the game for stopping the ball completely, more often than not the correct play is to keep the ball moving and working for you. This is where the art of receiving rather than trapping comes into play. In this article we'll take a look at a technical practice on receiving designed to keep the game flowing by using the first touch to set up the second.


Set up: Every player has a ball and will work in a large confined grid such as the penalty area. Set the size to match the number of players you have.

Action: On the coaches' command players will begin dribbling around the area changing directions on their own. The coach should then interject specific instructions such as to use the left or right foot only, inside, outside or top of foot only, double-touch, and inside or outside of the foot cuts.

Coaching Points: Go slow and get the technique down before trying at game speed. Use both feet. Don't stop the ball in any move.

Match- Related Activity #1

Set up: Create a 5 x 5 or 10 x 10 grid depending on the age of your team. Use five players and one ball per grid; one player at each corner with two at one corner. Ball begins with corner with two players. The ball is passed to player at the next adjacent corner and then the passer follows the pass. Continue on around the grid.

Action: Begin by passing the receiver's back foot so that the ball must be received across the body. The receiver should take a light touch with the inside of the back foot setting up the follow-through pass from the front foot.

Next the pass should be made to the front foot where the receiver will find it efficient to use the inside of the front foot to send the ball to the back foot for the pass to the next player.

Variation: Instead of passing around the grid have the players cut the inside of the corners with one-touch passes.

Coaching Points: Have players view first touch as a pass to themselves to set up their next touch (pass). Always use the most efficient area of the foot with the first touch.

Match- Related Activity #2

Set up: Create a 20 x 30 grid. Use 6-8 players with half wearing pinnies. Place two players, one with a pinny in the grid. The rest should be spread evenly around the grid and are considered neutral players. Give half of them balls. Players in grid are attacker and semi-passive defender.

Action: Have the player with the pinny check to any player with a ball, receive it away from the defender's pressure and make pass to player without ball. Continue on for one minute of high work rate then switch with players on outside.

Variation: Increase the defender's pressure to speed up the attacker's decision- making. Add a third player to the center and have the attacker combine with this player before making pass to outside player.

Coaching Points: Use the first touch to play the ball away from pressure. Make note that this is not a shielding drill whereby the attacker will stop the ball and use their body to keep defender at bay.

Match- Conditioned Game

Set up: 6v6 or 5v5 on a large field. Each team will place one undefended player beyond its end line.

Action: Goals are scored by a team playing the ball to their player who is beyond the end line and that player successfully receiving the ball and re-distributing to a team-mate without the ball stopping. Rotate the end-line players so that everyone has a turn.

Coaching Points: Make early preparation (get in position) to receive the ball so it can be taken and re-played in a fluid motion.


Set up: Replace end line players from Match- Conditioned Game with goals and play.

Coaching Points: Look for a couple of good and bad examples during run of play to stop action and explain.

If we can condition players to keep the ball moving and therefore harnessing the momentum of the run of play the results will be a defense that is constantly repositioning and an offense that creates open space.

For more soccer tips check out the James Island Youth Soccer Club Web site.

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