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Getting 9-10 year olds to spread the ball out wide

Getting quite frustrated that my u10's are not using the space on the pitch and tend to bunch up. Despite various drills and game scenarios to force them to spread out and pass to someone in space they revert in any game to bunching up around the ball and taking it back into the thick of the opposition rather than looking left or right! Any ideas how to change their ways?

we have had success with the good old only five possessions or turn over the ball and also first reciever cant move but it is still a struggle to get the kids moving the ball out. it does start to sink in when they are tackling though.

We have the exact same issue with our U11s. When they do correctly its great to see with good results (yards gained / tries scored) plus praise form us coaches. We are starting to see them do it more and more but it is often quite static.

The key is patience from us coaches and positive feedback when they do do it correctly.

However I have also seen the same thing happen in the recent 6 nations so its not just Minis coaches that face this problem with the players!! :-)



What we did with our U10-U12 was that on tha last 30-45 minnutes of the practice we simulate a match with the coaches behind the lines and guiding them to use the spaces. This worked quite well.

Anyway, now those players are U14 and we have had the same pitch size, new rules, old custom...

Yes it's not a simple one to get around ... 

Good zonal training drills with different coloured bibs and buttons on the pitch .. players cannot deviate from zones until the ball is passed .... teaches them to play in channels and forces better passes out wide.  

when I was coaching that age group we ran into that constantly. What I discovered is that from a physiological perspective, many U12 and down are still very egocentric and have difficulty understanding that passing the ball to another player is in their best interests. we worked on having them follow their pass and communicating regularly that if you do that there is a great chance of getting the ball backing your hands with good scoring opportunities. Patience is the key. Have them enjoy the game however they play it at that stage and hopefully they keep coming back when they are cognitively more capable of understanding the benefit of working with others. Cheers


Same problem here at U9. I've been asking the kids to suggest ways we can encourage passing out wide, or even passing at all, and we've been using their suggestions in training matches to good effect. i had my own ideas but wanted to kids to think about it so some guided questioning came up with some ideas.

Part of the problem at U9 level is a huge disparity in passing/catching ability and that is something to be patient with. Over time they will all become more proficient and move the ball about more freely without fear of it being dropped. Also as pointed out above, the ego will recede a little.

In the meantime we've used things like:

  • more points for trys scored when ball passed 5 times in open play (not from the breakdown or passed from taking the ball into contact) leading up to the try.
  • Make a channel on the wing, inside which runner cannot be tackled.
  • players can only score once - this forces them to use each other but can frustrate them so not my favourite.

These have all had some success but it does often still end up with a huge gaggle of kids in one area..... kids eh ;-)

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