Learn to scan like a pro


Scanning is a vitally tool for players to learn from a young age – and something that is often overlooked in favour of technical ball skills. By encouraging players to scan, we can develop better decision-makers and more positive and dangerous attacking players.


Set up a circular area, with several ‘gates’ placed around the inside. Begin with four servers spread evenly around the outside of the area, each with a ball. Four players within the area begin as the attacking players, while two begin as defenders. The circular area gives players plenty of decisions to make and several directions in which to scan.


The attacking players in the middle of the area aim to score as many points as possible in the time allocated. Players score by receiving the ball from a server and taking the ball through a gate with their first touch – therefore turning away from the server with the ball under control.

They then pass to a free server on the outside, before looking to receive another ball from a different server. Defenders aim to move around the area blocking the gates, preventing attackers from turning through and instead forcing them to pass straight back to the server. Attacking players must constantly scan to see the position of defenders, where the free servers are and where the space is. They must also look to receive in front of a gate with an open body, to allow their first touch to take them back through the gate.


While scanning is the main focus of the session, players must also look to receive the ball with an open body, enabling them to take the ball through a gate on their first touch, or play back to the server as necessary.

Timing of movement to receive is also an important component. The servers should be encouraged to send a message to the receivers through their pass. A pass to the back foot encourages the turn, a pass to the front foot indicates they should play straight back to the server.


To give your players a greater challenge, you can ask one of the attacking players or one of the servers to become an extra defender. This will create more pressure on the attackers, forcing them to scan more often and improve the timing of their movement to receive.

If the attackers are struggling, take out one of the defenders to create more time and space as players get to grips with the session.



1. Mark out an area roughly resembling a circle

2. Use coloured cones to mark out four gates within the circle – players must turn through these with the ball on their first touch to score points

3. Place four players around the edge of the circle (‘the servers’), who pass a ball towards a player on their team

4. Two defenders work hard in the circle to block gates – attackers must constantly scan for free space

5. Here, a player scans over her shoulder before receiving a pass – allowing her to see the incoming defender and protect the ball or play backwards

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