Wide players and shape


Up to full pitch


Balls, cones (or poles), goals mannequins

No. of players

Up to 22 (11v11)

Session time

Warm-up 10mins, timed runs with a finish 20mins, diamond pitch 35mins, game 20mins

This session is about wide players making quick, dynamic, well-timed runs, so as to create goalscoring opportunities.

It’s important to practise this because, in the modern era, there are many different systems of play, and in all of these wide players are asked and expected to pose a strong goalscoring threat when linking with strikers. This can be the difference in key moments in any game.

Players must always be asking themselves if they can get on the ball, and if they can make a run that leads to a goalscoring chance.

What do I get the players to do?

Two-touch warm-up

We set up as shown in the diagram, with a two-touch passing warm-up. Players get used to laying a good pass then sprinting into another position – in this instance, by running through poles to the right. This lasts for 10 minutes and can involve anything between 12 and 16 players. The speed of passing and movement should get progressively quicker. The warm-up is progressed by the coach signaling a change of direction. We’ll also advance this by making it one-touch.


• In the two-touch warm-up, players play a one-two then sprint through the poles to join the back of the other line

Timed runs with a finish

Next, we set up in lines – 12 to 16 players on a half-pitch with mannequins, as shown. Starting with the player at the front of one of the two middle lines, the ball is passed out to the edge, then back inside. The start player now passes past the central mannequin on that side. The wide player makes a well timed run inside the wide mannequin, takes the ball on and finishes. At the end of the move, players join the back of the line to the right.

The session can be progressed by moving mannequins up the pitch, therefore requiring lofted passes and longer, well-timed runs.

The key coaching points here are well-weighted passes, the speed of runs, staying onside, one- or two-touch finishing, alertness to rebounds and a good overall tempo.


• In the timed run practice, players begin by playing a short one-two – out to the wide player then back in


• Upon receiving the ball back, the start player lays a pass either side of the mannequin for the winger to run on to

Diamond pitch

The next stage is 8v8, where using a diamond pitch (the space between the penalty areas with the corners removed) eliminates the idea of having a winger. This part is more game related, with all moves built from the keeper. All wide players must link with the forwards.

What we’re encouraging here is wide players coming off the line, inside full-backs and centre-backs. So, within that, we practise movement to receive the ball, interchanging of positions, combination play, ‘give and go’s, support and a variety of penetrating passes. And a good end product is essential.


• Coning off the corners of the pitch forces the wide player to cut inside, linking with central players


• A straighter pass still invites the winger to cut inside the full-back


• Here, the striker holds up play as he waits for the winger’s run



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