September 18, 2007
Releasing The Ball And Reforming The "Y" Shape
Koach Karl - Here's part 3 of Ray Erlach's article on teaching positioning in youth soccer…
RELEASING THE BALL AND REFORMING THE Y
After maintaining dynamic shape with A1 retaining the ball (during dribbling), it is time for A1 to pass the ball, hopefully forward to A2 or to A3. After the pass, ask your team,"What has happened?" There is a new A1, so there must be new A2, A3, and A4. So have them reform the Y around the "new" A1. Once they get it, here is the next level (and it is BIG): While the ball is in flight, before it gets to A2, encourage the players to look, read, and move to reform the Y around the target of the pass, the "old" A2, who will be the "new" A1, first slowly, perhaps walking, and then progressing to game speed. This teaches dynamic support while the ball is in motion; teaching player supporting movement without waiting for the ball to be received, or even passed, is what you are working to, the "Future Pluperfect Soccer."
Just working on this movement on the release of the ball is a theme worthy of several practices, and once conceptually established, leads to spontaneous creativity in player movement. This is the third step of the multiphasic training, and it's probably going to take more time than steps one and two. Remember to start with walking speed so you can see all four attackers "get it," and gently use the "freeze" command to praise and eventually to correct.
Start with one group to demonstrate it, again, at walking speed. Reforming will take player decision making. There should be no formulaic movement. Your players need to learn to look, read, decide where to go, and get there. That's the joy of playing; it's fun and leads to player insight and creativity. Let them decide and shape themselves. You should applaud and praise –even if it is not perfect. This is what makes soccer fun to play. This is where the game itself begins to do the teaching. You are working to one-touch linked passes with continuously evolving support runs, but don't expect too much. Be sure to teach the basics so the foundation is properly laid. You want to gain this: players looking, reading, deciding, and moving into supporting positions — 11 minds at work. Who is in the best position at the time of the pass to be? A2? A3? Is the back covered? What are the game variables? Where are we going, and where should I be?
Make sure to emphasize the importance of A4 in maintaining possession and in takeovers where A1 pulls the ball back. (The A4 takeover can be especially effective when A1 has been stopped in front of the opponent's goal and draws the defense out by moving the ball away from goal.)
"SHAPE!" THE GAME
Once step three is clear, introduce the shape game. Start at one end line and require four passes and reforms, one being a back pass, before finishing with a shot on goal. Play can be 4 versus 0 against the clock, or 4 versus 1, then 4 versus 2 after success. Applaud creative shaping, switching and imaginative runs off the ball, all at acceptable distances. From the start, encourage verbal communication throughout the play: A4: "Got back"; A3: "Line open"; et cetera. I like to call the player who is back (A4) the quot;General." She or he has the best view and can call out warnings or instructions to A1: "Open left," "watch out side," "man on," et cetera. Once you have demonstrated it, set the field into grids so the whole team plays. After five minutes, call time, and let each group talk about what they did. Ask if they want to try again. My guess is the response will be enthusiastic.
After success at 4 versus 2, you can "morph" the Y to a 7 versus 0 "Spider," with each Spider "leg" within your players' passing range. (For young girls, maybe a better word is "Starfish.")
Stand still and have the players count the triangles. There are at least 12 useable formations in the Spider from which an attack can be generated. Have A1 release the ball and practice reforming the Spider. Practice "change it," for changing channels, watch the support runs, and the reformation of triangles around the new A1. Let them create. Make sure they play plenty of balls back to A4 or A7 or A6, and reshape. Emphasize the width and depth of the field and encourage them to use all of it during this game.