The purpose of this training session is to encourage the team to retain possession and build play from the back. The players enjoy this session because it is competitive, goal-oriented and directional, with an emphasis on our end product and creating chances to score. It’s also very important to involve the goalkeepers in this session because it helps them to work on their ball control and distribution.
The session begins with a passing rondo and progresses into an activity that encourages calm and intelligent passing in tight areas. It finishes with an 11v11 game that is also focused on patient build up play from the back.
The principle of this session is to always improve our build up play, our movements, our decision making in possession and our end product. It rehearses players to use good off-the-ball movement and it requires them to make effective and well timed forward runs and forward passes when they are attacking.
We would tend to run this session earlier in our training week, on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. We would focus on the in-possession team on one day and the out-of-possession team on the other.
We set up in an area of 18×16 yards. We’re using 11 players split into two teams of four plus three players who act as floaters. The floaters always play for the team in possession, creating a 7v4 overload in favour of the team with the ball.
The positions of the three floaters are semi fixed, with one player at each end and one in the centre. We often use goalkeepers as the end floaters. The other players occupy particular areas in the square and should always looks to stay in a position that benefits their role without unnecessarily crossing into a team mate’s area. In particular, the possession players should stay out of the corners to create more passing options and they must try to keep themselves in shape.
Play starts with the possession team passing to keep the ball with the help of the floaters, as shown [1a]. All players are restricted to two-touch.
If a pressing player wins the ball, the pressing team must immediately switch roles with the possession team, as shown [1b].
We play games of two minutes and if the pressers have three unsuccessful attempts to gain the ball, then possession is turned over to them. If the ball goes out of play, the pressing team restarts in possession with a new ball from the coach.
The idea is for the team in possession to keep the ball for as long as possible and recover it as quickly as possible when it is lost. We are looking for the possession team to widen the play to create the highest number of passing options. The pressing players look to defend in shape and wait for the right moment to press and recover the ball, focusing on not losing the ball once they win it back.
For this activity to succeed, we want to see the players using good communication and accurate, well weighted and well timed passing.
We also want to see the central floater adopting the correct body shape to receive and play the ball.
THREE GOAL END ZONE GAME
We set up as shown on just over half a pitch with 10-yard end zones and three mini target goals at each end. A goalkeeper is positioned in each end zone and they can slide across to protect all three mini goals at their end. The line into the end zone doubles as the offside line. We’re using 20 outfield players split into two teams of 10, which are set up in team formation.
Play starts with a pass from the keeper and the attacking team should keep possession while looking for an opening to penetrate the opposition by passing into the end zone and scoring in one of the goals, as shown [2a]. To encourage possession play, we often say eight passes must be made before they can attack the goals.
The defending team should press to gain possession and then counter-attack the mini goals at the opposite end.
We can progress this activity by positioning mannequins behind each target goal. We put different coloured bibs on the mannequins and coaches can call out a colour during the attack to force the possession team to attack the nominated goal, as shown [2b].
BUILDING FROM THE BACK
We set up as shown on a full pitch with a goal and a goalkeeper at each end. We’re using 20 outfield players split into two teams of 10. Both teams line up in team formation.
Play starts with a pass from the goalkeeper but the attacking team’s front two and the defending team’s back four must wait in the half of the pitch to be attacked. This means that when they are in their own half, the attacking possession team has a 9v6 overload including the goalkeeper and this allows them to build play patiently from the back, as shown [3a].
Once the ball has crossed the halfway line it’s free play and any other players from the attacking team can now cross the halfway line to join their front two and support the attack if they choose, as shown [3b]. Any of the defending team’s players can also recover to help their back four defend against the attack.
When out of possession, the defending team must press and try to win the ball. If they succeed, they can counter-attack the opposite goal, as shown [3c]. Whether it’s the first attack, or a counter-attack, when the action is finished and the ball is dead, the players must return to the original set-up and play starts from the opposite keeper. The attacking team’s front two and the defending team’s back four must wait in the half of the pitch to be attacked.
We want to see the players using accurate, well weighted and well timed passing. We also want to see players using good off-the-ball movement and making quality forward runs to break into the opposition half.