One of the most common errors young soccer players make is to stand still and wait for the ball to reach them rather than moving towards the pass (or ‘checking’ to the ball).
Failure on the part of receivers to move towards the ball allows defenders to put them under pressure before they’ve had a chance to get the ball under control. In turn, this usually results in receivers kicking the ball away in a panic as they sense the defender closing on them. The team loses momentum as the ball is given away unnecessarily and the football looks messy and unattractive.
This very simple exercise (taken from the useful Youth Soccer Coach site) helps engrain the habit of moving towards a pass rather than waiting for the ball to come to you.
In the diagram below, the blue crosses represent players A and B and the red ‘donuts’ are cones.
Player A passes to the cone beside player B.
Player B is told to receive the ball before it reaches the cone, control it and pass it back to the cone next to player A.
Repeat, encouraging accuracy and good weight of pass.
Recognise effort and good technique.
A number of variations are possible, simply by adding cones and asking players to run between them or adding players and asking all the players to pass and move simultaneously.
Theory into practice
In the SSG (small sided game) at the end of your practice session, watch out for players checking to the ball or passing into space and praise them.