Movement to receive the ball

With the compactness of the modern game, getting your team to exploit space when it’s presented is an essential ingredient for success.

Circulating the ball quickly and with purpose will result in opponents having to circulate with the ball as well, therefore providing gaps to exploit if mistakes are made. After all, a player not moving or dribbling slowly makes it easy for his opponent to adjust and close down.

This practice develops understanding, cooperation and communication between players, in the first place encouraging centre-backs to feel comfortable in possession, bringing the ball out from the back and playing through midfield. This means, wherever possible, taking advantage of space in front of them by stepping forward through overload situations.



Up to full pitch
Balls, cones, goals
Number of Players
Up to 22
Session time
15mins per game

What do I get the players to do?


Blues begin, with the keeper feeding a centre-back, who looks to create a 2v1 situation before stepping into midfield with the ball.

The movement of the central midfielder should be away from the ball, therefore opening the space for the centre-back to pass to the forward or the midfielder on the angle (1). Can the team work the ball through for a shot on goal?

If reds win possession, they can counter and score, otherwise restart with the blue keeper.


1. In the 5v4, the keeper starts the attacking move
2. Centre-backs combine and, using a 2v1, move the ball into midfield
3. The centre-midfielder moves away from the ball to find space to receive the pass
4. The attacker finds an angle to receive the ball on

What are the key things to look out for?

We want to see constant movement of the ball, well timed and precise runs and passes, dribbling, and players adopting a side-on body position that enables them to receive the ball comfortably.


Now widen the pitch, adding a blue striker, a red defender, and a midfielder for each team (2). This time, movement of the central midfielder away from the ball allows the centre-back to pass to either the no.10 or no.9, or to the midfielder on the angle. And the left-sided midfielder can also make himself available – he plays on the shoulder and threatens in behind.

The two strikers must stay in line for as long as possible but then work on opposite sides once the movement and pass is made.


1. In the 7v6, the keeper again starts the attacking move
2. Once more, centre-backs combine and, using a 2v1, move the ball into midfield
3. The movement of the centre-midfielder is away from the ball to create space
4. The centre-back can pass forward up the line
5. He may also make an angled pass infield


Now playing 9v9 – full width but narrowed at one end, as shown (3) – it’s important to focus on the distances between the three midfielders when in possession. If these players create a triangle, can an opponent get in between their lines? Look for constant rotation of these players, with no-one standing still for more than 2-3 seconds.

Again instruct movement of the central midfielder away from the ball, with forwards staying in line for as long as possible, but working on opposites sides once movement or a pass is made.


1. For the 9v9, keeper and defenders again combine
2. The centre-midfielders create a triangle that a red opponent must try to penetrate


We now move this into a full-size, full-sided game (4). In addition to the elements already practised, we want to see wide players starting high and wide before coming inside, and full-backs and wingers combining and changing places.


1. In the 11v11 game, full-backs are now brought into play
2. Further upfield, wingers start high and wide before coming inside
3. Players are now offered a variety of passing options in the middle of the park

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