Coaching & Training – Thinking outside the Rectangle!

With Leicester City F.C. recently securing the title of Premier League champions, it’s not only a story that has dominated the sport’s world in the past month, it has provided firm evidence not to overlook the underdog and encouraged us to take a fresh approach when it comes to coaching and training.

As many coaches know, it’s important to encourage players to take part in multi sports (particularly invasion games) to progress athletic development. Not only does this allow players to learn and develop new motor skills, it challenges them to find new methods of communication and alternative ways to work as a team. It inspires them to think outside the ‘normal’ restrictions of playing as a team within their rectangular court/pitch; essentially, it encourages them to think outside the box!

So this week we hear from Phil Hicks, Sports’ Development Officer at the Centre for Sport. Phil has a degree in Sport and Exercise Science, previously coached on the Bristol Rovers Advanced Development programme and is currently working towards the FA Youth Award Module 3.

He has given us a fun yet challenging exercise to try to identify skills within a player’s current game, to adapt these to different sporting settings and to consider how they can be transferred to improve performance. This exercise can be practised across a range of sports including Netball, Football, Hockey etc.

9×9 Possession Game

  • Set up five defined squares within a 45m x 30m court/pitch (area).
  • Start with one ball per team.
  • Players must receive a pass inside the squares to gain a point but players can only remain inside the square for 3 seconds.

Progression & Adaptions

Introduce competition between the teams.

  • Which team can score the most points in 60 seconds? – accuracy, speed, agility.
  • Remove one ball and make it a 9vs.9 opposed possessive game – interception, handling skills, positioning.
  • Have 2 ‘neutral’ players who play for both teams – overloading the team in possession.
  • Decrease the size/reduce the number of goal squares – accuracy, communication.

Allow players to take ownership of their training by giving them the option to choose how they adapt the exercise.

Technical Considerations

  • Force/direction of pass
  • Receiving as well as making a pass
  • Timing and reaction time
  • Supporting team mates/positioning


Focus on the positives.

  • Get players to give their own feedback on the exercise, on their own and as part of a group.
  • Question what went well compared to what can be improved rather than listing scores.
  • Think how these elements can be improved and how they will improve the overall game play.

Hopefully this article will give you a few ideas to introduce to your training whether you’re a coach or a player. An added benefit is that most training exercises like this require little equipment so you can make the most of the university off season by giving them a go at home!

This article was adapted from the Fresh Idea Friday post from the England Netball Coaching blog, 10 May 2016.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: