Switching play


Up to 40x40 yards


Balls, cones, goals, mannequins

No. of players

Up to 16

Session time

Passing drill and Transfer game 10mins each, Small-sided game 20mins

Switching of play is a devastating and dynamic way of catching opposition players out of position, and this session takes the basic principles of switching before adding progressions and advancements in play so that teams can really utilise this attacking weapon.

We witness the benefit of switching in every game we play. And of course, examining its principles as an attacking team also helps us learn how to defend against the switch when in defensive mode.

What do I get the players to do?

Passing drill  (1a)

In the left-hand practice, there is a blue server at each end of the box, and a blue on each mannequin in the middle. The ball is played in from the top, moving clockwise with a diagonal pass towards the wing. The player must react to the pass and step back off the mannequin, ready to receive. Two-touch, the ball is then played on, before the move is repeated back in the other direction.


1. The middle blue moves off the mannequin to receive and pass on clockwise
2. In the yellow box, both central players must be ready to receive a pass

In the second box, we position two players on a single mannequin. Now, the ball can go to either player, so both need to react to the potential of the pass. To progress, we restrict players to one-touch (1b).


• We progress the passing drill to one-touch

What are the key things to look out for?

Players must receive the ball on the back foot, side-on so they can see both servers. Movement off the mannequin must be realistic, with a sensible weight of pass from the server.

Transfer game

We now remove the poles and add a target player at each end, in a 5-yard zone (2a). It’s 6v6, with each team required to switch play to target players quickly. This is all-in, then reverts to two-touch, and there must be three passes before a pass is fed into a target player. Involving both target players in a move, uninterrupted, earns a point.

• In transfer game, a point is scored as successful passing from one target player to the other is made

If play is turned over the new team in possession attacks (2b).


• Yellows intercept and make the required three passes in feeding the ball in to the target player

What are the key things to look out for?

Players must recognise when they have space and time to turn. They need to create a picture in their heads before the ball arrives at their feet, something aided by good communication.

Small-sided game

We now switch direction of play by adding goals, as shown (3a).


• In the small-sided game, the direction of play has now shifted 90 degrees, with target players the switchers – here, for the blues – and attacking the top goal

Target players no longer represent the scoring mechanism, but the switching mechanism, feeding the ball back into the middle to be attacked (3b).

Again, if the ball is transferred from one side to the other a point is earned, with two points for finding the net.

First this is two-touch, then remove wide areas and play 7v7, hoping players will still hold on to the principles of switching.


• The ball is fed inside and an attacking blue drags his defender away to create space on the left flank. The switch is made, setting up the left-winger for a free shot on goal


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