Defensive transition

Area

Up to full pitch

Equipment

Balls, bibs, cones, 4 goals

No. of players

Up to 20 players + 4 goalkeepers

Session time

Warm-up boxes: 10mins, Possession game: 15mins, Possession & transition: 12mins, Pitch switch: 15mins

This session is about the defensive transition. It helps to get players into the habit of reacting immediately after losing possession and works on encouraging the group of players closest to the ball to prevent the opposition from developing an attacking action.

At all times this session is focused on short sprint reactions in tight areas, which always gives the players a realistic chance of winning back possession or stopping the opposition from scoring, and it requires additional running from the players if this aim is not achieved.

This is a session we would not run too close to match day and we would usually use it when we are due to be playing against opposition that we expect to be focused on counter-attacking play.

WARM-UP BOXES

We set up two 8×8-yard boxes separated by a gap of 1.5 yards. We’re using 10 outfield players, split into eight passing players and one pair of pressers. The possession players are two-touch.

Four passers start in each box and the two pressers start in one of those boxes, making it 4v2 in one box while the possession players pass the ball unopposed in the other box.

If the pressers win possession in the 4v2 box, the player who lost the ball and the player who made the pass into him both sprint into the other box, where they become pressers and try to win possession

from the other four possession players, who have already been passing the ball amongst themselves, as shown [1].

1

1. Four possession players pass the ball in each box. One box is unopposed
2. It’s 4v2 in one box and two pressers try to win the ball
3. If the pressers win the ball, the player who lost possession and the player who passed to him both sprint into the other box, where they become pressers
4. The original pressers join the possession team in passing the ball unopposed in the first box

In the original box, the first pressing pair now become possession players and continue to pass the ball as a new unopposed group of four.

We play four games of two minutes, with 30 seconds rest in between.

POSSESSION GAME

We set up a playing area of 22×12 yards. We’re using 11 outfield players split into two teams of four plus three floaters. One floater is in the main area and the other two are positioned at each end. We always use goalkeepers as the outside floaters. The two teams of four are one-touch and the three floaters are two-touch.

Play starts with one team passing the ball, assisted by the floaters who always play for the team in possession. The other team presses to win the ball, as shown [2].

2

1. The blues are one-touch and they must pass to keep possession
2. The three floaters are two-touch and they play for the team in possession
3. The reds press and if they win the ball, they must keep hold of it under pressure from the blues, who have to perform a forfeit if they fail to win it back within six seconds

The team that loses possession must quickly transition into the pressing role and should try to regain possession as soon as they can, while the original pressing team must now try to avoid the pressure and keep the ball in their possession.

We play four games: two games of 2.5 minutes and two games of 3 minutes, with a minute to rest between each game.

We would alternate the two teams of four as the possession team and we would set them a target of winning the ball back within six seconds should they lose possession.

If they fail to win the ball back in the target time, they are penalised with a punishment of the coach’s choice, such as press-ups.

POSSESSION & TRANSITION

We set up a playing area of 40×36 yards with a goal and goalkeeper at each end. We’re using 10 outfield players, split into two teams of five. The blues are one-touch and they start as the possession team; they must pass to keep hold of the ball with the help of both goalkeepers, who are two-touch. The blues are set a target number of passes they must string together to receive a point. The reds press to gain possession, as shown [3a].

3a

1. The blues start as the possession team and they are one-touch
2. The blue possession team pass to keep the ball with the help of both goalkeepers, who are two-touch
3. The reds press to win the ball and they are allowed unlimited touches

When the blues lose the ball, they must

transition quickly to stop the reds (who have no touch limit) from scoring in the goal at the opposite end of the pitch to where they won possession, as shown [3b].

3b

1. When the red pressing team wins the ball, they must try to score in the goal at the opposite end of the pitch to where they won it
2. The blues must transition quickly to try to stop the reds scoring

As soon as the ball is dead, the blue possession team is served a new ball and play continues in the same manner.

We play four games of two minutes, with one minute to rest between each game. Teams alternate as the possession team in each game.

PITCH SWITCH

We set up two 40×44-yard playing areas, with a goal and a goalkeeper at each end. We’re using 20 outfield players split evenly into reds and blues and we play a 5v5 game on each pitch with no restriction on the number of touches.

Whenever a team concedes two goals in a game on either of the two pitches, as shown [4a], a coach gives a signal and calls out their colour. Both games are stopped and the teams wearing the colour bibs called out by the coach have to quickly switch pitches, as shown [4b]. Play is then restarted. We play for 15 minutes.

4a

1. Play 5v5 plus keepers on each pitch, with no restriction on the number of touches
2. When a team concedes two goals in a game on either of the pitches, a coach gives a signal

4b

1. When the coach signals that a team has conceded two goals, he also calls out their colour
2. Both games are stopped and the teams wearing the colour called by the coach have to quickly switch pitches. Play then restarts

WHAT ARE THE KEY THINGS TO LOOK FOR?

The players in possession of the ball should always be positioned so as to provide good passing options for their team mates. Additionally, they should also always be controlling their surroundings, to be able to react with quality at the moment when they lose the ball.

WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL MISTAKES PLAYERS MIGHT MAKE AND HOW DO I AVOID THEM?

Often players switch off and stand thinking about why they lost the ball instead of reacting and trying to win it back immediately.

Key

  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement