Moving off the ball is probably one of the most underrated skills of any professional footballer. Wayne Rooney is a prolific goal scorer for Manchester United, and is a truly fantastic player at moving off the ball. He is always making a nuisance of himself even when he hasn’t got the ball at his feet.
He is either making blind runs to deceive defenders and create space for his team mates, or foxing into the goal area, where there is limited space, to steel a goal. This technique does not come easily and takes many years of practise. Most times you hear players credited for there passing, shooting or control, but this is probably the most important skill of any up and coming footballer.
When a player has a ball at their feet, they have very little time to think about the pass, especially when they are under pressure by a closing defender. However players off the ball have time to move or fox there way into areas defenders don’t always see. Players can work in or out from the blind side of the defender and create angles for a pass.
This helps the player on the ball no end and along with effective communication can dramatically improve a teams ability to keep possession of the ball. The technical drill below is designed to improve a teams ability to keep possession of the ball.
Set up of this soccer drills
This drill is designed to help players into understanding how to move into space to receive the ball, and help the player on the ball, by creating space and angles for the pass. A pitch is laid out into a 40 by 20 yard area, that is divided into 3 sections. On each end are 2 x 10 yard areas and 1 x 20 yards central area. You will require 12 players, 3 teams of 4 with different coloured bibs. Add plenty of spare balls at the ends of each 10 yard area.
The central zone is a neutral area. The game starts by one team (say X’s in this case) passing the ball around in the zone A. After 5 ‘ 10 can pass the ball in the air or on the floor to the players in the opposite zone. The players in the central zone must try to intercept the pass. When the ball is passed over to the opposite zone the players in that zone repeat 5 ’10 passes and then return to the opposite zone. Players cannot move out of the zones. If the players in the central zone intercept a pass, then the team that failed to pass will swap places with neutral team.
Once the players are comfortable with the drill, allow one defender to enter a passing zone to try to intercept the ball. Again passing players switch with the defenders if there is a successful interception. You can progress the drill to add up to 2 defenders. However players must be well versed with the passing techniques before progressing to 3.