Why does bunch ball occur?
At the younger ages U6-U10 the soccer ball is a magnet - kids want the soccer ball.
This process can take some time while the players are learning their soccer skills and how to play the game. I have outlined some coaching points below for coaches to correct some of the issues that come with bunching.
A player who uses 1 on 1 dribbling soccer skills to get out of pressure and find space, can eliminate the bunch ball.
So, how does a coach help develop 1v1 dribbling skills? Here are a few tips to get your players playing better 1v1 soccer.
Once players have developed dribbling, passing, ball control skills and the ability to handle the soccer ball, it is easier for them to get out of trouble.
Passing: Another way to teach players to get away from "bunch ball" is to pass the soccer
ball - I like to teach dribbling first. Why? Once they have basic dribbling down you can then add in passing technique. Now the players will have
the option to play the ball out of trouble. Obviously, this takes some
time to develop. The basic push pass with the inside of the foot will help young players find their pass.
So, how do we get the players to use their soccer skills to eliminate the "bunch up" during a practice or a game?
Play 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 or 4v4 games...
Not to go off topic but for a quick recap of why the kids should play small sided games? Check out some examples below...
Play small sided games and the kids will enjoy their soccer practices and learn how to avoid playing bunch ball.
Play a 3v3 or 4v4 game.
I let the kids play 3v3 - you might have two games going during a practice session, but this will depend on the amount of kids you have in a soccer practice.
Three common scenarios you will run into...
Coaching Tip: I generally address these scenarios when teaching soccer skills during sessions so when the small sided game comes along the kids are already aware of what is going on.
We talk about dribbling to space, and using turns to get away from defenders. We also discuss how to avoid crowding teammates.
Do you ever get that scenario where players are just kicking the soccer ball against each others shins and the ball is going no where?
Answer: A pullback or specific move.
Answer: We look for space.
Answer: Big - create space.
A fun game: If the players keep bunching up play dead ants - good for the little ones! I scream dead ants when it gets crowded - the players lie on their backs and wave their feet and hands in the air. I say play and they get back up and spread out and play.
Once I have addressed these key points I encourage them to dribble for space, support their teammates and have fun. Add dead ants to your soccer practice plans.