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.
This session has led to the creation of numerous goalscoring chances in the Premier League this season – even against the top sides – and we will practise it in training at least once a week.
What do I get the players to do?
Splitting the playing area in two, all players begin in one half of the pitch with the exception of two target men – one for each side – who are located in the other half. The team starting with possession must complete a minimum of four passes before transferring the ball to their target man who is positioned in a small boxed area at the other end of the pitch. Defenders must close down space in trying to prevent the switch.
In making their passes, the attacking team can utilise a ‘floating’ team-mate, who is positioned off one side of the pitch and is free to play along the touchline up to the halfway mark. He cannot be tackled.
When a switch is successfully made and the target man receives possession, all players move to the other half. Here again, four passes must be made before a switch to the other half, where the former floating player is now fixed in a boxed area. Should an interception be made though, it is now the defenders’ turn to build ‘pass and switch’ moves.
What are the key things to look for technically/tactically?
Awareness is everything in this session. Any player receiving the ball needs to check over his shoulder to be aware of all opportunities. Players must show good technique given the tight environment, as well as quality passing ability, particularly when the switch is made.
Tactically, this session is all about offering balance when the team attacks, ensuring that there is a good flow of forward movement while, in the progression, strong defensive cover is also factored in.
How do I progress the session?
We progress the session by adding a goal and goalkeeper at each end. Now, when four passes have been completed and the switch made, the target player has two touches to deliver a ball into the middle which is attacked. But, when a team breaks forward into the other half they must leave defensive players back to protect against the opposition turning over possession, because four quick passes can trigger a counter-attacking pass to the their target man.
Progress this further by restricting play to three- or two-touch.