This session is designed to encourage players to finish from angles in and around the box. It also brings into play the concept of finishing from the second phase of an attack, taking snap shots, rebounds, and being alert in the penalty box to any type of finish.
As it’s essentially a finishing session, it immediately engages the players. Across all three parts of the session, all players are required to do their fundamental jobs over and over again: defenders have to block and track runners, midfield players have to create and score, and centre forwards have to be relentless in their movement and be ready to finish from crosses as well as from second phases within the box.
Dependent upon the physical load of the players, this session would ideally be done on a Thursday after a recovery day. Running it in pre-season would also allow a significant amount of time to bed in the appropriate movements for the cross and finish within an 11v11 environment. The opposition shape can be tweaked to prepare for an upcoming opponent and make the session more game-specific if needed.
“Across all three parts of the session, all players are required to do their fundamental jobs over and over again”
TARGET GOAL GAME
We set up a playing area of 40×40 yards. We position two target goals on each corner. We are using 20 outfield players, split into two teams of eight, plus four playmakers who are positioned between the target goals on each corner. The playmakers are one touch.
Each of the two teams has four players in each half, who are locked into that half. The aim for the team in possession is to go up against their opponents and try to score in a target goal. It’s 4v4 in each half but the possession team can pass the ball to team mates in the other half while building a goal scoring opportunity, as shown .
All shots at goal must be with a one-touch finish, meaning if the opposition defenders screen the goal, the possession team will have to combine with the corner playmakers or make a third man run to set up a shooting opportunity. If the defenders press the ball the attacking players can make runs to score without having to combine with the playmakers.
If the defending team wins the ball, they can pass into their team mates in the other half of the pitch and attack one of the goals at the other end.
There are no offsides. We play four games of four minutes at maximum intensity.
How do I progress the activity?
This activity can be adjusted to encourage or inhibit rotation. For example, if we wanted more finishes we could prevent the out of possession team from coming back over the halfway line, while simultaneously allowing a player from the back half to step in and overload the front half even more.
By the same token, we could remove attacking players, forcing the team to attack while underloaded.
CROSSING AND FINISHING
“Players tend to rush things. They should be patient in the attack, as the intensity can still be high without forcing the play”
We set up a playing area of 40×80 yards, coning off a 10-yard channel on each wing. We position a full size goal and a goalkeeper at each end and an unguarded target goal on each side, as shown . We are using 18 outfield players split into two teams of seven, plus four target players who are locked into the wide channels.
Each team has three defenders in one half and four attackers in the other half. Only the yellow target players can operate in the wide channels – they are one-touch but they can combine with the attacking team to cross the ball.
Play starts with a pass from one of the goalkeepers and the team in possession builds an attack on the opposite goal and tries to create a scoring opportunity by using the outside target players to put in a one- touch cross if needed.
If the defending team wins the ball, they can either quickly score in the unguarded target goals on each side, pass into their attackers in the other half to launch an attack on the main goal, or play the ball out to one of the target players, who can cross the ball.
We play for three blocks of eight minutes.
How do I progress the activity?
This activity could be progressed to allow defending players to step into the outside zones to stop crosses, as well as allowing midfield runners to join in and overload the penalty area.
PHASE OF PLAY
We set up a playing area on three quarters of a pitch, with a full size goal on the 18-yard line at one end and another full size goal in its usual position at the other end. The main attacking half of the pitch is divided into vertical channels, as shown.
We’re using 20 outfield players and 2 goalkeepers. The blue team lines up in a 3-5-2 formation and attacks the longer end of the pitch. Play starts with a pass from the blue team’s goalkeeper. The blues build an attack from the back, as shown [3a], being careful to play past the red front two, who are locked into the blue half of the pitch and who must try to win the ball in case a counter-attack is on.
Once the blues have created a crossing or scoring opportunity at the end they are attacking and the ball is dead, a second ball is served in by the coach for a 3v2 inside the penalty area, as shown [3b]. The attackers should make angled runs into the area to receive and shoot.
If the reds win the ball before the blues can cross or shoot in either the first or second attacks, then they can break out and counter-attack the other end, with their forwards making angled runs into the box.
Only one red can go into the outside wide channel to defend, allowing the blue wide player to get a cross into the box with relative ease.
The blue number 8 and the blue number 10 should make attacking runs to get into cut-back positions and make angled runs off the cross.
We play for four blocks of six minutes?
What are the key things to look for?
We want to see attackers making well-timed movements and demonstrating an alertness for any second phase finishing opportunities.
We want to see third man runs away from the ball, while wing backs should get high and look to play off the shoulder. Midfield players should make runs into the box for cut-back finishes.
We want to see defenders tracking runners, making blocks and being alert to defend against second phase attacks.
What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?
Players can sometimes tend to rush things. They should try to be patient in the attack, as the intensity can still be high without forcing the play. Players should control the ball speed by dictating the tempo and should be able to quicken the game when they want to score
Another typical mistake players tend to make is to switch off in the second phase of the attack. It’s important for both the attackers and the defenders to remain alert and either score or defend quickly on transition.