I love talking to other coaches. Maybe more than that I love talking to players. It doesn’t matter what age or level I enjoy picking their brain, making them think and just talking soccer.

Recently I had a chance to chat with one or our areas dominant high school players at an off season practice. One question I asked, “What did you do to develop a quick trigger, a fast shot?”

His answer, “I make sure I know what I’m going to do with the ball before I get it.”


Notice the players who shoot or pass quickly, they don’t look around once they receive the ball. The time it takes to look where the shot or pass should go is time enough for a defender to block the shot or intercept the pass.

For coaches in younger divisions, u10 and below, coaching this will be ‘planting a seed’ (see Trap – Pass – Move Chapter 1), coaching a concept that may not be comprehended at the time but will eventually grow in the mind of your players. There will be a time that they will ‘get it’.

How do we train this quick pass/shot?

Remind players to play with their heads up. During scrimmages talk to players who are off the ball about looking not only at where the ball is but all around the field. Have them notice where their teammates are and where the opponents are. Where is there space.

Ask “If you had the ball right there where (name a player) has it what would you do with it?”

Encourage your players to THINK.

They can think about where they’d play the ball, where they predict the ball will go,  where a player will move….. Encourage them to run scenarios in their mind.

Let them know the power of their mind, that they can take mental pictures and that, when trained, their brain can access these pictures without effort. This will enable them to play much quicker.

OK, I’m getting into an area that I love but may be a little above many of our players. Nonetheless this is an actual seed I started planting at u10.

Here’s a true story….

My son Jesse plays forward and being a striker he is often off the ball ‘waiting’. At times it looks to me like he’s a spectator or just not in the game. He strolls here. Stands there. Often looks where the ball isn’t. One day I asked him what was going on.

“What do you mean?” he asked back.

“You sometimes don’t seem like you’re mentally in the game. You aren’t paying attention to the play on the field.”

Now, I do praise him in his fantastic passing, his ball control and many, many assists so his answer should not have been a surprise.

“I’m looking at where my teammates are and where the other team is.” he said “That way when I get the ball I already know what to do.”

He got me.

Jesse knows where every player, ever space is on the field because he is constantly taking mental pictures. That’s why he has one of the best no-look give-n-gos around.

Want some drills to help with this, OK, I’ll get them up. But the best thing to do is talk about looking around when you’re team is scrimmaging.

If you are new to coaching Trap – Pass – Move was written for you. It contains information that you will find helpful including mental development of youth players, drills, systems and the whys behind them. It’s short with little fluff, just down to earth soccer coaching information that helped make our teams very good.

Rocky at the Candle Cafe

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