I'm coaching a U-12 boys "rec" team. All the boys have played before for 2-5 years, though few of them have played with any of their current teammates. While I've coached before, this is a new group to me. As you might expect with a group still figuring out who's who and what the strengths/weaknesses are, they're very prone to bunching up around the ball. I've done several small-side drills where my blowing the whistle means "Freeze!". When they're stopped, I show them examples of bunching, why they're missing opportunities to help one another out, how they could be better positioned, and so on. A couple other issues, related to being aware of where they are, we're struggling with are: 1 - Getting the ball and kicking it up field without being aware of your surroundings -- who's open to pass through, do you have room to make a run, and so on. 2 - When off the ball, not thinking about how they can help the play (getting open, spreading out, more communication, etc). The mantra has been -- "Know what your surroundings are all the time, especially when you're OFF the ball, so that, when the ball comes to you, you have a sense of what and where your options are." Say it early, say it often. I've got a drill I've been kind of dreaming up this morning and would like some feedback. The idea is that there are a series of "lanes", each about 10-12 feet wide, that run from the goal line out to the edge of the penalty box, and side-by-side for the width of the field. Every other lane is an offense lane with two players, while the alternating lanes are a defensive lane with one player. Players must stay in their line at all times. The ball starts in an outer lane and each lane has roughtly 5-7 seconds to move it across to another offensive lane without a defensive player intercepting it. The offensive player can pass to his partner in his lane or across a defensive lane to another offensive player. The offensive team "wins" when they get the ball across all lanes (and back?), while the defensive team wins by intercepting /clearing the ball. My hope is that this will get the guys in the offensive lanes that DON'T have the ball to spread out more and look for ways to get open for a pass. At the same time, the defensive players can be working on cutting off angles, etc. Nobody's been "assigned" a role on the team, so players would alternate between offense and defense frequently. Good idea? Bad idea? I'd sure appreciate any and all advice on getting the kids to be more aware of their position relative to the ball and/or to their surroundings. Thanks, -- jeff PS - Just got turned on to this site, and WOW. What a great resource!