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How to encourage positional play (spreading out) to U9 players?

How do you encourage positional play and spreading out on hockey field U9 girls level?

Hi Bianca What I have done with U8 is to set up the pitch into boxes where the children are one child from each team are aloud in these. This makes them spread out.

When certain children are able to do this well they are aloud to remove their own cones and go on free roam. Remove each child's cones until they are all playing, spread out, in a match.

If they forget (which many will) to spread out, give them a coned area to stay in again and soon they will stop bunching up as they will not like being coned off from the play.

Robert

Greetings Bianca

We diid something similar to Robert, but we used the netball court and "rules" as our divide. This got the backs, mid-field and forwards working together in pairs. The funny side of this was in practice it worked well, because both teams (under our supervision) were playing the same "rules", but when it came to match time against another school, and that school was bunching in the middle, our little guys kept complaining: "sir sir they have crossed the line" :-) The poor mid-fielders were playing 2 v 6 but we still won with a run away score - so they quickly learnt our way was better.

The following is based on six a side but you can use the same principleas and increase the number of zones according to your requirements.

I suggest you look at these progressions with your team to help your team improve their shape:

  1. Divide the pitch into six, using cones. The players then pass the ball from  one area to another (they can move within the area - indeed, encourage  it. Each player is restricted to his area. This is a good warm up and  encourages players to pass with pace. The reason players crowd round the ball (the basis of good defending) is that players lack the ability to  pass with pace. As soon as the ball speed goes up, the attacking players will start to spread out and the defenders will have to.
  2. Make  sure they make a given number of passes before they shoot. You decide on their ability. Encourage the ball to go forward, backwards and  sideways.
  3. If you have two teams out on the pitch have them play  in different directions, this provides some traffic and a feel of match  play. Obviously impress on players not to play through a player from the other team. In this drill attackers will be defenders and vice versa as the direction changes: this is great for young players both from a  motivational and technical/tactical viewpoint.
  4. Now divide the  pitch into 8 zones. One team only on the pitch. Six zones will be  occupied, four will not. The rule is that the square ahead of the ball  must be occupied, the one to each side (except on sideline) and the one  behind. Decide how many passes you wish the players to complete prior to a shot. This should encourage off the ball movement but with a  principle in mind.
  5. Now allow two players finto one zone,  providing support for the ball carrier. The remaining players stick to  your rule of player ahead, player behind and one to each side.
  6. Add the opposition. They are restricted to one defender per zone. Therefore there should always be a 2 v 1 in the box where the ball is. One hopes  they should be able to keep the ball for three or so passes and they  will soon make progress.When opposition is introduced, one variation  with weaker players is to make the player second to the ball move away 5 m and therefore give the player on the ball time and space to pass,  building passing confidence.

Don't get too involved in  numbers in each line. In possession, work on principles of play. In that way you gain structure but are not too restrictive as to exactly where  they are allowed to go; so your right midfield will have more freedom,  but equally, not be allowed to run all over the place either. Running  all over the place doesn't help a players development in the long term,  as eventually they will be part of a structure with a designated role.

The same goes for the defending, to a certain extent you have to be guided  by your opponent's shape. Work on the key principles of defending.

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