This activity is about executing a variety of different shooting and finishing techniques. Players will have opportunities to try and score from longer range (from over 20 yards out) with minimal pressure, as well as close range shooting, rebounds and finishing from crosses with high pressure.
This is a thoroughly engaging and exciting practice for players to participate in and for coaches to deliver. The set-up is minimal, with very little equipment required for the activity and it incorporates goalkeepers too. Essentially, it is a conditioned small-sided game so players will naturally be enthusiastic about playing.
There are lots of chances to score different types of goals and it works on quick passing combinations to help create goal scoring opportunities. Strikers thrive on reacting to rebounds and through balls and defenders can practise blocking and intercepting, as well as their distribution into the attacking half.
This is an activity that players will want to return to on a regular basis. If the team is struggling to score goals, this practice has many positive returns and has masses of repetition without at any time becoming repetitive.
There are lots of coaching points that can be made but often it is more ideal to deliver these in between rounds of play to ensure that the intensity and competitiveness is maintained.
Playing this game at the end of a session is beneficial as players may be more physically and psychologically fatigued and it therefore develops their ability to stay focused and execute football actions when they are tired.
“In this activity there are lots of chances to score different types of goals and it also works on quick passing combinations to create scoring opportunities”
We set up a playing area of 30×20 yards with a goal and a goalkeeper at each end. The playing area is divided into two halves.
We’re using ten outfield players split into two teams of four, plus two neutrals. Each team has three defenders in the half they are defending and one striker in the half they are attacking. One neutral player is positioned on each side and they support the team in possession from outside of the playing area. The neutrals can move anywhere along the touchline but they are limited to two-touch, as shown [1a].
“The yellow neutral players can move anywhere along the touchline but they are limited to two-touch”
There are no corners or throw-ins – if the ball goes out of play, the neutrals restart the game with a ball played in from the side. If a shot misses and goes out of play behind the goal (for instance, if a shot goes over the bar), play restarts with a pass out from the defending goalkeeper. If a goal is scored, the attacking team keeps possession and play restarts from the goalkeeper of the team that just scored.
Goals can be scored from anywhere on the pitch but a goal scored from the attacking half is worth three points and a long-range goal scored from the defensive half is worth just one point,
as shown [1b].
There are no offsides and we play up to six four-minute games to keep the play intense.
“Goals can be scored from anywhere on the pitch but a long-range goal scored from the defensive half is worth just one point”
We can progress this practice by allowing defenders to move into the attacking half when passing forwards or when passing into a neutral supporting player – it might be the player that passed ball that moves forward, or it could be a team-mate who is nearer to the attacking half, as shown . But they must return to the defensive half as soon as possession is lost.
We can progress the activity further by making a one-touch finish from the striker worth extra points, or by allowing corners, which neutral players can take while one defender can also move into attacking half to join in. We can also allow the neutral players to either drive in from the side to combine with the striker, or to shoot from their wide positions.
What are the key things to look for?
We want to see defenders striking a moving ball well for a long-range shot while under minimal pressure from just one pressing striker.
We also want to see good build-up play from the goalkeeper and the three defenders – they need to move the ball quickly from side to side in order to create an opening for a shot to be taken, or for a through ball to be played into the striker.
The striker should show good movement to receive and technique when controlling the ball with high and multi-directional pressure. Can he receive the ball in between the defenders with an open body shape to shoot? The striker should also be alert to follow up on all rebounds and use various types of run.
What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?
Players will sometimes try to execute shots from their defensive half at the wrong time – for instance, when under pressure from the opposition striker, or when the opposing defenders are compact and can block the shot. To remedy this, the coach can talk to the players about passing the ball quickly to move the striker and the opposition defenders in order to create gaps in which to either shoot or play a through ball into the striker.
The side neutral players can often be static and not offer passing options due to sometimes feeling that they’re not directly involved in the game. Here, the coach can encourage and show them that their movement creates a very advantageous overload for the attacking team.