How your team plays during games is a direct reflection of 2 things:
1. What you value as a coach
2. What you do during training Monday-Friday.
For instance, if you really value individual and technical skills, you probably spend a good chunk of your time training players how to dribble or take opponents on one versus one. Therefore, it is highly likely that if someone sat down to watch one of your games that they would frequently see your players attempting to take on defenders, lots of dribbling, and not very much team play.
There are a number of different examples I could give here, but I’d like to share an idea that changed the way I approached coaching, and give you a specific example of how training what you value translates directly to what you see on game day.
In an interview with Jed Davies, Brian Kleiban was asked, “What are the key things you learned while studying at FC Barcelona?”
Brian said, “The little details. The little details that make a difference. Not so much the individual stuff, but the tactical foundation that they lay in players at such a young age.”
That’s not to say that Brian, or Barcelona for that matter, don’t appreciate individual and technical skills, but they place a higher value on different aspects of the game that goes much, much deeper.
So, when you watch one of Brian’s teams play, or when you watch Barcelona play, or Bayern Munich, or Manchester City, what you see on display is what the coaches value. And what they value, is what they train.
If you’re familiar with 3four3, you know that keeping possession of the ball is something we value. So, it should be no surprise that when someone sits down to watch one of Brian’s games that they’re able to see that. They’re able to see that players are taught to work together, to move the ball around with passes on the ground, and keep possession. Anyone who watches should be able to see that his teams operate more like a single-minded organism, not 11 individuals with 11 different ideas.
Brian’s teams have developed a possession-based identity because of what he values as a coach. That identity didn’t magically happen, though. It was forged with hours and hours of training.
One of the exercises he used to develop this type of possession-based identity is something we call building out of the back. It’s one of the core exercises that is introduced in Phase 1 of the 3four3 coaching program. And if you have ever watched a possession-based team play, this is most likely what stood out right away.
Building out of the back is a controlled and methodical approach to moving the ball up the field. Sometimes it is slow and takes 15, 20, or even 25 passes just to get to midfield. Other times, it only takes 5 passes before someone is taking a shot on goal. But it’s all rehearsed, and trained over and over again.
It all starts with the back line learning the proper shape and spacing. Then, they must learn to move up, down, and across the field together as a group. Eventually, more can be layered on, like losing your man and some attacking patterns, but building out of the back is, and always will be, the foundation. Because Once the players are comfortable, this becomes the teams safety net. When they need to reset, take a break, or just settle the game down and regain control, they can move the ball into the back line and begin to build again.
Building out of the back is one of the most identifiable aspects of a possession-based team. It is something that coaches should value and is something that we recommend training frequently.
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