Generate a hunger for the ball

A couple of weeks ago I was on a course discussing what got youth players thinking during a game and how they could react to that. If their team has the ball what should they be thinking about and if they have lost the ball how should they react?

With my U9 players I coach them to attack the opponent non-stop when they have the ball, when they lose it and when the opposition have it – so you always attack the ball. The key phrase I came up with was that defending is our first offensive action.

What this does is create hunger for the ball with players thinking quickly about where, when and how to work with or without the ball.

With the ball the main idea is to get players using techniques to protect the ball and use it quickly to pass upfield. This requires good movement and passing to pass the ball without making a teammate stretch or stop moving.

Without the ball players must work hard to win it back – this is key to creating a reaction in or out of possession.

Key coaching interventions

Coach suggestions
“I want you to look at your team-mate before you pass it”
“How can your pass help your team mate to do the next thing?”

Watch a passing combination
“Did you see how he passed the ball to John so he could move onto the ball?”

“Recognize when to and when not to risk possession”

Here are three of the best sessions to help you:

Possession or score encourages strikers to have rapid shots at goal and to link up in the middle of the park with one-twos and one-touch passing. Defenders can switch play when in possession and spread out to keep the ball from attackers.

One of the key moments in a possession game is being able to use the ball and create goal scoring chances. It is easy to just keep the ball and neglect the principles of attack. In Possession in overloads players get lots of chances to create, and score, goals

In 3v2 transitions the attacking team has an overload but can the defending team use their players to create their own overload and win the ball back so they can score? It is one of my favourite sessions to get a reaction from my players.

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