Rondo: A simple practice game with multiple benefits

By Stan Baker

“Everything that goes on in a match, except shooting, you can do in a rondo. The competitive aspect, fighting to make space, what to do when in possession and what to do when you haven’t got the ball, how to play ‘one touch’ soccer, how to counteract the tight marking and how to win the ball back.”

-- Johan Cruyff

Definition of “rondo”: A game where one group of players has the ball while in numerical superiority (3v1, 5v2, 5v5+2 etc …) over another group of players. The basic objective of the group in numerical superiority is to keep possession of the ball while the objective of the group in numerical inferiority is to win the ball back.

Barcelona rondo

Rondos differ from other possession games in that the rondo is a game where the players occupy a preset space as opposed to a more random space. Positional games are games where players occupy spaces similar to those in the regular game e.g., outside back, center back, center midfield etc. …

Rondos help develop the following areas1:

COGNITIVE. In rondos the player is constantly perceiving and making decisions with respect to his teammates, opponents, position of the ball etc. … For this reason the capacity to make the correct decisions and the speed of play are improved.

TECHNICAL COORDINATION. Due to the way that the rondo is set up, it is necessary to have control of the physical movements and technical skills with respect to time and space, the game, the ball and opponents.

Real Madrid rondo

TEAM BUILDING. (mini-societies) With the type of work done in rondos, the understanding between teammates is improved, and the sense of “team” is also built.

CREATIVITY AND EXPRESSION. The nature of the rondo, with its limited time and space, forces the players to use various technical and tactical abilities in order to solve constantly changing problems within the game. This helps develop creativity.

Bayern Munich rondo

COMPETITIVENESS. In the development of the rondo, the player’s competitive nature is improved. Players have to fight to make space, learn how to counteract marking and how to win the ball back. Nobody wants to be the one making the mistake which leads to time in the middle.

PHYSICAL CONDITIONING. With rondos a team may work anaerobic resistance by varying the space, time and number of players involved.

(Stan Baker is a coach, educator and author. This was excerpted from “Our Competition is the World: Ideas for implementing the United States Soccer Curriculum.” By Stan Baker 378 pages, 2012. Lulu Publishing. $22.99. This previously appeared in the Youth Soccer Insider in 2013 Baker is also an ambassador for and represents

1 “El juego del rondo y su aplicación práctica al entrenamiento de equipos de fútbol de alto rendimiento” By Alberto Martín Barrero and Francisco Ignacio Martínez Cabrera. Faculty of Sport: Pablo de Olavide University, Spain).

24 comments about "Rondo: A simple practice game with multiple benefits".
  1. Bob Ashpole, August 25, 2017 at 1:33 p.m.

    Good article. It is a shame we have to define the training terms we are talking about. Soccer is a simple game, but coaching it seems to get more complicated every year. I'll just call it keep-away for now. I have for decades said unbalanced keep-away games are the best way to teach attacking fundamentals or in other words teach players about space. I never had a good idea that I didn't steal from someone else. I think using the Spanish word "rondo" is a fad. Some Spaniards claim a Spanish coach "invented" rondos, not merely promoted their use. I think that is presumptuous. Keep-away was probably invented about 5 minutes after the ball was invented. Children instinctively want to possess a ball, if coaches don't coach it out of them. Good article.

  2. frank schoon, August 25, 2017 at 2:40 p.m.

