Playing into the strikers

Area

Up to full pitch

Equipment

Balls, bibs, cones, 2 small goals, 2 full size goal

No. of players

Up to 20 players + 2 goalkeepers

Session time

4v4 +2 game: 16mins, 6v6 +2 game: 16mins, 11v11 game: 20mins

This session is all about working an overload to create opportunities to play directly into the feet of the strikers. It also encourages mobility from midfield to support the forward pass and creates situations for combination play.

Players enjoy this session because they want to play with energy and at a high tempo. They also want to create scoring opportunities and work towards specific objectives within our style of play.

We keep track of the scores and the conversion rates in the session and use them to monitor performances and see if they correlate with the data analysis from our matches across the season. This keeps players engaged and focused on playing with a purpose.

We use this session to continually develop the capacity of our defensive players to play the ball forwards and this also allows us to work on the timing of our movements to support, either behind or ahead of the ball.

Our periodization model will inform us of the duration of a practice, or the distances required, or how many reps or sets we will need to use.

We can progress the basic session into a medium sided game, for example in three zones with play leading to a direct pass that triggers midfield runners to join an attack on goal.

4v4 +2 GAME

We set up a playing area of 36×24 yards with an 8-yard central zone across the width of the area and two `

14-yard end zones, plus a small goal and a goalkeeper at each end, as shown.

We’re using 10 outfield players split into two teams of four, with two floaters that start on the outside of the area and who play for the team in possession. Each team has two defenders, a midfielder and a striker positioned in the relevant zones.

Play starts with a pass from a keeper to one of the defenders, who are locked into their zones. The defender must find the striker in the final third with a pass and the two floating players can enter the playing area and join the attack for the team in possession once the ball has reached the attacking zone. The midfielder can also go into the attacking zone to create a 4v2 in favour of the attackers, meaning the midfielder and the floaters can combine and link up with the striker to attack the goal, as shown [1].

1

1. Play starts with a pass from a keeper to one of the central defenders, who are locked into their zones
2. The defender must find the striker with a direct pass into the final third
3. The two floaters can enter the playing area and join the attack for the team in possession once the ball has reached the end zone
4. The midfielder can also follow the ball into the attacking zone to create a 4v2 in the final third in favour of the attackers
5. The defending team must try to win the ball and launch a counter-attack

Depending on our periodization plan, we may run this in blocks of two minutes with one minute’s rest.

6v6 +2 GAME

We use the same playing area of 36×24 yards with a central zone and a small goal and a goalkeeper at each end. We’re now using 12 outfield players split into two teams of six, with two floaters that start on the outside of the area and who play for the team in possession. Each team has two defenders, two midfielders and two strikers starting in their relevant zones.

Play begins with a pass from a keeper to one of the defenders, who are locked into their zones. The team in possession can either build up play through the central midfield zone or with a direct pass to the strikers in the end zone. One midfielder and the two floating players can go into the end zone to join the attack, making it 5v2 in the final third, as shown [2].

2

1. A pass from a keeper to one of the central defenders starts play. The defenders are locked into their zones
2. Play can either build up through the midfield zone, as here, or with a direct pass to one of the strikers in the end zone
3. One midfielder and the two yellow floaters can join the attack in the end zone, giving the attackers a 5v2 overload in the zone

How do I progress the session?

To progress this activity we look to add additional players. For example, we could add a defensive midfielder to screen the ball into the striker, or condition play so that it has to build up through the midfield first.

This can then lead to changing the decision making of when and how players make a pass, maybe encouraging them to try a lofted pass into the body or a first time drilled pass beyond pressure, or we play into the defensive midfielder to play forward.

This can help develop the technical ability of the players but within the tactical framework that we wish to apply.

11v11 GAME

We finish the session by transferring the ideas into an 11v11 game. We set up on a full pitch with a goal and a goalkeeper at each end. We’re using two full teams of 11 set up in team shape, playing with normal rules, as shown [3].

3

1. Set up in team shape for an 11v11, employing the coaching points from the previous activities
2. Look for a centre back to make a forward pass from the midfield into one of the strikers
3. The forward pass should trigger the wide players and the midfielders to support the attack with forward runs into the final third

The ideas used in the previous activities are easily transferable into the build-up phase of this game, particularly around the halfway line within team shape sessions. We are looking for the centre back of the team in possession to make a pass into one of the strikers, which would trigger the players from midfield to support the attack with forward runs.

COACHING POINTS

What are the key things to look for?

We look for players to make first time passes, either forward from the back, or to lay off from the striker. Positioning to play forward is important and we want to see open passing lanes to receive and to pass.

Players should use good organisation ahead of the ball, so they know who will support and who runs ahead. Also important are the timings of the runs to support and the body shape to approach the ball, which should offer non-verbal communication – for example, if the third man running has shoulders facing the passer, play to feet. If shoulders are facing the goal, play into space.

We also want to see players reacting to a turnover of possession, so we counter-press quickly if the ball is lost

What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?

Typical mistakes includes when a player is positioning to receive and he doesn’t provide a forward passing lane – players might not be able to play forward because they are too close to the ball or too far away from it. Other typical mistakes include the striker being unable to receive because he has arrived too early, or midfield runners arriving too late and the lay-off results in a situation that leaves us wide open to a counter-attack.

If problems are caused by nobody running in behind, we need to ensure we always have one runner into space to offer a pass in behind.

Key

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