Creating space in midfield

This session is about creating space in midfield in order to receive or support others in breaks. This scenario often occurs as a first build-up stage in a game when full-backs or centre-backs have possession and want to use it smartly.

The set-up also encourages short triangular passing to break through compact midfield units, and this is a session that, if perfected, can break down even the most resilient of opposition lines.

SET-UP

Area
30×30 yards
Equipment
Balls, cones, goals
Number of Players
13
Session time
Session 20mins
Development 10mins
Game 20mins

What do I get the players to do?

Set up as shown in the diagram – the aim of the session is for a team to pass the ball from one end of the area to the other.

End players (there are two at each end) receive passes, pass sideways, and feed new balls into the area. Side players are one-touch, and act as extra passing outlets. The floater is one-touch and plays for the team in possession.

Using the floater – in effect, in a 4v3 overload – teams must receive the ball from an end player, work it through midfield and out to the opposite flank (1a). Along the way, they can use either side player as well. If they succeed in working the ball across, they now build a new move coming back the other way (1b).

If possession is turned over, the other team now uses the floater in attempting to perform the same move. If the ball goes out of play, the game restarts with an end player passing to either team.

1a

• Receiving from an end player, and using the floater, the ball is passed across the area

1b

• End players combine, and the ball comes back down the other side, this time using a side player as well


What are the key things to look out for?

The timing of runs in creating space is crucial. Players must always be on the move, must rotate positions, work for angles, and pass the ball with speed and precision. Players should quickly learn when to retain possession and when to pass forward.

How do I progress the session?

We remove the floater, adding an extra player to each team to create a 4v4 (2a/2b). Deep midfielders are allowed two touches while others are one-touch.

2a

• In the progression, the floater is removed and the game is 4v4 in the middle

2b

• Despite possession being turned over, play follows the same direction, from one end to the other


How do I put this into a game situation?

In a 70×30-yard area – two end zones 20 yards deep with a middle 30-yard zone – this is a 6v6 game (3a/3b). It’s 2v1 in favour of defenders in each end zone, and 3v3 in the middle with a floater. Players must stay in their zones.

3a

• In the game situation, play is built from the back through sections

3b

• Possession is turned over and one-touch passing, taking advantage of the neutral player as an overload, sets a team mate free on the wing with a run from deep

Central players must put into practice what they learnt in the main session, though now they work the ball to a frontman for a shot at goal. When the ball goes dead, play restarts each time with keepers, as teams build from the back. 

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