Use of space and switching play

Area

Up to 60x40 yards

Equipment

Balls, bibs, cones, 2 full size goals

No. of players

Up to 20 players + 2 goalkeepers

Session time

Switching play rondos: 20mins, Possession practice: 25mins, Small-sided game: 25mins

Every session that I do I try to make it realistic to the game. This is a multi-directional session designed to work on the use of space and encourage switches of play when in possession of the ball.

I really like this practice and in the past I have seen it used on several occasions by different coaches.

Having adapted the session by adding my own little twist, I have changed it for my own needs. When running it with my own groups I have found that the players benefit hugely from using these activities.

As we only train two nights per week at Scarborough, I would use this session on a Tuesday and make it a compensation load with the idea of working on a tactical topic without the need to worry about specific positions or situations that might apply on the weekend.

SWITCHING PLAY RONDOS

We set up a playing area of 40×30 yards divided into four 15×15-yard corner boxes and one 10×15-yard central box, as shown. We’re using 20 outfield players, split into five teams of four. Each of the four corner boxes contains one possession team and the players in the fifth team act as defenders and start in the central box.

The coach starts play by passing the ball into  one of the corner boxes, where the receiving team passes between themselves to keep possession.

One defender enters the active corner box from the central box and tries to win the ball and clear
it out of play.

The four possession players must complete a minimum of five passes before being allowed to transfer the ball into a different box, as shown [1a]. The defending team must try to intercept the ball as quickly as possible and if the possession players manage to transfer the ball to a new box, play continues in the same manner with the new possession team passing and a different defender being sent into that box to try to win the ball.

1a

1. The coach starts by playing the ball into one of the corner boxes, where the receiving team passes to keep possession
2. One defender enters the active corner box from the central box and tries to win the ball and clear it out of play
3. The four possession players must complete five passes under pressure from the defender before they can transfer the ball into a different box
4. Play continues with the new possession team passing in the new box and one defender being sent in to try to win the ball

We play for 20 minutes, rotating teams every two or three minutes. To add a competitive element to the activity, we count the number of transfers made before an interception occurs, therefore identifying the two defending teams with the most transfers conceded as the losing teams.

We progress the session by increasing the level of difficulty for the passing team by allowing two defenders to enter the active possession box to win the ball, as shown [1b].

1b

• Progress the session by allowing two defenders to enter the active possession box from the central box to win the ball

To progress the session further, we can vary the conditions between one-touch and two-touch to alter the level of difficulty and to increase the quality required from the switches of play. We could also offer extra rewards if successfully transferring the ball to the square diagonally opposite.

POSSESSION PRACTICE

We set up a playing area of 30×30 yards divided into four 15×15-yard boxes. We’re using 18 outfield players split into two teams of eight players plus two floaters, who play for the team in possession.

This is a multi-directional possession practice. The team in possession must use the space wisely to keep possession, with the idea of creating an opportunity to switch the ball from box to box, as shown [2].

2

1. The red possession team must use the space wisely to keep the ball and create chances to switch play from box to box. There is no restriction on movement
2. The two yellow floaters play for the team in possession
3. The blues press to win the ball and if they succeed they become the new passing team
4. Teams can score a point for completing four passes in the same box before switching the play

Teams can score an extra point for completing four passes in the same box before switching the play. There is no restriction on player movement although we would limit the number of players in each square
if the possession team was struggling.

SMALL-SIDED GAME

We set up a playing area of 60×40 yards divided into two halves with  a pair of back-to-back goals in the centre on the halfway line, as shown [3]. Each of the goals has a goalkeeper in a box that the other players must not enter. We’re using 18 outfield players split into three teams of six.

3

1. Two teams compete for possession inside the area. Here it’s the reds and the blues
2. The yellow floaters around the outside play for the team in possession
3. To score or attack the goals, the team in possession must switch the play from one half to the other at least once in the build up

Two of the teams compete for possession inside the area, with a third team used as floaters and spaced out around the outside of the area. The floaters play for the team in possession. The players of both teams inside the area are free to move wherever they like, but to be able to score or attack one of the goals, the team in possession must switch the play from one half to the other at least once.

To manufacture certain situations, a restriction on the number of touches can be enforced. For instance, by going all in we would be trying to manufacture 1v1s inside the area; if we limited players to two touches, we would be looking for switches of play coming from wide; and if restricting players to one-touch, we would be encouraging players to support on the inside.

We want to see players adopting a good team shape and an organised balance in order to use the available space cleverly.

What are the key things to look for?

In the first two activities we are looking for players to use a quality pass, good movement, and create good angles of support so that players can transfer the ball from box to box.

Players must communicate with one another and organise well, so they are aware of the positions of their team mates and opponents.

The players must also be alert to turnovers of possession, reacting quickly whether they are near to the ball or in a different area.

What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?

Typical mistakes include poor passing, both in terms of short and long passing. Mistakes also include poor angles of support, and poor awareness and positioning. Players can also be caught flat-footed and not reactive to the play around them.

Key

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