Speed of play

Speed of play in soccer is defined by physical and mental attributes that players must possess to be successful. Physical characteristics include first touch and transition from attack to defense, while the mental side includes things such as reaction to pressure and decision making. The following drills are designed to improve a team's overall speed of play.

Ball on a Pedestal

Organization: Players are grouped in fours. Set up a 10 x 10 grid with a flat cone in the middle. Place a ball on the center cone. Hand one player a pinny (practice jersey). This player will try to defend the ball.

The other three players attempt to maneuver the ball around inside the area trying to knock the ball off with a pass. When the defender wins the ball they drop the pinny and the player that lost the ball picks it up and defends.

Coaching Points: The first touch must be useful and accomplish the receiver's purpose whether that be a shot, a pass or a move into space. Off- ball movement must be made crisply, by checking to and away from player in possession, with the purpose of opening space and then moving into that open space.

3 v 3 v 3 (Keep Away)

Organization: Set up a 40 x 20 grid. Two team play 6 v 3. Three defenders are holding pinnys in their hands. When they win possession they drop the pinnys and the team that loses possession must now defend. Five consecutive passes equal one point for each team in possession. Play to five.

Coaching Points: Get in shape early, have good sideways on body positioning. Make eye contact with player then make pass. Use deception to buy time and space. Move immediately after making pass.

Improving a team's speed of play requires that players get in the habit of getting into shape to receive a ball early, looking up for the next player or space, using deception, stepping into the first touch and moving after playing the ball. A coach should be positive and patient but also persistent in order for players to develop these habits.

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

For more soccer news, tips and tools, visit eteamz, your online team sports community.

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