Get Goal-side

The lads have recently learned the benefits of pressuring as opposed to diving in on defence. Our next training block is be focused on ensuring our defenders are aware of players behind them at the throw in and in general play. 

Goal-side is the widely used term to describe a position between the player you're defending and the goal. 

Our goal will be to have these lads marking goal-side more often and making the most of an opportunity when they're not being marked properly. 

Throw ins

The typical defensive positioning at a throw in revolves around how far the defenders think the thrower can throw. This results in a semi circle of defenders around the thrower with gaps he can aim for. 

If a ball is thrown through one of these gaps or over the defenders then the opposition attackers often find themselves on a run towards our goal. 

Coaching Activity

We'll play a game whereby the ball is thrown, rolled or passed in from the side each time the ball goes out. Once the ball is in the players will simply try to score but it's what happens before the ball goes in that counts. 

As soon as a ball goes out of play the coach or a player will start looking for the most attacking throw in option, most commonly an attacker who has managed to out-position his defender. 

Defenders will be encouraged to mark goal side but it'll become pretty obvious after a few precise passes pick out unmarked attackers. Defenders will soon realise they cannot just make a wall of defenders and they each attacker needs to be marked Goal-side. 

Goalie Ball

We want to encourage a fast paced game whereby the keeper get's the ball into play as soon as possible. Until now the short pass or roll to a close team-mate has been the recommended option because it's safe and we've been desperate to prevent goals from our own goal kick. 

Now that most of the lads can pass fairly accurately to half way from the edge of the keeper's box we'll be encouraging them to get the ball there quickly while looking first for attackers who have out-positioned their defenders. 

They'll be taught to decide between a throw, roll or placing the ball to pass in to space for our attackers before looking to their defensively positioned team-mates. 

Coaching Activity

Similar to the Throw in activity above, each time the ball goes out play will restart from a goal keeper or coach. 

Attacking players will be encouraged to quickly transition into counter attack by moving into a position and signalling the space they want the ball passed into. This will be with hand signals, not shouting. 

Ideally, parents and coaches will gather balls next to each goal so keepers can grab a ball quickly. Getting the ball in play fast will help the lads think faster about where they need to be to get goal-side or into an advantageous position. 

2 v 1 and 2 v 2 Transition

Asking players to consider 3 or 4 passing options while running with the ball is simply too much for most 7 and 8 year olds. We've actually been quite happy to see individuals running the ball without looking for a pass because we want them strong running with a ball. 

We now want two players working together more when they go on attack. The lads will be encouraged to look for their team mate straight after making a safe touch. 

This is a situation which can cause frustration for parents and team-mates because we're used to seeing premier league players pass when they should be these lads are still learning.

Coaching Activity

2 attackers will start off attacking just the keeper.

1 defender will then be introduced and attackers will be encouraged to commit the defender before passing or moving to beat him. 

Defenders will be encouraged to pressure without diving in. I'm still happy to see a player take on his defender but will suggest they look up for team mate as well. 

About the Author Conor Graham

Conor is the Head Coach of the Bishops Cleeve Colts U8's Rovers and United Teams. The 2018-19 season will be his second in charge and he's keen to help the boys push on from the huge improvements shown in 2017-18.

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