Football Skills

(Coaching Points are adapted from the FUNdamentals Manual, written by Terence McWilliams)

The Body Catch

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Key Coaching Points:
The body catch is the basic receiving technique in Gaelic Football. It is used when the ball is dropping or approaching between the head and waist.

Head:
-Watch the ball all the way into the hands

Hands:
– Extend the arms out in front of the body with the elbows close together
– The hands should be facing up for a dropping ball or palms facing each other for a ball coming straight at the body
– Use relaxed hands to gather the ball to the body
– A very fast approaching ball may be cautioned by ‘feeding’ the ball into the chest with the hands – one on top of the ball and one underneath. Withdraw the chest on impact to help caution the ball by stepping back

Feet:
– Always get your feet behind the ball
– Keep one foot in front of the other for better balance
– Always ‘Attack’ the ball, don’t wait for it to come to you

Common Mistakes:
– Not judging the flight path of the ball
– Trying to catch the ball with ‘stiff’ hands which are either too far or close together

The Low Catch

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Key Coaching Points:The low catch is used for gaining possession of a low ball travelling just above the ground and below the navel.Head:

  • Eyes on the ball
  • Key Point – Watch the ball all the way into the hands

Hands:

  • Have the hands in the ready position before the ball arrives
  • Bend and reach down with arms close together
  • Hands ball width apart and fingers pointing to the ground
  • NB For all low catches the fingers should be pointing down
  • For ball coming at chest height fingers should be pointing forward
  • while for all high catches the fingers should be pointing upwards
  • Let the ball come into the ‘soft’ hands to cushion the ball before pulling it close to the body

Feet:

  • Bend the legs preferably one foot in front of the other
  • Get your feet behind the flight line of the ball early in preparation for the catch
  • Stand one foot in front of the other and move into receive the ball early in front of your opponent
  • If the ball is coming on your right withdraw the right leg behind the body so the ball can be ‘feed’ into the hands
  • Drive through the ball and continue the movement
  • If the ball is travelling very low and fast you might have to dive in to take the ball

Common Mistakes:

  • Not watching the ball all the way into the hands
  • Hands not behind the ball. Not gripping the ball as it enters the hands
  • Not bending the knees to get low and not getting the feet behind the ball
  • Not getting the body behind the flight path of the ball
  • Snatching at the ball

The Pick Up

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Key Coaching Points:Lifting is using the foot to take a ground ball into the hands legally without touching the ball on the ground.Head:

  • Eyes on the ball
  • Anticipate where, when and which pick up is most appropriate for any specific situation
  • Key Point – Watch the ball all the way into the hands

Hands:

  • Bend and reach down with arms close together
  • Place both ‘cupped’ hands in front of the ball
  • Hands should be ball width apart and fingers pointing to the ground
  • Use ‘soft’ hands to cushion the ball before pulling it close to the body
  • Draw the ball up into your hands to secure possession

Feet:

  • Get your feet behind the ball early in preparation for the pick up
  • Bend your back and legs preferably one foot in front of the other
  • Your ‘support foot’ should be alongside and slightly in front of the ball
  • Or you can use this foot and leg to screen the ball
  • If the ball is coming on your right withdraw the right leg behind the body so the ball can be ‘fed’ into the hands as the foot swings forward using the instep underneath the ball
  • The ‘pick up foot’ should become your next stride as you move off with the ball

The Hand Pass

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Key Coaching Points:The hand pass is the main means of keeping possession of the ball in Gaelic Football. It is used for passes over short distances up to 10m and is the quickest way of passing the ball.Head:

  • Be aware of your surroundings before you receive a pass (Pre Scanning)
  • Always look up and decide if the pass is on or not (Scanning on the ball)
  • Keep your eyes on the ball when striking but learn to look up as skill improves

Hands:

  • Hold the ball on the upturned palm of one hand
  • The ball should be held about chest height in front of the body with a bent arm
  • The striking hand should be withdrawn a short distance by bending the elbow downwards and outwards
  • Bring this arm through at pace by straightening the arm at the elbow
  • Aim to strike the back of the ball off the stationary hand with the base of the out stretched fingers and thumb. The stationary hand should not move
  • Strike through the centre of the ball and follow through in the direction of the target

Feet:

  • Stand one foot in front of the other for good balance
  • If striking with the right hand keep your left foot forward
  • Move off quickly to support your team mates after passing

Common Mistakes:

  • Throwing the ball up to strike
  • Striking under the ball causing it to rise too high
  • Not keeping the wrist firm
  • Holding the ball too close, far, low or high in front of the body
  • Taking support hand away too early