    This is a great article that says really nothing.(another EDUCATOR releasing this professorial garbage). The verbiage is excellent and it sounds impressive and should be a hit at any coaching license courses. I'd say get your pen paper and taking those notes.Let us look at. Can you imagine Johan Cruyff express himself in these terms.
    COGNITIVE<"capacity to make correct decisions and speed of play is improved> Guys , you got it, then go to it, you know what to do.
    TECHNICAL COORDINATION< "necessary to have control of the physical movements and technical skills with respect to time and space, the game, the ball and opponents"> You got it guys ! then go to it...
    CREATIVITY AND EXPRESSION<"The nature of the rondo, with its limited time and space, forces the players to use various technical and tactical abilities in order to solve constantly changing problems within the game">Now you know ,go to it.
    To really teach Rondo you have played it at a good high level to be able to teach it, for you have to able to READ THE FINER NUANCES that allows you to see the steps ahead and the feel of what should happen next. This is not explained for this person has no clue. That is also one of the major problems of teaching positioning which Cruyff states is not done properly for so few have really played it at high enough level. To explain it properly you not only have to be able to read the nuances, but also the flows, take into account the various strength an weaknesses of the players involved in where to place the ball and moving off the ball. Simply said it is not that easy. That is why the KNVB licensed instructors in Holland have done such a poor job in teaching the coaches for they have difficult teaching positioning off the ball movements themselves, but put this instructors in a classroom setting they can talk a bird out of tree when it comes to the verbiage....
    I watched the video, how many looked to see which players were putting their weight on the wrong foot. Cruyff often in these types of Rondo's would pass to the player's wrong foot making him mess up. The reason why ,is that the player does not think other than the foot he wants to employ. There is lot more going on that you have to be aware of. Notice what would happen if you're not allowed to pass to the player next to you. The Johan Cruyff quote this EDUCATOR employed really applies to 4v2 rondo, not what you see in this video. It is the 4v2 rondo, which carries all the little secrets of the game. The problem with these professorial types is that they are great in the verbiage but unable to really bring it down to an earthly finer technical explanation which a coach really needs to have.

  3. Ray Lindenberg , August 25, 2017 at 2:48 p.m.

    Rondo/Keepaway is a critical drill that should be practiced at all levels and ages, starting as soon as players master squared-ankle, daisy-cutter passing and trapping drills, which itself should be the primary skill (passing) that players and coaches should be focusing on.

    Amazingly and unfortunately, proper squared-ankle, daisy-cutter passing technique is nowhere near practiced and emphasized as much as it should be -- hence I just spent a week scouting a dozen youth soccer clinics, academies and pre-season training practices locally and the kids spent most of the time with drills that included shooting (even though only a few players during a game are positioned to score, and at that, they get only a few chances during a soccer game to shoot ...

    ...while 100% of the players are expected to pass and trap the ball properly 100% of the game. Where's the logical training plan balance? Players need to spend a good chunk of their practices on the much more productive passing & trapping drills (to mirror the game and the primary skill that is expected of them), along with ball control drills.

    In effect, with way too much time is spent shooting and scoring, plus not insisting on mastering emphasizing square ankle passing and highly controlled trapping, what the sessions amount to is mostly reinforcing bad kickball passing plus rarely used shooting skills, rather than true, much more useful soccer skills development that daisy-cutter passing technique practicing renders.

    It borders on coaching malfeasance. It's absolutely maddening and illogical! And Rondo/Takeaway is one of the absolute musts of the many true soccer (not kickball) drills that a practice should be devoted to, coaches!! Many of you (including licensed coaches) are wasting too much time on shooting (a little is fine) and overlooking / under-emphasizing proper passing/trapping. The US will never get over the hump and produce Super-Pulisic's at this rate!!

  4. Jay Wall, August 25, 2017 at 3:24 p.m.

    Rondo, taught well, is a progression that starts with attacking players only between cones and without any defenders to start. The first thing is teaching the player with the ball to turn to be square to as many of their teammates as possible so when their are defender(s) they don't automatically know where the ball is going to go ahead of time. >> Then the receiving teammate needs to be taught and learn how to open up their body to their teammate with the ball so they they can receive it with as many options as possible. >> And because the ball hasn't moved yet all teammates have to play by turning their bodies to receive, as if they are the receiver. >> The player with the ball passes accurately and their receiver must fist touch the ball to give them as many options as possible, the passer and other teammates who don't have the ball must open up to the new player in possession. >> No, we are not yet ready for a defender or defenders. Look at the body language and touches of all players and tweak their play. (If players don't have good passing skills teach the first phase of Rondo throwing the ball.) >> Now add just one defender and see what the attacking players do. Now we have a defender denying passing lanes. . . that's a lesson. We have attacking players playing between cones who will be more open if they move left or right towards one of the cones . . . that's a lesson on getting open. How wide are the passing land . . . that's a lesson. Any way to get the ball behind the defender to their teammate behind them . . . that's a lesson. The ball is passes and all the lessons, taught so far come together. >> Still not time for more defenders. Cruyff documented 25 surfaces of each foot that can be used to handle a ball, so don't worry about one or two skills you swear every player must have. Encourage players to try different surfaces to learn and to be a threat. And encourage them to feint a pass in one direction and if the defender buys the feint pass in the other direction. Pull backs, v moves and even try a Latin American rim of the shoe jab to fool the defender. >> Don't add more defenders until attacking players understand the game. Then add defenders and teach them to deny passing lanes, apply pressure, not by split by passes and to read what the attacking players are doing. Teaching Rondo is a progression that takes time, but when mastered can create players who play at a high level.

