Avoid the congestion charge!

Young players tend to crowd around the ball, but this honeypot effect can mean your team doesn’t exploit space elsewhere. Embrace their enthusiasm and still develop some shape to your attack.

They have different ways of expressing their desire to grab the ball. You may be surprised to find that some of your quieter players are as keen as anyone to get their hands on it.

As we know, the problem lies in the fact that certain players will dominate. They probably do this in school as well. They’re used to being at the front of the queue in everything.


First, don’t dampen the “louder” players’ desire to want the ball. Instead, help them to understand that they can receive the ball one pass out if they support another player.

I can tell you now that this won’t happen straightaway! But this is the time to start building that understanding.

Encourage the quieter players to not only call for the ball but also to put themselves in a position to receive it.

But don’t force others to pass to them because that will create two problems:

  1.  It’s not natural in a real game to pass to someone who isn’t calling for the ball.
  2.  It causes resentment if there are special rules for one type of player. Keep it natural and look to build proper skills.


In training, it’s good to encourage quick handling either just before or just after contact. This is best achieved with games like 3-second touch.

In this, the ball carrier has 3 seconds to pass the ball if he’s touched. If he doesn’t do so, it’s a turnover.

Lots of quick passing means that the players will inevitably spread out – they won’t be able to just follow the ball because the ball will move faster than the man.

Furthermore, because the defence will be bunched, any tendency to “honeypot” around the ball will simply lead to pass after pass anyway.

To reward close support, now say that the pass can’t be more than 2m in length after the tackle. The passer won’t have time to “choose” who he passes to, he’ll just pass to the first player in position.


Once players are used to this game, reduce the timescale on the ball after the touch to 2 seconds.

Suddenly you’ll see that all the players need to be in touch with the ball carrier and more players will be getting their hands on the ball. Tactically, the more they move the ball away from the congested areas the better.

This exercise builds confidence throughout the team, with players beginning to trust each other.

Use Bolt from the blue to work on support lines and realignment. It forces players to stay in the game by not getting too close to the ball carrier if there’s another support player close by.

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