The Fist Pass

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Key Coaching Points:The fist is used for distances over 10m and up to 15/20m and is much more accurate than the punt pass as you can usually see the receiver and ball while passing.Head:

  • Be aware of your surroundings before you receive a pass (Pre Scanning)
  • Always look up and decide if the pass is on or not (Scanning on the ball)
  • Keep your eyes on the ball when striking but as skill improves you should be able to look up
  • Decide where the best advantageous space is after passing (Post Scanning)

Hands:

  • Hold the ball on the upturned palm of one hand
  • The ball should be held about waist height in front of the body with a bent arm
  • The striking fist should be withdrawn a short distance by bending the elbow downwards and sideways
  • Form a fist by placing the thumb alongside the index finger
  • Bring this arm through at pace by straightening the arm at the elbow
  • Aim to strike the back of the ball off the stationary hand with the closed fist and a rigid wrist
  • Use the middle bones of the fingers, the side of the thumb and the heel of the hand to strike the ball
  • Strike through the centre of the ball and follow through in the direction of the target

Feet:

  • Stand one foot in front of the other for good balance
  • Step forward as you strike the ball with the same foot as the striking fist
  • If striking with the right hand keep your left foot forward
  • Move off quickly to support your team mates after passing

Common Mistakes:

  • Throwing the ball up to strike
  • Striking under the ball causing it to rise too high
  • Not keeping the wrist firm
  • Holding the ball too close, far, low or high in front of the body
  • Taking support hand away too early

The Punt Kick

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Key Coaching Points:Head:

  • Look at the target you hope to punt at
  • Watch the ball all the way down onto the boot
  • Keep your head down well after the ball has left the boot

Tip: Count ‘1-2′ with your head down after the ball leaves your foot

Hands:

  • Let beginners use 2 Hands to roll the ball down unto the foot (Off The Shelf)
  • Let the ball down onto the boot without spinning, as near as possible with the same hand as the kicking foot
  • Do not let this hand swing across your body after the kick
  • Move your other hand out to the side to help you balance as you kick

Feet:

  • With beginners get them to stand one foot in front of the other
  • Their kicking foot should be behind their support foot
  • Use a fast leg i.e. bring your foot right up to your bottom for a bigger range of movement and then drive it down as fast as possible to meet the ball with a ‘hard foot‘ i.e. (Toe pointing downwards)
  • Use the Top Off the Laces to strike the ball i.e. where the leg bone meets the foot
  • Plant your non kicking foot directly at the target and swing the kicking foot through in a straight line
  • Follow through towards the target keeping the ‘Hard Foot’ in contact with the ball as long as possible i.e. ‘Let It Hang’
  • Do not let your leg swing across the mid point of your body. Imagine there is a pane of glass between your legs i.e. ‘Don’t break the glass’
  • Keep your balance through out the whole kicking action by not moving the head

Common Mistakes:

  • Not targeting the ‘sweet spot’ on the ball
  • Not fixing the eyes on the ‘Sweet Spot’ of the ball pre and post kicking
  • Kicking the ball with a ‘soft foot’ i.e. up turned toe
  • Kicking the inverted ‘C’  instead of the  ‘J’ for straight line punting
  • Letting your holding hand come across the mid point of the body
  • Lifting the head too early – keep their head down until well after the kick

The Hook Kick

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Key Coaching Points:Head:

  • Look at the target you hope to kick at
  • Watch the ball all the way down onto the boot
  • Keep your head down well after the ball has left the boot

Tip: Count ‘1-2′ with your head down after the ball leaves your foot

Hands:

  • Let the ball down onto the boot without spinning, as near as possible with the same hand as the kicking foot
  • Do not let this hand swing across your body after the kick
  • Move your other hand out to the side to help you balance as you kick

Feet:

  • Use a fast leg i.e. bring your foot right up to your bottom for a bigger range of movement and then drive it down as fast as possible to meet the ball with a ‘soft foot‘ i.e. (Toe pointing upwards)
  • Use the instep to strike the ball i.e. just inside the ankle bone
  • Complete the follow through without lifting the head so that the kicker finishes square onto the target. This is important to get full distance and accuracy.

