The session focuses on developing combination play at a high intensity, taking one or two touches to improve efficiency during fast breaks and counter-attacks.
The first half focuses on quick play to progress forwards, maintaining a high intensity and creating rhythm, while the second concentrates on fast breaks to finish in the final third.
Having the ability to mount these sorts of forward breaks in games whilst constructing a devastating route to goal is a trait that can catch your opponents cold.
What do I get the players to do?
Setting up as shown (1a), the requirement is to focus on forward passing at speed, with quick combination play effectively utilising the third man run. So players work in pairs to transfer the ball from one end to the other using the two reds.
To progress, we introduce a second ball (1b) and now two pairs work at the same time, end to end. Upon setting the first pass, reds must now spin to receive a ball from the opposite side.
We now set up a 50×80-yard box (2). It’s 9v9, and the aim is to develop the ability to move the ball forwards quickly using only one or two touches, starting with a keeper at one end. The ball can only be played into a keeper from the attacking half of the pitch, and on receiving he will distribute it to the other team side using a long throw or kick.
The session can be progressed to one-touch inside the centre circle and two outside.
Now we slightly adjust the pitch dimensions and add goals and mannequins, as shown (3a). It’s 2v1 in each half of the pitch – the aim being to develop combination play and positional interchanges in creating goalscoring opportunities in the final third from a fast break, with a 2v1 defensive overload becoming a 3v2 attacking overload when the ball is played into the opposition’s half. The attacking team has six seconds to score a goal (3b).
If a turnover occurs, the ball is transferred quickly into the opposite centre-forward with the next two wide players joining in, thus creating another 3v2.
Finally, in this 9v9 (blues are 2-4-2 against 2-3-3 for reds), we ask blues to drop deep to counter-attack on regaining possession, scoring within 10 seconds of the regain (4). Reds will aim to break down the low block to score. Here we’re looking for compactness – distances between individuals and units/lines – the forcing of play in one direction, and prevention of opponents switching play. Players must recognise the right moment to counter-attack and where the space is, as well as exploiting any disorganisation in the opposition ranks.
What are the key things to look out for?
We focus on the movement of receiving players – can they lose their man to receive on the back foot and ‘face up’ to an opponent, or perhaps set and spin with one touch into supporting players? Movement of the wide players to support inside and outside is often key to a move’s success, as are the basics of communication, precision, awareness and playing at a high tempo.