Follow-Ups and Rebounds

"Striking With an Emphasis on Follow-Ups and Rebounds"
Mark Robson

This was a session in which Mark Robson wanted the players to come up with their own ideas and find the answers themselves to solve the problems which they encountered.
The playing area was roughly 40 yards by 25 yards with a small goal at each end. He began by playing a succession of 2 v 2 games with a goalkeeper at each end. The games were fast paced with teams rotating as soon as a goal was scored. The team which scored stayed on and kept possession by retreating back towards their own goal and receiving a quick throw or pass from their keeper as the next team ran on. This fast pace was maintained throughout the practice with the players having to both move and think quickly. Quick decisions and intelligent, imaginative movement were encouraged at all times.
Mark summarised what he was looking for as follows:-
*  Creative shooting opportunities;
*  Overlapping runs;
*  Under-lap runs;
*  Spin runs and pulling off the shoulders of defenders.

As stated previously, Mark wanted to probe the players and get them to come up with the answers. Consequently, from time to time he gathered the players together in the middle of the pitch and quizzed them on various points which had arisen. He did not make any interventions in the traditional manner, his approach was – "let them play".

On one occasion, Mark challenged a player following an attack by his team, by asking him where he thought he should be if the ball had hit the bar or rebounded back off a defender. The player had momentarily switched off and Mark had noticed this and wanted to stress to him how important it was for him to try to anticipate anything unexpected that might happen in the game.
Another scenario occurred when a player attempted to go past an opponent out on the left to hit a shot across goal. Mark coached him to feint to shoot with his left foot but then check at the last moment and instead come inside and shoot from a position facing the goal.

Mark worked hard at getting the players to move intelligently off the ball and for them to be aware of each other's movements and ow to capitalise on them. As a player on the ball ran diagonally from left to right his partner ran on an opposite line from right to left. Mark pointed out to the player on the ball how he could use his partner as a decoy run because he was taking his tight marking opponent with him. So the player on the ball ran into the space which had opened up by his partner's run and shot at goal.
Mark now began to increase te numbers in te game and went to 3 v 3 plus keepers. Rotation of players was now introduced and a scenario was created where a player in a forard position dropped back into a defensive role after the team mate in that position had gone forward to combine with the other attacker. The players were now learning to maintain balance in their small groups as play developed up and down the pitch.

The work was now advanced to 6 v 6 with keepers. Mark structured the two teams as 1 striker, 3 midfield and 2 defenders. He also introduced offside lines at each end of the pitch. The quick pace and intensity was maintaine but Mark said that he was not seeing the 1 – 2's and overlaps that had been produced previously. He felt that he was moving te work on too quickly than what the players were capable of but it was for the benefit of the attendee coaches. So he reduced the team numbers to 4 v 4 plus keepers.

Interesting points were raised when Mark, together with Chairman John Cartwright, answered questions from the members after the end of the session. It was pointed out how important it is to change the pace in the practice which, for a long time, has been a weakness in English football. The boys being coached had worked tremendously hard but it was of concern that when the numbers went up to 6 v 6 that players of 16 years old did not reconise situations. The balance between practice and playing is still not right in this country and the FA Coaching Scheme has never properly replaced street football.

But, as John Cartwright pointed out, the vitally important thing about the session was that the players had to make football decisions – that's exactly the way that street football worked.
[Click HERE to see the session plan from Mark’s session which follows]

N.B. Our Chairman John Cartwright will be conducting the February session which will be on “The new street football game”