  5. Nick Daverese, August 26, 2017 at 12:49 a.m.

    A lot of players in that circle with just two defenders.

    One of the first things we did was the box shape with three players and one defender. There has to be player movement into the space and the space one side of the box is always open but that space can be anywhere. Plus the defender had to win the ball not just touch it. If the ball got out of the box everyone goes to the ball and reform the box shape. We had a lot of boxes going on a full size practice field. Then once they mastered that we added another defender that takes a lot of skill to hold the ball in a small space. But that is the game there is always small sided play near the ball even on a big field. Until someone can make the break out pass.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, August 26, 2017 at 9:32 a.m.

    I too started with 3v1. If the 3 players were not successful, I added a fourth to get them started. Back then I was building on the children's playground experience with tag and keep-away games. I don't think children actually play traditional children's games any more. No recess. No schoolyard play. No neighborhood play. Not everywhere, but it is a change. Coaches have to deal with lesser developed mental and movement skills generally.

  7. Nick Daverese, August 26, 2017 at 9:43 a.m.

    There is a sometime poster on this that lives in NJ. We played two friendlies with them under 14 and his team under 16. We did well in both he was frustrated on how well we held the ball under high pressure that box shape exercise helped us do it and the quickness of our players

  8. frank schoon, August 26, 2017 at 10:38 a.m.

    TIP 123. The 4v2 box , I refer to is described in the quote the writer gave above. In my last batch of tips I refer to the 4-3-3 and tying in 4v2. That is one of the 4 boxes so to speak that is created by the 9 cardinal points when you have 3-3-3 grid line up(note the 4th player is really the sweeper, not used in this exercise. When you look at this grid and position the opponents to each of these players making up the grid then you will see that which ever one of those players making up the grid has the ball they outnumber the opponent 4v2 in that particular grid. Taking this grid and downsizing to an exercise form ,for example, a rectangle of 8 long steps by 4 long steps. DON'T PLACE A PLAYER AT EACH CORNER , for that is INEFFICIENT, but place one player between the cones, thus allowing to be able to move off the ball and position himself. Cruyff stated that "if you can play this game ,you can play soccer".

  9. frank schoon, August 26, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.


  10. frank schoon, August 26, 2017 at 10:58 a.m.


  11. Ray Lindenberg , August 26, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.

    All good, and valuable comments, but I can't emphasize enough that youth coaches are not spending enough time on basic, square-ankle passing of daisy-cutters, one-touch passing, and instant, dead trapping of the poor trickling passes that dominate a game. In other words, not enough emphasis and time is being spent at practices at all levels on the basic component of the proper passing and trapping of the ball. The result is the mess of the crappy staccato, non-fluid kickball and, at best, power kickball, that we see at youth, as well as college, senior and international team levels.

    The stuff being pedaled s soccer today is largely a rag-tag flurry of mindless kick-and-runs and selfish mugging of the ball. Rarely do you see the beautiful weave of fluid one touch soccer passes that is the game at its most basic and beautiful. At a recent El Classico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, I counted only 7 simple, professional one-touch, weaving, daisy-cutter passes achieved -- and 371 chances to have given one! What a travesty. Where's the beautiful game of soccer?

    It starts with a demand of and commitment of coaches to one-touch, poetry in motion, daisy-cutter soccer -- and the ability to deliver the goods by a strong emphasis on the basics of proper square-ankle passing and trapping during a good chunk of the training sessions...along the same lines that coaches of Lebron James and the greatest of basketball players and teams don't lose site of the need to devote their training to a tuning up of basic lay-up and pick-and-roll skills (the equivalent in soccer of one-touch give-and-gos).

    Only after they continually tune-up and strengthen to master master those emphasized skills at each practice should the training, and trainer, go onto the more advanced and elaborate passing drills. Anything short of that is misplaced training and coaching resulting in the mess we see at games and on the TV that only serve as bad references to perpetuate the anti-soccer kickball that we suffer through, and the world has defaulted and been lulled into accepting as an acceptable facsimile of true soccer.

