All posts by Tom Mura

Composure in Front of Goal

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 35 x 20 yards (Scoring Zones: 10 x 20)

Teams: 3 v 3 + 1

Time: 15 Minutes

Objectives

  • To understand when and where to create a goal scoring opportunity
  • To work on technique of passing the ball into the corner or knowing when and how to round the goalkeeper

Execution

The idea of this small sided game is to increase the number of chances in front of goal per player. The more chances, thus repetition of similar scenarios, a player is able to experience the calmer they will be when presented with the same chance in a game.

Composure in Front of Goal (1)

Calmness or composure in front of goal is critical to scoring. Many times players panic because it is a pressure situation, players think ‘don’t miss’ instead of ‘score’. Players can’t handle defenders chasing them down and breathing down their neck, the GK rushing out to stop them. This all leads to two things that happen, generally players result to power and the ball goes straight at the GK or high over the crossbar.

When in the team of 3,players spread out as wide as possible, the neutral keeps advancing, if the defenders do not close them down then they can run with the ball into the scoring area and take a shot themselves. If a defender does close them down the neutral passes to the side the defender came from. The receiving player has a positive first touch and quickly enters the scoring zone. To begin with no defender is allowed in so it is like a 1 v 1 scenario, just the attacker and GK.

The attacker pushes the ball to the middle and their body is to the side of the ball, the shoulder, of the side that is shooting, points behind the ball to open the hips. the attacker aims to ‘pass’ the ball into the corner, low and with curve to get around any potential save attempt from the GK. If the GK is too far to that side, shoot near post.

Composure in Front of Goal (2)

The next scoring scenario is when the ball is too close the GK to find the spaces to shoot. Realizing this the player looks to use their body to fake a shot, ‘selling’ the GK to move one way and then calmly pushing the ball past them to pass into the open goal.

Composure in Front of Goal (3)

The repetitive nature of going through 1 v 1 gives players the chance to experience the scenario often so in games they can recall their positive experiences and have a higher chance of keeping their composure and scoring.

Variations

Eventually you can allow one defender into the scoring zone, then 2 to really increase the pressure.

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

Underlapping Runs

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 45 x 38 yards (Channel Areas: 45 x 3)

Teams: 5 v 5 + 4

Time: 15 Minutes

Objectives

  • To understand when and where to use the space for the underlap
  • To use movement to clear space for the underlap of the full back

Underlapping Runs (1)

Execution

In order to perform the underlapping run, there must be space to do so. As often as possible aim for the ball to be played directly to the attacking neutral on one side. To create the space for the underlap, the widest player in the central area in the space must take a defender away with their run.

Underlapping Runs (2)

If the other team stays in this area because they want to stop the underlapping run then pass to the player who is now free, this should now make them think twice about staying in an area.

When there is space to do so, the neutral on the side with the ball sees the space infield and runs into it, this is what a full back may do in a game. Depending on what the defense does, they can either continue and shoot or draw a defender close to them and slide and attacker for a shooting chance.

Underlapping Runs (3)

Variations

If the ‘full back’ has the ball and there is space to come infield already, without anyone having to pull any defenders away, then run with the ball into the space.

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

Crossing and Heading Game

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 40 x 34 yards (Heading Zone: 28 x 5)

Teams: 5 v 5 + 2

Time: 15 Minutes

Objectives

  • To understand how to head the ball when aiming to score
  • To understand where to head the ball

4 v 4 with GKs. 2 neutrals, 1 in each channel. The aim of this small sided game is to create heading opportunities to score goals. Both ends have a heading zones which only the player heading the ball is allowed into. The GK must stay on their line. This is for safety reason so there are no collisions.

Heading from Crosses 1

Each team looks to play the ball out wide as often as possible, if the neutral is not near the heading zone they can run with the ball towards it. A single attacking player is allowed in the heading zone. The neutral aims for this player and the attacker uses their forehead, neck and shoulders to aim the ball towards goal.

Work on timing of the run, timing of connection, accuracy and power of the header.

