Teaching a One Touch Mentality Thru the Three Team Awareness Possession Game - Training Center Exclusive

Continuums of Development

  1. 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

  2. SKILL: THE DECISION (Why; when and where of Technique; plus its success or not; and why?)

  3. FOOT PREPARATION: Not flat footed but on your toes and ready for action

  4. BODY POSITION: Balanced and open

  5. COMMUNICATION: Verbal and visual

  6. CONTROL: If not a one touch pass on, the 1st touch control

  7. TECHNIQUE: The How; the pass, the run, the dribble, the turn, the shot; etc.

  8. TACTICAL MOBILITY: Movement off the ball, finding space; 90% of the game

  9. MENTAL AND PHYSICAL TRANSITION: Possession changes, Player tunes in immediately to win it back?

Three Team Awareness Possession Game


What does it teach?

Soccer Awareness: Assessing options BEFORE receiving the ball

  • Technique,

  • Mobility, running form deep to exploit space in behind the opponents

  • Agility and balance

  • Body position and Foot preparation,

  • Communication,

  • The 1st touch, The 2nd touch, and beyond

  • Teamwork,

  • Collective tactical understanding in a small sided game environment,

  • Positioning OFF the ball, 

  • Problem solving,

  • And developing creativity and imagination,

  • Intensity of play, 

  • Physically challenging;

  • Developing Angles of support;

  • Opening up passing lanes by movement off the ball;

  • Speeding up thinking and decision making, The SKILL FACTOR;

  • Ultimately providing a competitive environment where no one wants to give the ball away and; finally, 

  • The sessions are fun to do. On the flip side often teaching defending and pressing at the same time.


Coaching Points:

Continuums Model to work off and relate to.

  1. An Awareness of the passing player of where the OPPONENTS and his or her OWN PLAYERS ARE AND where the space is (Look and Think Before receiving)

  2. An awareness of the receiving player as to when the passer is ready to pass (Look and Think Before receiving)

  3. Good communication via visual cues through eye contact or aural cues through speaking makes this work (Communication)

  4. Establishing an open stance in the middle for greater peripheral vision and an angle of support (body position and feet preparation)

  5. Movement OFF the ball by the receiver to get free and into open space (Tactical Mobility)

  6. Timing and angle of the run (Tactical Mobility)

  7. Timing; accuracy and pace of the pass (Technique)

  8. Good receiving and turning technique with an awareness of what is behind before receiving it (Technique, Control and Look and Think)

  9. Move and join in the next phase of play (Tactical Mobility)

  10. If we lose possession try to win it back immediately (Mental and Physical Transition)

  11. And of course the SKILL FACTOR, decision making is based on all.

Non-Competitive Awareness Numbers game: Passing in sequence

Awareness of: where the player you receive from is and where the player you pass to is. Because of this players begin to anticipate the pass to them and where it is coming from. Also they must look to where it is going to (where is the player they are passing to?).

We are trying to create a situation where players are looking two moves ahead not just one. For instance as (1) is about to pass to (2), (3) should be looking to support (2) for the next pass already, looking two moves ahead before the ball leaves (1). Peripheral Vision Development results from this.

(3) should recognize if they need to move into a space early or late based on this observation, but know in their mind already what the next best option is. Moving into the space too early in a game situation for example may result in being marked too easily. But knowing in advance “when and where” to move to is an advantage and this game helps players develop this thought process.


Teaching One touch to develop the THINKING PROCESS

Three teams three balls. Passing and moving playing 1 touch only. Use 2 if necessary. 1 touch is successful if a) the player receiving observes his or her options BEFORE receiving the ball and b) teammates move off the ball to be in passing lanes to receive a pass.

The other teams “get in the way” of the spaces so players must ALSO observe where the other 2 team players are.


Teaching One touch to develop the THINKING PROCESS

Coaching points:

  1. Open body stance to allow a yard or more extra space away from defenders by letting the ball run across the body into preconceived space

  2. Looking before receiving to know in advance of the receiving pass; where the defending players are, where the space is, where team mates are free to receive a pass, how many options there are to move the ball on

  3. Movement OFF the ball is a priority both to receive it and after passing it.


Progressions: Increase difficulty for attackers by:

  1. Reducing the zone size.

  2. Decreasing the number of touches on the ball of each player.

  3. Condition the passing to be only to the other attacking teams players e.g. (1) only pass to (2) and vice versa therefore only half the number of passes available per player.

  4. Increase the numbers to suit how many players you have, e.g. 4 v 4 + 4 or 5 v 5 + 5 etc.

  5. Have two balls to play with so as they pass one ball they are now increasing their awareness and vision by looking for the other ball coming.

  6. Ask players to take off their pennies so they really have to look and not be able to use color identification.

  7. No talking or pointing, so players have to rely on their own vision.

Assessing Options

An example of moving into open passing lanes: Here (D) passes to (E). As the ball is traveling, (B) is already on the move to find the best space to support (E) KNOWING (E) has one touch only so has to make a fast decision and be given a good option. (B) positions between the blue and black player and arrives as the ball arrives. At the same time the other players need to be moving also to offer as many options for (B) as possible. Also at the same time as the ball is traveling from (D) to (E), player (B) must be looking AWAY from the ball to see what his or her next options may be and be able to choose the best one available.


Movement OFF the ball to offer options

Bear in mind the other team players are also moving so this is not as simple as it looks as the spaces to play to are constantly changing. Assessing the black players only here, we show as the ball travels from (3) to (4), the other three black players are trying to support (4) in ADVANCE of the ball. Therefore if (4) has assessed these movements and calculated approximately (mentally) where each player will move to then (4) should have numerous choices of a pass to keep possession including passing back to (3).


