DAVID Flitcroft has joined up with The Bolton News to try to help the town’s young footballers become better players in his coaching corner.

In his latest instalment, the Bolton-based Bury manager comes up with interesting ways of keeping kids focused on improving their passing


WHEN I see a player like Beckham, Xavi, Alonso, Iniesta, Pele and Scholes – they all had one thing in common that made them stand out from the rest They all possessed incredible vision and awareness.

Before the ball arrives at their feet they have scanned where the danger is, where the space is, where the opposition is and where all there options are?

All this is processed in a split second, the blink of an eye and that’s why these players are and were the greatest.

The brain works like a computer adding up the risk, the reward, the devastation, the safety and calculates the decision process.

Some of those top players were, as I have already covered, created by the environment that they were raised in.

Others like Beckham, Xavi and Scholes were developed in a controlled environment.

A systematic approach of placing players in tight spaces and under great pressure making and executing split- second decisions.

Every time the ball moves on the pitch another decision has to be executed.

The smaller the area a player or team works in, the quicker the dribble, the pass, the turn or cross has to be executed.

A player with poor vision or awareness will get caught on the ball time and time again as opposed to a player with great awareness.

He will deal with the situation and either keep the ball or hurt the opposition with a defence- splitting pass or cross.

For teams to practise in smaller or tight areas the individual player has to possess all the technical qualities I have touched on previously He or she has to be great at touch – understanding when to keep the ball. He must have a plan before the ball arrives and have to respect and understand the importance of the pass he will deliver.

It is only at this point you can move your team on to tight areas to work in. I will often set out three boxes areas of different sizes: box one – 40 yards by 40 yards; box two – 30 yards by 30 yards; box three – 20 yards by 20 yards.

I will split the 14 players into two teams of seven and have a game of possession.

In box one, the players will have more space and time to execute their decisions of choice. By the time we move onto box three, every decision the players make has speeded up 40 per cent.

This is real time and improves the player’s vision and awareness incredibly. I use other methods to develop a player’s vision.

Eye patches are a great tool to use. The players will wear an eye patch for 10 minutes in one of the games and then swap eyes for the second 10 minutes.

They will be restricted which makes them rotate their head even more to scan the environment.

It makes them see what options they have and I find when you take away one sense from a person, their other senses maximise.

For the last 10 minutes of the session they don’t wear the eye patch to give them their 360 degree awareness back.

With their senses back to 100 per cent the tempo and quality of ball retention accelerates.

Another simple method I use is not allowing players to wear a coloured bib so it’s not easy for the players to know instantly who is on their team and their opponents.

The players will warm up together to familiarise themselves with their teammates.

As a coach you are creating the school playground experience in a controlled environment.

As a coach don’t just work hard, think hard. Nothing destroys a team more than an inaccurate pass in the game.