The moment an opponent loses the ball is the time to exploit the opportunity of players being out of position, so this session looks at transitions and counter-attacking with a specific focus on running with the ball. MORE
This session is about playing forward in a 4-3-3 formation, outlining passing options to three rotating midfielders and three advanced forward players.
The session enables us to emphasise the idea of passing forward in between rigid opposition units to break through an opposition’s midfield and defence. It’s possible to beat even the deepest deep defensive block with clever combination and link-up play.
The practice also enables us to control possession through multiple passing options, meaning we can manage and dictate the game when we have the ball, and can rest when in the lead.
|Up to a full pitch|
|Balls, cones, goals|
|Number of Players|
|Up to 22|
|Technical warm-up 20mins
Possession exercises 20mins
Game play 20mins
This practice uses 12 players – a keeper, eight attackers (reds), three defenders (yellows) – and four mannequins. Setting up as shown, we work on the rotation of the three midﬁeld reds, numbers 4, 8 and 10. Players must keep possession (1a), and after a succession of passes or a command from the coach, they attack the goal.
Yellows take on positions of two centre-halves and a centre-midfielder and play realistically.
To progress, we encourage players 7, 9 and 11 to come infield or drop deep. When this happens, players 2, 3, 8 and 10 must advance and make quick forward runs (1b). Again, end with a shot on goal.
Setting up as shown, the numbers indicate how to make the exercise position- and game-specific. This practice features three teams – reds, who play vertically; yellows, who play horizontally; and blues who chase the ball down (2a).
Reds and yellows must work together in transferring the ball from the red player in one target zone to the red player in the opposite zone (2b).
The five players in the central channel (reds) represent centre-backs, centre-midfielders and centre-forwards. There is one player in each zone plus a central floater.
The five players across the middle zone (yellows) represent full-backs and wide midfielders. There is one in each of the wide areas plus a floater.
Blues (the chasers) can go into any zone to chase the ball down.
Swap the chasing team after five minutes, or when the chasers have regained the ball five times.
Once again, the player numbers relate to positions in an 11v11 game (3a).
Setting up as shown, the two centre-backs cannot leave the defensive zone – this is to maximise the space for central midfielders to play in.
Other zones are included to aid midfielders’ spatial positioning, and to enable a rotation of players between the three quarters.
We can progress this game by allowing one centre-back to leave his zone and travel into midfield in order to create an overload.
We might also move the opposition defensive zone higher in order to increase space in behind for forwards. At the same time, this decreases the space for midfielders to work in (3b).
players to open up so that in receiving the ball they can see other players’ movements across the whole pitch
players must check over both shoulders both before a pass is played and as the ball is travelling towards them
players cannot be stationary for their first touch
players must move the ball into the space and away from defenders
players 4, 8 and 10 must occupy different quarters of the central area of the pitch and not block passing options to the front three
players 7, 9 and 11 must enlarge the playing area and offer killer pass options in behind the opposition defence
rotations, forward runs and switches of roles and positions must happen all the time (for example, 11 comes infield to overload possession and 3 or 8 advance into the vacated space)
Technical and tactical understanding builds throughout the session, which ends with a game situation into which warm-up, possession practice and game play can all be practised.