With preseason coming to a close and the regular season up and running, I wanted to begin a series of emails that reflect some things we are trying to accomplish in our own program. The first of which is being better in possession.
The blue print of our success that has led us to our #6 National Ranking is a combination of many things, but possessing the ball is a big component. However, we felt that this is an area that if we could improve even 5% more, we could take our program to the next level. So, our focus last spring and in our preseason has been on Rondo training. This is a series of possession drills done in a 20 x 20 grid which in turn is broken down into four 10 x 10 grids. Below are some key components of what we have been training up until this point.
- All possession can be done in 1, 2, or 3 touches.
- Players should always receive the ball across their body to keep their hips open to the field.
- In full field environments, players (and especially centermids) should work to get their hips facing forward to open up opportunities for vertical passes when at all possible.
- Basic: In a 10 x 10 grid, players play 5 vs 2, 5 vs 1, 4 vs 1, etc depending on numbers. Restrictions that can be imposed include mandatory 1-touch as well as requiring defenders to not just kick the ball but rather gain possession of the ball.
- Add: Two groups are required of 5-7 players each. One group attempts to possess the ball in one 10 x 10 grid against one defender of the other group. As they are able to possess it, additional players are added making possession more difficult. When possession is lost, the defending team and possession team switch roles.
- Transition: Two groups are required of 5-7 players each. Similar to the previous variation, one group attempts to possess the ball in 10 x 10 grid against two defenders. If a defender is able to win the ball, they need to transition to one of their teammates currently standing in one of the other 10 x 10 grids. The game then shifts to the new grid and the defending team and possession team switch roles.
- Slide: Two groups are required of 5-7 players each. Both groups are doing the “basic” drill in separate 10 x 10 grids. If a a possession group is able to complete 7 straight passes, they are to slide to another grid and try to maintain possession. Since two groups are doing this simultaneously, they need to be aware of the other group so that they don’t slide into the same grid.
- Counterpress: Four groups are required of 3 players each. The entire drill is done in a 10 x 10 grid. Three groups are possessing against one group. If the defending group wins the ball, they must connect on 3 passes while the team that gave it away is counterpressing and trying to win it back before they can do so. If 3 passes are completed the team that gave it away becomes the defending group. If the team can counterpress successfully and not allow the 3 passes to be completed, the defending group remains.
These are just five variations we use on a daily basis, but there are many more that can be used to accomplish different goals.