The best teams are those that recognise the space pressed and left by opponents, and the best players are those who know whether to play in front of, to the side of, in between or behind an opponent. This session is therefore set up to develop good decision-making, and also helps players gain a better understanding and appreciation of spacial awareness when in possession of the ball. MORE
The eleventh man
Here are a collection of uni-directional games that test a number of developmental characteristics in players, from the technical (multiple and varied touches and passes of the ball, position-specific work and handling pressure), to tactical (linking with players in similar positions and game understanding linked to rules and conditions).
The session also embraces physical and psychological properties, and acts as a vital grounding for coaches who believe in the logic of using simple exercises to stimulate learning and confidence that can be played out in a in much ‘bigger’ match situations.
|Use of a full pitch|
|Balls, cones, goals|
|Number of Players|
|Up to 16|
What do I get the players to do?
In possession – progress and penetrate (20mins)
To set up as shown (1) with three teams working (two include a keeper who will be interchanged between teams) and there is one ball per team.
For the task to begin, one player must exit the area with the ball. This is the trigger for him to turn, then work the ball across the area to see it exit at the opposite side, with yellows, blues and whites each given instructions as to whether to play horizontally or vertically.
We will set a time limit or instruct a number of passes with the intention of keeping the parameters fluid. This is achieved by the fact that teams have different player numbers. Two of these teams allow a keeper to be involved, who approaches and passes the ball in different ways to team mates.
What are the key things to look out for?
We want to see the keeper’s technical work. He can instruct players as to whether he wants the ball fed to his hands or feet, and we can progress this as the session moves forward by varying the supply into the keeper and his instructed delivery back to team mates – he might be told to throw on the full, to miss out an area or to play with a side volley.
There should be outfield players present in each zone, and we can offer individual challenges to players as they anticipate receiving the ball. We also want to see transitions with a new ball being sent in (who can react first?), with position-specific passing and offsides being used.
Game 2 (20mins)
Now we move the first game on a level by setting up as shown (2a).
The team in possession must attempt to visit each keeper (in their end zone, using their feet) in order to score a point. Once this has been done the keepers get into each goal straight away, with outfield players then looking to revisit one keeper (the choice being theirs) and score past the other (2b). If successful, keepers return to the end zone and the process restarts.
Extra challenges include the use of the offside line and an allowance for players to enter the keeper zone.
We now set up as shown (3a) with two teams operating in a 2-3-2 formation (replicating two centre-halves, three midfielders and two centre-forwards). There is a keeper in each goal – both begin by simultaneously playing out to a defender, receiving back and playing to the other side.
Each team then works the ball through their three units (unopposed), before breaking the line with a pass for a player to run through on goal and score (3b).
To progress this game players will swap the ends being attacked. We can also allow the two defenders to defend once they have distributed the ball, as well as engaging a recovering defender or supporting attacker. Further progressions include limiting the number of touches and playing fully opposed with just one ball.
If needed, we can introduce a points system as well – one point for breaking through (pass or run), two points for a goal in under six seconds, and three points for a goal in under three seconds.
What are the key things to look out for?
In this practice we’re looking at the keeper’s detail of pass, support options and ability to defend the spaces in front of him. We want to see defenders’ receiving skills and body shape to play forward, good midfield play (positioning, support, rotating, receiving), and similar for strikers (timing of runs, finishing skills).