  12. frank schoon replied, August 26, 2017 at 12:16 p.m.

    Ray, you won't get any argument from me...I feel your
    pain. The beautiful soccer I still see is on Youtube from 40 years ago, where I can still a defender make a beautiful 15 yard outside of the foot pass going over an opponent's head dropping right in front of his teammate facing downfield....

  13. frank schoon, August 26, 2017 at 11:05 a.m.


  14. frank schoon, August 26, 2017 at 11:10 a.m.

    I always wanted Cruyff or some of his old teammates to make a Youtube to just go through all the different steps, the why's ,the how to's, thinking behind a certain pass. All the NUANCES of the insiders involved for there is so much coaches can learn from for it brings the VERBIAGE down to a real level that you can touch , feel, see, experience and ACTUALLY RELATE TO!

  15. Ray Lindenberg , August 26, 2017 at 11:18 a.m.

    ...all the skills and drills described in the posts above are spectacular ... but they can only be achieved if the players pass the test of daisy-cutter consistency. Mastering the basics of passing and trapping first, which is the essence of true soccer, is the precursor of all more intricate drills. What good is teaching some of these more elaborate skills if the players cant deliver the perfect pass and fumble their traps. All that does is reinforce perpetuate bad kickball. Do plan the training to include the Rondo and XvX drills ... but first coaches need to demand perfect, simple, basic passing and trapping which is the cornerstone of true soccer. The art of passing and trapping, which is the cornerstone of true, beautiful, ball-control soccer, is being horrifically under-emphasized at the US youth level, even by the experienced, licensed coaches I've been witnessing these past few weeks. Crappy, staccato kickball is the residue of crappy coaching.

  16. Bob Ashpole, August 27, 2017 at 2:41 p.m.

    Ray, I was pretty pessimistic over the years until I went to my first NSCAA annual conference in LA. I saw and met a lot of really good coaches and watched some demonstrations of young players playing beautifully together. Superior technique, tactically fast, and maintaining good positioning as the ball circulated. They were a joy to watch. Certainly there were other demonstrations with players with lesser development, but the objective is clear.

  17. Ray Lindenberg , August 28, 2017 at 4:34 p.m.

    I agree you can see some pretty impressive coaching exhibitions with some elaborate and advanced passing and mevement drills. I've seen the same for my 45 years of coaching since I took the USSF/FIFA Coaching course with the late, great Dettmar Cramer. My issue is that there isn't enough of the simpler, more critical basics being concentrated on and emphasized. Sliced a little thinner: during games and practices at ALL levels, there is ghastly inadequate proper passing, trapping and fluid ball movement...way too much retention and chop-chop kickball. Somehow the art and science of simple one-touch pure soccer (a la what a Thiago Motta, Muhammed Elneny, Yaya Toure, Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Valderrama and, to an extent, Lio Messi, have gloriously offered the world in spades) is not getting to the marketplace en masse. The staccato, choked-off game of kickball, or even power kickball, continues to be what we're stuck with. There are no more '74 Dutch Total Football or '56 Hungarian Masters Football being emulated enough. It's starts with the missing element of not enough emphasis on efficient passing and trapping. Too much putting the cart before the horse, and too many coaches, enamored with the sophisticated stuff, are missing the boat on the basics that are the essence of 'jogo bonito', me-thinks.

  18. frank schoon, August 28, 2017 at 6:25 p.m.

