All posts by Tom Mura

Shooting Off the Pass

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 35 x 26 yard

Teams: 15 mins

Players: 7 v 7

Objectives

  • To Shoot directly off of a pass
  • To understand when and when not to shoot depending on the scenario

Set-Up

Two teams score on different goals, both teams play in a diamond formation and 2 players are in corner zones on the offensive side of the ball.

shooting-off-the-pass-1

Execution

The aim is to be able to shoot directly off a pass. Either when the ball is coming back towards you or travelling in the same direction as you. Aim to get the ball to the player in the offensive zones early so there is space for players to arrive and shoot with a 1 time shot.

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The players in the offensive zones should look to find options from movements from the field players. Depending on the corresponding movements of the defenders is where the ball is played, looking for a team mate to finish with a 1 time shot.

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If there is not an option to directly score off of a pass from the offensive zone then players in the field of play can also create opportunities for other players. Depending on where the defenders are players can either run in front, or like in the diagram, run behind into the space to receive a pass.

shooting-off-the-pass-4

Variations

  • Once you play to an offensive zone you switch
  • Set distances from the goal, so more points are awarded the further out players score from
  • Allow players from the offensive zones to drive inside to draw players towards them

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

When to Dribble and When to Pass

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 18 yard area x 2

Teams: 15 mins

Players: 6 v 7 (Underload)

Objectives

  • To realize 1v1 dribbling opportunities
  • To be positive in decision making

Set-Up

The area is separated into 3 zones. 2 wide zones from the 18 to the 6. The central zone which is the width of the 6. Players are only allowed in the zones they occupy.

when-and-where-to-dribble-1

Execution

The aim is to look for 1v1 scenarios when players can be positive and dribble past their opponent. Sometimes players will receive the ball in a 1v1 situation but will not be able to be positive and attempt to dribble. This game is meant to highlight the opportunities for when and where to dribble.

When a wide player receives the ball and there is space to run and attack their opponent in the wide area, encourage the to do so on every occasion. If they receive the ball in a tight area with pressure high up the field, you can also encourage them to use skill to beat their opponent. Only when they are close to their goal should they not attempt to dribble due to possible loss of possession.

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If a player in the central zone receives the ball with space to run into and take a player on you should encourage them to do so, only if it is a 1v1 scenario. If a second player begins to pressure the attacker, the attacker must make a decision. If it becomes another 1v1 then they can attempt to dribble, but if it is a 2v1 they should look to find a pass.

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Variations

  • Allow players with the ball to dribble into other zones to encourage 1v1 situations
  • Open up the area so players can make decisions on when and where to attempt a 1v1 dribble

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

Playing Through the Striker

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 18 yard area + 15 yards

Teams: 15-20mins

Players: 4 v 3

Time: 15-20 Minutes

Objectives

  • To combine with the striker through different combinations
  • To use the position of the defenders to make decisions on which combination should be used

Set-Up

This is for teams that play in a 4-2-3-1 formation or something similar for the 7v7 or 9v9 models. It can easily be adapted for a 4-3-3 system. Set your players up in a diamond against the 2 CBs and GK below.

playing-through-the-striker-1

Execution

The starting trigger is when the striker (#9) checks away and moved down, diagonally towards the #10. The #9 sets with the left foot if they go left and right if they go right. This is so the angle of the pass back to the #10 can’t be intercepted by a CB. The #10 then plays a pass into space to the #7 or #11, depending on which side the #9 runs.

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Next, work on having the striker run in between the CB’s after the set. Have the #10 play either (1) an opposite (reverse) field pass to the opposite winger or (2) play through the CB’s to the striker. This depends on where the CB’s position themselves. Play (1) if they are narrow (2) if they are separated by a large space.

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If the defenders are able to get out to a wide player before they can get forward explain the pass to the #10 should be on. The #10 can either (1) shoot or (2) pass across if the 2nd CB blocks the shooting opportunity.

playing-through-the-striker-4

 

Variations

  • Add a 3rd defender to act as a defensive midfielder
  • Play 2 touch

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

Getting Forward and Negative Passes

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: Half a Field

Teams: 2 teams (7 v 7)

Time: 15 Minutes

Objectives

  • Aim to get as far forward as possible by either runs or passes from deep
  • To understand when and where to pass backwards

Set-Up

Half a field with one main goal and 3 small goals at the half way line. Have a line of cones half way to separate the field into 2. One team attacking the main goal sets up with 4 players across the midfield and 3 strikers or 1 striker and 2 attacking midfielders. The defending team sets up centrally to stop progression through the middle.

getting-forward-negative-passes-1

Execution

Because of how both teams are set up, the way to get forward for the attacking team is using the wide midfielders. The objective is to get them as high as possible to cross into the box, while the defenses job is to stop any forward progression by being compact and recovering when their lines have been broken.

