Challenges as players receive the ball

I worked on a great session with the kids this week, it was a whole-part-whole session about body position in a game involving passing and receiving. We spent a lot of time on the receiving moment in a match and how players should ready themselves for that crucial moment in a match.

All too often players are more focused on the ball before they receive it and the position of the passer and any obstacles in their way at that point. What we worked on was how do we react to make sure no one is going to suddenly appear and intercept the ball?

Focus on the coaching point

I’ve been working on sessions that help to focus on the coaching point so not only do the players understand the coaching point but the coach taking the session understands it too.

Which is a massive point when you coach a session… you need to understand what you are coaching. The focus of the coaching can change as well. For instance I laboured the process during the part session to get across to my players that they must be aware of what is going on around them BEFORE the ball is received and aware AS the ball is being received.

Getting players to run into space is one thing but they must realise that in some instances what was space before they ran into it can quickly be closed down as they receive the ball.

Two challenges

Two challenges for them as they receive the ball. Where is the space? Where is the danger? Recognising these two points needs players to look around them as they make themselves available for the ball – importantly they look quickly behind them as they should already have a good idea what is in front of them.

As they enter the space, which gives the trigger for the pass, they should again look quickly behind them so if danger is coming they can protect the ball with their body.

That simple bit of information is often the hardest part of receiving the ball. Players think they have made a great first touch only to find themselves pressed quickly into losing it.

I often get emails from coaches who tell me their players have great skill but are easily pushed off the ball. My first question to them is how do they receive the ball? Do they look over their shoulders once then twice? Often the answer will be that they don’t look at all.

Quick looks in training sessions are worth their weight in gold.

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