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A group of young players in training all paired up in 1v1s working on turning.

Scanning unlocks effective turning. It’s so important. Think about it. How can players know where and when to turn if they don’t look at their surroundings first? We don’t want players turning unnecessarily into trouble. To avoid that, they need to understand what’s around them.   

Scanning can help players: 

  • see the path and speed of the ball   
  •  spot where their teammates and opponents are   
  • notice where the space is   
  • adjust their positioning   
  • choose how and when to turn. 

One way to introduce scanning is through this simple unopposed and interference practice idea. Players are in three teams of three and play on a small pitch split into thirds. Teams have one player in each third. Each team has a ball. The idea is to pass to the teammate in the middle, who then turns and passes to their other teammate. Then repeat. They get a point each time they work the ball from one side to the other without losing it. There's a lot of interference in a small space here. So, the player in the middle needs to scan before receiving and turning to avoid traffic and find their teammates.

Timing is crucial. This affects the success of all the other capabilities. For instance, if players don’t time their scan before receiving the ball, they won’t know what to do with it. If they roll a defender and run into space at the wrong time, they might not be a viable passing option. And if they time their turning technique incorrectly, they could be in danger of losing the ball.   

But your players can keep possession, create and exploit space by getting the timing of all these actions right.  

To develop timing skills, try this idea. Use the centre circle of a pitch as an area. Fill it with three teams of three and give each side a ball. One player in each group acts as a defender, while the other two work together to keep possession. Players face pressure from a defender in a crowded area. So, they must twist and turn at the right time to stay on the ball and create space to pass to their teammate. If the defender wins the ball, they swap roles with the player that lost possession. To increase the challenge, add more teams to reduce space.

Players need the ability to get into space, change direction and alter their speed. This improves their chances of losing markers, getting into position to receive the ball and accelerating out of any turn. So having good movement skills is key.   

To practise doing this, integrate tag games into your coaching sessions. They’re a great way to kick-start training, are fun, and naturally work on physical literacy skills.


Players’ positioning impacts the options available to them when turning.  

For instance, compared to being in the centre of the pitch, space and direction of travel will be more limited if they’re out wide when receiving the ball. So, they'll need a tighter turning circle here. And a more useful turning technique, too. A drag back may not be possible, so a better manoeuvre may be required to drive inside.   

Body positioning is also crucial as it helps players execute different turns. Being in a half-turn position when the ball arrives allows them to turn quickly, for instance. But sometimes, players may need to use their body as a barrier to shield the ball before turning instead. For this, they must understand the physical movements required. Such as the dropping of the hips and how to use their upper body to create balance.   

To help players with all this, let them experience different playing positions where possible. Exposure to other areas of the pitch, and the situations they face in them, will develop their understanding of when and how to turn.


Deception is all about the element of surprise to get away from an opponent. 

It takes place when: 

  • a tightly marked player turns inside, then quickly performs an outside hook turn to change direction
  • a player tries to trick an opponent with stepovers
  • a player makes a darting run before sharply altering their direction of travel.

But there are so many ways that players can be deceptive when turning, though.   

To help them explore deception, ensure your practice is opposed. This challenges them to outwit someone. Small-sided games in a narrow area with goals, or a target area, are an easy way to do this. 

The final capability. This is all about which part of the foot they use and how they turn.   

And there are loads of techniques to choose from. Here are some to get you started:  

  • One-touch   
  • No-touch   
  • Stop turn   
  • Inside hook 
  • Outside hook
  • Drag back
  • Stepover
  • Cruyff. 

We want to develop skilful players, so don’t pigeonhole them into just performing one or two turns. Encourage them to try different techniques in various scenarios. And especially do so when taking part in directional practices against opposition.

Putting it together

Players need to work on all six core capabilities to be efficient at turning. If you haven’t already, look at the video above to see what this looks like in an actual game.   

And if you want more coaching tips, check out the video below. Here, The FA’s Nimesh Patel and James Riches summarise their key coaching points for working on turning.