Heading from Crosses 2

Progression

Allow two attackers to enter the heading zone, 1 at the front post and 1 at the back, eventually allow a defender to mark one of the attackers. The neutral needs to see which attacker is open and aim for the free player.

Variations

If your team are struggling with crosses you can place 4 players on the outsides, in the channels by the heading zone. When the ball is passed, they are allowed to pick the ball up and throw the ball in, to increase the amount of headers. With numbers this could take out your current GK’s or you could have 2 neutrals who throw the ball in at both sides keeping the GK’s in goal.

Heading from Crosses 3

Eventually the opposite CM will start to cut off the pass to the striker. This is when you tell your players to go wide. From here can the WM commit their counterpart and play the ball into the striker. The can striker can either perform the give and go or again set one time to the CM.

Combination Play (4)

Coaching Points

  • Striker and Cm move oppositely so combinations can be played
  • Move the ball until the scenario presents itself, do not force it

Variations

  • Change formations
  • After the half way line you must 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

Encouraging Combination Play

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 40 x 50 yards

Teams: 7 v 7

Time: 20 Minutes

Objectives

  • To build possession from the center backs
  • To work together as a team to create opportunities to move the ball forward

Combination play is when 2 or more players combine passes in quick succession to move the ball up the field. Some types of combination play are well known like the give and go, overlap, underlap and third man run. In this practice we focus on the striker’s role to combine with player’s around them. Set each team up in a 2-3-1 formation both using GK’s.

Combination Play (1)

The aim is for the striker and CM to split when a CB has the ball. The CM should always go in the opposite direction to the CB and the striker should be ahead of them. The CB’s try to find the striker’s feet. As the ball comes in the CM peel’s off the back of the opposing CM. The striker now sets the ball into the path of the CM.

Combination Play (2)

The CM can then either A) continue to drive with the ball and shoot or B) if the defender commits, they can slide the ball into the path of the WM.

Combination Play (3)

Eventually the opposite CM will start to cut off the pass to the striker. This is when you tell your players to go wide. From here can the WM commit their counterpart and play the ball into the striker. The can striker can either perform the give and go or again set one time to the CM.

Combination Play (4)

Coaching Points

  • Striker and Cm move oppositely so combinations can be played
  • Move the ball until the scenario presents itself, do not force it

Variations

  • Change formations
  • After the halfway line you must 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

Playing Out of the Back

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 40 x 50 yards. (end zone 20 x 2 yards)

Teams: 6 v 6 + 1

Time: 25 Minutes

Objectives

  • To build possession from the center backs
  • To work together as a team to create opportunities to move the ball forward

Each team has 2 CB’s off the main area of the field, they start the game off each time. Both teams have a CM, 2 WM and a ST. A neutral is used to create an overload in the midfield for passing options. To start with instruct your team not to high press but to defend how they see fit. Work with one side and see if the other team also responds to what you are coaching.

Playing out from the back (1)

When either CB has the ball, there are specific movements that other players should make to create different options. The CM drops down and away from the ball, the WM start high and drops down and further wide and the neutral moves opposite to the CM. The ST aims to stretch the defense by moving as far away from the ball that the defender moves with them.

Playing out from the back (2)

This then gives the CB 3 different options to pass the ball forwards. You can see here the movement of all players allows the neutral more space to receive the ball beyond the first line of pressure. It is up to the CB to decide where to pass the ball depending on the positioning of the defending team. When a player receives the ball the first option is to continue to play forward whilst making high percentage passes to maintain possession.Playing out from the back (3)

If the CM is passed the ball and pressured they can pass backwards to the opposite CB. If there is no obvious passing option available, then encourage them to bring the ball forward into the space ahead of them. If this happens the CM takes their place at CB to maintain defensive discipline. Now the CB will draw attention from opposition which is when options for a pass become available.Playing out from the back (4)

The whole point of playing out from the back is to make high percentage passes to move the ball forward. This can only be achieved through movement of all other players to effect the opposition and a confidence and composure in possession. If the defense is well organized know when to go back, but also know when to penetrate to attack. When the ball is in the attacking third of the field the team can shoot. If there is no GK apply a 1 touch finish rule, you can even put cones in the goal in the middle so only goals in the corners count.

