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Fun Warm-Up Games With The Ball

Igniting energy into a training session can sometimes be a challenge, particularly when coaches have constant access to their players. Although it's natural for the routine of training to take a toll, it can become detrimental for the team if it impacts the training session. Therefore, coaches must be aware of this and have a plan in place to counter it. Starting a session in an uptempo manner can move focus towards optimal levels and help spark enthusiasm into a group of players. Engagement can be achieved through a variety of ways: fun, competition, or sometimes simply challenging a specific technique can get a great response from a team. This week we will take a look at five exercises that coaches can use to start their session with. If you enjoy the sessions, please check out more resources here and also subscribe to the MSC YouTube page.

FC Barca Fun Warm-Up

The game takes place in approximately a 25x25 yard area, with two teams of nine players each. The possession team starts with all players inside the area, while the pressing team starts with two players inside. The game starts with a 9v1 game - after every five consecutive passes, another defensive player can enter the game. If the ball goes out of play, the game restarts but the coach can change the defensive players. The objective of the game is for a team to make five consecutive passes when it is a 9v9 game. Play for three minutes and then switch roles. (See below)

Jose Mourinho Handball Game

This game takes place in approximately a 30x20 yard area, with two teams are split into four teams with six players each. Two of the teams work together to compete against each other: red and blue versus yellow and green. The objective is to work with the other color to keep possession from your opponents with these restrictions. Red are only allowed to use their hands and must roll the ball along the ground when playing to their blue teammates, who cannot use their hands. Blue players must chip the ball into the hands of the red players when looking to pass to them. When red passes to a red teammate it must be a throw, and when blue passes to a blue, it must be a pass with their feet.The same conditions apply on the other team where yellows use their hands and green players can only use their feet. (See below)

Pep Guardiola Technical Challenge

Another effective, but less physically demanding way to start a session, is to have a technical challenge with players. In this example with Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, the challenge is integrated within a passing pattern using five players. The ball moves in a one-touch passing drill, with the last player aiming to chip the ball over one mini-goal and into the other. Players all move up one cone and the exercise moves continuously. With other groups going at the same time, the coach can set a target or time-limit for the teams to compete against each other and drive the tempo and engagement to start the session. (See below)

West Ham 1v1 Fitness Game

This 1v1 competition is a perfect way to integrate physical work into the fitness session and could potentially be an extension of the warm-up. Two teams are organized into 25x15 yard area with a median where players will start on the cone. On the signal of the coach, two players must sprint around their side of the perimeter and go through the adjacent gate to play 1v1 against one another. After the 1v1 battle, the next two players can go and the game continues. (See below)

2v2 High Tempo Transition Game

Having an exercise involving shooting and finishing is another good way to start a session and create energy with your team. In this example, it’s a free flowing transition game inside a 20x30 yard area. Players work in pairs and, on the coach signal, play a 2v2 game to goal. As soon as the ball goes off the field, the coach plays the next ball in and the next four players are in action. The great thing about this game is that the coach can control the speed of the transitions and the type of re-starts. For example, it can be the same team attacking or defending all the time, or it can even be a 50/50 ball or an aspect that you can work on later in the session. (See below)

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