These soccer drills and sessions from professional coaches like Ronald Koeman, Claudio Ranieri and Manuel Pellegrini reveal how transitions are coached in professional soccer. On gaining possession are players looking to progress quickly, or are they seeking to retain possession and slow the game down. On losing possession are they immediately pressing to try and win the ball back (likely high up the pitch) or are they simply trying to slow the opposition down and allow their team to regain its shape?


Defensive transition

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.


Transition from defence to attack

The idea behind this session is to run drills that manufacture situations similar to those that occur during a real match. This makes players more familiar with the situations and encourages them to face these phases of the game with more confidence and greater experience.


The power of positioning

In every game, we aim to be dominant in terms of good possession and good movement. So, this session is about players adopting learned and thought-out positions involved in transitions between defence and attack.

This is actually one of the easiest principles to coach – it doesn’t require complex instruction, just players being willing to ‘know a role before playing it’.


Counter-attacking and transitions

This session is about counter-attacking with pace on the first phase, decision-making and game-related play thereafter.

It is match-realistic and game-related for all positions. So in attacking play we want to see shots on goal, with movement to create or score. In terms of defending play, this is about defending crosses into the box, so players have to ask if they defend space or the man.


Deadly transitions

This session examines how we condition a player technically, tactically, physiologically and psychologically when attacking and defending transitions in a small-sided competition-based game.

It’s important to practise this because it improves our mastering of a scenario that appears regularly in matches…

“As a regular reader of Elite Soccer I look forward to receiving every issue. I’m delighted to share one of my own sessions with fellow coaches”

5-star José Mourinho
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