Positivity and awareness


Game One: 30x30 yards Game Two: The area in between penalty boxes


Cones or poles, balls, goals

No. of players


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 players we face, the less time we have to make correct decisions, so rehearsing this session improves players’ offensive mindset, which is important not only in creating chances, but in terms of ball retention as well.

What do I get the players to do?

We play each of the small-sided games below for 20 minutes.

Game One: Cross-passing goals

Having placed two poles on opposite sides of the playing area 10 yards in from the corners, we stand a blue player on each. On the remaining two sides are poles with yellow players on so that, in total, four players from each team occupy fixed positions on poles. One ‘pole player’ from each team starts with a ball.

In the central playing area is a two-ball 4v4 battle. Players must receive the ball from their team-mate on a pole and thread passes through to one of the two players on the opposite edge. A point is scored for each ball that makes it across.

Attacking is only one part though, as players need to respect their defensive duties. They must be ready to switch direction, in doing so combining attacking build-up play with a defensive strategy that stifles the opposition. If they break up an opposition attack, they can score by feeding the ball to one of their own fixed players.


Each team starts with a ball and passes out


Two blues construct a quick one-two to break into space while the other two press the yellows


Blues score a point but a long pass has freed the yellow player who has switched from defending to attacking mode

Game Two: Playing forward

In this game we place goals on the 18-yard lines and play in the space between the two penalty boxes, with a 15-yard zone in front of each goal. This is again played 8v8.

We play a small-sided game whereby the ball must go forward until it reaches the 15-yard zone. This is the only area in which it can be passed backwards. If it goes back anywhere else, possession is given to the other team’s keeper.

Attacking players must always display positive forward movements and a willingness to break into space.

Both this and the Cross-passing game can be progressed by limiting play to one or two touches, or by insisting that the ball remains on the ground.


In game two, the keeper serves the ball out to his defender who plays forward


As blues press, yellows must continue to move the ball upfield


All yellows are marked, so a ball into space creates the opportunity for a cross into the middle

What are the key things to look out for tactically/technically?

In game one, players need to be side-on to play. We are looking for attacking desire, with players displaying an urgency to defend and break up the play that is coming towards them at a 90 degree angle. Players must keep their body open and never end up with their backs to play.

In game two, excellent body shape and strong decision making is essential in order to keep the ball moving forward.