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This capability focuses on how players use information to make decisions. 


As a coach, you can help your team learn what to look for and when. To do this, ask them to keep an eye on both opponents' and teammates' positions and intentions. For example, analysing the space that players leave – or occupy – can help you decide if an interception will work.  

To develop your team in this area, start by focusing on the position of relatively static objects. For example, player positions during restarts or corners. Then, progress to situations with lots of movements, such as open play.  

 

This capability focuses on choosing when to act.  

Successful interceptions depend on good timing. Picking the right moment to 'pounce' is a skill – and it's something that young players often struggle with.  

The reason for this is clear. Timing relies on other capabilities, such as scanning and movement. Young players are still developing perceptual skills and learning to control their bodies. This means they need extra support in choosing when to act.  

To work on timing, ask your team to predict what other players will do next. You could also practise games that involve timing but don't need your team to focus on ball control – like tag.  

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This capability focuses on how players use their bodies.  

To intercept, your team need a variety of movement skills. This includes agility, balance, coordination, speed and strength. For example, players may use their bodies as a barrier to block a run or dismantle a dribble.  

Flexibility is also essential. It allows your team to do things like stretch to block a cross or 'toe poke' the ball.  

A great way to help players work on their movement is to focus on one aspect at a time. For example, you could concentrate on changing speed or changing direction. This helps prevent your team from getting overwhelmed.

 

4. Positioning

This capability focuses on where players move from – and to.  

Adopting a good position is an essential part of any interception. But, getting this right also depends on the player's ability to scan the pitch and time their movement. For example, suppose a player doesn't notice their opponent's intentions. In that case, they probably won't move into a position to intercept either. Similarly, if an individual struggles with timing, they may adopt the correct position but get there at the wrong moment.  

To help players work on their positioning, play lots of small number games – such as 2v2 or 3v4. This provides repeated opportunities to practise stealing the ball.  

  

5. Deception

This capability focuses on how your players hide and disguise their intentions.  

Intercepting is often obvious, but it can also be a sneaky skill. In fact, suddenly appearing from 'nowhere' to steal the ball can be very fun – and incredibly useful.  

To help your players develop in this area, praise deceptive (but fair) play. You can do this whether your players are attacking or defending. And be sure to explain why it's effective.  

 

6. Techniques

This capability focuses on how your team execute core skills. Players need to master basic techniques to intercept the ball. An example of which is a good first touch. 

To achieve this, your team must develop a 'feel' for the ball. They also need to learn how to react after they've managed to intercept. This decision often reveals a player's technique – good or bad.  

Working on core skills, like passing and shooting, can perfect your team's intercepting technique. To maximise returns, ensure your players always practise against an opposition.  

 

Putting it together

As we've discussed, none of these capabilities function in isolation. In fact, to be skilful, your players need to develop across each area. If you haven't already, check out the video above. It explains how the six capabilities appear – and combine – in a real game.