What World-Class Practice Looks Like, Part 2


One of the beautiful things about great practice is how simple it is.

This is especially true with soft skills — those improvisatory skills of reading patterns and reacting instantly to them — which show up so often in team sports and the creative arts.

Check out this video of Barcelona (aka the world’s best soccer team over the past four years) as they do their regular one-touch keep-away workout, which is called rondo.

Here’s what I like about it:

1)  It generates reps of the key skills (anticipation, quick, accurate decisions under pressure), over and over.

2) It’s played with 100 percent maximum intensity.

3) It’s really fun/addictive — check out those smiles and laughs at the end.

Xavi, Barca’s midfielder, says: “It’s all about rondos. Rondo, rondo, rondo. Every. Single. Day. It’s the best exercise there is. You learn responsibility and not to lose the ball. If you lose the ball, you go in the middle. Pum-pum-pum-pum, always one touch. If you go in the middle, it’s humiliating, the rest applaud and laugh at you.”

For this team, rondo isn’t a mere drill. It’s more like their identity.

To me, the truly interesting question is this: How do you create a culture in which this little game — not ego, not showing off, not even scoring goals — becomes the most important and valued part?

Rate This

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Share This

Bookmark and Share

15 Responses to “What World-Class Practice Looks Like, Part 2”

  1. Pjm says:

    I wonder what a tennis version of that drill would be for my 11 year old. Any ideas?

  2. djcoyle says:

    Hi Pjm – Scroll down a few posts to the Djokovic one – more than a few similarities!

  3. Walter Stemberg says:

    Ive been coaching forever and our U12’s use this a lot and it’s very common in the soccer world. Rondos with a partner is also really good too as you learn how to work with and communicate with your partner. Same as what you see in the video except there are 2 of you chasing in the circle. To make it more difficult for the guys passing the ball on the outside you can make their circle smaller, thus the passes have too me more accurate, quicker and sharper.

  4. Walter Stemberg says:

    Actually , sorry, video shows 2 in the middle but we often do this with one in the middle or every 3 and the circle is made bigger. You can also do this with two cirlces going on at the same time. Everyone has a number from 1-8. Coach calls two numbers (say 3 and 4), so #3 and #4 for one groups go to the other circle and chase and #3 and #4 from the other group goes to the opposite circle and chases. First group of two to win possession gets a point for their team. Tons of fun for the kids!

  5. Tomas Pacina says:

    Tennis version would be : playing inside the
    T line with no topspin allowed. So lot of running
    and playing finesse shots. You could also play
    Half of the T court, no volleys allowed, lot of
    touch and patience.

  6. David says:

    I’m trying to come up with some basketball drills similar to this.

  7. Shea Frazee says:

    David: The basketball version is the exact same as the soccer version. The only extra rule being: a player is not allowed to grab the ball with 2 hands. All the catches have to be with one hand and the player has to learn to go directly into a dribble while simultaneously reading the defenders and where the next pass [also with one hand] will be. If you’d like, I can post a video of a group of us doing the basketball version of the drill. Let me know

  8. John C says:

    What about a baseball version? What drills could be applied to a game like this for baseball?

  9. Bruce K says:

    Shea Can you share the basketball version?

  10. David says:


    I’d like to see the basketball version. I’ve developed some interesting shooting drills that I think have potential but I don’t have video of them.

  11. K says:

    how about for volleyball?

  12. Don says:

    How about for swim team?

  13. Josh says:


    Would love to see video of the basketball version you wrote about?

  14. ANTONIN says:


Comment On This