20 Aug 2015
Coaching to develop spatial awareness and game sense
Watch players like David Silva and Ross Barkley, they constantly move their heads and scan around them. They create pictures of where everyone is, before they receive the ball. All the best players have this spatial awareness and play with their heads up.
So how do you develop this spatial awareness with young players? Maybe this session will help you. It certainly has been a favourite warm up / technical practice of mine over the years and it really does work.
This is a simple enough session to organise and most players should be able to pass, receive and pass easily enough.
But it is the progressions that really start to challenge the players and will really help them to develop their head up play and increase their spatial awareness.
Start with one ball and 4 players, but as the players become more confident and proficient, increase the number of players and footballs and change the passing direction and or distances involved.
- Start – 4 players 1 ball. Distance 10 – 15 yards. Pass in a clock wise direction.
- Progression 1 – The players decide where they want to pass the ball
- Progression 2 – On coaches command, change direction – anti clock wise. Repeat
- Progression 3 – Increase, decrease the distance. Keep changing the direction of the passing.
- Progression 4 – Introduce a second ball. Increase, decrease the distance. Keep changing the direction of the passing.
- Progression 5 – Five to six players, 3 balls. Increase, decrease the distance. Keep changing the direction of the passing.
At times, there will be a sense of chaos, with lots of players, footballs and congested space. But the players can make sense of the chaos by communicating and playing with their heads up. If they play with their heads up, they will be able to see what is happening around them and be able to make decisions on if and when to pass the ball and when and If they have to pause before making the pass, to buy time or if they have to pass quickly.
The session can then progress to a 2 v 2 or 3 v 3 conditioned target game, which you will see in the video.
- Players to play with their heads up and communicate
- By playing with their heads up they will be able to see what is happening around them and make better decisions on when and if they pass, whether they pass quickly or slowly, so space or to feet and whether they have to buy time prior to the pass.
- Challenge the players to perform an agreed number of passes without making a mistake. Then progress the practice to increase the chaos and difficulty so the players have to work harder on playing with their heads up and thinking one step ahead.