by Erik Imler
Thanks to Paul Riley and the rest of the staff at NWSL’s Carolina Courage, I was fortunate enough to see a training game that I had never seen before. It will be added to my training games library immediately as it ticks a number of necessary youth player development boxes.
The field was divided into 6 smaller areas.
A ball was played into one of the central areas by a coach who started things off. The waiting team (5 players) attempted to string a specified number of passes while two defenders entered from the adjacent central grid. Once successful completing the designated number of passes, the central team in possession (red team in diagram) could play ball out of central grid to an awaiting teammate (red player) in the adjacent grid to their left or right.
The adjacent grids (left or right) were flanked with a small 4×6 goal on each end line.
Upon receiving pass from central grid, awaiting player went 1v1 to goal with opponent (yellow player in diagram) in opposite grid.
- If attacking player scored, one point was earned for entire team.
- If defender knocked ball out of play, no point earned for either team.
- If defender won possession and scored in opposite end, one point was earned for entire team.
- Game played to specified number of goals.
I particularly enjoyed the added competitive nature and progression of a simple & relatively standard non-directional possession game we all know well.
As I watched the training session progress, more layers were added to the standard form.
PROGRESSION #1 Once ball is played out to waiting teammate, an additional attacking player from central grid entered to create an overload (2v1). Offside rule applied.
PROGRESSION #2 Once ball is played out to waiting teammate, an additional attacking player from central grid entered. Also, defender from opposite central grid joined outer grid to make (2v2). Offside rule applied.
The players played at a very intense level as the added mini-game significantly raised the competitiveness of the exercise.
Thank you to Coach Riley, the NWSL’s Carolina Courage players and staff.