Switching play


Up to a half pitch


Balls, cones

No. of players

Up to 8v8 plus keepers

Session time

Passing drills 10mins each, Games 20mins each

This session is about maximising space so as to be able to switch the ball quickly in creating positive attacking options. And at the heart of this is helping players recognise when to play forward and when to switch play.

It’s important to practise this because moving the ball quickly with both short and long passes gives us the chance to create 1v1 situations or overloads, which are key situations for exploiting the opposition.

Keeping possession under pressure and knowing when to switch is a major part of our style of play. For that reason, we’ll work on this type of session frequently.

What do I get the players to do?

Passing drill 1

Set up as shown, with two players on each corner, and two balls starting at opposite corners (1). In each square, the two players in possession pass and follow to their right until they make it back to their starting places. We’ll then restart the practice with players moving in the opposite direction.


• In the Passing drill 1, teams move the ball around anti-clockwise to begin, with each player following his pass. Teams in neighbouring squares can compete to be the quickest to finish

We like to set up with two squares going in competition with each other – which team can complete the task quickest?

Passing drill 2

We now add in two players midway along two opposite sides. These players either receive on the back foot and move forward (2a), or set the ball for the approaching player (2b), depending on the coach’s instruction. Again, players follow their passes until they return to their starting places.


• For Passing drill 2, two midway players are added on opposite touchlines on each square. In this instance, these players stand side-on, receive on the back foot and move the ball on


• Alternatively, we can ask the midway player to lay the ball off for a team mate to receive and pass on

What are the key things to look out for?

The emphasis here is on passing quickly, receiving on the back foot and playing at a high tempo. Players must communicate and concentrate at all times.

Directional possession game, 8v8

This game is full width, played in the area between the penalty box and the halfway line. Setting up as shown, teams can dribble through any of the end line goals being attacked (3a) or in the middle goal (3b). If scoring in the middle goal, the ball must be passed to a team mate on the other side for the goal to count, and it cannot then come straight back through.


• In the Directional possession game, each team has a central goal and end goals to attack. Here, a quick switch across the full width presents the white player with time and space to dribble through the goal


• In this instance whites score in the central goal by threading a pass through to a team mate on the other side of it

8v8 game with keepers

Now on a half pitch, we’re looking for players to use the full width and to switch the ball, in the process creating overload situations and breaks (4). We might choose to introduce three-touch to ensure the ball is moved quickly.


• The 8v8 game steps up match realism. Here, a switch across is blocked so a forward pass is made. With two breaking whites, a 3v2 overload situation develops

What are the key things to look out for?

Players should show excellent awareness, move the ball quickly out of tight areas and make forward runs at pace.

Technical skills are important – particularly receiving on the back foot – but players must also resist challenges and be comfortable passing the ball over a variety of different distances.


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