3 Zone Awareness Game: Dropping Off to Receive and Turn in Possession

Continuums of Development

A) LOOK / OBSERVE / THINK (BEFORE receiving the ball; assessing all options in “Anticipation” not as a Reaction). If time allows take 2 or 3 looks because the situation may have changed after the first look
B) SKILL: THE DECISION (Why; when and where of Technique; plus its success or not; and why?)
C) FOOT PREPARATION: Not flat footed but on your toes and ready for action
D) BODY POSITION: Balanced and open
E)  COMMUNICATION: Verbal and visual
F)  CONTROL: If not a one touch pass on, the 1st touch control
G)  TECHNIQUE: The How; the pass, the run, the dribble, the turn, the shot; etc
H)  TACTICAL MOBILITY: Movement off the ball, finding space; 90% of the game
I)  MENTAL AND PHYSICAL TRANSITION: Possession changes, Player tunes in immediately to win it back?

Watch Barcelona players making these movements to find space

THIS GAME AND ITS MANY PROGRESSIONS IS DESIGNED TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THE THINKING PROCESSES OF THE PLAYERS. MANY MENTAL CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME AND LEARN FROM.

Coaching Points:
Continuums Model to work off and relate to.
a) An Awareness of the passing player of when and where the receiver drops into the free zone AND where the space is (Look and Think Before receiving)
b) An awareness of the receiving player as to when the passer is ready to pass (Look and Think Before receiving)
c) Good communication via visual cues through eye contact or aural cues through speaking makes this work (Communication)
d) Establishing an open stance in the middle for greater peripheral vision and an angle of support (body position and feet preparation)
e) Movement OFF the ball by the receiver to get free and into open space (Tactical Mobility)
f) Timing and angle of the run (Tactical Mobility)
g) Timing; accuracy and pace of the pass (Technique) 
h) Good receiving and turning technique with an awareness of what is behind before receiving it (Technique, Control and Look and Think)
i)  Move and join in the next phase of play (Tactical Mobility)
If we lose possession try to win it back immediately (Mental and Physical Transition)
And of course the SKILL FACTOR, decision making is based on all.


3 Zone Awareness Game: Dropping off to receive and turn in possession

Contents and Progressions to Follow in the full presentation:

  1. 3 zone game: Dropping off to receive and turn in possession with 4 balls
  2. 3 zone game: Developing Peripheral Vision
  3. 3 zone game: Straight line support and passing
  4. 3 Zone Game: Developing more dimensional thinking and playing
  5. Players support at wider angles to improve peripheral vision and body position
  6. One ball in each side and 2 players receiving 
  7. Movement from the back to the front and changing zones
  8. Two Competitive Games playing at once
  9. Defender can close the attacker down on the 1st touch only 
  10. Defender can close the attacker down immediately 
  11. Receiver moves off the shoulder of the defender
  12. Receiver moves off the shoulder and checks back
  13. End product of the check back
  14. Defender closes the attacker down; attacker cant turn
  15. Attacker cant turn so plays it back  
  16. Now one ball only
  17. Now one ball only: players switching sides
  18. One ball only: By pass the middle and go from back to front
  19. Playing Direct: 4 v 4, 1 v 1 and 3 v 3
  20. Neutral Player Added: 3 v 3, 1 v 1 v 1 and 3 v 3
  21. 3 v 3, 2 v 2, and 3 v 3

A three zone movement off the ball clinic focusing on zone 14 emphasizing movement back towards the ball to receive and play forward and the consequent interchange of players between the three units.

I really like this game you can bring in so many different ideas to the session and it all involves mental challenges to the players with regard to playing, moving and thinking quickly (and ahead of the ball).

This would be one of my regular training sessions. Thru trial and error we have found it best to have equal numbers in each third so do the session with all the progressions with 3 v 3 or 4 v 4 or whatever number of players you have. Also start with 4 balls going back and forth, one each team of 3 or 4 players.

3 zone awareness game

A 3 v 3 in each end zone (can be any number based on the number of players at training).
A Ball each team passing and moving but teams are not playing against each other yet.
The central zone is the shadow striker zone known as zone 14 and usually where the number 10 plays but 9, 7, 11, 8, 2 or 3 or even 6 can also enter this zone..

3 zone awareness game 2

Coaching Points:

  1. An Awareness of the passing player of when and where the shadow striker drops into the free zone    
  2. An awareness of the receiving player as to when the passer is ready to pass
  3. Good communication via visual cues through eye contact or aural cues through speaking makes this work
  4. Movement OFF the ball by the shadow striker to get free and into open space  
  5. Timing and angle of the run  
  6. Timing; accuracy and pace of the pass  
  7. Good receiving and turning skills with an awareness of what is behind before receiving it 
  8. Receive or be a decoy for someone else; depending on where the defender is.

Passing and moving, (4) drops in to receive as does (C) going the other way. Movement OFF THE BALL to receive in the middle zone (zone 14). (4) Takes the ball back into his own end zone, as does (C) in the other end zone and play continues. All players are moving finding space to receive the ball. The two teams pass between each other but cannot tackle each other.

3 zone awareness game 3
  1. Timing of the pass
  2. Timing of the run
  3. Angle of the run
  4. Timing of each has to be exact for it to work.
  5. Have the receiving and dropping off player CALL THE NAME of the person they will pass to next BEFORE they receive the pass. 

Development: 

Now 2 players come to meet the ball in opposite halves of zone 14 and at different angles and depth to each other. Still no opposition so it is free flowing movements linking the two front players now. Do this going both ways with both teams so there is congestion in the middle.

DEVELOPMENT: 

During the warm up: two balls in each side so all 4 teams playing with a ball each and transferring it with good timing. Players pass to the other player dropping in from the other side then follow their pass and switch sides with a give and go in the warm up and then in the competitive part. The same but now they make a third man run to switch sides. Two balls going at once in the competitive 3 v 3 4 v 4 or even 5 v 5 stage.