The term rondo in football has been around for a good many years although lately has had somewhat of a resurgence from the less encouraging term of piggy in the middle.
FC Barcelona place a very high value on rondo practices and have done from the Johan Cruyff era through to Pep Guardiola when at Barca. Players at FC Barcelona normally do between 1500 and 1800 hours of rondo between ages 6 to 20.
A rondo is a simple training practice in which generally, the team in possession will have a numerical advantage either through a given number of players or with the use of neutral floating players.
They are an enjoyable fun practice that creates an atmosphere of healthy competition. They are often used as warm up activities but as competition pushes players to train at higher intensities and elevate their game, they can be incorporated for much more.
Examples of common rondo practices are 3v1, 4v2, 6v3s as well as practices such as 2v2 with target players on the outside as per our example - are all available on our Coaches app.
The basic objective regardless of the format is that the group in possession is to keep the ball away from the defenders, while the defenders objective is to win the ball back as quickly as possible.
Using a rondo is a quick and effective way to integrate the technical, tactical and positional aspects of play within a possession focused practice. With a set training objective in mind, coaches can create a learning environment where players will learn to recognise and react to certain cues that replicate game like situations. Everything that goes on in a match, except shooting, you can do in a rondo practice.
Rondos are usually set up in a grid which can vary from a small 8x8-yard square through to a bigger playing area, depending on numbers, skill level or the aspect of play that the coach wants to focus on.
High performance players have the ability to possess the ball in tight spaces under high intensity from opponents while making good decisions. Rondo’s create the ideal learning environment to develop these attributes.
A rondo practice naturally requires players to think quickly as the ball can move very fast. This in turn develops the need for vision, high technical competencies and teamwork.
The number of touches a player gets in Rondo is high. In a typical 11v11 game players touch the ball between 20 and 40 times. In a rondo training drill they can have the same number of touches in five minutes.
Key Considerations When Coaching a Rondo
· Always change numbers, rules, grid sizes and make variations to the practice.
· Change the variables. The aim is to get players thinking and problem solving. The more a player develops their cognitive ability in training the more they will develop as an intelligent player.
· Recognise when and where to overload the teams. Progressions, variations and transitions help keep players motivated.
· Incorporate the rondo into training sessions frequently to get maximum benefit.