    RAY, It is nice to mentioning those great players. But when it comes to passing ,I"m not impressed with Messi. For an Argentinian with a great left foot(dribbling wise and able to receive a ball under great pressure with no space and his one-touches are excellent !!) I have never seen him make a nice outside of the foot pass, of any range. His medium to long range passes to direction Neymar which he gives with the inside of his instep are so predictable, too slow and not efficient as far putting Neymar in a better scoring position vis a vis his opponent. If he employed the outside of his left foot, which is executed much faster, given the ball a counterclockwise spin from the right side forcing Neymar's opponent (right back) to choose to either look at the ball which would be going over his left shoulder or Neymar but he can't do both. But the way Messi passes the ball with the inside of the instep giving it not only a higher elevation, clockwise spin, and slower velocity, and worse it allows Neymar's opponent to also be able to see him and the ball coming at the same time. Yes , there is no '74 Dutch Total Football, or '56 Hungarian. We don't have the beautiful "tick-taca" of Pep's Barcelona , or Cruyff's Dream Team. Why all of a sudden when we have enjoyed watching beautiful , Cruyffian, Barcelona style soccer under Guardiola for the past decade, it is now back to buying players like the other teams . Why haven't the other teams try to copy Barcelona style,for this was good soccer, the reason is simple.... the PLAYERS!!!. ALL THE GREAT TEAMS HAD GREAT PLAYERS. Since XAVI and PUYOL left Barcelona lost it. Hungary '56 , PUSKAS,
    , KOSCIS, HEDIGKUTi left. Total Soccer '74, CRUYFF , RENSENBRINK, KEIZER, VAN HANEGEM, JANSEN. Brazil '82, SOCRATES, EDER, ZICO, FALCOA. Barcelona "Dream Team" , ROMARIO, LAUDRUP, KOEMAN, GUARDIOLA, STOICHKOV. All the great teams had great players to make them play the way they did. The players today don't have the skills of the players of those other eras. Even in Holland the quality has gone down tremendously and let's face it their training and developing youth is much better than here. Cruyff stated that one of the main problems lies with every Tom, Dick and Harry can get a coaching license people.
    All these great players you have mentioned , none are involved in the development of the youth. They flunked Teofille Cubillas for a USSF B-license. Go figure...

  19. Ray Lindenberg , August 28, 2017 at 7:35 p.m.

    Frank - I agree with you that Messi's passing is a quart low compared to some of the others I listed; but I wouldn't yank him too far down the totem pole. He does make a concentrated effort much of the time to keep the scheme fluid and uncomplicated when trolling the midfield acreage. My pet peeve is the notion that it takes great, or even the greatest of skilled players to deliver the greatest soccer. The perfect pass, and the perfect playing of pure, true soccer can be accomplished with skill-developed U-12 and U-17s, just as readily as it can with the cast of El Clasico Derbies and World Cup Finals. A basics-mastering average 10-year player is equally as capable as Messi, or any other astro one cares to fill in the blank with, in delivering the perfect, well-conceived, well-delivered pass. True, that the astro may be able to do it more consistently -- but as far as ability -- perfection is perfection ... yu can't do better than the perfect pass at any age or level. The variable is the player's intent, desire, determination, plus the coach's coach's standards of play to do all the right things to make that right, perfect pass ... the player reading the flow of the game and anticipating the teammates movements ... developing game condition instincts ... and delivering the passes with the right timed zip so that the receiver can in turn add to the string of productive passes to keep the weave and flow of beautiful, pure soccer going ...

    What's missing is the desire, emphasis, and dare I say coaching insistence to play true soccer -- and that starts at the youth coaching levels. How did Motta, Pirlo, Toure, Valderrama et al retain and value that golden ability? Coaching that natured, emphasized and rewarded that ability, that's how.

    While I'm at it, just like great, perfect passing can happen at any age or level -- same is true for great, true soccer. Want power kickball? Turn on the telly or go see any pro game and you'll see plenty of it. But, pure, true soccer? You have a better chance of catching it at a youth club or school level where a coach can, and should insist on uncompromising passing plus productive personal and team movement demands. Pro players today largely did not grow up with those demands and disciplines ... in soccer and in many other sports. My hunch is that developing during the 'me' generation had an impact on this downward spiral. There are no poetry in motion, simple-basic mastery commanders like John Wooden or Red Holtzman out there any more either. That's why we're stuck with so much chop-chop, heads-down, unimaginative kickball. Not enough uncompromising coaches ... not enough basics-master role models for developing players to emulate on TV and at the ballpark.

  20. frank schoon, August 28, 2017 at 8:02 p.m.

    Ray, I agree with you on the techniques of passing, but well -conceived, well-delivered is something else otherwise we would have Zidanes coming out of the woodwork but we don't. Look at Beckenbauer, I haven't seen anyone pass balls like he did and it is a simple outside of the foot pass. Bringing it down to the youth level , one of the main problems is that when I grew in the streets of Amsterdam, we had walls to pass against, or passed back and forth for fun in the streets. Or if was bored , I would go pass a ball against the wall in my street.When is the last time you saw 2 kids on their own passing back and forth on their free time. NEVER! It is simply not done. Kids have no touch in passing these days.
    There is not enough time spend on passing, on their own or in practice.

