Why rondos work well at the start of training

I was over in America in January at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia. What a great event that was, with the focus on youth soccer and all the problems of the world shut out for three intensive days of coach education.

Barcelona Rondo

My lecture was on youth development from U7 to U10 and how as coaches we cope with all that age entails. It is a very strong development period with players who have a short concentration gap but extremely sensitive one where players soak up information at a quick rate.

One of my points was around warm ups before training and how I think they waste the time I have with the players. Much better to play a Rondo game which warms up every aspect of player development that can be part of the main training session.

It gives players the necessary work out to prepare them for training.

Todd Beane, Cruyff’s son-in-law and the founder of TOVO Academy Barcelona says it is the best way to get players ready for training.

He said: “When it comes specifically to the rondo, what I like about it, it’s a “3C” checklist drill. It demands cognition, it demands competence and it’s competitive, so it demands character. We always check our drills on that “3C” checklist. Is it requiring the thinking skills cognition? Is it demanding the competence of execution? And is it demanding the character to be resilient and respectful and competitive in the process? The rondo for us is more than just, ‘Oh, it’s a passing drill.’ Or some people say it’s a warm-up, or just to get the kids out of the car. For us at TOVO, it is the fundamental drill exercise that gets us thinking much more than that. Yes, of course, you are passing and receiving, but it is the first piece of a system of play.

“The moment that that child is in a rondo, we are introducing concepts that we will layer over time, applying the principles of play that are directly related and directly correlated with a system of play, whether it’s a diamond in the 4v4 system, whether it’s a 3-2-1 attacking in the 7v7 system or 3-2-3 in the 9v9 system or a 4-3-3 in the 11v11 system. So it is the first step of training.”

I had many a conversation over at the Convention around this subject. I use rondos all the time in my training sessions and will often use them before a match – although sometimes the traditional warm ups work better on match days.

So it was great to spend time talking all things soccer last week and unfortunately get back to reality this week arranging matches and finding out some of my players are still carrying injuries that mean the squad is much depleted this week!

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