Walrus, not sure if this will help but I teach my guys through an understanding of the different moments of soccer and different 3rds of the field and find that this has the effect of getting them to appreciate the differences in speed required in each.
The problem with conditioning them is that it doesn't relate to anything concrete and so therefore becomes confusing when they try to use info learned in a game.
For example, if you play 4v4 and are using goals or an end line, if you think about it, why would you want to have this 2-3 touch restriction? Since we are in the last third constantly ( when we attack ) should we not be allowed to use whatever is appropriate?
I think you can and should instead say "keep playing fast until a CHANCE comes but when it does come use as many touches as is necessary".
We talk about playing slow and deliberate at the back, when we are in moment 1 (we have the ball in posession), we play fast with 2-3 touch and constant changes of pace and direction in the middle third (still in moment 1)and we do anything we want/feel is appropriate to CREATE and EXECUTE CHANCES when we are in the final third.
If we are in moment 2, they had it and we won it back (counter) we try to play 1 and 2 touches in all 1/3rds until the final execution.
Working in this way, with the added knowledge of playing until a CHANCE comes and an understanding of what constitutes a chance (a chance to shoot, pass to someone who can shoot, dribble and chose either one of the above and finally cross) I feel the guys develop a better appreciation of what speed to play. Since we don't have these CHANCES available in the 1st 1/3rd it presupposes that our goal is different- to keep the ball.
So, I think, the reasons why you guys have so many conflicting opinions is that 1, the contexts of playing 4v4 or whatever are confusing because they have no moment or pitch orientation (as the game does), 2, Barcalona, pretty much only play in moment 1 in attack and consider all 1/3's pretty much equally, which is pretty hard to do for kids who play 11 v11 but train 4v4, 3, the CHANCES, regardless of the ones philosophy of how we create them must be seen as CONSTANT- this is the point of the game.
If all this is a given then we must seek as coaches to create CONTEXT BASED TRAINING.
So for example, for Kev and all the English boys, possession for possessions sake is soccer blasphemy but the only way to keep the players from thinking about going forward is to take away the goals and the rewards for goals. Do you remember that Kev always talks about the 3 G's? You will not get good technical football and a Barcelona style by teaching the 3 G's, but it is very hard to get guys who grew up with it to change.
Sorry, I have gone on a bit there. I hope you get my drift? Confusion comes for the kids because we as coaches ask one thing in one context and one in thing another. I think that rather than imposing conditions we can create an environment (Context Based) that will illicit correct decision making FOR THAT SPECIFIC CONTEXT. It is then up to us to explain what the different contexts are.
I could have explained this so much better!!!
I will leave you with this.
In the Dutch system, the 4v4 teaches the basic shape and is the smallest number of players that contains all the possibilities to play to the principles of attack and defence.
When they go to 7v7 the player who played at the bottom of the diamond will probably now be the player who plays the top of the same diamond. The developmental steps are based on this consistent but contextual change.
It's interesting that even upon the opinions given there still isn't one concrete answers but a variety of opinions?
Walrus, I don't think the opinions are different.
The key is CONTEXT, I think?
One of the more successful youth coaches in our area uses this as a 4vs4 drill. He places a number on the front of each players pinnie. That is the number of touches he is allowed when he receives the ball. Numbers vary from 1, 2, 3 and X (multi touch). Everyone can see the number so teammates can for example, come closer to a player that has #1 on his pinnie knowing he can only one time the ball when he receives it. That coach told me players that quickly play the ball are given numbers like 3, while players that like to hold the ball more might be given a number like 1. The coach attempts to put the players out of their usual comfort zone and make them try another option. Not saying it's a good idea because the coach is successful, but throwing this game/drill out there for some opinions.
It makes them think, that is always a positive.
Technically, though, it is criminal for development.
If we are doing breakout....., so for instance, we first play 5 passes before we can get out against one defender, thus giving the context of a 1st 3rd this works.
We ask them whether we need to play fast or slow and play with a bigger space or smaller and they will hopefully make the right decisions and play with the correct/appropriate number of touches.
If we had no such conversation and insisted upon a certain number of touches or the otherway round, insisted on 5 passes when there was 3 defenders against us, in our own 1/3rd then this would be contextually inappropriate.
This is what I am talking about.
If the players were asked 1st to pass out in the same above breakout scenario and then dribble out this would also be appropriate against a single defender or maybe two but if they were told they could only dribble or pass when under pressure from two or more attackers this is again where we confuse the players I think?
In the example you give the coach offers them no learning opportunity because there is no decision, because their i no context of when and why.
"in a restricted environment"
In a context!
We have to make sure that we know what that context is and that we communicate this clearly to our students. We also need to run the different contexts on top of each other in the correct order to best effect the kids' ability to assimimulate all of the information, I think?
That is why I believe in themes that can maybe run through different contexts. BUT, the principles of attack and defence, depending which you are working on, must still be present intact (or at least those that you are fast tracking).
For example, no directional possession is fast tracking width, length and depth (mobility and all then other modern tosh if you believe that). It does not need penetration cos the context would be paossession in the 1st and middle 1/3rds).
We talk about playing slow and deliberate at the back, when we are in moment 1 (we have the ball in posession),Are you sure? I always want the ball as fast as possible; if your team is playing fast in the back, you have more options to take the other team out of its shape, not well organized, so, better to pass to midfielders and better to arrive to the final third with less players well positioned in front of you. When Cruyff arrived to Barça, one of the key points was "the ball never gets tired, so make the ball run as fast as possible" we play fast with 2-3 touch and constant changes of pace and direction in the middle third (still in moment 1)and we do anything we want/feel is appropriate to CREATE and EXECUTE CHANCES when we are in the final third.
Working in this way, with the added knowledge of playing until a CHANCE comes and an understanding of what constitutes a chance (a chance to shoot, pass to someone who can shoot, dribble and chose either one of the above and finally cross) I feel the guys develop a better appreciation of what speed to play. Since we don't have these CHANCES available in the 1st 1/3rd it presupposes that our goal is different- to keep the ball. (to create spaces and chances; as faster the ball goes, more options)
If all this is a given then we must seek as coaches to create CONTEXT BASED TRAINING. So, 4v4 is not CONTEXT BASED TRAINING? How many 3v3, 4v4, 4v2, 5v3, situations do we have in a match? A lot, really a lot. The problem, mostly of the times is that we do 4v4, or 4v2, or whatever, without putting the players in the right CONTEXT, in the right PLAYING SITUATION. That means, a 4v4 by itself, may be has no relation; when a team has RW, ST, LW, AM, and the other RB, CB, CB, LB, I think it's a lot of this Playing Situation. Now, in this 4v4, you put the players that you want, adapted to your way of playing, and, later, you'll see the "translation" in the full field.
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