Although they should be considered completely different topics, coaches often link passing and moving together as items that need to be improved together. As every youth coach of ages 4-10 has found out, players in the initial stages of their soccer development often have trouble “spreading out” and understanding basic concepts of passing and moving. So with that, here is a session plan from The Mastermind Site all about passing and moving for ages 6-10!
WARM-UP: PASSING GATES
Players work in pairs of two with one ball, passing and moving. If players are taking too many touches in between passes, limit touches or seconds on the ball. First, pass and move, avoiding the cones/gates. Then progress.
1. Each pair has five points, every time the ball hits a cone or they hit a cone with their foot, they lose a point. Keep going even if you get to 0 points, but last team with points on the board wins.
2. Which team can get the most passes in 1 minute, while avoiding the cones?
3. Which team can get the most passes through gates in 1 minute?
– Part of the foot & weight of pass.
– Scanning the field to see cones & teammate and move to open space based on surroundings.
– Never turn your back to the ball. Always move where you can see your
partner and the ball.
ACTIVITY: AVOID THE DRIBBLERS
Setup/Execution: Players are divided into two teams. White team keeps possession of one ball. Each green team player dribbles a ball, while looking for opportunities to kick away or intercept white team’s ball. White team gets 1 point for every three passes. Green team gets 1 point anytime they kick away or intercept white team’s ball (while still controlling their own balls). Competition to five points, then switch roles.
– As soon as you make a pass, move and find open space to receive again.
– Don’t just stand still even when open, movement is a constant process.
– Take space when you have it, including running with the ball to open new passing lanes.
– Maximize space by making the field bigger when in possession, but always give a few close options too.
– First touch out of body, into space and away from pressure.
ACTIVITY: OUT OF THE SQUARE
Setup/Execution: Small-sided game with 2 teams playing inside a square. In order to score, a player must move at the right moment and receive outside the square before bringing the ball back into the square. Can also be done in smaller groups like several games of 2v2.
– Timing of movement into outside zone. Don’t just stand still and wait for it, move at the right moment. Movement is a constant process of scanning the field and moving into space.
– Triangle and diamond shape to combine. Avoid two players in the same
– Part of the foot & weight of pass.
– Even though we are spreading out, we still need close passing options too
GAME: 4-GOAL GAME
Setup/Execution: Game with four squares to score. Players score by receiving the ball in the square at the right moment. Progress to just two squares to score on per team.
– Don’t just stand still and wait for the ball in the square, move at the right moment.
– If you cannot advance forward, turn and see if you can take space a different way.
– Four nets to score, scan for the space to advance into.
– Creation of triangles and diamonds to combine and make the field big in possession.
GAME: REGULAR GAME
Setup/Execution: 3v3/4v4/5v5 game as normal with mini goals.
– Add conditions if necessary to get outcomes you are looking for, but no restrictions.
Example: Scoring after 3 passes = 3 points.
– Let the players play. Minimal coaching and stoppages. Re-emphasize coaching points from the session, specifically creation of shapes and timing of movement.
The most important consideration for players in understanding use of space (spreading out) is the creation of shapes (diamonds and triangles). Even when numbers are larger than 3v3 & 4v4, those shapes can still always be created. For movement at this age it is also important that players don’t turn their back to the ball when they move so they can always see the player and the ball. Players should also understand that movement doesn’t mean to get as far away from the player with the ball as possible, but to get into a position to receive, whether it be near or far.
It is a bit counter-intuitive but in addition to the attached, games that restrict movement like locking players in specific zones, can actually help players understand movement in addition to use of space. They won’t be chasing the ball all over the place, and at the same time if they just stand still in their zone, they won’t have success in moving the ball from one zone to the next. So it still teaches that movement off the ball piece despite it being less game-realistic.
Although these two topics should usually be coached separately (passing & receiving vs. support in attack), youth coaches often link them together. This is natural considering passing and moving and the use of space to be one of the primary challenges for coaches in helping their teams develop. But with these activities and games by your side, you should be able to take your team to the next level and drastically improve their understanding of space, timing and decision making when it comes to passing and moving. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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