  21. Ray Lindenberg , August 29, 2017 at 4:14 p.m.

    Frank - proper passing has become a jumbled skill and lost art - due, in great past, to poor coaching, with not enough emphasis and training time spent on the proper technique for basic, square-ankle daisy-cutter passing (preferably 1-touch) ... the kind that much of play and most passing situations call for. In other words, 'soccer' is largely a dying and forgotten sport, and in its place what we see and settle for, at all levels, is mostly kickball or power kickball, where the players retain the ball way more than they should, while their teammates stand in place, or run to the wrong spaces much of the game because they have no confidence or faith that they will receive the ball through an efficient, smooth, ground-hugging pass. Soccer is failing because of a lack of faith, as much as because of a lack of skill, or understanding or coaching. The ability to deliver all forms of passes is wonderful -- I just ask for the mastery of one form, though ... the simple, square-ankle daisy-cutter; delivered one touch preferably, if the defender is within two meters of the player passing. One touch-passing of daisy-cutters is contagious. It develops and restores the missing element of faith that true soccer requires, leaving us with choppy retention-filled kickball that perpetuates through generations rather than faith-filled constant poetry-in-motion that developing players need to emulate, and the proper performance of the sport demands. It's an indictment of the sport and much of its coaching; an awful, downward spiral. Coaches, especially the learned licensed ones, simply need to demand more fluid one-touch soccer of their players and squads during practices and games. Most are failing miserably at that key responsibility, turning a blind eye to poor passing and hogging he ball when a contagious square-ankle, one-touch daisy-cutter is called for and gets all teammates more involved, thinking, running productively and offering outlets to each other because of the contagiousness of faith-abundant soccer. As far as Beckenbauer and his 3-toed outside of the foot passing -- no one has ever matched the beauty of that skill in my book, with perhaps the exception of Cruyff and Nene Cubillas. The difference is that Der Kaiser more often positioned his body to make his exquisite outside-foot passes (he did it as his normal, artistic and preferred way of passing) whereas the Dutch Master did it more improvised and spontaneously whenever the play called for it (although he certainly had his fair share of planned, artistic displays of this gorgeous skill). Roberto Carlos may have had the most powerful 3-towed out-swinger with the greatest arc, but many of his were more shots than passes. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio ... Cruyff ... Beckenbauer ... and simple, basic, one-touch, daisy-cutter soccer that is the essence of the most attractive form of the game --- total, true, soccer? Where's the coaching and public's demand for a much better product and brand?

  22. frank schoon, August 29, 2017 at 5:21 p.m.

    Ray, the coaches and public demand for a much better product is very difficult. The reason why is that the public, (not us old guys) have never seen a Puskas shooting, a Beckenbauer passing, a Pele , a Best, a Garrincha, a Bobby Charlton, a Pepe, Eusebio, a Cruyff, a Didi, and many, many ,many more greats who had fantastic techniques and who grew playing in the streets 20-40 hrs a week, doing nothing else but playing soccer. The amount of time these players as kids spend and honed their passing ,shooting , dribbling skill is today non-existent. Where can you ,today, find or watch abilities of these types of players...HARDLY NOWHERE. Teams in those days had at least 2-3 good/ great players, where as today ,you're lucky a country has 2 or 3 great players. Look at Brazil play today, I wouldn't walk across the streets to watch them play and I don't think Pele would either. Brazil hasn't played great soccer since '82. I'm not even impressed with their skills . Neymar? come on , you think he could play with '62, '58. 70, '82 teams..On those teams he wouldn't even be noticed..The public today that makes up the coaches pool has never seen the likes of the great technicians of the game. Barcelona showed the world great soccer with one-touch soccer but don't get caught up in on touch soccer with youth. You think Pele , Cruyff , Maradona, all these characters grew up playing one-touch....FORGET IT! They were the biggest ball hogs around because that is how kids like me in the street soccer days grew up. I remember playing my first year in my first game playing for Ajax, dribbled and went by 7 opponents and lost the ball, didn't have clue about team concepts or play. In the streets where all the greats grew up playing they all went through a "Ballhog Stage". That is must for every youth player to go through, in order to build confidence with the ball against an opponent. Cruyff stated that in his first year as youth he dribbled and beat all his opponents. So he was moved him up to an age older group to play and learned he could only get by 6 opponents before he would get kick or lose the ball. What is important here is at Ajax they allowed the youth to do their thing where as today a licensed idiot coach tells kids 'you dribble too much, pass it, get rid of it, ONE-TOUCH IT". This is one of the reason why we see so few good individualists with the ball. Yes, Pele, Cruyff ,all the greats can one-touch it but it took a number of years for they certain weren't good one-touchers when they were young ,that is a process that takes a few years. One-touch, as Cruyff states is one of the most difficult styles
    to play. Brazilians are good one-touchers but they all grew up dribbling, dribbling for they like to show off with the ball. The problem today is that for most players the Ball hog stage is skipped and go right on to team play and the other programmed garbage. The kids have a lack of feel and touch for the ball which later helps their passing touch.

