This is a session that lasts 70 minutes, with coaches and players in a number of specialisms – each offering simplicity and structure, yet requiring good technical ability, intelligence and a certain amount of individualism and flair.
We want to construct training exercises that progress from one area to the next, building in difficulty as it goes. This eliminates boredom, keeps players focused, and ensures that each stage of the learning process is realistic and valuable.
We split our coaching team up so that players each have someone overseeing their exercise. This also enables us to coach the whole squad by creating numerous areas where drills, practices and games are performed at the same time.
What do I get the players to do?
We set up as shown (1), with four 15×5-yard channels. At the bottom of each are three small hurdles. At mid-tempo, players have different instructions for running either around or over them, then move to the top of the practice area and back. As one player returns, the next leaves.
Next, players must sprint from the start line, run 5 yards to the cone, before coming back.
Possession – the lay-off
This is 9×9 plus two neutrals (2), who play for the team in possession. In the first phase, any attacker can meet a team mate’s pass in one of the two scoring boxes. Receiving an immediate return pass earns him a point.
In the first progression, now only neutral players can venture into the box. Again, an immediate return pass earns a point.
Finally, only neutral players constructing a one-two can earn a point.
Individual and group specifics
Now split coaching comes to the fore, with first-team coaches assigned different exercises and tasks.
Defenders and holding midfielders work with myself, Brendan Rodgers, passing the ball from side to side, as shown, and gradually advancing up the pitch (3). They are pressed by a line of four opponents, but must move forward in balance.
Wingers and attacking midfielders work with Colin Pascoe, setting up as shown (4) to construct technical link-up play before going through on goal. There is no set structure when looking at the imagination and creativity of our attacking play; but quick and accurate passes into feet and into space will give us the confidence to move around and through opponents.
Finally, attacking midfielders and strikers work with Mike Marsh. This is about penetrating the defensive line, with attackers using clever and sharp passes, blind side and disguised runs.
Small-sided game (5)
We conclude with a game, which is 10v9/9v10 in a 50×40-yard area. We look to develop flexibility, and the confidence for players to put everything they have learnt into a real game situation.