INTERCEPTING THE HIGH BALL – SHARNI LAYTON

Former Diamonds captain Sharni Layton shows you a simple drill and the key coaching points to teach your defenders how to intercept a high ball in the backspace.

Level
Basic-intermediate

Players
2-4

Equipment
1 ball
2 cones/dots

Coaching points
– Set up two cones about 3m apart, with your defender standing between them and a thrower standing about 5m in front.
– The defender must drive forward, touch the ball in the thrower’s hands and then push off towards one of the cones. As they push off, the thrower releases a high, one-handed pass into the space near the cone.
– The defender must track the ball in the air, move quickly to get their feet under it, and jump up to pull in the intercept with two hands.
– The tendency is for players to jump early off one leg and lunge for the intercept with one hand, but what we want to encourage is for them to take the extra couple of quick steps to get under the ball and explode up off TWO legs, which will encourage a much cleaner intercept and less change of contacting an opponent
– The defender should also keep their shoulders slightly turned towards the thrower while driving into the backspace. This allows them to better see the ball, while also making it easier to control their feet and complete their jump.
– If players struggle taking the intercept, remove the ball from the drill and allow them to practice just the footwork component, until they are confident with the movement.
– Once players have completed the number of repetitions you’ve set, and mastered the basic movements and intercept, add a player in place of each of the cones.
– Now the defender must aim to complete the intercept cleanly, without landing on or contacting either of the players. Again, the tendency will be to jump early for fear of jumping into the opponent, so encourage the defenders to get right back to the player and jump almost straight up to avoid contact.
– For more advanced defenders, increase the distance between the thrower and the stationary players, and keep the direction of the pass a surprise, so the defender must react quickly to the thrower’s eyes and arm cues and move in that direction to pick off the ball.