Week of June 21


As we move into the last few ID sessions, please make sure that you are communicating to your families about next year.  We need to begin offering spots and confirming rosters ASAP.  

We also will be pressing hard for the uniform orders.  The time line will be very short.  Please get organized and ready.  You will be getting uniform information shortly.  Megan Spink and Jim Thebeau will be point persons.  Also, we are organizing our website for the 2020 season.  Every team in the club will have a page that includes- team photo as well as player photo.  There will also be an option for parents to send Megan photos of your teams at tournaments, league games, etc.  We want your team page to showcase how much fun your team has during the year.  I know that Josh Warren has been doing a player high light which is really great as well.  This should all go on the website under your team.  

Let's have a great week of ID sessions and get ready for a big season!


Week of June 21

We can link everything that happens in a soccer match to a rondo: passing, passing combinations, receiving, oriented ball control, one touch and two touch play, vertical play, wide play, inside/outside play, pressure, closure of passing lanes, coverage of a space, interceptions, playing rhythm, speed of play, individual transitions (when a player loses possession and when a player wins possession), change of positions between the players, exchange of positions among the players.

The finishing phase is the consequence of all these sequences; players’ techniques and tactics to address these situations can be coached and improved through rondo exercises.

The efforts of the players during a match are not the same, as well as the playing sequences in which they occur. The efforts of the defenders are not the same of those of the midfielders or forwards. For instance, the forwards are distinguished by their speed, the midfielders by their resistance, and the defenders by their strength. If this is not completely true, it is true that every player has his own skills and features on the field, whatever their role in the starting line.

How does a coach organize training sessions so all the players train at their appropriate level and are well trained for their role to create a unique and ready to win group? A way to coach the players looking for the specific objectives of soccer must be found. Note that, by my side, this last statement can be right for first teams and not for youth academies.

Group planned sessions (defenders with defenders, midfielders with midfielders) might be useful from a physical point of view and the players would have something more in common maybe, but they don’t reproduce the real game situations; we can work only on team tactics with this kind of organization.

Individualized training would require a coach for each player, which is unimaginable. Again, the solution is to have a coach for each sector of the team; many top clubs work this way nowadays.

Soccer’s physical efforts, jumps, races, spins, appear discontinuous and unpredictable. If we do not coach the players this way, the physical efforts are repeated sequences and the rest times are different from the ones occurring in real games. They are usually related to speed and strength, they are short, intense, repetitive, and to be maintained at the same level during the whole game. Again, how to coach them?

Training with the ball provides the players, individually and collectively, with the necessary requirements and skills to be competitive, always paying attention to their physical work, if we talk about adult level first teams. Since the goal of a physical activity is to improve the effectiveness of training and the most important skills and qualities of the player are technical and tactical, then we may say that the technical and tactical skills and efforts with the ball improve physical work and efficiency from the perspective of the real game.

Which are the practices to summarize all those coaching points? The Rondos inside small-sided spaces in relation with the number of involved players.

From this point of view, there are two kinds of rondos:
• possession rondos, where the defenders can recover the possession, but the sequences end and restart with inverted roles. Or the roles are changed after a fixed amount of time.
• transition rondos, where the player who wins the possession changes the role with the player who loses the possession but the sequence doesn’t end and it goes on through a link or a neutral player.

Rondo is not a simple possession exercise as the players are placed inside a pre-set space or along a line of the set-up and they don’t play all over the structure. Rondos are about how to keep the possession under pressure, to develop technique and how to pressure to recover the ball being outnumbered.

As the numerical advantage is ensured for the players in possession, rondos can be developed into shooting exercises or sequences as the last level of a training progression.


How to Practice Rondos: the key points

These are the key points to organize, to practice, and to correct a rondo exercise:

• Small-sided space: rectangular, square, circular, grids, or any needed shape

• Players must be have a specific position inside and outside the shape, but they don’t play all around

• Give the players a specific role or exchange the roles among them

• Size of the shape must be related to the number of players and the objectives of the exercise

• Balls shall be always available next to the playing area

• Any sequence must have a time to practice and a time to rest related with the objectives of the exercise

• Fix a passing and receiving rhythm; it is decisive for the success of a rondo exercise

• Stay on the balls of the feet with an open body shape and be ready to receive the ball from any side or forward direction

• Pass the ball to any side, forward or backward

• Pass forward if possible; those are the killer passes to score

• Pay attention to the game

• Look for a high level performance

• Speed of thought

• Speed of play

• Have fun and bring energy to the group. A player who is having fun trains harder

• Underline the great passes and defensive plays

• Creativity and teamwork must go together


What are the benefits of coaching a player with rondos?

Speed of thought related to the number of touches:
Players must think very quickly during a game as well as during the rondo exercises, as the ball is passed and received very quickly. Rondos can help the players to understand when to play quickly and when to put their foot on the ball and slow the rhythm down depending on how close the opposition player is.

Players get between 20 and 40 touches in 5 minutes. So, if a player is coached through rondo exercises, he must think and play with high rhythm many more times than in an 11 v 11 match; for this reason he is supposed to be ready enough when she/he plays matches.

