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Clinical Accuracy In Passing And Conditioning

Alvin Corneal, Head Coach Raleigh Wings, W-League, former head coach North Carolina State Women’s team, former player Trinidad national team.

Why this topic? Did three reports/analyses of US national men’s team.

Strong points: Team’s physical and mental approach is tremendous.

Weak points: Our players have not gotten past a certain level of technical ability. There is an absence of good technical understanding by US players.

What must the young US player do to get to the next level?

Proper technique does not have to do with physical development or strength, but does have to do with rhythm, feel, time, understanding, and finesse.

Any system of play is worth nothing without basic understanding of fundamentals.

We need to learn why, how, and where does player move.

Don’t worry about tactics until players know fundamentals on techniques.

Too often, player’s pass in the direction of a player, instead of to a player.

Must be able to play so that the recipient is comfortable with at the pass she receives.

The pass must be clinically accurate so that the receiver can play the ball down so they have time to look around make the best decision.

In Bolivia-US match, 60 % of the US passes went to opponents.

Passes to the wrong space resulted in numerous collisions with the opponent after receiving the ball.

Don’t practice passes in isolation, you must combine passing with running to mimic match conditions. Each player must get in the habit of passing and moving, not just passing and watching. The pass must be practiced together with a move after the pass.


Zig-Zag Wall Drill

Two lines 25 yd apart, Seven players lined up 7 yards apart, 4 one side 3 on the other. x = dribblers, o = balls. ABC… target players.

ox ox ox ox ox ox ox










Player (x) dribbles toward player A, and makes a pass. A returns one-touch pass to x from 5-7 yards and upon receipt, x turns quickly, and dribbles toward player B, makes the pass and receives a return pass from B, and then turns to dribble/pass to C, etc. Sprint back to starting point after complete seventh pass.


Coaching points:

Emphasis on simple accuracy important to game. Pleasing to the eye. If you insist on accurate passing at your level, will have a chemistry in soccer.

Suggested that the line player make first touch in direction of next player to create time as you move to next player.

Make sure each pass is absolutely and totally accurate. Don’t worry about speed at first. Stop whenever there is a bad pass. As there is no opponent, no pressure, passes should be accurate.

Recipient must be comfortable. Passes should be to feet, not to knees or wide.

Identify why is the pass inaccurate?


Next progression:

Each of the 7 line players had a ball in their hands. x moves to a ball thrown to chest, and a returns a chest pass to line player - not a trap and pass, but a chest pass.

Next, moved to chest trap, to foot pass back out of air. Pretend there is a defender on your back. Don’t let the ball hit the ground.

Next, moved to chest trap to thigh juggle , then foot pass back.

Develop a feel for the ball on various body parts. Have receiver head the ball back to line player,

Most of these line drills were finished with a keeper in goal rolling a ball out for the dribbler at the top of the 18 to finish with a one-touch shot. Then sprint back to starting point.

After a few repetitions, switch groups.


Coaching points:

Emphasis on turn and sprint to next station immediately after pass. If receiver passes and moves, she gives herself time to get open for a return pass. By passing and watching, you give the defender time to recover.

For youth, start with a catch and throw back to teach them to get arms in proper place for the chest trap. Proper posture for heading and chest receipt.

Stop if chest bounces ball too far away (form proper body arch). Again, interest is not speed by accuracy. Should see the speed of the drill slow down as the players concentrate on accuracy. Then, emphasize speed again.

Never move on without correcting poor execution. Ensure exercise is done properly.

When there is a breakdown, correct each component part

Discussed importance of changing the lines of attack.


Next, how to time passes and runs.

moved to x players being dribblers like first drill. Pass to line player and run behind and around line player you pass to. Then, receive the ball back in space (to develop skills for over laps). After series of passes, finish with a shot on goal. Then, dribble back to start.


Coaching points:

Had the line receiver play his first touch away from the side he will pass ball to (to open space to receive the pass)

Receiver should develop a sense for the dribbler’s run.

Dribbler must talk to line player to tell him when to play ball back.



Next progression

Pass to line player, line player holds/screens ball for 3 seconds from original dribbler, if he can hold for 3 sec then the line man takes the ball to the next station with a dribble and the original dribbler becomes line man, if line man wins he dribbles to next station. Important to practice everything, just as you do during the game.


Coaching points:

Emphasized not shielding with arm away from body or pushing with hands- do spread body - must teach to youth so they don't develop bad habits that result in fouls when older.

Want to teach players to be comfortable with possession of the ball. That’s the next level for our game. There are too many one-touch kicks. Everyone is in too much of a hurry and accuracy suffers.

Need receiver’s mentality to be "This is my ball, I’m keeping it," so can develop confidence and composure.



x passes to A. x tries to dispossess A of ball. Whoever gains possession of ball after ten seconds, passes to B and closes down on B for same drill. Loser stays at A’s spot in line.

If receiver pushes opponent away with hands, FOUL.



US is good at heading to goal, but need to be able to head to feet.

Need accuracy to feet, not a pass up in the air, but down to feet.

Emphasize same principles, form arch with body, hands out for balance.

If develop proper action, becomes like a golf swing, have it for life.

Remember, there are two parts to drill. Head accurately AND move quickly so that as defender turns to watch ball, header moves to space.

If can’t pass, receive or run, can’t play the game.

Next, moved to run at line player(in this one the 7 line players each had a ball in their hands), line player throws ball to be headed back at 5 yards distance, runner heads ball back to line players feet - need to be clinically accurate.

During the demonstration, noticed that players were not accurate, shows an absence of technical skill. Blames coaches because we allow it to continue without correcting and demanding perfection.

Finish with header to goal. Server tosses to x after she returns pass to last line player. Sprint back to start.


Coaching Points

Being more technically proficiency will yield less injuries.

Poor passes put receivers in bad situations after they receive.

Have to move to open space away from a D.

If speed alone was the answer, Carl Lewis would be a good soccer player.

Romario is slow, but his technical proficiency gives him time.

Too many coaches emphasize tactics over techniques, too early.

Instead of playing 11 v 11 for a half hour and play with bad habits.

Some say, the game is the best teacher, but you need technical skills.

It’s necessary to teach when to pass, when to run, when to support.

How to pass, when not to run, when not to support.

Where to pass, where to run and always to understand what your next move is.

This session was covered by Rich Kriscuinas, RKRISCIU@CO.WAYNE.MI.US

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