This session is about managing moments in games when you’re on top or under pressure, and is designed to show that, if your transitions are good, you have a chance.
This is a session that can be done at any time of the week; however, it can be adapted as 4x4min games up to 4x8min games for added physical training. And because all coaches experience days when they have odd numbers of players at training, this can be done with any number in attendance (by pulling them out or adding them as desired).
Most of all though, this is an excellent, realistic game that replicates regularly occurring scenarios.
What do I get the players to do?
Setting up 9v8 on a 70×44-yard pitch, as shown (1), the two teams have different objectives – one is trying to control the game but with a ruthless edge, and wants to have attempts at goal.
The other team need good defensive shape and communication, and the only way they can assume control is to be composed and get 6-8 passes in when the ball is retained. From here, they have the option to build their own attack and get in a shot on goal.
If, when they have the ball, the first overloading team do their jobs properly, and if their shots on goal are close, go in, or force the keeper into a save, we will retain that set-up.
If, on the other hand, the overloaded team take possession and counter-attack to good effect, they will then adopt the spare man and become the overloading team.
So, in short, the focus is on transitions and composure, and performing these elements this well, because they provide the only outlet for teams being able to keep or steal control of the game.
Pitch dimensions can be varied, depending on numbers; however, it is important to make the game realistic to match conditions and not play on an area that is too tight or unfamiliar.
What are the key things to look out for?
The team in control of the ball need to master controlling the game, and they will do this by using the extra man. They will need to be ruthless in the chances they create and the transitions they undertake, in keeping or regaining control if the opposition get possession, and they do this by pressing or nullifying counter-attacks.
This team’s brief must be to protect play, but we don’t want them to be too ‘safe’. They need to be controlling the game whilst, at the same time, looking for new opportunities, and it would be a mistake not to use the extra player in order to take risks, or utilise him as an outlet to push for more goals.
The team with a player less must have direction to their press, or sit in and soak up pressure well before counter-attacking. But once again, the transition must be good if they are going to get control. Furthermore, this overloaded team will most likely fail unless they work together with good communication – this is a necessity given that they are already a man down.
How do I progress the session?
This session can be progressed or changed depending on the skill level and success of players, and this can be done by us requesting greater or fewer passes for the team playing a man down.
We can also impose stricter conditions on the team in control – for instance, insisting that they must hit the target man to retain control instead of just having an attempt on goal.