INTERMEDIATE PASSING – THE PERSONAL PASS
As the name implies, a “personal pass” in soccer is a pass where the ball-handler is both the passer and the receiver, in effect passing the ball to himself. Essentially, there are two types of personal pass. The first is where the ball handler is so wide open in the field that he can push the ball significantly out in front and then sprint to collect the ball in order to cover ground quickly. The second is where there is enough space behind a defender that the ball handler can push the ball behind the defender and then sprint around the defender to collect the ball on the other side.
Open-Field Personal Pass
The following learning progression is recommended for coaches teaching the open-field personal pass:
1. Demonstration of the ultimate result
2. Practice, then increase the speed of performance
3. Add a defender from distance
Demonstration of the ultimate result: Clearly stating that this is to be performed only with an open field ahead, the coach should demonstrate the skill by dribbling, using a push pass to send the ball approximately 10-yards out in front, sprinting to the ball, getting the ball under control, and then continuing dribbling.
Practice, then increase the speed of performance: Each player with a ball, spread at distance, may perform what was demonstrated, on their own or upon the coach’s command. This should be done beginning at “half-speed” and then increasing to “full-speed.”
Add a defender from distance: The coach should set up cones to represent a defender approximately 40-yards from a starting point from the players, also marked by a cone. Players are asked to perform the skill at full speed to ensure that they get the ball back under control well before reaching the “defender” cone. The cone is then replaced with a stationary player as a defender. The stationary defender is then allowed to go “live.”
Soccer Coaching Tips
– The coach may alter the distance from the dribbler to the defender to achieve success. Otherwise, the coach should clearly demonstrate that the open-field personal pass cannot be used (or the length of the pass must be shortened) if a defender is already approaching the ball handler, by showing the ball being intercepted. This is also an opportunity to discuss or to introduce “speed dribbling” (also known as “fast dribbling”) as the alternative to cover ground quickly while keeping the ball close to the feet.
– Practice using both feet.
– If it is possible to practice on a full-sized field, this is best demonstrated and practiced at midfield in an attacking direction.
Beat-a-Defender Personal Pass
This pass can also be considered to be the most basic dribbling move to beat a defender. The following learning progression is recommended for coaches teaching the beat-a-defender personal pass:
1. Demonstration of the ultimate result
2. Practice first with a cone as defender
3. Demonstrate additional outcomes
4. Add a defender, stationary then “live”
Demonstration of the ultimate result: Clearly stating that this is to be performed only with open field available behind the defender, the coach should demonstrate the skill by dribbling up to a stationary defender, making a slight move to either side, using a push pass to send the ball approximately 10-yards behind the defender, sprinting around the defender to the ball, getting the ball under control, and then continuing dribbling.
Practice first with a cone as defender: Each player with a ball, spread at distance, may perform what was demonstrated, on their own or upon the coach’s command, by dribbling at a cone starting from approximately 10-yards away. The players must move and then pass the ball without hitting the cone. This should be done beginning at “half-speed” and then increasing to “full-speed.”
Demonstrate additional outcomes: The coach now should switch the cone for a defensive player. With the defender in place, the coach should demonstrate a.) first making a move to set up the pass, b.) showing that players can pass to either side and run around the defender to either side, c.) showing that, if the defender has too-wide a stance, the pass may be placed between his legs (a “nutmeg”), and d.) that a little loft of the ball may be required to get it over an outstretched foot of the defender. (The demonstration defender should be prepped in advance for each of these items.)
Add a defender, stationary then “live:” Coaches should now place the players in pairs, designated first as attacker, with a ball, and defender. The defender should first be stationary as the attacker passes and then goes around. The defender can then be allowed to proceed from being able to take one step in any direction, to going “half-speed” to going “full-speed,” in successive iterations by the attacker, at the coach’s direction.
Soccer Coaching Tips
– This instruction is intended for the success of the attackers. Coaches may independently address the appropriate responses from the defenders, particularly good defensive posture, turning into the direction of the path of the player, and sprinting for the ball.
– When the defenders go “full-speed,” it may be pointed out to the attackers that more space may be needed behind the defender to be successful.
– A second defender can be added at distance to demonstrate another real-game possibility regarding available space.
– Be sure to practice all passing/running-around options.
– Be sure to switch attackers and defenders for equal instruction.
– Generally, once play goes “live,” attackers (unless a nutmeg is used) will find it best to run to the same side of the defender to which they passed.
– Players should not look to force a nutmeg, but to take advantage of whatever option the defender gives them.
– An inside-of-the-foot push pass is first used to send the ball behind and around the defender. Often, the ball must be slightly lofted to get over the defender’s foot. This is usually done by placing the tip of the foot (toes) under the ball. This technique is sometimes referred to as a “pop” or “popping the ball” or “popping up the ball.” The ball should pass by the middle of the defender’s shin.
– Often, the ultimate success of the beat-a-defender personal pass is based on the sheer speed and quickness of the attacker against any given defender. In a match, this approach can be tested and, if it is not otherwise successful, the attacker will need to find other alternatives.
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