Why are the U14s so good?

Watching the Under 14s pass and move their way to a really pleasing victory this week I went home and decided I needed to see what I had worked on with this team when they were much younger and what had been the foundation for the way they were now playing.

I found this extract from my notes from a few years earlier and they inspired me to revisit the work I was doing then

A new level

I felt my Under-10s moved onto a new level this week. We played above my expectations… something had definitely clicked. One of the parents of a player who had moved from another team to ours a few weeks back came up to me and asked me about the way we were playing. “How have you got them to play the ball back in order to move forward?” he asked me, “it’s like watching Barcelona!”

Indeed we were moving the ball well, the idea being that the forwards with their backs to goal could play the ball into space, then move to receive the next pass in a more attacking position. We won the game 5-0, but that wasn’t why I felt so pleased.

Coordination and balance

Playing like this doesn’t come naturally. Passing the ball in one direction then moving in another is all about coordination and balance in young players. They have to be smart for it to work without giving the ball away or passing to an opposition player when they are under pressure.

It takes a lot of hard work in coaching sessions – but having started using complicated exercises to pass and move I quickly changed to using simple ‘pass one way go the other’ warm-ups at every session over three months. And now it’s paying off. I’ve come up with a number of variations which I rotate over the weeks.

Try this simple drill

Possession of the ball is key, coupled with movement of players to support the player on the ball. Try a simple drill like this – use three players in a line, each five yards apart. Player one passes to the tmiddle man who turns with the ball and passes to the player on the other side.

The player in the middle quickly swaps with the player who passed the ball and the drill continues. Play should be slow at first until players work out a rhythm, then speed it up.

Such a simple way to coach passing and receiving leading to possession of the ball. It is fantastic to see how the team has developed so that they are now playing in the top division at their age group – a lot of hard work has been put in by a lot of people along the way but it has been worth every single second we spent on the

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