Coloured bibs, footballs, access to a small field with full goals, or cones
and flags to create a small, pressure-cooker type of field.
Typical team of 16 or so.
Pressure Cooker Field (small field 30x30 - 40x40 or so, with full sized
Physical play is part and parcel of the game of soccer. Getting players
used to “mixing it up” is a necessary part of team preparation. This game
focuses on preparing the players for physical contact in a game setting.
It is NOT meant to teach or condone physical contact that is against the
Laws of the Game. But it is meant to teach the players how to “play
through” such contact when they encounter it. “Play through” refers to
using your body and skills to allow you to continue the play without
injury and while maintaining an attack.
small, pressure-cooker style field, which measures anywhere from 30x30 to
40x40 with full sized goals. You can also use corner flags to create
appropriate goals, and cones to delineate a field of appropriate size.
Split the team into 2 equal groups, each identified by a different
Keeper plays in each goal. Each team protects a goal. Essentially, this is
an 8v8 (or similar numbers) game played in a very small space. Explain the
purpose of the exercise: To prepare them to play physically, within the
Laws of the Game, and to react appropriately (not retaliate) when they
encounter overly physical play. Conditions for this game are that the
defensive players can use their hands, push, shove, pull shirts, anything
safe to try to win the ball from the ball carrier. Girls and boys
typically react differently to this exercise. With boys it will start out
with shirt pulling and holding of the arms, and quickly degenerate to full
blown rugby style tackling. This is OK as long as it is being done safely.
DO NOT allow hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, or tripping.
Girls do not naturally take to this type of exercise with their teammates.
You need to encourage them to hold, pull, push, etc. for the exercise to
have good effect.
You should see the
physical play break down the technical skills of the ball holder
initially. The ball holder must become aggressive as he or she protects
the ball. And as the defensive players close down on the ball carrier,
knowing when to pass the ball, rather than try to hold it against the
extreme defensive pressure becomes important. As does moving to support
the ball carrier, and the ball carrier knowing at all times where his
available passing options are located, and which direction they are
moving. The number of players on the small field should create an
environment where there is immediate, intense pressure brought to bear on
the ball carrier after every pass. It should also create a crowded
environment where passing is quite difficult, resulting in the ball
carrier having to work through traffic (and intense pressure and physical
play) himself, or herself.
Keep a low centre of gravity and a wide stance to keep from being pushed
off the ball.
When being held, especially if it is shirt or shorts grab, it is often
best to quickly and decisively move away and break the hold, rather than
try to steadily pull against it.
Always have a plan: What would you do with the ball RIGHT NOW, if you
received it from a teammate. Where would you put the ball with your first
touch, and what are your shooting or passing options?
Try to play the ball into space with your first touch (there should be
precious little space available to do this), and sprint onto it.
Use your first touch to set yourself up for a shot with your second touch.
Try to receive the ball in an area outside the reach of any defenders.
Try to place all passes in such a way that your teammate is either outside
the reach of any defenders, or can immediately one-touch a shot on goal.
Don't coach the defenders. You don't want them thinking that you condone
this type of play. Make certain they understand that you will not condone
the type of defending that you are encouraging in this exercise!