This session teaches players to stay positive and aware in game situations, with a focus on moving play forward at all times. It encourages players to think about what’s ahead of and around them and relies on a good first touch and the use of clever angled passes. In the Premier League, the better the... MORE
Playing through the thirds
This session begins as a technical practice, moves to an opposed practice before being developed into a small-sided game.
As a coach, I’m always looking for players to master basic elements such as movement and rotation in receiving the ball, and with that, the decision process behind the onward pass. However simple they are, it’s really important to practise these elements because they represent core skills, and influence almost every match day scenario.
The session is one that should be repeated regularly so players learn and understand the expectations of not only their coach, but team mates as well.
|Up to 85×70 yards|
|Balls, cones, goals, mannequins|
|Number of Players|
|Up to 16|
|Technical practice 10mins
Opposed practice 10mins
Small-sided game 20mins
What do I get the players to do?
Set up as shown in the diagram. For the technical practice, we are looking for the two central players to move out to the ball, control, turn, and pass it on. The technique is designed to produce a good first touch that sees them ‘breaking (imaginary vertical) lines’ whilst shielding the ball and preparing to move it on (1a).
Having two men on left and right stations mean players can rotate around the area after each pass and into new positions, so the move retains its flow and momentum (1b).
Setting up as shown (2a), this is a two-way practice. Attackers must maintain possession and, using their overloads, transfer the ball from one end to the other. Each attacker in each area must touch the ball before it’s moved on and we’re looking for various movement and rotation patterns, plus precise timing (2b).
When the ball completes its route into the end zone, two attackers from the central zone move forward to support the receiver. Two attackers from the deeper third then enter the middle zone.
The defender in the middle zone moves into the top zone and presses against three attackers. The defender from the first zone goes into the middle zone allowing the practice to now come back the other way. Rotate defenders every minute.
In the 8v8 small-sided game, attackers must always play through a man in the middle zone in order to move up the pitch (3a). The game combines both previously rehearsed ideas – breaking and passing through the lines. The ability for players to be able to do this depends on the quality of rotation and movement, plus the timing of support play in the middle zone (3b).
What are the key things to look out for?
In each practice, movement, rotation and support are the key elements.