Over and over again, young players around the world receive the ball from a passing player, square on, with their back turned to goal. This limits a player’s ability to pass the ball forwards and keep play moving. Instead of receiving the ball square on, players must maintain an open body shape, aka receiving the ball on the half-turn.
Receiving the ball on the half-turn means you are in an open body position to receive with either foot and spray options left or right. When receiving on the half-turn, half of the players body is turned toward open play, again giving a player the option to play right away with both their left and right foot in a productive manner.
WHY ON THE HALF-TURN?
Receiving on the half-turn allows you to have greater autonomy in terms of your decision on what foot you take the ball with. If you take it with your back foot, you can instantly breakaway, while if you take it on your front foot (the foot closest to the ball), you can delay the attack and allow others from your team to get into advantageous positions.
Players have to be aware of what foot they are receiving the ball with and how that influences the decision making of the defenders around them. In continuation to that, when you play on the half turn, you can easily advance into the next phase of your team’s buildup play with one simple first touch. When directly facing the player that passed the ball, a player has to take two or three touches in order to turn and see new options unless playing a one-touch pass back to the initial player or sideways across the back-line to another player.
Playing on the half-turn also allows players to see the options that are in front of them. In comparison receiving the ball with your back-turned to the opponent’s goal, causes you to have very little knowledge on what/where defenders are around you and also what passing options you have available.
TEACHING TO PLAY ON THE HALF-TURN
When looking for role-models who always play on the half-turn, young players can study the likes of David Silva, Mesut Ozil, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas.
In terms of practice sessions that can easily teach players to play on the half-turn, the rondo is an excellent example. Rondo exercises naturally teach players to receive on the half-turn, especially when positioning players across lines in a square or rectangle. This is because players must always maintain an open body shape and then spread the ball quickly, otherwise they’ll be closed down and the ball will be lost. When having attacking players play in the middle of the rondo against the defenders, it also encourages players to play on not only the half-turn but also play 360 degrees, as they can go any which direction any time they receive the ball. The ideal rondo for this would be a 4+1 v 2 with 4 on the outside, 1 in the middle and 2 defenders also occupying central areas. In order to get a point, outside players must play to the player in the middle and then back out. If defenders gain obsession, the middle man must work hard to win the ball-back.
In summary, playing on the half-turn is an essential skill for any footballer, particularly midfielders who are tasked with dictating the tempo of the game and being the main source of distribution and link-up play. If players can effectively master playing on the half-turn, their games will instantly be taken to the next level.