How to encourage movement off the ball

Here are some suggestions to generate more player movement, off the ball.

Play 4v0 in a grid. As the football is passed, all players but the receiver must move to different space. This is very hard and very tiring. The first pass is no problem, it’s making the next run on the next pass. This requires constant movement with momentary stoppages–this seems to be a strange concept most all players I have trained.

One of the biggest problems is that someone has to start the movement, so the other players can find new space. It is tough concept for a player to move to space that currently is occupied by another player. You don’t have many space options when in a fairly tight grid.

To help the activity along, ask the receiver to get in several touches before making the next pass. Also, ask the passer to move off the pass quickly and not wait to see how it turns out. This should allow the players to get into a constant flow (for at least 5 seconds).

Now the fun starts, add a defender and watch the movement stop or become the standard movements towards ball to support. It is critical that the players understand they can and should make runs behind the defender. At some point, a second defender can be added.

Other movement coaching opportunities include the standard 3v1 and 5v2 setups. How many times do you see players make crossing runs behind defenders in the activity. All too often they just stay in their circle formation comfort zone. But when they are moving, they enjoy the activity more. And for some reason, their touches seem to improve.