Fast passing affecting change of play

This session looks at the benefits of quick passing and switches of play. 

At any level of football, the ability to move the ball around with pace and purpose is very important, and this session can work in many different ways. We can choose to run it in its entirety, or just take individual exercises, but whatever elements are used, it must be practised at a high tempo.

We’ll run it frequently. It’s great for reminding players of the consequences of match events, and the benefits of switching play from one flank to the other, whilst also giving them licence to play through midfield should they wish to. Ultimately, we want them to come out the other side with more time and space on the ball.

SET-UP

Area
Up to 60×60 yards
Equipment
Balls, bibs, cones, goals, poles
Number of Players
Up to 20
Session time
Passing sequences 2x3mins each, Small-sided games 2x12mins each – for both, rotate players in between

What do I get the players to do?

Fast passing – 7-pass sequence

In a 36×36-yard area, we set up as shown in the diagram (1). The early part of this session looks at designated passing routines that involve one- and two-touch play, receiving on the half-turn, coming to meet the ball and positive attacking elements. 

Beginning two-touch, the ball begins centrally on the bottom touchline and a set passing pattern is constructed. Play is moved out to the flank before a long pass to the other end of the practice area. The sequence now repeats, coming back the other way.

1

1. Player A starts by passing the ball left
2. B switches play to the right and C plays a one-two with A
3. C plays the ball to D and moves forward to collect a return pass
4. The move is completed with a long ball to E in the far zone. The move now comes back in the other direction


Fast passing – 6-pass sequence

In the same area, we construct a new passing move that now sees key elements of play develop through the middle (2). This again starts two-touch, with the intention of progressing to one-touch.

2

1. A serves the ball from the left-back position
2. B switches the ball right to C who in turn feeds D
3. D comes to meet the pass and lays off to E
4. E passes wide to A who has advanced forward from left-back to meet the ball
5. A pass to F in the top area completes the move


What are the key things to look out for?

Players must look up, always ready to switch play with fast passing. Some have relatively stationary roles while others will need to come forward towards the ball – for instance, to mirror the requirements of a quick counter-attack.

Small-sided game – poles

To put practised passing elements into a game situation, we set up a game as shown (3). This is 8v8, plus four end players, and is played in a 60×50-yard area. Each goal is six yards wide. Teams would usually play 2-4-2 or 3-3-2, and can score by threading a pass through any of the three goals to a receiving team mate positioned on the other side. This means receiving players must move quickly behind the three pole goals, ensuring they are in position to receive a scoring pass.  A goal can only be scored by an attacker inside the 10-yard end zone immediately in front of the goals.

3

• Intricate passing moves reflect those learnt in the initial practice, with outfield team mates looking to find space elsewhere on the pitch. Receivers positioned in two of the goals await a scoring pass


Small-sided game – poles and fixed goal

Extending the playing area by 10 yards, we now replace the middle goals with fixed full-size goals (4). The role of one of the receiving players changes here because attackers now have one of two choices – lay a pass into the feet of a keeper in either of the wide goals, or score past the keeper in the middle goal.

4

• Now a full-size goal is placed in the middle, offering the attacking team the chance to either lay a pass into a wide keeper or shoot into the main goal


What are the key things to look out for?

Players should always be looking for opportunities to switch play and find space on the flanks. When that space does present itself, it must be attacked quickly.

Again, movement to receive the ball and an awareness of other players is an essential part of this game. And fast passing and a high tempo is essential if players are to feel the full benefits of the session.

While a great routine for outfield players, the four receivers or keepers are also very active, since they have to move left and right in relation to the switching of the ball.

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