When you look at a top level midfielder you may notice that their head is swiveling all the time. A midfielder has to master the game from a 360 degree perspective – receiving ball from back players, playing ball to wide players, changing the point of attack and relaying the ball from the backs to the forwards. They are only able to do their job well if they are constantly looking around and scanning the field to see who is open, where are the opponents and how can they make themselves available to receive the ball.
Too many players are fixated by the ball. When they receive the ball they then look to see who they will pass it to and where are the opponents. This kind of player is a “Receive, Look, Pass” player. This kind of player plays the game too slowly, gets caught in possession or, is fixated by the ball because their ball control is suspect.
All players should be constantly scanning the field and have some idea what to do with the ball BEFORE receiving it. These are the “Look, Receive, Pass” players. They play quickly and cleanly and control the game.
Tip for improving “scanning.”
Squad of 16. Give players a number 1-16. Give a ball to number 1 and to number 8. They will pass the ball to number 2 and number 9 respectively. The players continue to move and pass the ball sequentially. Because they have to pass the ball to a specific person, and pick that person out of the crowd of players the players should be encouraged to look and see where their team mate is BEFORE receiving the ball. Allowing the players to play 1 touch only will guarantee that the players will look before receiving it.
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