Kiwomya Masterclass Report
PLAYING THROUGH MIDFIELD TO REACH THE FRONT STRIKER – CHRIS KIWOMYA
Chris Kiwomya was a speedy and dangerous forward, principally for Ipswich Town and Arsenal. Since Chris's playing career ended he has been much involved in coaching, which is very much due to the influence of John Lyall, when the ex-West Ham boss was Manager at Ipswich.
Chris introduced his session by emphasising the importance of width. You can't play through a team without width. A passing team attempts to get between the opposition lines but they need width. The task for the players is to play between the lines and try to find a gap. The mantra is: if you can't go through teams you go round them; if you can't go round them you go over them.
Chris set up his first practice by channelling off a zone in the centre of the training area and four players, representing a back four, were spaced out, side by side, inside this channel. There were three attacking players on both sides of the channel and an additional player at each end, giving width. Only the defending back four were allowed in the channel and they could not leave this area. They moved from side to side as a unit as the ball was passed in front of them. The attacking players on the outside of the channel were restricted to two touches and had to try and get the ball through a gap in the back four. So passing had to be quick and the passes had to be firm but controllable and along the ground. The objective at this stage was to play through the opponents. The wide players were there to provide the opportunity to switch play and destroy the defensive compactness. To score a goal the ball had to be played through a gap between defenders.
Chris pulled the attacking players up a few times if they over-indulged in easy square passes when the opportunity was there to pass forward and through the gap between defenders. He said that it is no use just passing the ball around without going anywhere. They must look to pass it through whenever possible. But Chris was pleased with the progress the players were making. He pointed out to the attendee coaches that if players do struggle then the solution is to make the area bigger or increase the pass condition to three touches.
Chris then progressed the work to develop combination play. He used four mannequins across the area to represent opponents. Two narrow attacking midfield players and two wide wing backs played on each side of the mannequins. So it was a two-way practice. The ball started with one of the wing backs who made a long cross-field pass to the wing back on the opposite flank. The ball then went into one of the midfield players who passed the ball between two of the mannequins, (i.e. broke the defensive line), to put the wing back on the opposite flank in, having got round the outside of the defensive line with a well timed run – i.e. running on to the ball. The ball then went into one of the wing backs on that side and the practice continued in a similar combination movement in the opposite direction.
There were movements of various combinations but the essential element was getting the wing backs in behind the defensive line, with Chris stressing that they must not get ahead of the ball but be coming on to it. Otherwise, in a game, they would be arriving too early and so would be running offside or else be easily marked by an opponent.
As the practice developed the two midfield players on the opposite side of the mannequins to that of the ball, played as strikers and so passes went between opponents and into a striker who laid it off to his partner who played it wide to the wing back sprinting forward. Chris also introduced rotation into the work, so that just before a pass went into midfield a midfield player changed places with a striker and the pass was made a split second after the change over.
The way that Chris added bits on as the work progressed was fascinating and was proof of the effectiveness of his highly skilful coaching. He had introduced a host of ideas for everyone to take away with them and introduce into their own coaching at their clubs.
Report by Steve Haslam
Pictures by David Cumberbatch
CHRIS KIWOMYA – PROFILE
Chris’s playing career shows he made over 346 first team appearances, particularly 224 for Ipswich Town with 51 goals; 86 for QPR with 25 goals and in between for Arsenal 14 with 3 goals. He also played abroad in France Denmark and Malaya and gained an England Under 21 Cap.
As a Manager he has managed Notts County and had a long spell as Reserve Team Manager at Ipswich.
Chris will be coaching playing through midfield to reach the front striker