For players to see the options in the final third, simply, they must play with their heads up, and this is a session that has this as its heart, encouraging them to see the options, respond to them, and conclude with a positive end product, namely a shot.
In any game of football the more accomplished players get at knowing what they are going to do before they receive the ball, the better they become.
Look at any game and observe those players who are continually looking around them prior to receiving the ball. They are ‘taking pictures’ of the game and not just looking at the ball.
Set-up of the game
Set up using three teams of eight, as shown – two teams going head-to-head in the middle with the third positioned around the edge of the area. No player is allowed to sit back and protect his goal by moving into the ‘D’.
When in possession of the ball, reds and blues – who can have as many touches as they need – must use yellow players, who make themselves available for a pass and can, two-touch, pass it on.
Our main stipulation is that the ball should never be still. If so, possession passes to the other team.
The winning team is the one that scores most goals.
Technical observations and progressing the game
We want to see early and quick movement of the ball and as many attempts on goal as possible from a team that enters the opposition half. A common fault is when a team fails to use the players around the edge of the area.
To progress, we can introduce the two-touch rule to all teams. We can also increase difficulty by reducing the teams to six-a-side.
We need to see a high tempo, quick passing, good movement and creation of space, and of course, players surveying space all around them so they can decide on the right space to play into even before the ball arrives.
Why this works
This is a simple yet effective method of getting players to look around and assess options in matches. Feeding outer players (who will for the most part be unmarked) provides the easiest passing outlet, and this is something that will be taken into match day situations.[diagram 1] The game is set up, 8v8 in the middle, with a further eight ‘neutral’ players around the outside of the pitch
No player is allowed into the D[diagram 2] Reds use yellow players around the outside of the pitch to construct a slick passing move that ends in a goal [diagram 3] Blues’ inability to look up and use the yellow outer players means the attacker runs out of passing options, and reds win back possession