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If the defense does their job and stops forward progression, then the attacking team must use negative passes to 1) keep possession and 2) look to change the point of attack. Keep 2 or 3 players in the zone furthest away from the main goal to support any player with the ball. Change the point of attack with speed and precision to not allow the defense to slide across to stop forward progression again. But if they do there should always be players to help with keeping possession through negative passes.

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If the defense becomes spread in anticipation of the attacks coming from the wide area the attacking team should look to penetrate centrally by either driving with the ball or passing to the striker. If the striker can’t turn and shoot and is being stopped by a center back then look to 1) set the ball for another player to strike on goal or 2) if the defense condenses switch the ball out wide to now attack from the side again. If the defense win the ball at any point they can score in any of the 3 goals.

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The point of this practice is to get players to be more aware of their surroundings by realizing that, at any particular point in an attack, they may not be able to continue to go forward and the best course of continuing an attack is to go backwards. I see it a lot in games at tournaments where players should go backwards and instead they either turn into pressure and get tackled or the 2 players hack at the ball until someone wins or the ball moves.

 

Variations

  • Try different formations to attack with such as the 4-3-3
  • Once the ball crosses the line into the attacking zone the team has a limited number of passes to shoot, such as 4 before it must go back. This is to help with speed of decision.

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

Pressing in a 4-3-3

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 36 x 42 yards

Teams: 2 teams 

Time: 15 Minutes

Objectives:

  • To work as a team to force the ball where you want it
  • To be ready to intercept the ball and attack straight away

Set Up:

2 teams are set up in a 4-3-3, but with no defenders. So both teams have a defensive midfielder (#6), two attacking midfielders (#8 & #10) 2 wide strikers (#7 & #11) and a central striker (#9). There are 4 goals, 2 at each end and 2 on the side.

Execution:

One team starts with the ball and their aim is to score in the opposite goal or either of the 2 side goals. The defending team is central, this is to force the ball out wide. As the ball is passed wide this is the trigger for the #11 to make a curved run to cut off the line to both the wide goal and the opposition player further up the field. The #9 makes a similar run to cut off the pass back to the opposition #6.At the same time players close to an opposition player get close to them, ball side, so they are ready to intercept a pass.

Because of the positions of #11 and #9 the player in possession can only pass centrally into the middle of the field. Because of the previous movements players are able to anticipate this pass and intercept the ball. Now the objective is to attack the central goal.

Variations:

  • Add a neutral so there is an underload
  • Set a time limit or a number of passes you must score in once you win possession.
  • Play with an offside line.

Dummy Give & Go

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 36 x 42 yards (wide zones 3 x 42, striker zones 30 x 12, midfield zone 30 x 18)

Teams: 2 teams (6 v 6 +2)

Time: 15 Minutes

Objectives:

  • To know when & how to execute the dummy
  • For the strikers to work together

This is a combination play that has almost been forgotten, mainly because in recent times most team have either played a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. With the success of Leicester City in the Premier League playing a 4-4-2 and even other teams adopting the formation such as Watford the formation is seeing somewhat of a revival. Of course you lose midfield superiority but what you lose in midfield you gain in attack. With 2 strikers it is much easier to manipulate the movements of the 2 central defenders. And if you do not play a possession game and say play either a direct game or counter attack game having 2 strikers can be very effective.

The dummy give and go is just one combination and like everything should be used in the right scenario. Way back in 1998, Manchester United played Barcelona at the Nou Camp in a thrilling game that eventually ended 3-3. One of the goals in this game was via a dummy give and go (which is on YouTube and I advise you to watch it). The reason it was successful is because the two strikers in question were Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. You would not consider either of these individuals the greatest strikers in history but they had one of the deadliest partnerships arguably in history. With both of these strikers playing in a 4-4-2, Man Utd won the treble (Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League) something that has not been done before or since.

So if you play 4-4-2 already or want to, you must make a commitment for your two strikers to work together as a partnership, not as two individual players. They must be both want the other player to score and have an unselfishness about their own personal stats and play for the team. Now if you can get 2 players who can combine well together and have this personality the combination of the dummy give and go can cause huge unrest for defenses.

Set Up:

You will need 2 goals, 4 mannequins and cones to set up 5 areas. 2 wide zones, 2 striker zones and a midfield zone.


Execution:

The aim of this game is to get the ball wide as often as possible to one of the two neutrals, they then run with the ball down the wing to just before the striker zone.

