Coaches Corner: Old Drill, New Tricks

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(PC: Anna Scipione)

Every kid loves the small field, unsettled drills like the “west genny” drill.  For me, this drill serves a lot of different purposes.  If we are having a particularly poor practice we may hop into this for 10 minutes to pick up the pace of the practice.  It is typically the last thing we do the night before a big game to get the kids to relax and have some fun.  Sometimes I will start practice with it to mix it up, especially if we had a tough game the day before and the energy is low.  These drill are perfect for all age players and can be done from a 2 vs 1, 3 vs 2, 4 vs 3, or 5 vs 4.

The basics of the drill are you have two goals with goalies facing each other on both sides of the sidelines (approx. 60 yards) which are the end lines.  For the sidelines it should be 5 yards for every offensive player to allow them space to move but give some type of boundaries.  Players are split into two teams and are placed behind their goal.  The offensive team would have one more player than the defensive team to start.  The last person to touch the ball on offense (shot, turnover, goal) is out of the drill and then the remaining players drop back to play defense.  Besides being a fun drill that works on fundamentals it is a great drill for defense to work on spacing in the clear, attack to work on their defensive rotation in the ride, and midfielders playing both sides of the ball.

I am certain that most coaches are already doing these types of drills in some way, shape, or form but I wanted to in throw some other ways to incorporate them that may be helpful. We are all in the second half of the season and things start to get stale. The same drills every day get boring for the coaches and players. Here are some variations that may spark the energy in practice and help you tidy up some on the field issues.

Option #1 – If you are losing the GB battle then try this: Instead of immediately stopping play when the ball hit’s the floor let it play out until the defensive team gain possession, a pass out of bounds, or a goal.  If the offensive group comes back up with it they get another chance to score.  This should get your offensive group fighting for those second chances opportunities on offense in the game and also get your defensive group to play until the whistle.

Options #2 – If you are having clearing/riding issues then try this: Instead of having the person who last touched the ball leave the drill make him drop to cover one of the offensive players.  The goalie would be uncovered but would need to make a smart pass to an offensive player coming back.  Once the pass is made that third defensive player is out.  This would simulate a 10-man ride or a ride where everyone was locked besides the goalie.  It will force your offensive players to cut back to the ball, communicate, and run by someone.  It would force your defensive players to ride hard and crash as the pass is made and then go from even to uneven.

Option #3 – If you’re offensive/defensive transition is lacking then try this: Instead of having the person who touched the ball last get out of the drill, let them sprint around the back of the cage and try and get back into the drill to make it an even situation.  This forces the offensive players to push the tempo if they want transition and make quick decision which are more game-like.  It forces your defensive players to communicate the even/uneven situation and rotate quickly in transition.  If the team scores the player that scored is automatically back on defense and it is a low numbered, even situation.

I hope you find some of these options helpful and I would love to know any other versions of this drill that you do and how they work.

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