I decided to write about this after a recent training. The reason is a very common rule we, as coaches, add to our training to make the possession/rondos more interesting or to give them target when they lack one.
The rule i am talking about is the pass counting. I am sure all of you have design a nice possession drill or a rondo that you created a situation and you asked your players to manage to achieve a certain number of passes (6-8-10) and when they manage this number you award them with one goal. In the end of the playing period you have a score.
This is a very nice rule to make your trainings more interesting and to increase the pace of it and of course it gives a nice feeling when players manage to make ten consecutive passes.
I know you will think that of course rules play huge role to our drills and we need to consider before using any. But this was an eye opener for me to see how huge was the impact on my training when i decided to remove a very common rule.
Let’s take a closer look to what is happening when one team is keeping the ball and their target is to make 10 passes to score a goal. The drill below is a classic 5v5 with 4 support outside. The target of the exercise is the players to move the ball from one side of to the other. Everytime this happens it’s one goal. Also one goal is when the team in possession manages to make 10 consecutive passes.
As you can see the players of red team run after the ball to interrupt the blues from completing 10 passes. They leave many spaces uncovered and in the end blue will use them and succeed both targets, 10 consecutive passes and also move the ball from side to side.
No need to say about the interruption of the consecutive passes when someone touches the ball and not gaining possession.This will force you to restart the count but the opposition did not manage anything. When in reality and in the real game touching the ball is not something we should feel good about but gaining the possession is.
From my experience many coaches using this rule almost everyday in all their exercises cause it gives an extra target to the teams playing.
BUT what is also does is that makes the opposition to run behind every ball. They press all the time even in the most unnecessary situations. Look at the example below.
Blue No 6 and No 8 are passing without purpose and red control the situation without being in danger. If we add the passing rule the result will be red trying to press every ball, stop every pass so they don’t allow blue team to reach 10 consecutive passes. The result is that the exercise will transform into something like the first video.
This is not good because it trains the players to go for every ball. Something that most of the times is not the ideal scenario. Pressing should be a team effort and not individual runs.
It also removes the drop from players head when under fatigue they need to decide drop or press when for example the opposition is on counter attack.
I would not say this is a NO rule because to be honest i use it in my training sessions, lately less than before. It’s a rule we need to be very careful when using and its crucial to monitor what our rules do to our trainings. How the team with the ball behaves but also how the opposition will behave. The more realistic the better therefore building a “run after the ball” habit is not realistic.
Try to use this rule when you believe it suits your training and be very specific of the outcome you wish to have. One thing is for sure is not for everyday use.