Using Mannequins in Training to Teach Spacing, “Movement Off the Ball” and Quick One Touch Play Where Possible

The following session comes from Soccer Awareness “One Touch” Training: Developing its Relationship with Movement Off the Ball. This 103 page eBook explores one touch training and movement off the ball and includes 90 pages of drills that you can do with your team. When you use these training sessions consistently you will see the development of that relationship between having a ONE TOUCH mentality and Movement OFF the ball. Preview Here


OBJECTIVE: To improve movement off the ball by providing mannequins (or cones) to act as opponents to fill important space with the emphasis on playing one touch where able.

using mannequins in training

A None directional training practice.

Mannequins represent opponents on the field. They fill important spaces so the players need to pass and move around and between them. This ensures players move off the ball to help the player on the ball have as many options as possible for a pass.                                                      

The goal of the players is to find as much space as they can between the mannequins to give themselves as much space as possible to play in.  

Every now and again stop the practice and see where the players are positioned. Are they in free space? Are they too close to a mannequin and hence in a game situation not available for a pass? If they are then ASK THE PLAYERS to SHOW you a better position to be in.

Possible problems here are the positioning of players behind opponents so the player
on the ball cannot see them to pass to.

Develop:

  1. Restrict the number of touches on the ball to 3 touches, two touches then one touch; if it is on to do so. To enable one touch to be possible movement off the ball has to be intelligent, fast and into space to help the passer play one touch.  Thinking AHEAD of the ball arriving is paramount here otherwise one touch play cannot be performed successfully. Try to think two moves ahead. Movement OFF the ball by others is paramount here also otherwise the person receiving the pass will not be able to play one touch successfully.    
  2. Play the Numbers Game: 1 passing to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4 and so on. Increase the number of balls being used.      
  3. Two teams playing in the same area with a ball each. Now players need to avoid the other team AND the mannequins to find space to receive the pass.    

Coaching Points:  

  1. Thinking and looking before receiving of the receiving player so they have assessed their options before receiving and in advance of the ball  
  2. Ability to play ONE touch if possible for speed of play  
  3. Movement OFF the ball of teammates to help the player on the ball  
  4. Movement INTO spaces between and around the mannequins to enable this to happen using the mannequins as guides.
  5. Thinking TWO moves ahead to support.
  6. Playing in triangles of support offering several options for the player on the ball in many directions.
using mannequins to teach spacing

An exaggerated situation but this shows what happens when players do not move to space to help the player on the ball; and do not open up the angle for a pass, instead standing behind an opponent and not being free to receive. How many times do you see this?                                                                                       
To defeat this problem; the player on the ball can pass to a space hoping that this will force the receiver to move to that space to receive the ball.  Then the weight; timing and accuracy of the pass has to be particularly good; but this is not ideal.

Whilst players can still be successful with later movement off the ball of supporting players; if the player on the ball has time on it to take more touches; it is always better to provide options of a pass as early as possible to increase speed of play and give opponents less time to work out their movements.        

using mannequins to train movement off the ball

Increasing the number of balls being used to two, then three.

More balls means more decisions to make as to which ball to support, this should improve peripheral vision. 



(1) passes to (4) who has moved between the mannequins to the biggest and most open space possible to receive. (6) Moves between the mannequins also to receive the next pass.                                  
Show the difference between the timing of (6)’s move and how it will effect (4) in terms of potential possession and number of touches on the ball.

Show when (4) receives the pass and looks for the next pass (6) then moves and then show the difference when (6) moves as the ball is being passed to *(4) or even when (1) shapes up to pass depending on the distance (6) has to move to get free to receive.    

Therefore; (6) should be moving as the ball is being passed to (4); or even before, so the ball can be moved more quickly. The other players also are looking to find the best space to be in to offer options for the next pass.              

Here we show the end initial movement of the other players to support (6) and offer him as many options as possible. Each player has attempted to find the biggest and best space possible to receive the pass. 

Bring in more balls to increase the intensity of the practice and offer more decisions to make on passing and support and movement off the ball to receive.  

With more balls the players now have to avoid and keep free from the mannequins but also the other players.

Get more like this in Soccer Awareness “One Touch” Training: Developing its Relationship with Movement Off the Ball. This 103 page eBook explores one touch training and movement off the ball and includes 90 pages of drills that you can do with your team.