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03.19.13Annals of Coaching: Chris Condron’s Desert Island Drill

beach-soccer-st-lucia_34104_600x450Well, soccer fans and coaching geeks, it’s time for the latest installment of Desert Island Drills, in which I ask a coach to describe the one drill they’d take with them to a desert island–assuming, I suppose, that they also had a team there that they were trying to prepare for long-term success. 

Previous posts here and here

This time around I asked Chris Condron to weigh in.  In addition to serving as the assistant coach for the men’s team Kean University in New Jersey, Chris is also a PE teacher at North Star Academy, an Uncommon School (and a darned fine one at that).  In short, Chris is in the unique position to get to reflect on the worlds of coaching and great teaching and how they overlap.  Here’s his Desert Island Drill:

My desert island training exercise is one I call Werder Bremen Passing. It builds off the Rondo but I added some more technical and tactical challenges. Combined with fun and an increase level of competitiveness, this exercise creates both an offensive and defensive environment. This will allow the trainer and players to touch on key points on both sides of the ball.

If the trainer can really get excited and narrate the match the level of play can rise quickly and get very competitive, while remaining fun. I have used this from youth to college and each age and skill level always enjoys it, but again, the trainer has to really paint a picture and sell it. This will touch on the technical, tactical, physical and mental demands.

Here’s how it is set up. Mark out a grid approximately 10 yds. Wide and 5 yds. Long. Then add 3 more additional grids connecting (ladder design). Grid will vary depending on skill level of players. Large grid for beginners and small grid for more advance players. Have 2 teams of 6 and break those into 2 teams of 3. EX. red passes to red and yellow passes to yellow (red, yellow, red, yellow grid placement). Ball must remain on the ground or below knee level. Start with one ball and then add an additional ball to add more pressure and to increase skill level. The great thing about most, if not all exercises, you can add you owe wrinkle to make the exercise more or less advanced.

The red team is looking to make a connecting pass to the second set of 3 in the middle grid, without losing possession (add touch limit or time). Yellow is looking to defend and intercept the ball using pressure, cover, balance and quickly transition from defense to offense by connecting with the second set of 3 in the end grid.

The main idea is for players to get X# of passes within the team from grid to grid to win the match. Best of 7 series. Coach will have a set of ball to the side and feed them in and keep a verbal count. Adding a second ball will create a rapid fire match and quick transition from defense to offense. Game like!!!

After each game rotate player from different grids or for higher level thinking on the fly through communication. Players also can rotate positions within the grid with 1-2’s overlaps or take overs. Restrictions can be added to raise the level: one touch passing only, everyone must touch the ball before a penetrating pass can be made or specific type of pass can be worked I.E. outside the foot only or weaker foot only??    

Highlights of the training exercise are that it improves a player’s passing and receiving technique, increases verbal and non-verbal communication, individual body shape and group positioning. Finally, it covers both offensive combination play (short, short long) and defensive positioning (pressure, coverage, balance).

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