From making a run to picking a position, timing underpins everything. Ultimately, it can be the difference between winning and losing.
To get their timing right, players must base their decisions on what the opposition (and their teammates) are doing. For instance, timing a run during the moment the opponent looks away. Another example would be making a move when their teammate puts their head down just as they’re about to play the ball.
To develop great timing, encourage your players to:
- notice triggers and cues – like a teammate pulling their foot back to pass the ball forward
- continually scan the pitch to gather information that will help them make good decisions
- practice judging gaps between players, and the speed and flight of the ball.
These steps can help your team read the game, anticipate moves, and then time their reactions to match.
Players need to master their bodies. If they can control their physical movements – agility, balance, coordination and speed – they’ll be capable of shooting successfully.
Your players also need to be able to make different runs. And there are lots of options to think about. For example:
- straight runs
- diagonal runs
- arched runs
- checked runs (changing direction mid-run)
- running across or behind a defender
- running to then stop and stand still in space.
Each of these approaches has different benefits. Your players must be capable of choosing the right one – and putting it into action.
To help your team develop their movement skills, try playing:
- tag games (with and without the ball)
- small-sided games, e.g. 1v1 or 3v3
- alternative invasion games, like handball.
These activities offer lots of benefits. For example, playing tag allows your team to work on their agility, balance and coordination. And small-sided games get players closer to the action – they also facilitate more time on the ball.
To pick up a good position, your players have two main options. First, they could stand ‘blind side’ of the defender – so they can’t be seen. Second, they could stand in front of the defender – where they can be seen. In the clip below, Matt Jones, FA coach development officer (D&I), and Ian discuss:
- the benefits of both these approaches
- how to adopt a stable position before taking a shot
- why players must be aware of their teammates’ positions.