Ball Control – Week 4 Day 3 – W Patterns

Sometimes players wonder why we work complex patterns (W’s and Figure S’s), and often these players will comment, “I will never do that in a game.” And while they are probably telling the truth, there is a method to this madness. We then go on to explain to the player the importance of Automation and Options… Automation happens when you have done a pattern or movement so often that it requires very little thought or planning to execute. Remember back when you were first learning to type or text… how slow and awkward it was? What about the first time you played FIFA on X-Box? You had to think about every movement your fingers made and you were constantly looking down at the keyboard or controller. Automating skills, combinations and patterns is very similar. You want to increase the speed in which you transition between touches, and you want to do this without having to take time to think about it.

Then we go on to explain about options… Options are what allow highly skilled players to dribble out of traffic, create space and pass in tight windows. Working 3, 4, 5 or 6 pattern combinations, gives us automated options. For instance in a Pullback Outside Touch to Cruyff (yesterdays drill), you have two options…If you beat the player with the pullback to outside touch, then you can move quickly into space. If they overplay the outside touch, then you can cut back with a Cruyff to change direction. If this combination is automated and you can instinctively recognize the defensive players position, then you can quickly react without much thought…Automation and Options.

The combinations section of our Ball Control Foundations program is primarily designed to build layer upon layer of Automation and Options.


Start with some alternate pullback to outside touches, then throw in some alternate pullback L’s. When you feel comfortable with the footwork, start to get more width and/or quickness. In today’s drill, we are working on one of the progressions in our “W” series, the Pullback to Outside to L to Hesitate W pattern. Start between the cones and pullback with a quick outside touch to the right. Then quickly use a pullback L to change direction. As you are reset between the cones, use a quick pullback to outside touch with the left, then quickly change direction with an L back to the right. Focus on how you position the feet under the body and try to be quick out of each turn.

Key Coaching Points:

  1. Make sure you are comfortable with all the footwork patterns. Position your feet and body so that you can move rhythmically and effortlessly through the drill. If you ever get out of position with a heavy touch, use the reset touches to get the ball back in your control and continue with the pattern.
  2. Visualize defenders and think about options. Start to think about when and where you would use this and when and where to make your escape into space. This drill is designed to create a number of options for you to escape pressure. When and where you escape is dependent upon where the defender is positioned.



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