Coaches’ Corner

The foot pass

Good kicking skills are often taken for granted when coaching and playing football. Most GAA coaches will begin by teaching a punt style of kick for distance and then in later years the players themselves will begin to develop a kick with the side of their foot for a more accurate and cushioned strike. Former Wexford footballer and coach John Hegarty dropped into Ballythomas N.S. last year and gave us some great tips on how to take our kicking skills and foot passes to the next level. Here is what he advised:

The skill itself

Most forwards want the ball in hard and low so that the pass is to their advantage. The punt kick can often be a hit and hope high into the air. The side footed pass often does not have the power to reach the forward quickly. John emphasised the use of a foot pass that focused on a pure kick through the laces with the toe pointing downward. With good technique, the ball can be kicked incredibly hard without ever going over chest level. Quality practise of this foot pass can result in devastating defence splitting passes that your forwards will love! This style of pass can be practised by simply kicking the ball across the field in pairs. The coach(es) shoulod simply observe and encourage the children to kick through the laces with toes pointing down.

Applying the skill

The triangle: encouraging the kick to kick a pass that invites the forward to run onto

Triangle drill

Pointer: For this drill, taking the ball with movement is key. All players begin behind the yellow cone. The first player solos around the marked triangle. As the soloing player nears the final corner of the triangle, the player at the yellow cone should be ready to begin a run to receive the ball at the first corner (green cone) of the triangle. When the ball is taken at speed, a defender will have little chance of stopping you. If you take it standing still you will be an easy target to tackle. A moving target is always harder to hit!

This drill can also be used to practise handpass and is a nice alternative to the traditional straight line drill.

The forward making the run

Kick pass 1Kick pass 2

Pointers: All players line up behind the first cone. The first player runs without a ball to the far cone and turns sharply to the left or right to receive a pass. The next player in line kicks a chest high pass to the player who has made the run. Once a pass has been kicked, the next player can begin his/her run and the next player in line will kick the pass this time.

A good forward will turn at the last minute. If you start turning too early the defender will know exactly where you are going and get there before you. Once this pass has been mastered, defenders can be introduced. When the forward has ran past a green cone, a defender can take chase and put both the forward and passer under pressure. Make sure that the defender also goes around the far cone to give the forward a small advantage!

Fun game

To further develop this kick and have a bit of fun, line up water bottles or some form of target between two lines of players. Keep the score of whoever knocks over the most bottles. Swap sides after each game. Players who kick hard and through the laces will hit low powerful shots. Encourage powerful kicking. Players who are pointing their toe upwards can be identified by high kicks that either drop short or whizz over target.

VLUU L110, M110  / Samsung L110, M110

Three alternative games to the ‘training match’

Alternative backs and forwards

Five balls or more are left out in a semi-circle approx.40 metres from the goal. A forward picks up any ball to activate the game. The forwards must then mind possession and try work the point. Defenders must either force the wide or win the ball back and carry possession past the semi-circle.

Dinny game

Circle pitch

Players are dived into two teams. A goal is placed in the middle of the pitch with cones around it at a radius of approx.5 metres. Players have to score from outside the cones. One team must keep the ball for five passes before attempting to score a point. Teams can score from both sides of the goal. Play continues after each score/wide.  First to five wins.

Circle goal

Alternative backs and forwards 2

A full back line and full forward line are set up with a row of cones. Whistle is blown, forwards run towards three footballs set out in a line and a player is nominated by the coach to begin play. Backs run back and around yellow cones before turning to defend the attack. Forwards must work together to score a goal.


Backs and forward

VLUU L110, M110  / Samsung L110, M110

These drills were tried and tested with pupils of Ballythomas N.S who won the Boys’ MiniSevens title last year and completed a Boys’ and Girls’ District Double as part of the Kilanerin/Ballyfad Rackard League team. If you would like to show us what your school are up to and share some trade secrets, please do not hesitate to contact us.