Over the break between the Fall and Spring seasons at our club, we had a group of coaches from the Coerver organization come in to run some sessions for our players.

The players had a fantastic time, and really benefited from the skill activities that the coaches brought to the table.

Watching one of the activities made me think a bit about how as coaches we often settle for adequate (good) rather than pushing ourselves to go for more (better or best). What the Coerver guys did would qualify as best in my book.

I’ll tell you all about it in just a moment.

We can all agree that skill development has to be a major focus of our practice sessions, especially with young players.

A typical activity many coaches run would be two players set up 10 yards apart passing back and forth. You can work on a number of different skills this way.

  • Passing with the inside and outside of the foot
  • Receiving with the inside, outside and sole of the foot
  • Volleys with laces and instep (1 player tosses the ball)
  • Half volleys
  • Receiving with the Chest
  • Headers

Anything we do like this to help our players improve is good, but we can do better.

One of our club coaches sets up a 30 yard square grid. Half of the players line up on the inside, half line up outside of the grid (each with a ball).

The players inside the grid check to one of the outside players and perform the skill. After 1 minute, they switch roles.

We are now in a more realistic environment as the players are executing passing and receiving on the move. Much more like game conditions.

This certainly is much better than a static situation of two players standing across from each other. But it’s not as good as it could be.

Players tend to move around in a circle and not aggressively check for the ball. They are doing more moving than executing skills so we aren’t getting as many reps as possible.

The Coerver guys had a twist on this form of the activity that I think elevates it to “best.” A bit of an “Aha moment” if you will.

Same set up, 30 yard square grid. However, they also put a 3 yard square in the center. Players start in the middle and have to go back to the middle between sets of skill reps.

Now they are “checking” much more directly to receive the ball.

One final twist…

Have the players perform a rep with both feet when they check to the ball.

Here’s what I mean:

Player 1 checks from the middle to Player 2 (who has a ball) on the outside of the grid. Player 2 plays a ground pass to Player 1′s right foot. Player 1 plays it back one-time.

Player 2 plays the ball back again one-time to Player 1′s left foot. Player 1 plays the pass back and then heads back to the center of the grid before he begins again.

You can do the same thing with volleys. Player 1 checks to Player 2 (who has a ball in his hands). Player 2 tosses to Player 1 for a right foot volley. Player 2 catches the volley and then tosses to Player 1′s left foot for a second volley.

Now we have more realistic movement and more skill reps.

We’ve gone from good to better to best!

Whenever you are setting up an activity, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it realistic to the game?
  2. Could the players get more touches on the ball?
  3. Is this activity the best it can be?

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