Coaching Points

  • Movement of players ahead of the ball is key for creating passing options forwards
  • Move players out of position by ball movement and having composure to play high percentage passes

Variations

  • Add a GK
  • Play with 2 touch
  • The striker must touch the ball before scoring

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

Dribbling for Young Players

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 20 x 30 yards. (end zone 20 x 2 yards)

Teams: 5 v 5

Time: 15 Minutes

This is game for young players of 5-8 years old. The field has 2 sides and 2 end zones. Each team has 5 players, 2 defenders and 3 attackers. The defenders have to stay in their half of the field and are not allowed in the end zone.

Dribbling (1)

Each of the attackers has a ball and their aim is to dribble the ball past the opposite defenders and into the far end zone. Because there are 3 attackers and 2 defenders 1 attacker will have a clear run, this is meant to develop the different scenarios young players see. If there is clear space can they drive with the ball into the space keeping the ball under control.

Dribbling (2)

Once in the end zone they leave the ball and run back to collect either a ball in their end zone or a ball one of their defenders has won and left near the halfway line.

Dribbling (3)

Have a time limit of 2-3 minutes per game and the winner is the team with the most balls in the opposite end zone. Swap who the defenders and attackers are each time.

Coaching Points

  • To use change of direction and speed to beat a defender
  • To be positive and look to use creativity to beat a defender

Variations

  • Add a goal to score in
  • Attacker and defenders can only use their weaker foot

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

Analysis of the ‘1v1’ Situation – Part 2

By Alex Trukan

First part of the article covered brief introduction as well as different types of ‘1v1’ situations according to the position of the defender. The second part of the article will look more critically at the whole concept of ‘1v1’ situation and how it is understood and coached. In order to better understand how does ‘1v1’ look in the game and does ‘1v1’ even exist, it is worth to consider different components that surround it. These might include: pressure of the defender, players around the attacker (attacking support), players around the defender (defending support), direction, area of the pitch, body position of the attacker/defender, tactics or even score of the game.

These components are always ever changing and influencing ‘1v1’ situation. That is why, in fact, ‘1v1’ is only a buzzword used by players and coaches that simplifies a very complex game situation. Therefore, there is never a pure ‘1v1’ situation in the game (hence a quotation mark is used). There are always other characteristics (mentioned earlier i.e. players around the attacker, score) involved in it which make every ‘picture’ in the game unique. Understanding of how these concepts influence the player on the ball and how every situation is different can help us, as coaches to provide higher quality and more realistic training for our players.

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First of all, let’s have a look at the pressure on the player with the ball. The types of pressure (front/side/back) mentioned in the previous article rarely happen in isolation. It is usually a combination of defenders coming from different directions and with different distances away from the ball. That is why, it might be the case that an attacker has got one defender from the front to beat, but couple of yards away from the back there is another one chasing him what determines attacker’s speed (if he slows down, the defender from the back will be able to apply pressure). There might be also one defender coming from the side which will make the attacker more likely to dribble in the opposite direction from him, restricting his options to beat a defender coming from the front.

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The players around the defender and spaces available is another influencer of the ‘1v1’ situation. For example, ‘1v1’ with the defender from the front who has players around him in good supporting positions will restrict the attacker to exploit the spaces in behind the defender, forcing him to dribble sideways or backwards. Also if attacking support is available, it might affect decision making of the player on the ball who will be more likely to use support rather than dribble.

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Another important component is the area in which ‘1v1’ occurs. That will usually affect objectives of the attacker and desired outcome. It will also influence the tricks used as well as change of tempo and direction. In example, when the attacker is in a good goalscoring position (i.e. in the penalty box), the objective could be to create an angle for a shot, not get past a defender. That will in turn require more upper body disguise as well as quick decision making.

