Transition game


20x20 yards


Cones, balls

No. of players

9 (3 teams of 3)

This session is based on defending in overloads yet incorporates both defensive and offensive elements, as well as helping players feel comfortable when keeping the ball in tight areas. It requires quick movements and good reactions.

It is important to practise this because it brings together all game components in one scenario – attacking, defending, passing, and the need for players to be alert to receiving the ball or stopping an opponent.

The session also looks at recognition of space, when to play beyond the opposition and when to play in between.

What do I get the players to do?

We set up a box in the shape of a St George’s flag, using cones to mark out the internal lines. The yellow team starts with the ball, passing amongst themselves and keeping possession in one box. The red team of three places a player in each of the vacant boxes, while the grey team begins in the centre (1a).


• The yellow team begins with possession while a grey player looks to intercept

In this instance, the grey team acts as defenders. One enters the three-man box, attempting to win possession from the yellows, whose task is to keep the ball for five passes before transferring it to any red (1b). Should they succeed, the other reds now move to the square where possession is, yellows move to individual squares, and a new grey defender comes forward to break up play (his team-mate returns to the centre) (1c).


• After five passes, the ball is moved to a red player


• Yellow players retreat to separate squares as a new grey defender approaches

Should the ball be intercepted by a grey defender, he must attempt to pass out to a team-mate. If he succeeds, rotate teams so that the yellows (who lost possession) become defenders.

What are the key things to look for technically/tactically?

Defenders need to get out quickly and all players should show awareness of others’ positions in such tight passing areas, as well as being quick to react to possession being overturned. No players should ‘ball watch’. The move also requires quick thinking in the event of possession changing hands.

How do I progress the session?

Progress the session by adding more players, varying the number of touches, or changing the number of passes that need to be completed by the team in possession. Making the playing area bigger increases the need for accurate passing over greater distances.

We also like to add in a goalscoring element whereby if a defender wins possession and passes out to a team-mate, they then turn to attack a goal in any of the three squares protected by a lone opponent (2a).


• Grey wins possession and his team breaks out on the attack

The player can choose to go alone or might combine with a team-mate to score. Team-mates of the player whose goal is under attack must track back to prevent a goal being scored (2b/2c).


• Approaching goal he decides whether to go alone…


• … or involve a team-mate, though opposition yellows are closing in


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement