Pre-matchday session


Up to full pitch


Balls, cones, goals

No. of players

Up to 11v11

Session time

Warm-ups and possession drills 15mins each, Half-pitch challenge 25mins, 11v11 20mins

This is a 90-minute session that prepares players for matchday. It’s effective because it ensures players are working on the basic elements of passing, movement and possession, and forms a really important team practice in ensuring everyone is ready for competitive action.

The brilliance of this session is in its simplicity. Players must perfect touch, technique and team play, then have the intelligence to take those skills through into the next part of the session.

What do I get the players to do?


90secs work, 30secs rest

For the first warm-up, we set up as shown (1), in a 20×15-yard area. Player 1 passes the ball across to player 2, who takes it and feeds into player 3. This man then turns the mannequin and passes on to player 4, where the cycle is repeated again. We’ll then run it on the other side of the area.


• In the first warm-up, the ball is passed into the man on the mannequin, who spins and passes it out the other side on the diagonal

For the second warm-up (2), player 1 passes all across the grid to player 2, who plays in to player 3. This man sets the ball back to his man and makes a run around the mannequin. Player 2 now sets the ball down the channel for player 3 to receive and play on to player 4, where the cycle is repeated. Again, run it both ways.


• In the progression, a return pass is made to the player who passed the ball in, who then feeds lays it forward for the initial receiver to complete the onward pass

Possession drills

6mins work, 90secs rest

The first possession drill  (3) is a 4v4 with overloads provided by two floaters (who play for the team in possession to make a 6v4). In a 25×25-yard box this is three-touch at first, progressing to all-in.


• In the first Possession drill, the team in possession can use the two floaters in creating a 6v4 overload. This is three-touch at first before going all-in

Next, we mark off the corners and play 5v5 (4). Eight passes must be completed before a point can be scored – this is done by a player dribbling into a corner.


• In the 5v5, teams must make eight consecutive passes before dribbling the ball into any of the corners in order to score a point

Half-pitch challenge

Next, we play 6v4, setting up as shown (5), with four midfielders and two defenders (whites) against four defenders (reds). The ball is fed out from the goal by the inactive players, for whites to begin, looking to score in the goal.


1. For the Half-pitch game, whites attack using two defenders and four midfielders
2. Reds have four players across the edge of the box
3. In the progression, blue wing-backs aid the white attack…
4. … but defensive yellows positioned in midfield can slow and intercept forward moves

We then progress to an 8v6 by including blue offensive wing-backs and yellow defensive central midfielders. Players can be swapped and rotated throughout.

We conclude with an 11v11 game on a full pitch – no restrictions.

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

In the warm-ups we’re looking for accurate passing, good control and great link-up play between team mates. The Possession drills ask the same thing of the players, albeit in a competitive element, with the Half-pitch challenge adding in formation elements.

Concluding with a full pitch 11v11 game enables players to showcase all of the skills practised.


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