Outside of the Boot Kick

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Key Coaching Points:Head:

  • Look at the target you hope to kick at
  • Watch the ball all the way down onto the boot
  • Keep your head down well after the ball has left the boot

Tip: Count ‘1-2′ with your head down after the ball leaves your foot

Hands:

  • Let the ball down onto the outside of the boot without spinning, as near as possible with the same hand as the kicking foot
  • Do not let this hand swing across your body after the kick
  • Move your other hand out to the side to help you balance as you kick

Feet:

  • Use a fast leg i.e. bring your foot right up to your bottom for a bigger range of movement and then drive it down as fast as possible to meet the ball
  • Use the outside of the boot, striking across the ball to generate ‘outside to in’ spin.
  • Complete the follow through without lifting the head so that the kicker finishes square onto the target. This is important to get full distance and accuracy.

The Penalty

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Key Coaching Points:Head:

  • Look at the target i.e. where you hope to make contact with the ball
  • Know where you are going to place it, but don’t let the ‘keeper’
  • see you looking at the spot
  • Look at the ‘O’ on the ball again and don’t take your eye of it until you kick it
  • Keep your head down until the ball is on it’s way

Hands:

  • Use your arms for balance by swinging the arm on the kicking side slightly backwards while the other arm moves out to the side of the body

Feet:

  • Stance: Stand over the ball with your support foot beside the ball and kicking foot directly behind
  • The Step Back: Step back your preferred number of steps starting with your support foot
    N.B. Always keep your routine the same i.e. run up should be the same number of steps every time
  • The Side Step: Move sideways one or two steps to get your run up angle right
  • If right footed step to the left
  • Make a decision to go for power with accuracy
  • The Focus: Take a deep breath to help calm you down and focus on the kick
  • The Run Up: Keep your eye on the ‘sweet spot as you make your run up
  • The kick:
  • To keep the ball low, place the non kicking foot beside the ball, and get the knee over the ball for balance
  • For power use the top of the laces i.e. a ‘Hard Foot’ and ‘Fast Leg’ bring your foot down and through the ‘sweet spot’ as fast as possible
  • If right footed aim your kick to the right of the goalie i.e. ‘Top Pocket Contact’

Common Mistakes:

  • Head coming up too soon
  • Tip: Count ‘One, Two’ before lifting the head
  • Poor balance prior to striking, support foot in the wrong position. The Head, Knee and Foot should be in a vertical line over the ball
  • Leaning back with toe up and knee not over the ball causing it to go high
  • Not following through in the direction of the target and kicking across the mid line of the body.
  • Not bringing the foot through as fast as possible i.e. ‘A Fast Leg’

The Block

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Key Coaching Points:Head:

  • Watch the ball all the way down on to the foot
  • Keep your eyes open all the time

Hands:

  • Keep your fingers and thumbs close together
  • Reach in with outstretched arms
  • Keep your face guarded by using hands as a barrier
  • Try and block the ball on the boot or just after it has been kicked
  • If you can’t cover the ball with one hand use nearest hand to opponent

Feet:

  • Be in the ready (check) position ready to move
  • Step leg nearest to opponent when ball is dropped from their hands
  • If you can’t reach, dive to block

Common Mistakes:

  • Diving in too early – not timing the drop from the hands
  • Not watching the ball all the way onto the hands
  • ‘Chickening’ out – not being brave enough to move in for the block

The Solo

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Key Coaching Points:The solo is used to travel with the ball when there is normally no one else to pass to.Head:

  • Watch the ball down on to the foot but look up after every solo

Hands:

  • Let the ball down with the same hand as the same foot while using the other arm to guard the ball
  • Keep your hand as close as possible to the foot when soloing
  • Learn to solo with both feet

Feet:

  • Solo at the end of your stride with an upturned toe at the end of a straight leg
  • Keep the ball as low as possible in the solo

Common Mistakes:

  • Keeping the head down too much
  • Soloing when the ball is on the way up or down
  • Throwing the ball up and not letting the ball down near the foot
  • Soloing the ball too high

The Roll

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Key Coaching Points:(For a ‘Roll’ off the right shoulder)Head:

  • Watch your opponent to anticipate where to plant your foot

Hands:

  • Change the ball to the outside arm before engagement i.e. if ‘rolling’ off your right shoulder change the ball to your left arm
  • As you roll change the ball to the outside arm i.e. to your right arm
  • Use your inside arm to ward off the tackle (‘Break The Tackle’)
  • Use a low bounce (conditions permitted) as you move away from defender

Feet:

  • Use a solo as you approach your opponent and a low bounce as you ‘break’ the tackle
  • As you engage the defender ‘plant’ your right foot towards the defender’s front foot and roll off his left shoulder
  • Use his/her shoulder as a hinge to ‘roll’ off
  • Swing your left leg around by pivoting on your right foot and place it behind the defender to ‘screen’ off the defender
  • Bring your right leg around and drive off hard

