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How can i teach the team not to herd the ball

I am a coach with a U12 girls team, we are having difficulty keeping them in their zones...they all rush to where the ball is and the other team passes into the open area and then socre.

i think most team sports have this issue.  I coach netball and teaching my girls to spread out is always an issue.  what we do is break our court up into channels and there must always be someone in those channels able to receive the ball.  so maybe grab a whole lot of markers and break your feild up and say there is only allowed to be X number of players in each channel at any one time, or the ball will get turned over or you start the excerise again, or they have to for a run...whatever you want to use that will keep them focussed.  it took at least half a season of yelling out, spread out, did they start to do it on their own.  dont give up, this is something that we have all faced.

This will take you time...But yelling and laps are not the answer.  Take the time to make sure the kids (no matter the age) understand what you are trying to do.  Think of yelling commands at your dog, unless you teach them, you can yell all you want. Why think your 10 yr. old can do college math if they haven't been trained. Try doing 6 on 6 scrimmages and stop (freeze) the play to show what you trying to have them do and be very detailed as to why and what happens, good and bad.  Drills don't work for this.  A childs mind goes blank during a game.  They have to be pre-programed to reacted or hear your voice remind them.  Do not use terms like "excellent" or "you're the best" instead, try using "good job on that pass", or "that cross was a good job" Leave room for them to better themselves in their mind. A little trick that will help you as a coach. "Who will show me excellent today?"  Also, split the field into thirds using paint to help you keep them in the correct zone.  You will see results in one or two practices. 

brian i think you misunderstood my response.  i dont mean i just yell at my team...but during a game i do call out (obviously so the whole team can hear me) ...certain phrases that they have learnt at training.  its not a negative command, its just a means to be heard above the noise of the court during a game.  as for doing laps...a netball court is far more smaller than one of your football fields, but i can tell you when the kids think about having to run or do pushups or do any physical core building activity they would rather i be performing a labotomy with a spoon than do them, and i can tell you their focus becomes very much on the actiivity at hand.  as much as i dont like using exercises that they should want to do, the fact of the matter is no matter how much fun i try and make them, they will always be seen as something they dont want to do.  might just be aussie kids.  but we use what works to improve their focus.  so using a loud voice, and laps can be done in a positive way.  btw...the teams i coach have always reached the grand finals, and they all want me to coach them the year after, so my methods although are seen to be very bootcamp like, work and have shown huge improvements in attitudes and playing ability.  but every coach has their special way to coach that reaches their kids.

Try playing an intense amount of keep away, large sided on a large field. When you do this players become self aware of the importance of being open and conversely closing down the open players. After a while they become acutely aware of the relationship between their position on the field and the principles of keep away. To encourage this you can progress from a session of keep away into a positioning drill where they can be told to maintain the principles of the previous session, and it comes easier to them to understand why they are doing it. During the keep away sessions, stop the game regularly to adjust players who are not using space or not marking players in space. This may not always help to keep players in their positions, but it is very effective in killing bunch ball.

We teach our boys in a grided out pitch. We create zones via a grid on half the football pitch with 2 goals eache end. We create a zone for defenec that stretches teh entire width of the picth and is about 12 feet deep. The centre is split into 2 sones a left and a right. in the defence zone we put e.g. 2 defenders and 1 attacker, in the mid zones we place 2 v 2 in each zone. The players cannot cross over zones and eventualy  they learn to stay imposition (or zone and they dont all chase after the same ball.


I can send you a diagram if that makes it easier.


Thanks Stuart...I would love a diagram. To all that have answered the question I say thanks...

I am going to try a different game tonight...I am picking up the ball and going to have them throw it around and play a game of keep the ball. Similar to netball but they have to run around and try to keep the ball.

Hi Asheesh,

I've actually played this game before so I've got a chalkboard drawing of this practice which you can view here if you like:

Have also attached it below (using the add diagram option) in case it can help anyone else.

All the best,

Handball Game - No running with the ball!


5 vs 5 game (can be played with or without goals).

Game 1:

Possession keeping game where all passing is with the hands by throwing and catching. Teams score a point for every 10 passes they make without losing the ball.

Game 2:

Alternatively you can play this game with goals. All passes must be made with the hands (players can't run with the ball in hand) and players can only score with a header.

Coaching Points:

Game starts with a centre throw. Offside rule applies in game 1.

The fact that the ball carrier cannot run with the ball in hand means the other players will all need to move a lot to create space.

The opposition team can intercept the pass or collect loose balls but can't tackle a player with the ball in the hand.

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  • or access our tried and tested plans