In this session we focus on switching play and trying to create numerical advantages all over the pitch. The objective is to exploit the defending team and capitalise on a switch of play by creating goal scoring opportunities. This requires players to be looking to change the direction of play and then either cause an overload or simply catch the opposition off guard.
The game today is all about the finer details and even a simple 2v2 session needs to be specific to the overall outcome. We want our players to be asking questions of themselves: Can I switch the play? Do we have the numbers? Does the opposition have the time to react? Is it on?
This particular session is geared toward helping the players see when a switch can happen and recognising what it looks like, while encouraging them to take responsibility to deliver the required pass in order to create that attacking moment.
I tend to use this session in various guises – I might use the first part as a warm up, or I could use the second part before going into a phase of play, and of course the last part could be a session all on its own. Here I will use all three parts of the session, which is what I do when introducing it to the players for the first time.
“The objective is to exploit the defending team and capitalise on a switch of play by creating goal scoring opportunities”
After a general warm up [not shown], we will set up two playing grids side by side: one is 12×12 yards and the other is 12×10 yards. We’re using 22 players split into two groups, with one group of 11 players for each playing area. In each area we simultaneously play a 4v4 game with three yellow floaters playing for the team in possession, as shown .
In the slightly larger 12×12-yard area, the aim is for the team in possession to move the ball from one end to the other. To do this they can use the help of the three yellow floaters to keep hold of the ball. In this area we would play two three-minute games, with the players limited to two-touch for the first game and no restriction on touches for the second.
In the smaller 12×10-yard area, the aim is still for the possession team to move the ball from one end to the other with the help of the floaters but in this grid we would play a three-minute game with players limited to one- touch, followed by a three-minute game with no restriction on touches. After two games on one grid, the teams would switch to the other grid for another two games.
In this activity, we want to see quality passing into feet, good off-the-ball movement, and an awareness of where team mates are. Being able to get the ball from one end to the other whilst maintaining possession is one of the challenges, but the other important aspect is that players should react quickly when losing possession.
“We want to see quality passing into feet, good off-the-ball movement, and an awareness of where team mates are”
After having established that we are looking to switch play as quickly as possible, we move on to the next part of the session. Using the full width of a pitch, we set up between the 18-yard line and the halfway line, with three small goals positioned at each end and with the playing area divided into three zones, as shown .
We’re using 16 players split into two teams of eight and we play an 8v8 directional game, with the teams trying to score at the end they are attacking. The rules can vary in terms of how many touches players are allowed, but a team cannot score in the zone where they win the ball. This forces the two teams to look to switch play at all times. We want the players to be looking to see where the numerical advantage is so they can recognise when the switch is on and where there is an opportunity to score.
We would play three games of six minutes each. In one game we would limit the players to one-touch, in the second game players would be all-in, and in the third game we would limit the players to two-touch.
We set up between the penalty areas of a normal pitch that is split length-wise into three zone, with a full size goal positioned at each end. We’re using 20 outfield players and two goalkeepers, split into two teams of 11.
We play an 11v11 game and the principle objective remains to encourage teams to switch the play. To achieve this, the ball must be moved through all three zones in an attacking move before a shot on goal can be taken, as shown .
Again, teams cannot score in the same zone that they win possession. We would want to see players using good off-the-ball movement to create areas of the pitch where their team has a numerical advantage that can be exploited.
In this game there is no limit on touches. We would play for 12 minutes. Then we would remove the zones and play for another 12 minutes, asking players to keep the emphasis on switching play.
“We want the players to be looking to see where the numerical advantage is so they can recognise when the switch is on”