Thursday, 21 July 2011

Passing & Receiving - Premier Skills

I have finally got round to producing this blog after attending the Premier Skills Academy Coaches Course at West Bromwich Albion and thought it would be interesting to post a blog of one of the sessions that Roger Wilkinson (co-founder of Premier Skills) put on.  

It uses the Practice Play methodology.  Practice Play is about re-introducing the chaos learnings of street football whilst carefully developing game understanding through advanced coaching.

The Practice Play methodology:
  • Concerns itself with gradual increases in difficulty - through adding opposition or decreasing area size or combining both.  Difficulty is increased in gradual stages while maintaining continuity in the work.
  • Involves practical realism at all stages.
  • Develops the individual first then teaches the individual to share the benefits of their skill with team-mates.
  • Has a skills and tactical spine that runs throughout the work from junior to senior football.
I have adapted it slightly below for numbers.  Also, although on this occasion they were not used, target gates are used to run through for points or as a visual guide to create angles for runs and passing.  Also safe zones at the side or ends of the pitch are regularly used in Premier Skills sessions representing where space is normally available in a game.

Part one - Small Group Work Plan
Have players in groups of three with a ball between the three.  Numbers can be increased and decreased along with the playing area size to maintain the session ethos.  Here I have 12 players in a 20x20.

This session started with the ball on the floor, but with most Premier Skills sessions this can be with the ball in hands to begin with.  This helps players take in the detail of the coaching points and organisation of the practice, especially for the youngest players.  Players did not have bibs on which will encourage scanning and awareness of team-mates, you may want to change this for really young players. 

The groups of three pass and receive the ball whilst moving in and around the 'chaos' of the other groups of three and the following points are gradually introduced. 
  • Player in possession should keep their 'eyes up' to be aware of team-mates
  • Soft touch pass to left or right.  Make sure pass is not "fired in" and look at how and where the player receives (on the safe side of any 'opponents')
  • Introduce "Running In" where instead of receiving and looking to pass the player in possession runs with the ball through the 'chaos' before passing.
  • Carefully introduce "take-overs".  Player in possession needs to communicate this by telling receiver "change".
  • Encourage receiving players to use open turns (little pressure) or closed turns(when being pressured)
  • Look where the space is (look before receiving and soft  touch into the space).
With all of these points, the players are encouraged to call out the name of their intended action.  For example "soft left" when playing a soft pass to the left foot of the receiver.  This can encourage greater communication between the players.
Tip - check to see if the players are attempting all of the above or just the last one you mentioned!
Progression - half way through narrow the area to 10x20 to see how the players cope with the same skills with less time and space.

Part Two - Small Area Work Plan
In the same area 20x20 Move to 2 groups of 4v2 each in a 20x10.  You can either have a defender winning possession swapping with an attacker or to challenge the defenders to keep the ball themselves.  Ensure rotation of roles.

  • Use coaching points from above and start to introduce the following
  • Open shoulders (half turn) to scan before receiving the ball (no blind spots)
  • Find space to "touch and move" into asking players to "look for the inches of space"
  • Touch away from & shield from the defender
Progression 1
Move to 3v1 in one half and 1v1 in other (still 4v2 overall) to introduce the development of passing & receiving whilst moving from one half to the other.  Once the ball is played into the 1v1 the two attackers join to continue 3v1 in the other half so creating an overload each time it moves through the halves.

Progression 2
Move to 2v1 in defensive third 1v1 in middle third & 1 player in the attacking third for the attacking team in possession to get the ball to (still 4v2 overall)
You will probably want to mark out the thirds more clearly than I have shown below.

  • Can players advance the ball through the thirds (one player can move between thirds to overload and 1 defender can move into attacking third when ball moves there)
  • Look for longer passing options (distance rather than height)
  • Look at rotation to see if players can keep the above formation
Part 3 - Game Work Plan
Move into a 6v6 SSG using the 20x20 and GK/2/2/1 with a small 'safe zone' (represented by the blue cones here) for a back player to move into if needed. This will mean players at the back can start again and hopefully encourage patience in possession.

  • Now goals are included look to see if passing is 'forced' 
  • Patience, start again from gk if needed and 'govern the ball'
  • Again look for all previous coaching points to see if they are now integrated into the game - eyes up, soft pass, running-in, take-overs, shielding, touch into open space
  • Open body shape - half turn position, check shoulder before receiving
  • Advancing the play through the thirds
  • Rotation of players to overload or cover

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