Common Mistakes:

  • Using a bounce going into the tackle. This means you will have to use a solo coming out off the tackle which is much easier for the defender to dispossess
  • ‘Planting’ the wrong foot
  • Not protecting the ball pre and post engagement i.e. keeping the ball in the B.A.D. position (Ball, Attacker, Defender) at all times

The Side Step

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Key Coaching Points:Head:

  • Watch your opponent to anticipate where to plant your foot

Hands:

  • Change the ball to the outside arm before engagement i.e. if ‘side stepping’ to your right shoulder change the ball to your right arm
  • Keep a tight grip of the ball throughout the movement
  • Use your left arm to protect the ball, fend off the defender and move on

Feet:

  • Start off by running straight at the defender so they don’t know which way you are going to go
  • As you approach the defender ‘plant’ your left foot towards the outside of the defender’s right foot as if you are moving to that side
  • If the defender doesn’t react they continue on in this direction (take what the defender gives you)
  • If the defender moves then transfer the weight from left to right and lift the left foot across and place it behind the defenders left foot

Near Hand Tackle

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Key Coaching Points:

  • Focus on the ball at all times and not the player
  • Tackle the ball -Not the Player
  • Time your tackle by watching the ball and your opponent

Hands:

  • Flick the ball away with your hand nearest the defender when it is free in the solo or bounce as this gives you a longer lever to tackle the ball
  • Try and knock the ball to your advantage i.e. to your side away from the defender and chase after to take possession
  • If defender has the ball in the outside hand you may have to lower his near hand with your near hand while you use your outside hand to target the ball

Feet:

  • Make ground so that you are level with your opponent
  • When opponent’s far leg is forward use a big step with your near leg to step across to take his space
    N.B. This does not mean tripping your opponent
  • Shoulder your opponent as you make the tackle on the ball
  • Never cross your legs

Common Mistakes:

  • Tackling from behind by not getting shoulder to shoulder with your opponent
  • Leading with the out side leg and hand as this leads to poor balance while placing the near hand on the opponents back and fouling
  • Not targeting the ball as your main focus of attention
  • Not timing the tackle to coincide when the ball is free

The Chip Lift

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Key Coaching Points:Head:

  • Watch the ball all the way onto the toe of the lifting foot
  • Bend head over slightly forward

Hands:

  • Reach down to catch the rising ball and pull quickly to chest

Feet:

  • Get your body behind the approaching ball
  • Place the lifting foot in the path of the ball, present the extended foot to the oncoming ball while balancing on the other foot
  • Jab the toe of the boot underneath the ball to execute back spin on the ball and the ball will chip up into the hands

The High Catch

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Key Coaching Points:Head:

  • Keep your Eye On The Ball at all times
  • ‘Jump The Arc’ – Watch the flight (arc) of the ball at all times in order to judge the best spot to jump from
  • Watch the ball all the way into the hands especially on contact
  • Keep your eyes open at all times especially on contact

Hands:

  • Up ‘One’ up ‘Two’
  • Swing both arms back behind the body just before take off
  • Swing them forward and upwards on take off – ‘Up one’
  • At the top of your jump almost straighten your arms to reach for the ball – ‘Up two’
  • Catch the ball in front of your face with ‘Big Hands’ symmetrically around the ball
  • Or keep one hand at the back of the ball to prevent it from being ‘broken’ and the other in front
  • Spread the fingers and thumbs evenly around the ball. The thumbs and fingers should be in the classic W formation
  • Bring the ball quickly to the chest and land running.

Feet:

  • ‘Jump The Arc’ – Judge the flight of the ball to get your feet in the right place and aim to Jump up the arc (flight path of the ball)
  • Attack the take off with the aim of catching the ball i.e. right mental attitude
  • Shorten your last few strides for maximum take off
  • Bend your jumping leg just before take off but always take off
  • a straight leg for maximum drive – aim for a heel to toe take off
  • The knee of the non jumping leg should be driven vigorously
  • upwards  to gain maximum height in the jump and to protect
  • the body and force away potential opponents
  • Land on your take-off foot in order to continue running

Tip: Be up first in the air and you will have a better chance of catching the ball

Common Mistakes

  • Failing to keep the eyes on the ball at all times and closing the eyes on contact
  • Poor timing of the jump i.e. jumping too early or late
  • Not getting the feet under the dropping ball
  • Landing on two feet and coming to a stop instead of ‘Hitting the ground running’
  • Not going with the right intention (mental attitude) of catching the ball