The Figure Eight Close-out Drill is a useful drill to blend the learning of the fundamental techniques of passing and the close-out in a low pressure competitive situation. Players will have the opportunity to practice passing under pressure. For a coach a number of passes can be focused upon in quick succession with little time being wasted changing between the different focus techniques.
While the Figure Eight Close-out Drill is a very simple activity this does not mean that it will be easy for players to master. In fact, the more this drill is utilised the more the defensive players performing the close-out will become proficient at deflecting or stealing the ball outright. This in turn will drive the development of the offensive players to further improve their strategies to ensure their pass is effective.
An option here to further motivate players is to place some sort of penalty upon the players with the lowest amount of deflections or steals.
There are some very specific points of note that need to be communicated with players early to get the most out of the Figure Eight Close-out Drill. Some of these points include:
Fake a pass, to make a pass; players should look to utilise the tactic of pass fakes to make the defence overplay and therefore expose another area through which to pass. If a player fakes a bounce pass this will cause the defender to bend down and contract their stance, this then opens up the overhead passing option.
Maintain a low wide stance; when sprinting at the offensive player in the Figure Eight Close-out Drill the defensive player must maintain a low, wide stance. This will help in performing agile and explosive movements that often are useful reacting to the passing options of the offense
Carry hands in the passing lanes; often defenders become lazy or mechanical in their performance of the close-out technique. The hands of these defenders need to be very active in reducing the space an offensive player has to execute a pass by mirroring the ball.
No jumping; this is a very good rule for both the offensive and defensive players. Jumping to pass on offense or as a reaction to a pass as a defensive player only leads to poor decision-making and creates an urgency which is often not needed. Players must remain composed under pressure and play smart.
Players line up facing each other. Two players are at one end and one at the other.
One player passes to the other end and then proceeds to close-out on the receiver of the pass.
The receiver then passes the ball to the other end and follows the pass closing out on the receiver.
The process is repeated.
The focus of the drill is on passing under pressure. Therefore, the defensive players must be motivated in applying game realistic pressure to the passer. One strategy for achieving this is to reward the player with the most amount of deflections or steals.
If players are struggling initially with the drill one alternative to help with this problem is to increase the distance between the passers so there is more room within which to perform the passes.
The Figure Eight Close-out Drill is useful for helping players move into more and more competitive situations while isolating specific skills in a controlled activity.