We spend a lot of time at camps and clinics, and we go to a lot of summer club tournaments where several hundred teams are attending from all over the country. We listen to coaches in between games to hear what they are teaching their players now. We notice when things that were important ten or twenty years ago are not even being mentioned by coaches anymore. And we notice what kids are and are not having success with on the field.
Ball reversals are just like a "Hand Off" pass in basketball. Carry the ball and draw the Defense to one direction, then give a little flip pass to the guy next to you, and he goes back the other way. The faster you can do this, the harder it will be for the Defense to keep up.
Loyola was using these a lot in 2012 when they won the National Championship. We saw other college teams running them in 2013, and now we see high school teams starting to use Ball Reversals this year.
Most of us grew up with the ol' 2-3-1 Motion Offense and were told to "always clear through to the Crease" if a teammate is coming towards you with the ball. Take your Defender away and create space for your teammate.
Many younger and more inexperienced players have the bad habit of backing out of the play when a teammate comes towards them with the ball, leaving the Dodger looking at a defensive Double-Team in front of him. This is just their natural reaction to "getting in the way".
These days, a teammate coming towards you with the ball is also an opportunity to run some Two-Man Game or Shallow Cut if you move inside your teammate (ie closer to the goal), or a chance for a Ball Reversal if you pass him on the outside.
Ball Reversals work best when the man without the ball goes outside the man with the ball. The flip pass is made on the outside of the body, away from the Defenders' sticks, and so the new man with the ball has a clear path back to the middle.
Try running this little play with your top two midfielders in a 2-3-1 Formation. (Figure 1.) Carry the ball from the Goalie's top left to top right (when looking out from the goal), just at the corner of the box. Run the Ball Reversal so your Righty Dodger gets the flip pass on the run for a Sweep Dodge into the Slot, and a much better shooting angle.
You could also run this same play with your Midfielder down to your Attackman on the wing, just like running Pass Down/Pick Down at this same position.
You could also try the ol' Hidden Ball Trick (HBT) during any of these exchanges. The HBT is almost like a really slow Ball Reversal- the same kind of outside ball exchange, except working with deception rather than speed.
Make sure you practice these flip passes before you try to run them in a game. These are a little different than what most of your players are used to. Try this great "Flip-Pass-Pass" 2-Man Passing Drill.
Try it out with your team and let us know how it goes. Definitely tell us if you get a goal in a game with this little play!