Develop the reaction skills of your players, as well as their ability on the ball, by using fun activities and encouraging them to express themselves when in possession.
During The FA DNA Cup at St. George’s Park, coaches at Leeds United academy looked to improve the reaction skills of their players by using a throwing and catching activity, before challenging them to keep possession of the ball in a crowded area.The coach in the video below starts with a session including lots of fun and variety in the form of playground-type activities to engage and energise the players. He also includes an element of competition to add an extra edge to the first game.
This reaction game is easy to organise, fun to play and by rotating opponents, provides variety and different challenges. Include plenty of different movements, actions and fun things to do (the crazier the better).
The Foundation Phase is a great time to develop some brilliant basics regarding throwing and catching. It’s not just your goalkeeper who needs to be able to do these things - all children need this. After all, you never know, there might be a player who is currently playing outfield who then emerges as a goalkeeper later in their journey. So, throwing and catching different types of balls could be something that you include in your own warm-up activities.
The session progresses to a semi-opposed activity (no actual defenders trying to take the ball from others, but lots of interference from other groups of players). If this is appropriate for your players, then encourage them to express themselves and to try different things. These types of practices allow for lots of individual work with the ball whilst retaining an element of teamwork, as they will be passing out to a teammate to take their place in the middle.