The main objective of this session is to make sure players are comfortable on the ball and confident in possession. It focuses on the fundamentals of team play and covers all types of decision making, both defensively and offensively. As it progresses, it adds other elements of the game, such as counter-pressing, counter-attacking, making penetrating forward runs and shooting.
Here we are running it as a 9v9 session but it is easily adaptable to 10v10 or 11v11. It is also possible to add an overload player into the game to increase the challenge.
Players really enjoy this session as it is set in quite a realistic environment, with numerous ways to score points.
What do I get the players to do?
We set up between the penalty areas of our pitch with a full size goal at each end. We’re using 16 outfield players and two goalkeepers divided into two teams of nine. We play a 9v9 game where the objective is to pass the ball and keep possession.
It’s a non-directional game so neither team should attempt to score in the opposition goal – they must simply aim to string 10 passes together without losing possession to score a point, as shown .
The coaching focus should be on quick decision making and encouraging players to be smart in keeping the ball. At this stage of the session the goalkeepers are unopposed, so they must not be pressed. We play this game for eight minutes.
How do I progress the session?
After a two-minute break, we play a second 9v9 game with the same set-up as before but this time it’s directional. To score a point, teams must either make 10 passes or successfully pass the ball to the opposition goalkeeper, as shown . In this progression the keepers can now be pressed. We play for eight minutes.
What are the key things to look out for?
In this first progression we want to see if players can focus on keeping the ball and make positive forward passes. From a defending stand point, we want to see that players can switch on defensively and that they can quickly get into shape once the opposition keeper has received the ball.
How do I progress the session further?
Directional possession with counter
After another two-minute break, we play a third 9v9 game with the same set-up as before. Again, to score a point teams must make 10 passes or successfully pass the ball to the opposition goalkeeper, but this time, if teams win possession, they can now counter-attack and must try to score in the opposing team’s goal, as shown .
If the ball goes out, play restarts from the keeper. In this progression the added focus defensively is the counter-press, while the offensive focus in on the counter-attack.
Directional possession with dribble
We use the same set-up as before but for this progression we position three mannequin gates on the halfway line. We play another 9v9 game and teams can still score points by making 10 passes, or by passing to the opposition goalkeeper, or by counter-attacking and scoring in the opposition goal, but now players can also score points by dribbling through the mannequin gates and driving into space, as shown , or by passing through the mannequin gates.
If needed, we encourage players to drive through the mannequin gates by adding a condition that players must dribble through them before shooting or creating a chance for a team mate. We play for eight minutes.