The importance of throw ins to help teams secure and build possession, as well as create goal scoring opportunities has been highlighted this past season due to the success of Liverpool FC. Liverpool FC went 18th in the Premier League at throw-in possession under pressure (45.4% in 2017/2018) to 1st (68.4% in 2018/2019). Introduction of throw in coach Thomas Gronnemark proved an invaluable investment by the club due to their success. Thomas recently joined us to present some of his ideas at Football DNA, please see the full webinar at: https://footballdna.co.uk/features/coaching-throw-ins-with-thomas-gronnemark/

In this piece, I will explore some basic variations that will help your team improve their throw ins to help secure possession but also create goal scoring opportunities for your team. Firstly, here are some of the key considerations that you will need to consider when working with your team on throw ins to help them improve could be:

Key Considerations of How to Improve Throw Ins:

  • Technique of Throw In – Depending on the length of the throw in, your run up should be adjusted. A longer throw will need a longer run up, as the momentum that is created will help to generate a greater trajectory of your throw. Arching your back and following through on your throws will also help to generate more power too. With your grip, create a ‘W’ shape behind the ball, not too wide or close and ensure that you have a strong grip on the ball. Adjust where you grip the ball will also effect the flight of the ball for example if your hands are underneath the ball this will create backspin as your release the ball from your hands.
  • Area Ball is Thrown In (feet, in front of player etc) – Is crucial in allowing your team to secure possession from a throw in. In order for players to set back the throw should aim to throw the ball at a height which allows the player to volley or half volley the ball back to the thrower, if the throw is slightly too high or thrown too short this will impact on how quickly they can return it to the thrower. Likewise, the thrower should look to adjust the direction and speed of their throw to the player that is looking to move the ball into a new space. Throwing to the attackers safe side from the defender will help them to secure possession as well.
  • Area of the Pitch – The area of the pitch that you are in will effect what type of throws in that you need to use as well. For example, it may be that in your own third that you try to switch play or play the ball further up the pitch.
  • Game Situation – Adjusting how throw ins are used depending on the state of the game should also be considered. If you’re losing and you’re looking to get back into the game, it may be that you in the attacking third look to take more direct throw ins into the box, or use sets to get crosses into the area as well. Likewise, if you’re looking to see out the game from a winning position you may look to as a team secure and maintain possession from your throw ins as well.
  • Strength Of Your Team – Adjusting how you use throw ins to your advantage will also depend on the personal in your team. For example, do you have something can use long throws? Is your team a tall team? Does your team struggle to win aerial duels? This are all factors that you will need to consider on how you will use throw ins to support the way that you wish to play.
  • Exploiting Weakness In Opposition – This may be based on personal of your team as well as the opposition. You may look to purposefully move players onto certain defenders in order to gain an advantage i.e. a much taller player against a small player may help them to get first contact of the ball.

So How Do I Practice Throw Ins In Training?

Practicing throw ins in training can be made to be exciting and engaging for your players. A great way of doing this is simply by adding a constraint that each time the ball goes out of play whether it be for a goal kick, free kick or corner the game will restart with a throw in. Placing footballs around the outside of the pitch will help with quick transitions. Alternatively, another way of practicing throws can be splitting the pitch into different areas and having 3v3/4v4 games set up for your players where they have to score into a goal or based on the area of the pitch that they’re trying to get into from the throw in. For example, if in the middle pitch you may place a goal in the middle of the pitch facing the throw in taker which the attacking team has to try and place into which replicates them trying to switch play. A carousel will vary allow for you to work with small groups on specific areas of the pitch whilst ensuring players get plenty of repetition too.

What Routines Could I Use With My Team?

Rotation and Occupation Of Space – Can be created by having two or more players standing next to one another and rotating positions to move into the space to receive from the thrower. This can also be created by the attacking players creating space by moving out of the area where the throwers will be and someone making a late and fast movement to move into the space that has been vacated.

Change Throw In Taker – A change of throw in taker can be used as a really creative way of securing possession as often the initial throw in taker can be left unmarked as the two players swap roles. In order to increase the chances of success with this, the throw in take should occupy the space that has been vacated by the new throw in taker.

Decoy Longer Throw – A longer throw can be effective to help move into more advanced areas of the pitch or in and around the area. In order to create a decoy longer throw, the throw in taker should adjust their body and communicate to their team mates that they’re going to look to perform this. To support this, their team mates should move further up the pitch, as this is done one player should look to stand still and move in the opposite direction to receive from the throw in.

Switch Of Play – A way that you can switch play from a throw in is by having the attackers creating space in the middle of the half circle created by the four attacking players around the throw in taker. As this space is created, one of the players in the middle of the half circle should move the defender away creating a space behind them; as this happens the throw in taker should throw the ball behind the attacker and past them for the attacker to then move onto allowing them to switch play.