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Area of the pitch in which ‘1v1’ occurs will also influence ratio between risks (what you might lose if unsuccessful) and rewards (what you might gain if successful) involved. Attacker in the opposition’s penalty box might gain a shot on target if he gets past a defender but in case he loses the ball, the opponents will be still far away from his goal (therefore the risk is low). Risks and rewards might be also influenced by the players around the ball as well as score of the game.

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Finally, even small details like body position of the attacker/defender will affect the effectiveness of ‘1v1’ situation. Attacker facing the opposition’s goal is much more likely to dribble forwards and see a teammate in a better position than the attacker facing away from the opposition’s goal. Body position of the defender might also ‘guide’ the attacker in a certain way.

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Understanding some of the components that affect the ‘1v1’ situation help us to design more effective sessions that are not only more realistic but also fit exactly into the needs of the players. It also makes us appreciate different reasons why a player was successful or unsuccessful in his dribbling.

By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest

@AlexTrukan

Analysis of the ‘1v1’ Situation – Part 1

By Alex Trukan

Dominating 1v1 situations has been a widely discussed topic over the last years. Many clubs have chosen to design their philosophy around this area stating that they want to consistently win ‘1v1’ situations both in attack and defence. That approach can be adapted at all levels of the game, whether it’s U6’s or 1st team football. Although widely discussed, a ‘1v1’ topic is probably not fully understood, with many practices being not realistic and not reflecting the situations in the game. That is why, it would be useful to have a look at 1v1’s from the tactical point of view, investigating how it fits into team strategy concept and how different types of it can be applied effectively.

First of all, it would be worth to consider how does a ‘1v1’ situation emerge? There are two perspectives on that – reactive and proactive. Reactive approach is when a ‘1v1’ situations emerge randomly, and the team in possession tries to exploit them only when they ‘happen’. Therefore, they happen as a by-product of other objectives that team tries to achieve (i.e. attack through the wings, play 4-3-3 formation etc.) Proactive approach is on the other hand ‘creating’ 1v1’s. That might, for example, happen through choosing specific areas and players that will try to exploit 1v1’s as well players around them that will create space by their movements off the ball.

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Pressure from the front

Once the team chooses ‘proactive’ approach to create 1v1 situations, it is worth to mention different types of 1v1s (according to the position of the defender) that might be created. Probably the most traditional and common type is when the attacker faces the defender. That puts an attacker into advantageous position as it gives him more vision to play forwards as well as possible options to go in various directions. Also from mechanical point of view, it is more efficient and quicker to run forwards (attacker) than backwards (defender).

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In most of the situations, facing the defender will also mean facing the opposition goal, what is a disadvantageous scenario for the defending player. In order to further unbalance the defender, it can be recommended that attacker changes direction, tempo as well as uses a variety of tricks such as ‘scissors’, ‘step overs’, ‘maradona’, ‘shoulder drop’ etc.

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Pressure from the side

Another type of ‘1v1’ situation is when the defender pressurises the attacker from the side. This is the scenario that is probably least practiced and from my observations, a lot of the players struggle with it. In particular, it can be seen many times when attacker slows down/stops and allows the defender to face him rather than taking him on when the defender is on the side. Winning this type of a duel requires bigger touches into space forwards as well as body strength to get past the defender. Upper body disguise (fake) movement might be also helpful to ‘freeze’ the defender.

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Pressure from the back

Third type of 1v1 situation is when the attacker faces away from the defender. This is relatively the most difficult situation for the attacker as his ‘free’ movement options are restricted to only going backwards or sideways. His vision also points in the direction away from the opposition goal what makes it more difficult to see options in front of the ball and play forwards.

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This type of situation also requires upper body disguise as well as physical qualities to change direction and turn away. It also often links to shielding and protecting the ball, requiring strength and core stability. Tricks to beat a defender are also relevant (‘scissors’, ‘step overs’, ‘shoulder drops’ etc.)

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Finally, it is worth to mention that all three types of ‘1v1’ situations mentioned above happen in all areas of the pitch. That should be reflected in the practices design as well as players we coach on different positions.

Part 2 of the article will cover critical analysis and evaluation of the ‘1v1’ situation.

By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest

@AlexTrukan