Critical Technique Training

By Keith Scarlett

This activity works on technique of playing and receiving long balls both in the air and on the ground, first-touch, passing, receiving and striking a driven ball approximately 30 metres.

Set-up: 4 cones are set up in a diamond. The top and bottom cones are 40 metres apart and the two side cones are 25 metres apart; per the diagram. Players should be broken up and evenly placed at each cone. All balls should begin at one of the cones that are 40 metres apart.


How it Works: The player starting at the top cone starts with a ball plays a lofted ball to the player at the far, opposite cone (bottom cone in the diagram).


After passing the ball, the player sprints to the back of the line to their left.


The player receiving the ball plays it with one touch to the player to their right.


This player then plays the ball with one touch back to the middle as a lay off.


The player who received the initial pass then steps forward and plays this lay-off ball to the original line (preferably in the air) and the pattern continues in the other direction.



All players rotate to their left.

Progression: The next-step is to play a driven ball either on the ground or below waist height rather than a lofted ball.

Coaching Points:

  • The emphasis should be on playing accurate long balls with both their left and right feet.
  • The players must concentrate on getting over the ball and striking the ball with a locked ankle with their laces.

By Keith Scarlett, Assistant Women’s Football Coach – Perth Glory FC, Australia, former U.S. Soccer National Staff, follow him on Twitter @keithscarlett and catch his personal blog, “An American Coach Down Under:”

Posted in Drills & Exercises | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

2 responses to “Critical Technique Training”

  1. Ways to improve my coaching on the field & off the field

  2. The locked ankle I disagree with. A loose fluid ankle is fine and much more natural. It is very apparent in professional players, with an emphasis on the angle of attack (instep to equator of ball) at the moment of striking the ball. Follow-through is also of importance. Note how Drogba violently dips his toe AFTER the impact to get great top-spin when shooting, note how Girard has a slight upturn to his toe after his devastating long balls, note how most keepers have a pronounced upturn of their boot after striking goal kicks. What they all have in common is a direct splitting of the ball down the middle with the bone at the top of their instep (this supplies a vivid “pop” sound; talking about “laces” is OK for some players but way too imprecise for those who “use” their laces but can’t deliver power/distance); splitting the ball down the middle delivers a straight flight. A hair left or right of center will produce an off-target ball or a bending ball. Thanks, Will

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