Being able to quickly, efficiently and, at times, discretely change the point of attack is crucial for any team. The goal of this session is therefore to demonstrate the different ways the ball can be transitioned from one side of the field to the other, as well as highlighting what types of passes and movements are needed.
What we’re looking to achieve is both wide players and central players becoming proficient in the ways they can take responsibility for the transition so that an alternate attacking opportunity can be produced and, we hope, a goal scored.
Remember, when your team is in possession the opposition’s prime objective is to have proper cover and balance in their team. A quick change of attack to utilise space on the opposite side of the field, using 1v1s and 2v1s, can easily unsettle the other team.
Up to a half-pitch extended by 10 yards
Balls, cones, goals
Number of Players
Up to 20
Stage 1 20mins, Stages 2 and 3 15mins (3x3mins with 2min rests),
Stage 4 2x10min halves
What do I get the players to do?
Stage 1 – warm-up
We begin with a simple passing exercise, as shown (1), in order to get the players used to transitioning the ball from side to side, expanded to involve long driven balls.
• In Stage One, in a 20×5-yard area players pass to the man in front, then move to the back of the line. In the progression, we set up for longer passes
Stage 2 – small-sided activity
This is 8v6 plus a keeper, with the overloading team attacking one central goal (2a). Players 2 and 7 stay in the wide right channel, with 3 and 11 in the wide left. Players 6 and 8 must move the ball quickly to wide areas to provoke attacks (2b), with number 10 also asked to transition the ball using one- or two-touch play. Players in wide channels can play with unlimited touches and all passing must
be at high speed. Should defenders win the ball, it’s returned to the server.
• In Stage Two, central players make quick combinations to start the move
• A pass is fed quickly to the right where overloading wide men combine to send a cross back into the middle
To progress, combination play is introduced to encourage interaction between central players so they think one pass ahead. Then we encourage direct and driven long balls in switching play with one pass (2c).
• In the progression, the onus is on quick one- and two-touch switches, mixing short and long passes
What are the key things to look out for?
Technically, passing must be crisp and clean. For two-touch transitions, the first touch must be under control to lead to a clean pass; for one-touch play, players must be led into space away from pressure to keep the tempo high.
For longer passes, direct driven balls need to be emphasised rather than any passes with ‘air’ under them. But overall, the key component is getting the ball to the other side as quickly as possible.
Tactically, players must understand when to change the point of attack. An overload of defenders usually indicates the change is necessary – prolonged possession in a specific area can provoke this opportunity.
Stage 3 – expanded small-sided activity
We move to 10v9 plus a keeper, as shown (3), allowing the defending team to attack two counter goals positioned 10 yards in from each sideline. We add two attckersand three defenders.Giving defenders goals to attack means the attacking team must transition from defence to attack, offering additional opportunities to switch the ball.
• In Stage 3, whites combine well in sending a quick switch out to the flanks, but must position smartly in order to protect against a transition
This session improves and develops attacking balance when going forward.
Often we have to switch play or break out at pace, and it’s important that we retain structure and don’t become one-dimensional. To help achieve this we adopt our club philosophy of utilising the full width of the pitch when attacking. We will practise this in training in the same way that we construct it in a match situation, ensuring that players understand how and when to move the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. MORE
At any level, the ability to attack the opposition with quick, positive forward play can yield terrific rewards.
This session requires determined and aggressive forward movement and clever passing, and the key is to always be moving forwards or sideways – so never backwards, and never remaining stationery. If players follow this simple blueprint, we, as a team, have the makings of fast, invasive attacks, which are so dangerous. MORE
“…fantastic… I encourage all my coaches to read it,”