  23. frank schoon, August 29, 2017 at 5:35 p.m.

    Ray, to me what is the most important element for kids is to be able to totally be confident with the ball under pressure. One-touch passing is of a higher order which takes much longer to learn. But to demand a style of one-touch passing which only Barcelona was able to do but only in phases, is not realistic, of which only Barcelona and not the other teams could do it. Yes, to be able to master one-touch players need to have a lot more baggage with them, before attempting. I believe in functional techniques, which means whatever the least amount of touches required to move the ball in the most efficient way, whether it be a one-touch, two-touch, dribble or an extra touch to draw the opponent. But as far as teaching and mastering one-touch, that you won't find in the coaching ranks to be able to teach or very ,very few.
    One-touch is by doing and practicing for it takes a feel and touch that a coach can't teach you..that is to be gained...

  24. Ray Lindenberg , August 29, 2017 at 8:40 p.m.

    Frank -- this is a wonderful and vigorous debate that I welcome because I think it cuts to the essence of where I think there's a breakdown worldwide in the game at all levels -- and where I hope a good chunk of 'disruption' takes root. We need another Hungary '56 or a Holland '74 ...soon.

    You're right: the greatest teams, including the Dream Team of Brazil '70, had a cadre of incomparable players who we would have been awfully short-changed had they been forced to play more robotic, one-touch soccer and had their collectively artistry muzzled.

    But I'm zeroing in on something much more granular and accessible... more consistent, perfect passing that a coach can insist upon and impact that's being overlooked way too often.

    I just came back from the Dominican Republic and the young there are not born to be better baseball players even though they're clearly producing, by far, a disproportionate percentage of the top players in the major leagues these days in relation to the size of their population.

    Nope. It's not in the genes ... it's in the excellent professional examples all around them they can emulate; the peer and society pressure that spurns them on to excellence; and the uncompromising coaching of the basics.

    Similar genius clusters occur in speed skating in the Netherlands (and Northbrook, Illinois); long-distance running in Kenya; and Hockey in Canada. People are not inherently better in those sports in those places. They succeed because of what they see; the passionate way they immerse themselves in the sport to develop their skills organically; and the nurturing and direction they get from organized coaching.

    A great playing team can come to be in any sport at any age. Playing a greater brand of pure, fluid soccer can be achieved by any group of players if they are committed and trained to do so.

    This is not an either-or proposition. Players need to develop their ball control, game condition and teamwork instincts and skills, as well as passing. It's a matter of how much emphasis a coach puts on the dying art of efficient, simple passing to complement the ball control and other technical stuff. When players can, a hundred times during a game, keep the flow going and the teammates anticipating passes with one-touch passing that the flow invites -- and don't... and the coach doesn't put a stop to it and call out the repeated missed opportunities to play fluid 'soccer', that's bad. That's not to say that the 100 missed plays needed to have been 1-touch daisy-cutters...but how about 5 or 10? Where's the coaching? Short of that is the reinforcing and perpetuation of bad soccer, anti-soccer and chop-chop, ball-hog kickball.

    Excellent playing requires a mix of excellent, fluid passing in addition to marvelous displays of developed technical skills. There's just not enough excellent passing being trained or emphasized at the youth coaching level, hence the rubbish and vicious cycle of kickball we got.

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