Friday, April 6, 2012

U17 - Time and Space

Today we had a daytime session with the u17 boys.  It's Good Friday and they have the day off school.

We took our chances with the organization by assuming the tennis court area was open.  School and City fields are still closed until May 15, so we make do with what we have.  The tennis courts were already occupied with a street hockey game so we improvised on the track area.  It worked out fairly well.

The theme of today's session was "Time and Space".  My objective was to build more chemistry between the boys and review concepts they should already know.  Time/space has to be an underlying theme for everything, but occasionally you have to make it THE theme to keep those concepts fresh.

The message was to keep possession and be able to make better decisions, you need time and space when you have the ball.  What helps create time and space? :
  • Overall shape
  • Support position and angle
  • Communication
  • First touch and ability to control the ball sooner
  • Quick-early-accurate passing to give the receiver more chance of success
With this group we really need to work on earlier and better passes to give teammates the confidence that if they assume a more open support position, the ball will get to them.  if they think the pass is weak, they will move in closer, killing the team's shape.

The session started off with a run along the canal bank.  While Coach Loris was doing that, Coach Venanzio and I were setting up the first drill.  We improvised for the new location of the track.

The opening exercise involved passing and running, emphasizing the speed and quality of the pass so the receiver had enough room to do what he had to do.  All players were running through a sequence so a weak pass caused the timing of the whole thing to collapse, putting pressure on each player to focus on their jobs.

Players were taught to move to passes when they were kids.  This is great until moving too close to the passer resulted in the pass being useless.  The message is for the pass to get there, and with quality.  We progressed this to the sequence involving a lot of wall passes, again, coaching the initial receiver to assume a position of maximum space.  If the support position allows for maximum space, that more room for the receiver to move towards the ball to get it (and time).

We then progressed to grids with 4v2 keep away and then 8v4.  During 4v2, we coached the players to always move to a position creating more space.  In the grid, if you are 2 yds in from the corner, why not move right to the corner?  If a player is open, why not pass it NOW instead of after an extra touch?  if defenders are covering one side, why not move the ball to the other side?

The lesson was simple.  Spread out,  talk, keep the ball moving quickly and possession is easier.  Moving to 8v4 in a rectangle, they started using players at the other end to spread the defenders out.  It is always nice to see players figure things out on their own.

All was according to the plan until the final game.  I was planning for more space but we just played 3v3 with 2 teams waiting, winner stays on each time.  We had 14 players but one had to leave for work and another hurt his knee at school this week.  The game was getting competitive and they seemed to enjoy themselves, so we minimized the coaching other than to give them a few tips on how to react to the new opponents after you score.

The organization was a rectangular field, 6 yellows, 6 blue players.  3v3 on the field.  The other 3 teammates were waiting behind the goals with a ball.  If a team scored, the defeated team cleared the field and the teammates ran on quickly with a ball and started the next game.  There is a bit of a counter-attack mentality involved, but we didn't beat on that and start a new theme.  The passing was quicker and sooner, players were getting themselves open with a lot of chatter, so we were happy.

The boys continue to be enjoyable to work with.  They have nice personalities and enjoy playing together.  Half of the boys are from St Catharines and they show dedication by coming to Welland to train.  I hope, in some small way, they understand what Coach Ben is doing by keeping this team going and they decide to play into their adult years.

I am not happy that I poorly planned the location.  We can't exactly book the tennis courts, so next time I need to make 2 plans, for 2 venues.  I also have to find a way to know how many players will be available. You develop the ability to adapt quickly with experience, but it's always better to plan ahead.  I think the end game would have been better served if we had done less of the initial passing drill and more keep-away with different themes.  The keep-away is very applicable and the boys enjoy it.

I am going to take a "time-space" themed approach Monday with our U13 boys.  I will devleop 2 plans for the U17 boys for Monday.  If we have the larger space I will repeat this session with a few more ideas for them and we'll see where that takes them.

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