Transition from attack to defence

Area

Up to 50x15 yards

Equipment

Balls, bibs, cones, 2 full size goals

No. of players

Up to 12 players + 2 goalkeepers

Session time

Transition practice: 10mins, Small-sided game: 20mins

This session is all about working on the transition from attack to defence. Making this quick transition is a critical part of the game and when performed properly in matches, it is a highly effective tactic.

This session encourages an immediate reaction when teams lose possession of the ball and it builds good habits and team cohesion. It’s a challenging and demanding practice and there really is no hiding place for the players.

Ideally, I would run this activity once a week, usually on the hardest session of the week.

What do I get the players to do?

Transition practice

We set up an area of 15×8 yards. We’re using 11 outfield players split into one team of five (the blues) and two teams of three (the reds and the yellows), set up as shown [1a]. The three yellows start in the central area along with three of the blues, who also have one player on each side of the area. Two reds are positioned along one end and their team mate starts at the other end. The blues must keep their shape and hold their line across the playing area for the duration of the game.

1a

1. Play starts with a pass from the coach into the blue team of five, who must keep their shape in a line across the area
2. The blues keep hold of the ball with the help of the three reds outside the area
3. The three yellows press and try to win possession in the central area

Play starts with a pass from the coach into the blue team of five, who must try to keep hold of the ball with the help of the three reds outside the area. They do this under pressure from the three yellows, who press to try to win possession in the central area, as shown [1b]. If they manage to win the ball, they should clear it out of the area and the coach quickly restarts play with another pass to the team of five.

1b

1. The first two times the yellows win the ball, they should clear it out of the area. The coach would then quickly restart play
2. The third time the yellows win the ball, as here, the reds should transition from attack to defence and should quickly enter the area to regain possession

On the third turnover of possession, the reds transition into the defending role, immediately going into the area to try to win the ball back. The yellows quickly swap places with the reds on the outside and join with the blues in keeping hold of the ball under pressure, as shown [1c]. We play four games of two minutes each.

1c

1. After winning the ball for the third time, the yellows swap roles with the reds
2. The yellows now join forces with the blue team of five to keep hold of the ball
3. The reds now press and must try to win the ball three times before becoming attackers again

How would you put this into a game situation?

Small-sided game

We set up a long and narrow playing area of 50×15 yards with a full size goal and goalkeeper at each end. We’re using 12 outfield players split into two teams of six plus keepers.

We play a 6v6 game, as shown [2], and look for the players to make fast transitions from attack to defence when possession of the ball is lost.

2

1. It’s a 6v6 game plus goalkeepers. Play starts and restarts from the keepers
2. When possession is lost, players should transition quickly from attack to defence

What are the key things to look out for?

We want to see players react immediately when the transition from attack to defence occurs. They should work together and hunt in packs in order to regain possession as quickly as possible.

Communication is vital when defenders put pressure on the ball and they should try to force play in order to cut out opposition attacks.