Learn to play Inner Circle
This is an excerpt from More Fun and Games by Anthony Dowson.
Ages 5 to 16
Key Skills and Fitness Components Developed
- Flexibility (if stretches are added)
- One ball per two participants
Because this is a passing and dribbling activity, it is suited for a cool-down after any sport that requires these skills. You can modify this activity in a number of ways to maintain participants' interest and motivation.
For the set-up of this activity, see the figure. Use cones to mark out two circles: an inner one and an outer one. If there are 16 participants in the group, there should be eight cones in the inner circle and eight cones in the outer circle. The inner circle should be approximately 10 to 15 metres (11 to 16 yd) in diameter. There should be an equal spacing between each of cones with approximately 3 metres (3.3 yd) distance between each of them. Each cone in the outer circle should be aligned with a cone in the inner circle, approximately 10 metres (11 yd) from it. A participant stands beside each of the cones, and each participant in the inner circle has a ball.
To start the activity, participants in the inner circle pass their ball to the participant in the outer circle who is standing next to the cone that is in line with their own. The participants in the outer circle pass the ball back; then move in a clockwise direction to the next cone (in the outer circle). When the participant who started with the ball receives it back, he dribbles to the centre of the circle, turns with the ball and returns to the cone where he started. All of the participants in the outer circle should have moved on one cone and be waiting to receive the next pass. This sequence continues for a few minutes, repeating the process as follows:
- The participants on the outside pass the ball and move around the circle in a clockwise direction to the next cone.
- The participants in the centre receive the ball, dribble into the middle and then return to the cone where they started before passing to the next participant in the outer circle.
After a few minutes the participants swap roles so those in the outer circle move to the inner circle and vice versa. After playing for another few minutes, the participants stop and carry out some stretches (if required). Restart the activity, but have the participants in the outer circle move in an anti-clockwise direction. For different progressions, see the Variations section.
- Participants in the inner circle should be careful not to collide with each other when they dribble into the middle of the area.
- Participants should work at a low intensity throughout this activity.
- If stretches are included between periods of activity, ensure that participants are using the correct techniques.
- With younger or less able participants you may want to walk through the activity step by step until they are familiar with it. When they understand their role fully, ask them to speed up slightly.
- If any of the participants make a mistake, the whole activity can come to a halt. Try to keep a close watch for this happening. If there seems to be a problem, stop the activity and ask the participants to perform a stretch before returning to their start positions.
- Participants should use correct stretching techniques and hold stretches for an appropriate length of time.
- Game variation: In this variation participants in the outer circle begin with the ball. They pass the ball to the participant in the inner circle and then follow the pass and move to the inner circle. Meanwhile, the participant who receives the pass dribbles the ball to the next outer cone in a clockwise direction and the process continues. On command the group can change direction. They still pass (and follow) from the outer circle to the inner circle, but they should dribble to the next outer cone in an anti-clockwise movement.
- Game variation: Participants in the outer circle begin with the ball. They pass the ball to the participant in the inner circle, who passes the ball back. The participant in the outer circle stops the ball next to the cone she is standing beside. Participants in the inner circle then move to the next cone in a clockwise direction, and those in the outer circle move to the next cone in an anti-clockwise direction. The participants in the outer circle pass the ball that has been left at the cone they have moved to, to the participants across from them in the inner circle.
- Sport-specific: Use this variation in soccer sessions. Participants in the inner circle have soccer balls, which they hold in their hands and throw to the participants in the outer circle, who head the balls back. After heading, the participants in the outer circle move in a clockwise direction to the next cone to receive another ball to head back. On command the group can change the direction of the run to an anti-clockwise movement.
Get the latest insights with regular newsletters, plus periodic product information and special insider offers.