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This is an excerpt from Transforming Play by Dennis Slade.

Players must trap the ball before they can pick it up and either run with it or pass it. This will teach them how to trap the ball within the context of a game. The roll pass will improve the chances of the players receiving accurate passes within the game so they can practise the trap.

Provide feedback on trapping technique either informally or through authentic assessment opportunities. Also, continue to keep the main focus on the tactics of the game (i.e., moving into space, having players both in front and behind the ball carrier and finding space by passing the ball back towards their own goal).

Note: Teams still do not play with goalies, so no one, even when defending a shot for a goal, may stop the ball with their hands.

Ask your players the following questions:

Q: When trapping the ball, should the foot move towards the ball or give slightly on contact?

A: Give slightly to absorb the pace of the ball.

Q: What is the tactical advantage of having team-mates in front of and behind the ball carrier?

A: It provides both forward and back passing options forcing opponents to spread out in defence, thus giving more space in which your team-mates may receive the ball.

Q: What is the tactical advantage of always having one player standing deep behind the team when the team is in possession of the ball?

A: It always gives a safe outlet possession pass; it provides a good place for someone to see all of the game and provide feedback to the forward players, and it also ensures the team has a defensive player ready to stop any counter-attacks.

Trap and Throw-In

Players will obviously know that in football one does not pick up the ball and run with it or roll it as a pass. However, explain that the point of slowly moving to the authentic game in this fashion is to ensure that even as novices they actually get to feel the game a little bit like elite players do, especially in terms of the pace of the game and successfully completing passes.

In progressing to the authentic game, the next technique to be learned is the throw-in and trap.

Football is an unusual game in that, although the game is essentially about controlling the ball with the feet, when the ball goes out, it is thrown in. Performing the throw-in is relatively straightforward, but controlling the bouncing ball is quite difficult. So, before moving to the throw-in, teach how to trap a ball that bounces just in front of the player.

Set players up on a grid with one ball for every two or three players. Demonstrate a basic side-foot and heel trap of a lobbed ball. Explain that it is important to give each partner the best chance of trapping the ball, so they must do their best to lob pass accurately.

Skill 1: Players lob the ball to each other, trying to make it bounce immediately in front of their partner so they can easily practise the trap technique (see figure 4.3). Players trap the ball, pick it up and lob the ball back for their partner to trap.

Skill 2: Demonstrate the throw-in technique (see figure 4.4a-b) and the associated rules both in the release of the ball and the offside rule. In twos or threes, players practise the throw-in across the 7 metres (about 8 yd) of the grid.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.4

Throw and Trap Practice

Learning Objectives

Players will do the following:

Throw the ball in correctly

Recognise when the thrower is ready to throw and the receiver is ready to receive a throw-in

Move into space to receive the throw

Throw the ball over varying distances


One ball among three players


Choose a playing area that is about 14 by 21 metres (about 15 by 23 yd; see grid layout in the introduction). One player is positioned on the outside of the playing area while the other stands inside of the playing area. The third player (feedback assessor) observes the game and marks the feedback sheet.

Figure 4.5


Receivers move about inside the designated area looking to find space and using basic communication (calling or body language) to receive a throw-in from their partner. Players cannot receive consecutive throws in the same place. After trapping the ball, players return the ball to the thrower. Each player receives 10 throw-ins before rotating roles with his partner (figure 4.5).

The player in the role of feedback assessor is able to provide constructive feedback for the other players while also developing his own knowledge of the skill. The form below shows a sample assessment form that could be used. The judgments, based on the criteria provided, are very simple for the assessor to interpret and mark, but they provide good feedback for the person throwing the ball in and the receiver.

More Excerpts From Transforming Play