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Academy Session 19



Field Setup Establish a playing grid composed of two adjacent boxes, tailored to challenge the players’ technical abilities and match the desired level of difficulty. The smaller the playing area, the more challenging it will be for players in possession.

Teams Form a team of four players, starting with three in one box and the fourth player positioned at the far end of the adjacent box. One defender starts in the box with the three players.

How To Play The three players aim to complete a minimum of three passes among themselves before playing the ball to their teammate in the other box. Upon the successful pass, the two wide players on the side slide down to the new box to create another 3v1 rondo situation. If you are playing 4v1+1 then the other player closest to the other box turns around to make up the 4 players.

Coaching Principles 

This activity enhances players’ ability to switch play to areas with less pressure, secure possession away from defenders, and quickly transition to support a teammate who has received the ball. It teaches spatial awareness, decision-making, and dynamic support in a fluid playing environment.

Coaching Points

  • Switching Play: Encourage players to recognize when to switch play and how to execute it effectively, looking for moments to transition the ball to spaces with less defensive pressure.

  • Securing the Ball: Teach players to secure the ball by moving it away from pressured areas to teammates who have more time and space, thereby improving control over the game’s tempo.

  • Quick Support: Instruct players on the importance of quick transitions to support the player receiving the ball in the new box, emphasizing the need for immediate movement to provide passing options.

Variations & Progressions

  • Increased Passing Requirement: Demand a higher number of passes before allowing the ball to be switched to the other box, enhancing players’ ability to maintain possession under pressure.

  • One-Touch Play: Introduce the requirement for one-touch passes when switching play, which sharpens first-touch skills and accelerates the tempo of the game.

Field Setup: Set up a small-sided pitch with a goal at each end. Along each sideline, designate an area for the sideline bumpers – these are neutral players who will always support the team in possession, turning the game into a 5v3 in favor of the attacking team.

Teams: Create two teams of three players each. Additionally, select players to act as sideline bumpers, ensuring they understand their neutral role and are positioned on both sides of the pitch.

Activity: This is a straightforward 3v3 game with the added twist of sideline bumpers. The bumpers are to play the ball back to the team that passed to them, providing a numerical advantage to the team in possession. The game’s objective is to score goals, but the use of bumpers encourages smart possession and width. Rotate sideline bumpers regularly to ensure all players experience different roles in the game.

Coaching Points

The main principle in this activity is effective support play from sideline bumpers. These players provide additional passing options to the team in possession, encouraging width in the attack and offering a reliable outlet to maintain possession under pressure.

Active Sideline Bumpers: Instruct sideline bumpers to be active along their line, moving up and down to provide the best support angle. They should anticipate where the ball will be and position themselves accordingly, always offering an option to the player in possession.

Quick Wide Play: Encourage players to utilize sideline bumpers early, especially under pressure. A quick pass to a bumper can relieve defensive pressure and reset the attack. Teach players to recognize when to play wide and when to progress forward.


Field Setup Outline a large rectangular playing area to provide ample room for the players to emphasize positioning. The dimensions can be adjusted to increase the difficulty level for the team in possession by making the space tighter.

Teams Form four teams of four players. Assign four green players as wide players on the rectangle’s sides, two blue players on each end to represent the goalkeeper (GK) and center forward (CF), and two additional blue players in the central area. Place four red players as defenders in the middle of the rectangle.

How To Play The blue and green players work to keep possession from the red defenders over a period of five minutes. After time elapses, rotate the teams so each group experiences a different role within the activity. Start out by playing this as a possession game where the objective is to keep the ball and complete as many passes in a row as you can.

Coaching Principles 

This exercise is designed to emphasize the concepts of width and depth in soccer, illustrating players’ positioning during various phases of the game. It focuses on maintaining possession with strategic use of space and player movement, mirroring the expansive nature of an actual match. This is also an excellent activity to help teach players about open body shape and facing the way theywant to play. 

Coaching Points

    • Spatial Awareness: Teach players to use the full width and depth of the field to stretch the defense and create passing lanes.

    • Movement and Positioning: Encourage players to maintain constant movement, offering support and options for the player in possession.

    • Transitioning Roles: Focus on the fluidity of players transitioning between offensive and defensive roles, maintaining the structure and discipline of their assigned positions.

Variations & Progressions

  • Directional Play: Introduce a rule where players score points by successfully passing from the GK to the CF, reinforcing the concept of vertical play.

  • Wide Play Requirement: Implement a constraint where the team in possession must connect with at least one wide player before progressing the ball to the ends of the rectangle.

  • Full Width Utilization: Further challenge the team by requiring them to use a wide player on both sides of the rectangle before playing the ball to the end players, promoting balanced and thoughtful distribution.