Maximising the potential of individual, group and team learning


Up to full pitch


Balls, cones, goals, hurdles, mannequins

No. of players

Up to 20 (11v9)

Session time

Warm-up 15mins, Speed conditioning 5mins, Possession – the lay-off 12mins, Individual and group specifics 20mins, Small-sided game 18mins

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.


1. Players negotiate a route through and around hurdles and ladders on their way to the other side of the warm-up area
2. Next, short sprints are made as players continue to work in relay form

Speed conditioning

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.


• Here, in the second phase, only a neutral can move into the box. He makes a one-touch pass out as reds score 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.


• In Individual and group specifics, this practice for defenders and midfielders encourage them to move play left and right as they progress up the playing area

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.


1. Brendan Rodgers- Improve the Balance of the Back Four
2. Colin Pascoe- Improve Link-up and Combinations in and Around the Box
3. Mike Marsh- Develop Movement in Front of and Behind the Back Four

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.


• In the Small-sided game, blues work with a 10v9 overload


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