Up to 36x24 yards


Balls, cones, goals

No. of players

Full squad (rotation)

Session time

Possession 4x3mins, 90secs rest, then 3x2mins; 36×24-yard possession game 2x3mins; Round-robin 6x2mins

Although this session is predominantly about transitions, it pays particular attention to pressing, making play predictable, communication, work to be done when in possession, and how to hurt the opposition with patience or a killer pass.

What makes the session engaging is that it progresses through a number of different practices, each focusing on lots of touches, plenty of turnovers of possession and fast-paced opportunities to score goals.

We will keep the score throughout so as to make it competitive for players, while rotating tasks means every player will switch outfield roles and remain out of his comfort zone. We’ll run this once a month at least two days before a game.

What do I get the players to do?

Having started off with a jogging and stretching drill which combines dynamic movement with, perhaps, some simple passing, we move into the first exercise.


The aim here is to work the ball from one neutral to the other (top to bottom, or bottom to top – they are three-touch), as shown (1). For the team in possession, the job is to make the pitch big; for the team out of possession it’s about making play predictable. These two elements can only be achieved by excellent communication, and most likely by utilising the movement of team mates – in the example it’s reds taking up wide positions but coming inside to keep play unpredictable.


1. A neutral player in the end zone starts the practice
2. He feeds the ball into the channel where the full-back plays
3. This is the cue for the winger to come ‘off the line’
4. Moving inside a pass is made
5. Quick link-up play sees a successful final ball into the neutral at the top

The attacking elements emphasise the winger/full-back relationship – playing off each other at angles – with yellow defenders only allowed to go into the wide zone once the full-back has received the ball. Naturally, when yellows win the ball back it is their turn to play out wide, while reds come inside.

Small-sided game

Now we set up as shown on a 36×24-yard area. The red keeper rolls the ball out to his red outfield player who aims to score against the yellow keeper. The yellow keeper then rolls the ball out to an incoming yellow who attacks 1v1 against the red. Now the red keeper rolls out to a second red and a 2v1 attack follows (2). The cycle continues to a 2v2, then a 3v2 (3), until all players are attacking.


1. Two reds emerge from behind the goal
2. They work a simple 2v1 passing move around the lone yellow defender
3. The attacker’s shot finds the net


1. Now an additional red steps in
2. A second defender has been added
3. Reds must work harder to negotiate space and a route to goal using quick passing and movement

If the red keeper rolls the ball out but yellows intercept and attack, the next ball will come from the yellow keeper to ensure the pattern continues regardless of who had the shot.

We finish when there are no more players waiting to join in the practice, then restart with yellows attacking first – thus, they have the overload.

Players must never turn their backs on play, and must utilise any overload to maximum effect in punishing the defensive team.

Round-robin game

To finish we set up a round-robin tournament on the same pitch with two three- or four-man teams going head-to-head and a third team working as one- or two-touch neutrals on the outside to keep the ball in play (4). Either after two minutes or when a team leads by two clear goals, the losing team rotates off and the ball restarts from the keeper.


• In the round-robin game teams in possession can use neutrals around the edge of the area to help build attacking moves

What are the key things to look out for?

In these practices players can’t turn their backs – we want to see positive, forward, attacking play, using an overload positively at all times. With that in mind, we’re looking for smart pass selection and for players to make the area big when in possession, always playing off different lines and not being linear. Defensively, a key directive given the small area is that players must press as a collective unit, not alone or as individuals.


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement