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Academy Session 18

Field Setup: Create a large grid and divide it into smaller, equal-sized halves or quadrants, each serving as a separate playing area for a group of four players. If there are more players, create additional grids accordingly. The size of each grid should be such that it allows for quick passing but also provides a challenge for players to keep possession under pressure.

Teams: Divide players into groups of four, with three players on one team working together to maintain possession and one player acting as the defender. Each group of four is assigned to their own half of the grid.

Activity: The trio’s objective is to keep the ball away from the single defender in their grid. They must use quick passing, movement, and spatial awareness to retain possession. The game is played for two minutes before rotating the defender. Points are awarded to the defender for every interception or blocked pass, and the team of three earns a point for every sequence of three successful passes.

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Teams of 3 make sure all teams play each other within your 15 minute so switch teams every 5 minutes

Coaching Point:
Create width and depth whenever you have the ball by having players wide and deep.

Field Setup: Create a playing area suitable for quick and frequent ball touches, add two wide gates on each end of the pitch. These gates serve as the scoring zones for the teams. The space should be confined enough to encourage quick thinking but broad enough to allow for strategic play.

Teams: Divide players into small teams of 2, 3 or 4 players with an additional neutral player to assist the team in possession. The neutral player is a free agent, temporarily tipping the balance of play in favor of the team with the ball, to provide more dynamic attacking opportunities.

Activity: Teams play a game of 2v2, with the inclusion of a neutral player to create overloads and facilitate goal-scoring through the gates. Players must dribble the ball through the gates to score.

Coaching Principles: 

The activity is underpinned by principles of width and depth in play, ensuring teams maximize the use of space. It encourages players to draw defenders to one side of the pitch before swiftly switching the play to exploit space on the other side, using the neutral player as a pivot or decoy in these maneuvers.

Coaching Points:

  • Width in Play: Encourage players to use the full width of the pitch to stretch the defense, creating more space to operate and more opportunities to penetrate through the gates.

  • Rapid Switching of Play: Instruct players on the importance of quick, accurate passing to move the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, outpacing the defensive shift and finding gaps to exploit.

  • Utilization of the Neutral Player: Emphasize how to effectively incorporate the neutral player into the team’s strategy, using them to outnumber defenders or as a diversion to create space for scoring opportunities.

Variations & Progressions:

  • Adjusting Pitch Size: Alter the dimensions of the pitch to challenge players’ abilities to maintain control and precision in tighter spaces or to explore different tactical approaches in larger areas.

  • Modifying Gate Width: Vary the width of the gates to refine players’ dribbling accuracy under pressure or to encourage more creative dribbling to navigate through narrower targets.

  • Evolving Team Play: Transition from using a neutral player to evenly matched teams, raising the level of challenge and fostering a competitive environment where players must adapt their strategies.

Field Setup: Mark out a pitch appropriate for a small-sided game reflective of the players’ age and ability, maintaining standard width and length. At each end of the pitch, delineate target areas across the full width, positioning a target player within these zones. The expanse of the target areas encourages players to spread the play and utilize the width effectively.

Teams: Organise participants into two evenly matched sides, factoring in skill and physical capability to ensure competitive balance. Each team should actively engage in the game, with the target players acting as pivots for retaining and switching possession.

Activity: The game is structured around retaining possession and scoring by successfully passing to a target player at the ends of the pitch. After receiving the ball from a target player, teams aim to transition and score at the opposite end. The challenge lies in maintaining possession under pressure and making precise passes to the target players.

Coaching Principles: 

Key principles such as possession, spatial awareness, and transition from defence to attack are honed in this exercise. It also simulates scenarios akin to playing out from the back, with target players representing goalkeepers during goal kicks, thus improving build-up play under pressure.

Coaching Points:

Effective Use of Width: Encourage players to use the entire width of the pitch, thereby stretching the opposition and creating space to exploit.

Transition and Support Play: Stress the importance of quick transition play, emphasising support for the player on the ball, and offering angles for return passes or switches in play.

Build-Up from the Back: Guide players on starting attacks from deeper positions, simulating playing out from a goalkeeper, and making decisions under pressure.

Variations & Progressions:

  • Restricting Immediate Return Passes: Introduce a rule where the ball cannot be played back to the same target player immediately after a return pass, ensuring that players seek alternative options and engage in more dynamic play.

  • Adjusting Target Areas: Modify the size of the target areas, making them narrower for advanced players to demand greater precision in passing and spatial judgement.