Build the play in a small-sided game. By Rangers U19 coach Niamh Russell MORE
This is not just a fun game for the last training session before Christmas – addressing the social corner – it is also a great opportunity to teach players the difference between dribbling and running with the ball, develop 1-v-1 skills and breed confidence.
Split your group into two or three equal teams of ‘elves’. Create a Christmas tree shape for each team out of cones at the top of the area. A defender from each team (‘the Grinch’) stands between the other team’s starting area and the ‘tree’. At the opposite end of the area to the tree, scatter enough balls to enable both teams to place a ball on each of the cones in their tree.
It’s Christmas, and it’s time to decorate our trees! Teams of three elves race against each other to be the first to hang all the ‘baubles’ (balls) on their tree – by placing the balls on the cones. One at a time, elves collect a bauble (with their feet) from the ‘box of decorations’ (the end zone) and return to the starting area as quickly as possible, ready to decorate the tree. But there’s a twist! There’s a Grinch lying in wait to ruin Christmas, as they attempt to stop elves dribbling their bauble to the tree. Elves need to beat the Grinch 1-v-1 to add their bauble to the tree. Once an elf starts taking on the Grinch, the next one can go and collect their bauble from the box of decorations. If the Grinch wins the ball, the attacking player should collect the ball and return it to the box of decorations, before starting again. The first team to place a bauble on top of each cone, and successfully decorate their tree, wins. Alternatively, the team with the most baubles on their tree after a certain time frame can be named the winners.
This game will help players begin to understand the difference between dribbling and running with the ball, and when each might be used in a game. Players can also practice 1-v-1 skills, such as ball control and manipulation, getting a defender off-balance and defending – including jockeying, being patient, showing a player away from the target and winning the ball.
1. Create an end-zone with enough balls to fill your ‘trees’ – 11 for each team if the trees are arranged in a 5-3-2-1 formation like ours here
2. Use cones to create a Christmas tree shape for your players to fill with the balls
3. Set up your relay team of ‘elves’ in a starting box, with a defender – The Grinch – waiting to challenge them!
4. Elves run into the end-zone to collect the balls…
5. …and then dribble towards the tree, taking on The Grinch before placing their balls on the cones
6. Encourage your players to be positive when dribbling and taking the defender on