Fundamental Fridays

Technique on Demand

Way, way back in the mid 90s when working for Roby Stahl at Post-to-Post soccer he introduced me to something he called Technique on Demand (TOD). A nice tight, easy to organize set up to get kids hundreds of touches on the ball with various body parts in a short amount of time and in limited space.

As my coaching career progressed TOD became a core part curricula for camps and  warming-up for teams for both sessions and games.  Also, as I more and more dealt with elite athletes (and older ones) it became a method to influence work rate and raise fitness levels.

It was a very efficient way to address one of the fundamental challenges our players face – they simply do not get enough touches on the ball. Basically what TOD is two players, one server and one player combining with the server to return the ball.

Basic combinations:

  • Inside of foot on ground.
  • Laces of the foot on the ground.
  • Outside of foot on the ground.
  • The same three above in the air.
  • Control with thigh return on ground or in air with three above controlling surfaces.
  • Chest control and return.
  • Simple header.
Players should be asked to perform actions with both feet – either left with one server and right with the other or to alternate if working in pairs. As players progress in skill, ability and age not only can intensity and duration of the exercise be increased the complexity of the movement before returning the ball can be raised as well. i.e. Left thigh, right thigh and back with inside of foot, juggle twice with each foot and then return etc.

As with any “drill” the secret to success is control the intensity, distances and time involved. In almost all set-ups TOD is hard work so you cannot expect a player of nine to execute with same pace or success rate as a university player. Work to rest ratios vary with setup from 1:1 to 1:2 and even higher as more players get involved but even with larger groups the ratio can be kept balanced.

I’ve successfully used these setups with groups from eight to eighty players in size and suggest you keep the total time to between 10 and 15 minutes to ensure maximum enjoyment for all.

Below are diagrams (click on image for larger versions) with some possible setups for TOD work – there are many more experiment a bit and add your own.

Simple two player setup - server to the right with "target cone" two metres in front. Player combines and moves to cone five metres (adjust to age and ability) comes back and combines again. Ensure players are communicating and executing correctly.

Same as initial set up but player combines with servers at both ends of work area.

Same as above except we now have a group of four - two players working and two as servers. Again distances, time and intensity adjusted to age and ability of players.

The "square setup. Two workers and two servers. Players work on outside of square and use left foot on left side and right on the right side. Also works with three players (1 worker, 2 servers). Coaches should watch for players opening up to their next server right after combining this allows them to see the server and at the same time see the other worker and avoid collisions.

Five player setup with added fitness component for servers. After receiving the ball servers have to sprint to cone and back 1, 2 or 3 times to be ready to serve again. Can be done without fitness component for servers. Also works with two players in the middle starting with servers at opposite corners.

The possibilities, challenges and flexibility of this setup is almost endless. Have fun with it and the players will too.

Questions, comment and concerns use the form below or contact me directly – bill(at)canadakicks.com you can also follow my ramblings on Twitter: @bill_ault

Fundamental Fridays