This session is about movement and rotation, passing, receiving, and playing on the front foot. It requires good technique and skill, and moves from a drill into a small-sided game.
It’s important to practise this because in encouraging our team to play out from the back, we’re asking the players to pass the ball quickly. That means rotation with attacking players and the ability to play in tight areas.
In a couple of games this season, the rotation of the central midfielder and our number 10 has enabled us to create an overload out wide, and from this, crosses have been finished off by a striker.
What do I get the players to do?
Set up as shown in the diagram – four teams, three as outfielders, one that splits to make two neutral target players at each end. The outfield teams position a player in each A, B, C and D rows. The aim is to get the ball from one end to the other, playing one- or two-touch (1).
There is one ball per team, with players able to move left and right within their channels in receiving and moving on possession. The only condition is that any pass must be made diagonally, not straight. And when a target player receives the ball, he must pass sideways to his fellow target man for the ball to be returned back into the area.
Swap the team that makes up the target players every two minutes. If the ball goes out of play restart with a target player.
How do I progress the session?
To progress, we add in rotations while the ball is being played. For instance, as the ball is played in to the target players, can players in A and B rows rotate (2)?
For another challenge, can players pass through each others’ legs (known as ‘jacks’) (3)? Here, a player needs to be aware that the man angled behind him is ready to receive. And finally, we’ll test whether players can perform ‘set backs’ – for instance, B passes to C, and C sets back for B to pass into D (4).
How do I put this into a game situation?
In the same area, we turn this into a possession overload game by combining two teams. Each zone therefore becomes 2v1, with the ball again to be worked from one end to the other (5a).
When the team playing against the overload wins possession, we immediately switch to an 8v4 game in the full area and they attack the other end (5b), and if successful, use the neutral target players to come back the other way.
What are the key things to look out for?
We want to see high quality passing and receiving skills, with each player aware of what is around him. Timing and movement (in each row and as entire rows) is also essential.