Sport psychologist Dan Abrahams offers five tips to help you sharpen up your players mentally so they are ready to face the season ahead when you get back after the summer break MORE
How to create a passing game
Creating a passing game for your team is all about working on individual technique and getting players to understand how team play works with movement and good passing. Here are the best ways to implement your ideas.
DEVELOP THE TEAM
It’s all about developing young players – you need to reduce complexity in everything that you do to build up confidence. Then, lots of repetition will help them acquire more confidence and the technical skills required to deal with the ball and with the space created. It can help them a lot to have time and space to make better decisions. This helps the players and the team feel comfortable.
TIMING IS VITAL
Get this wrong, for example, pass too early or too late, and the momentum of a move can stall. For example, a forward pass before a striker is ready to make their run could run harmlessly out of play, while delaying a pass too long can give defenders time to block off space and the passing angle, or mean your striker strays offside.
THE ‘WEIGHT’ OR POWER OF A PASS
Similarly, get the weight wrong, for instance, too heavy or too light, and that can also mean the end of an attack. Too heavy and a teammate could have trouble controlling the ball, while too light and the ball might not have the pace to reach the teammate, allowing a defender to intercept it.
CREATE SPACE BEFORE YOU RECEIVE THE BALL
One easy way to give yourself more time to think when you have possession of the ball is by putting more space between you and the defenders. Its not always possible, but if you have a chance to fake a defender into thinking youre going one way, you can come back to the ball and have time to pick out a good pass.
WORK AT THE RATE OF YOUR PLAYERS
As a coach you need to adapt to the quality of the team and the players, and adapt drills to fit that mould in terms of complexity. The simple ones can be just controlled passing, then steer them towards a positional game. That’s the most important thing – the decision making. You need to educate the players to make those decisions in keeping with the intensity of the game. You need to repeat in training what you want to see in the game.
UNDERSTANDING IS KEY
The most important thing is to understand the players, and the players to understand what needs to be done. You need to create a common identity where everyone knows their tasks and that of their team-mates. A lot of it is down to psychology, you need to give them the belief.
DONT TRY TO DO TOO MUCH
Forced passes rarely work out, which is why you need to learn how to only make those passes when you have no other options. While it’s great when your teammates make off-ball runs, you don’t have to pass it to them if it’s not your best option.
It is important to know that the best passing option isnt always up the field. Too many players think that if they pass the ball backwards that they are somehow hurting their team, but that is usually not true. It is better to move the ball forward, but if there is a low chance that your team will retain the ball, then do your best to make a simple pass so your team can keep possession.
DON’T GIVE UP IF IT’S NOT WORKING
It’s not in difficulty that you stop this process, it’s in the difficulties that you can grow. There are lots of elements that can change – for example, a bad pitch. There will only be some areas where you can play, but you can be strategic and use that to your advantage. Don’t build up from the back, but look for another area. You need to keep using the ball as best you can and keep trying, keep pressing. You need to create solutions to problems, create alternatives. There needs to be more responsibility for each player – instead of having one possibility when you get the ball, there needs to be two or three.