February 06, 2011

Assessment of Receiving and Passing Skill

As we discussed in the last post, a player's ability to receive and pass the ball is very important in game situations. Control can mean the difference between scoring and losing the ball to a defender. So, it's important.

We believe that a player's receiving-then-passing skills should be routinely assessed. Why? Because
  1. players can work on improving this skill, 
  2. it's fundamental to open play, 
  3. and high performance in this skill is required by all elite players. 

In our drill, we emphasise both the correct body shape and the use of the appropriate foot, to ensure that the ball is always protected from opponents when passing it at 90 degrees to the angle of reception.

REMEMBER!: Like all of our performance tests, it is imperative that the correct technique is used at all times. If the wrong technique is being used then you are NOT practising. Improvement starts with the correct technique.

How we test close-control and short-passing skills - Drill #1

We use two rebound boards for this drill - but really you can use anything that will send the ball back to the player, and that's about 1-2 m in length. Set the rebound boards at right angles to each other. (We refer to these as Target A and Target B.)

To start, the player passes the ball at target A with their right foot (NOTE: time starts when the ball hits the rebound board). The rebound is then controlled with the right foot and then the ball rolls across the body and is then passed with the left foot at Target B. When the ball rebounds off Target B, the ball is then controlled with the left foot and rolls across the body and passed again at Target A with the right foot (and so on ... ). This entire process encompasses one completion of the circuit. The entire circuit is repeated until 10 full circuits are completed. The total time is recorded.

Find this a little confusing? Watch the video:

Penalties: (a) For each extra touch, there's a penalty of 1s, (b) for every touch with the wrong foot there's a penalty of 1s, and (c) for each time the ball misses the rebound board there's a penalty of 1s. If the ball misses the rebound board then time is immediately stopped. Time is then restarted when the player kicks a replacement ball against the rebound board.

This test and drill are a great way to improve an important aspect of football performance. We have a total of 4 drills to work on receiving-then-passing skill - we'll share this in coming posts.

Written by Robbie Wilson, PhD with Amanda Niehaus, PhD

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