Offering no options with no movement to support

Exaggerated but just to show how VITAL it is that players move to support the player receiving the ball. Using red players as an example, there are passing lanes to move into to help (D) but red players stand behind opponents so (D) cannot see them nor pass to them. (D) may pass into a passing lane space to MAKE them move but that isn’t ideal, we want everyone thinking and moving together. Lets say in a game situation now (D) may be pressed and lose the ball because no options of a pass are available.


Not assessing options BEFORE receiving the ball

Coaches observe the HEAD MOVEMENT of players as this is a major indicator of if they are scanning the field for options for their next pass or not. If not the obvious will happen a) They will just watch the ball arriving and just focus on it b) They will control and stop the ball at their feet thus meaning a one touch pass is NOT an option now c) They will then lift their head up to see where teammates are d) They will eventually make a pass perhaps needing 2, 3 or 4 touches on the ball e) team mates may be standing still waiting for the pass having already anticipated the best position to be in; but are now too early and marked in a game situation..


Ideas to develop the thinking process

Players passing to different colors so now color coordination and identification is introduced. More difficult for players now, Say, blue passes to red, red passes to black, black passes to blue. This makes observation of the movements of a different color more difficult to process and is a great progressive test for players and really gets the brain cells working overtime.


Forcing movement off the ball thru a Condition

Progression: A ball each team. To keep the sequence going players must move the balls quickly with few touches hence their peripheral vision development improves dramatically.

Add another ball per team. As soon as they have passed one ball off the next one is arriving so quick thinking is needed to make the correct decisions. Divide the field up into six zones and ask players to make a pass in one sixth then they must move to another sixth to receive the next pass. This can cause players to pass long or pass short and vary the range and distance of the passes and the support. Here black (3) passes to black (2) and moves into another zone to receive the next ball that is coming. This may make (4) move into a different zone too.

A Condition: Alternatively have a Condition where no players can occupy the same zone for more than a few seconds to FORCE them to move into another space and develop ROTATION of players. This ensures players get the idea of passing and MOVING off the ball, not passing and then standing.


A Competitive Game

One ball only now. 2 teams play together and one team defends. A 10 v 5 so it should not be too tough a challenge to keep the ball. So whoever gives the ball away their team become the defending team so we have a mindset transition here.

Develop: If too easy then lets say blue and black work together against red. But blue can only pass to black and black can only pass to Blue thus greatly reducing the options of a pass and therefore the decision making of each combined team is much harder.


A Competitive Game: Another challenge

1. Making it more competitive, have each team be the defending team for a certain time span. If they win the ball they try to keep it. Count the number of times they win the ball. The defending team to win the ball the most times wins the game, or alternatively the combined teams which give up the ball the fewest times win the game.

2. Attacking players “individually” count the number of times they give the ball away as an indication to each and every one of them how well they can maintain possession under pressure.


A Competitive Game

Another idea: Lets say you have different level teams then play the two strong teams against each other and have the weaker team pass and move to each other at the same time. To play a weaker team against the stronger team is a challenge so have the weaker team play free and the stronger team play one touch only.


Add Mannequins

Now players have to play thru and between mannequins (or cones) also; this is an even bigger challenge for the players. They have to position to enable players to pass into open passing lanes and for supporting players to move into open passing lanes using the mannequins as reference points. Encourage players to pass AWAY from the mannequins because in a game if the pass is close to them then the ball would be intercepted.


Red and Blue play against black. Here we show players moving between mannequins into passing lanes at the same time avoiding and getting free from opponents (the black pinnied players)


A Competitive Game with goals

1. Here is an interesting way to work on awareness training and passing, movement off the ball, fitness and looking for the penetrating pass. Add triangular goals to score in, this means the game continues after a goal is scored as the ball must be received and possession maintained by another player in the triangle to count as a goal. This ensures continuous play.

2. It is a more directional method of playing and more specific to the game in general. The defenders are NOT allowed inside the triangle so they must be constantly working their way around the triangle trying to cut off the penetrating passes.

3. The combined attacking teams can attack all goals. Attacking all goals encourages “Switching the Field”.

4. Ultimately reduce the game to two equal number teams for the greatest challenge and begin with as many touches as possible reducing the number of touches each is allowed as they improve and are able to keep possession effectively. Reducing the number of touches allowed inevitably increases their awareness and forces them to look for options earlier and improves and speeds up their decision making. This should result in them keeping possession more effectively.


The ultimate outcome from ONE touch mentality training

One touch training is to teach a ONE TOUCH MENTALITY of the thinking process. It is NOT to teach players to only play one touch. Not at all. Once the head movement, the observation of options BEFORE receiving the ball is established thru One Touch Mentality training then we are ready to open the game up into FREEPLAY.

Now players can do whatever they like, 1 touch pass, 2 touch pass, a dribble, run with the ball, receive and turn, anything they like.

But the objective has been to establish in their minds that 1 touch mentality to enable them to make the best decision possible from potentially several options at this moment in time.

We want great dribblers beating players 1 v 1, we want players who are great at running at defenders with the ball, we want players who are excellent at one touch play, we want players who recognize; thru developing a one touch mentality when; were, how and why to slow the game down, to change the tempo at the correct times in the game; even better if we develop players who are great at all these things.

So having a “one touch mentality” and playing with this thinking process means we can actually achieve the opposite effect of playing as fast as possible; and that is to play more slowly, because that was the correct decision at that moment.