Once in position the striker closest to the ball comes forward, to create a line between the 3 players. On the right we see the beginning of the move that lead to the goal for Man Utd against Barcelona in 1998.

Because of the position of the striker and ball being passed to them, the defender marking them steps forward out of position. They believe that the striker will control the ball, but instead the striker lets the ball run through his legs to the striker behind them.

After the dummy the striker then runs around the defender who has stepped towards them to receive the ball off the 2nd striker.

In the practice the striker should shoot at this moment, however in the game because they are still some way from goal Dwight Yorke sees the defense coming across to him, therefore out of position so he passes the ball back across to Andy Cole who now has the opportunity to score.

This goal is only one instance where they scored from the dummy give and go, because of their intelligence and team work they were able to score from this combination throughout the seasons they played together, but only when the scenario was right.

To increase the difficulty for the practice, allow a player from the midfield zone to be able to enter the striking zone in order to stop the pass through to the other striker. If the first striker sees a player doing this then they should take a touch around the mannequin and shoot.

Variations:

  • Add a defender between the mannequins
  • If you have more players swap the mannequins for defenders

  • Take away the 3 zones between the wide zones

Recovery Runs

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: half a 7 v 7/9 v 9 field

Teams: 2 teams (4 v 3)

Time: 15 Minutes

Objectives

  • To slow progression of the attacking team down
  • To recover into positions of support

Set-Up

The area needed is half a field, teams are in 3’s (plus a GK) the attackers start with 2 players wide and one centrally. The defenders start with one on the ‘D’ and 2 the same distance as the central attacker. The one defender on the ‘D’ is very important to the recovery of the other 2 defenders.

recovery-runs-1

Execution

The central attacker starts each time and passes the ball to a wide player. The central defender moves to the side of the ball. But, unlike other defending sessions, does not sprint to pressure the ball. This would allow an easy pass across for other attackers to advance on goal too easily.

Remember the main objective of this central defender is to slow the attack down, not to win possession, so the other defenders have time to recover.

recovery-runs-2

As soon as the central attacker passes the ball the 2 recovering defenders start their runs to get behind the ball to act as cover and balance. The central defender makes sure to slide across and allow the attacker with the ball to advance. At the same time going roughly half their speed backwards to allow the attacker the come on to them. Their position is such that they do not allow a clear run on goal but also delay/cut any pass to the opposite wide player off. Passes backwards are fine as this allows further time for the recovery defenders to get into position.

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Explain to the 2 recovering defenders that they must sprint back into a position to support and slow down the attack. Once they are in position they can then aim to win possession. If they intercept a pass while recovering, then this is fine. Once the defenders win possession the play stops. If you have the players have another 2 recovery defenders ready to go as players will need time to rest after each repetition.

Next tell the central attacker to dribble the ball forward, straight at the central defender. Remember the central defender’s aim is to slow the attack down and should not go sprinting to the ball. When the ball is passed out wide, one of the recovering defenders gets close, on the inside, of the attacker and aims to force them out wide.

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The central and opposite defender then become cover and balance respectively to support the recovering defender pressuring the ball.

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A GK is also used for game realism. The main objective for the initial defender is to slow the attack down by not committing themselves to get close to the attacker with the ball. If possible force the attacker away from goal while the recovering defenders get back into a position to help. Force the attackers into making either poor shot selections or into making predictable/slow decisions like passing backwards/sideways or slowing down.

Variations

  • Have different starting positions for both defenders and attackers
  • Have goals for the defenders to score in when they win possession back
  • For really advanced players have less defenders than attackers (underloads)

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

Awareness and Switching

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 30 x 30 yards

Teams: 2 teams (4 v 4)

Time: 15 Minutes

Objectives

  • To be aware of where your team is and the position of opposing players
  • To understand when, where and why to decide to switch the ball

Set-Up

Place 4 goals in each corner of the area, 2 for each team to score in and defend. You can only score with a 1-time finish.

awareness-switching-1

Execution

This practice is about the awareness of your players. I find too many young players have tunnel vision when it comes to soccer or sports in general and just want to go one way and only one way. This practice therefore has 2 goals at opposite sides of the field for each team to allow players to decide on which goal to score on. Their decision is based on the opposition player positioning.

When in possession the team looks to spread out and see which goal has the most opportunity to score in.

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If opposition players shift to block 1 goal it is at this point that players must understand that this goal (or direction) is closed off and the team should change directions and switch the play to the other side. So as well as passing and moving, players should also be looking at the position of opposition players.

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Variations

  • Add a neutral
  • Can only score after a set number of passes, 3, 5, 8 etc.
  • Must dribble past someone before the team can score
  • 2/1 touch max
  • Must be 1 pass with the outside of the foot before you can score

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3