Technique, Mobility & Agility:
The players are asked to be skilled at a good level to keep possession during a rondo exercise sequence; the ball moves very quickly in a rondo and the players need to execute very fast as well. Rondo does not build skill quickly; these exercises improve the skills with an already good basis. If the players must work fast, their motor, mobility and agility skills are improved at the same time.

It’s easy to fix how many touches players can take as a coach, but by using rondos, 1 or 2 touches are enforced without any rule. Playing in tight spaces forces the players to have a good first touch and also to realize if they need to take a first touch away from an opponent. Players are also asked to exercise the movement opening up the passing lanes for their teammates. Passing, receiving, and moving become habits thanks to these repetitions.

Team tactics:
Rondos can be considered a first team tactical work during the possession phases, as the players with the ball are always more than two and with numerical advantage.

Coaches ask their players to move constantly and through rondos they will be used to moving, whether it’s 2 yards or 10 yards. This also helps the players with the understanding of passing lanes, where to find them and how to move into them to give a teammate a passing option.

Using rondos in training sessions can help players to understand when, where, and how to overload an area to keep possession or to exploit a weak area or side among the opposition defenders.

When the defending players are two or more, we can consider the rondos as first team tactics work for the defensive phase of play. Basically, the understanding between the players is very important, as they begin to work as one unit.

Problem Solving & Creativity:
Rondos test the player’s skills to problem solve the entire time as they play fast and with high rhythm. The players in possession must be creative to break down the opposition pressure or a defensive line. They are always under strong pressure in possession and they must be organized to recover the ball.

Not all the passes are perfect and rondos can help the players to learn how to improvise if a pass is short or played harder than expected. As a result, most Barcelona Academy players are able to pass with any surface of their feet or their bodies; these skills are built up through the rondo exercises inside small-sided spaces.

Competition and Have Fun:
Rondos are always very fun for the players and they make the practices healthy competitions to train at high intensity and rhythm. The skills to keep possession of the ball in tight spaces against strong pressure of the opponents can be useful for any team even if they are not Barcelona.

Physical Conditioning:
With rondos, a team may work on anaerobic resistance by varying the space, time, and number of players involved, and even on specific soccer stamina.

Possession Rondos

The possession style means try to take control of the match against the opposition, both during attacking and defending phases of play. The aim is to keep the ball while setting up tactical plans or positional attacks, rather than to leave the ball to the opposition.

Possession doesn’t mean to pass wherever the options are. The first thought is always to pass and run forward or to dribble with the ball forward; when these options are not possible, ask the players to pass quick and as close as possible as they have the ball.

The idea is to do everything with the ball. If your team is comfortable in possession you can defend by keeping possession and circulating the ball around; but you can also keep possession in order to wait until players are in the correct position to attack. The possession phase can be useful to move the opposition and to create space.

Everything is about the ball; then everything is about possession, passing, and receiving.

Which are the main types of passes?
• First Line Break/Pass: pass to the teammate next to you. Easiest pass to make in rondo as it doesn’t require a wide range of vision.
• Second Line Break/Pass: the pass will bypass the teammate next to you but it doesn’t split defenders. The second line pass requires a little larger passing vision; it’s more difficult than the first line pass.
• Third Line Split Pass: this is the pass that splits the defenders through the middle. It requires skill, creativity, vision and timing of play. In soccer, the ultimate goal is to get the ball forward and score. Third line split passes help to develop this skill.

Rondo is then a useful training method to develop the possession style of play; it’s not the only one, but it may be the best one. To keep possession safe means to play safe passes (forward, backward or sideways); the safest kind of passes are short passes. But even a short pass must have a purpose.

Rondo is not useful when a team uses a more direct or counter attacking style of play, as there are better training sessions to teach the players these kinds of
styles of play. Pressure phases are always useful to win the ball and make the possession phase safe, but not to counter attack or play long passes.

The pitch size of rondos must be adapted to the level of the players, but as they become more advanced, the grid sizes become more significant; they are supposed to become smaller to improve the individual technique or bigger if the goal is physical. The grids can have varying sizes, from 8×8 yards to a half pitch, depending on the skill level of the players or the aspect of play they are working on.

When using a possession style of play, most of the passes are usually 12 yards or less. Using rondos gives the players practice playing passes at this distance under pressure. Teams like Barcelona and Villarreal want to play passes of 10 yards or less, as all the players without the ball can press the opponents with the ball intensely to win the possession.

One of the important aspects of the rondo training sessions is to organize them (set-ups and sequences) with the style of play and tactical plans in mind. The shape of players’ positions should be the same as during the game, so that your players can recognize them and react to the situations as they have already practiced.

There must be always players “in the middle” for the team in possession; numerical advantage outside and with equal number of players or outnumbered in the middle. Neutral players can be used as well.

The most popular basic rondos are: 3v1, 4v2, 5v2 and 6v3 and there are many possible set ups; in this first eBook, rectangles are used vertically and horizontally to coach the players to keep the possession passing wide, deep, diagonally and in the middle toward dropping back and running forward teammates.



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Minnie Haha is located in Sunset Hills, Missouri. This is a Sunset Hills park and recreation location. The location can hold up to 4 soccer fields. The St. Louis Steamers have a partnership with the Parks and Recreation Division to continuously upgrade and maintain the grass fields. Minnie Haha has a very nice walking path for parents, playgrounds for siblings, bathrooms and a concession stand.

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