Link tag

Focus: Turning, deception, using space off the ball.

Age: U6 and up.

Equipment: A couple of bibs.

Players: A full team works well. Minimum of about 10.

Space: Area about 40 x 40 yards. No need for marking.

Introduction: Turning, deception, and feint moves are undeniably useful in the game of soccer. These moves can be practiced individually and honed. But until the players actually experience success using these moves in a game-like situation, there will be little progress. It is kind of a chicken – egg dilemma: Won’t use the moves until they experience success with them – Can’t experience success with them until they actually use them. This warm up activity works on such movement WITHOUT a ball at feet, which makes it much easier to experience success.

By the way, I cannot take credit for this activity. But I cannot remember where I first saw it used, so I am not sure who to credit for this great warm up activity.

Setup: Have the players partner up. Have partners link arms. Have pairs of players form a large circle, about 25 yards in diameter. Spread the paired players out evenly around the circle. Pull out several of the pairs. Give two player you have pulled out bibs (they hold them, tell them not to put them on). They are “it”. Have about 4-6 “runners” (players who are not paired up with linked arms).

Execution: Simple. You play tag. The “it” players (with bibs in hand) try to tag the “runners”. They must tag them with their hand, not whip them with the bib! As soon as an “it” player tags a “runner”, they exchange roles. The old “it” player throws down the bib and becomes a “runner”. The old “runner” picks up the bib and becomes “it”. None of the linked players can be tagged. Let the players run outside the circle, but keep them from getting too faraway.

Now for the interesting part. A runner can escape being tagged (or simply take a breather) by linking up with any linked player in the circle. The instant that they link arms, the player opposite them must release his or her link and become a runner. This makes for some interesting strategies for the “it” players, and also for the “runners”.

Coaching Points: Watch them. Learn from them. See what moves they are using to avoid being tagged. watch how they use the momentum of the defender. See who uses space wisely. These will give you some insight into what level they are thinking at. When they have a ball, you are seeing a combination of what level they are thinking at, as well as what level technically they are able to operate.