By Steven Smith
Over the River
Objectives: Increase possession skills while training fitness and transition. Increase the ability to defend in small groups.
This activity is designed to increase possession skills while focusing on transition, fitness and defensive pressure. It is perhaps one of the most challenging fitness possession games for a senior level team.
The concept is for two teams to keep the ball for 6-8 consecutive passes and then switch the ball to the next grid over (across the river) in the air to complete a point. The level of difficulty is determined by the space of the possession grid, the intensity and numbers of the opposing team and the distance of the gap between the two possession grids (the river).
Two possession grids are set up approximately 25 yards by 35 yards in size with a 20-yard gap between the two fields. Three teams of seven are divided evenly with a black group trying to maintain possession in one grid and complete 6 to 8 passes and then send the ball in the air to the yellow team for possession in the next grid over and past the gap (river) space.
The defenders form the third group and stay outside of the grids until a ball is served by the coach into one of the grids. Once the ball is received by the black team three or four of the defenders must enter the grid to try to break up the possession. If the defenders are able to knock the ball out of the grid, the coach serves to the yellow team and the defenders in that group enter the yellow possession grid to try to knock the ball out of that grid as well.
The possession group is successful by completing the 6 to 8 passes (coach’s preference on difficulty). Once the predetermined number of passes is achieved the defenders stop but the possession group has a free pass to send to the opposite grid. If the ball does not reach the opposite grid in the air then no point is scored! Once the ball has reached the new grid the cycle of possession and crossing the river continues.
The coach can determine the length of the game by time or by points achieved or number of balls served. Once the end of the game is achieved the defending color group changes with each successive game. A full cycle for the game is three complete games. Always give a reward for the winning team at the end of a three game cycle.
The group sizes can be uneven and therefore the coach can predetermine how many defenders can enter the grid. The smaller the possession group, the fewer defenders that should be sent into the grid.
With groups of seven defenders one person on the defensive team may have to cross the river to help defend if groups of four are required to defend in each grid. The coach can make that person make the transition every time or each person on the defensive group can take turns crossing the river to defend.
By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.
By Sean Pearson
Area Size: 28 x 32 Yards
Time: 15 mins
Players: 4 v 4 + 1
One area with 4 goals and 4 coned areas in front of the goals. Two teams of 4v4 with a neutral to overload the decision process of the team that wins possession.
Pressing is a style that is very popular at this time, a lot of clubs/teams have a philosophy of pressing and coaches will show ways to press and where to go etc. This exercise is focused on what to do after you win the ball back from the press depending on the scenario you see.
Before I discuss that aspect of the activity it is important to ‘set up’ the press and give the team starting in possession a task. So, whenever the ball goes out of bounds or after there is a goal the team who starts is trying to maintain possession. They score by receiving inside the triangle between the goals and cones. The aim is to use the whole area by spreading out and switch the ball constantly away from the pressing team.
The players pressing cut off passes to nearby options and surround the ball to nullify the overload the other team has. Because players further away from the ball and on the other side of the press can’t receive the ball directly their larger numbers do not count and players can anticipate where the ball is going and step in front to win possession.
When the pressing team wins possession, they have 2 options, pass or move with the ball (dribble or drive). Below 1) the individual has space to drive in to and sees the goal straight ahead with no obstructions. 2) They can pass in the same direction they were going to go but this player may be in a better position to score and 3) they can pass away from the goal closest to them if players surround the goal.
After the initial press from the 1st team when they win possession the team who has just lost possession then becomes the pressing team and tries to score into the goals. This continues until there is a goal or the ball goes out of bounds. For each restart the aim is to move the ball away from the press and score by receiving inside the triangle area.