Category Archives for Coaching

Switching the Play to Utilize a 2 v 1

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 40 x 46 Yards

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 7 v 7 + 2

Objectives

  • To switch the ball early and often
  • To use the neutral to overload the fullback 2v1

Set-Up

Two teams set up in a 3-2-1 formation with 4 zones. 2 end zones for the GKs, a central zone for the CB, 2 CMs and striker and 2 wide zones for the FBs and neutrals.

Execution

This small sided game is about how to create and use the 2v1 overload against the opposition fullback. This can be used to work on your specific style of play or for you to practice a strategy against a team that you know plays a 4-4-2 diamond system to get behind their defense.

Straight away the focus is to get the ball out wide, the central players are there to facilitate and switch the ball as often as possible to get the ball into the wide areas. The ball can be passed to either the full back or the neutral player.

Rather than just receiving the ball and making straight runs it is important to manipulate the defender’s movement. To do this diagonal runs are encouraged by the player who is running with the ball. Below we see the neutral receive the ball and drive into the space ahead of them drawing the defender to that space. At the same time the ball is moving to the neutral the full back is beginning to overlap them. Now this creates a dilemma for the defender.

The neutral player aims to commit the defender as close as possible to them to allow the overlapping fullback as much space as possible. Passing too early causes the full back to rush their decisions as it gives the defender more of a chance to stop the cross.

As the ball is played into the end zone the central players, and opposite wide player, should advance their position up the field just like a game. To start with, to increase the success just allow 1 or 2 attacking players into the end zone to finish the cross. You can add a touch limit if you wish. Eventually allow defenders to follow them in. The full back should be encouraged to pick out a teammate.

To further manipulate the defender’s position and movement, instruct the neutral to move higher and wider, away from their original position. As the ball travels to them they aim to commit the defender to them, therefore pulling them wide. The full back sees the new position of the defender and sees the space to utilize inside the neutral.

If the full back is close to the neutral, then the neutral can play the pass 1 time. If not they should hold onto the ball until the defender is committed, to again give the full back as much time as space to drive into the end zone as possible to complete the cross.

The idea behind both scenarios is to get behind the full back by drawing them away from where you want the ball to go. If they try and cheat and stay in the position the ball is going allow the neutral to take the ball forward and cross. Your 2 should then have every option covered depending on where the defender goes. But remember the neutral must move the defender to either side of the zone to help the full back have as much space and time as possible.

 

Variations

  • Allow 1 player from the central zone to help the lone defender. This forces the 2 to act quickly like in a game to create and successfully execute the 2v1
  • After the initial entrance from the full back/neutral into the end zone allow all players to enter it.
  • If you do not have any GKs finish with 1 touch into the corners to challenge your player’s finishing in an empty net.

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

Making Play Predictable

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: Quarter or Half field (depending on age of players)

Teams: 15 – 20 mins

Players: 7 v 7

Objectives

  • To stop forward penetration
  • To force sideways and backwards passes

Set-Up

2 teams set up in a 2-3-1 formation in a scrimmage like scenario.

Execution

The aim for this session is for your team to work together defensively by stifling forward progression of the opposition and frustrating the other team into backwards and sideways passes until they become frustrated. Your team must stay close together to stop penetrating passing lines into the feet of players further up the field. They cut off angles so the only available pass is one of backwards or sideways.

The defending team does not have to sit right in front of their own goal for this tactic to work. It is more effective to perform it in the middle of the field. As the opposition pass wide, the defending wide midfielder gets across to pressure the player on the ball so they can’t move forwards, the rest of the team slides across, compacting that side of the field, leaving the opposite wing open. The striker drops down to stop any balls into the center of midfield.

As the ball travels back to the CB the striker of the defending team presses the CB to force them to make a quick decision, again not allowing forward penetration. The obvious pass is sideways to the free CB. The team again slide into the middle to compact the area directly in front of or around the ball.

Now we have a little change of shape, because we don’t want to be so compact that passes out wide can break the defensive lines. Again the focus is to stop forward penetration by cutting off forwards passing options. As the ball travels to the opposite CB, the striker drops down to stop passes into the CM. The wide midfielder stays narrow to stop passes into the striker’s feet. The FB comes across to pressure the WM when they receive the ball and the CB and opposite WM slide across to cover and keep defensive shape.

As the ball arrives to the WM the FB is close to Pressure them, the WM has dropped down to block the pass into the striker’s feet again and striker drops to stop passes into the CM again, this leaves a pass backwards to the CB as the only pass available.

Players need to understand that they are working as a team to stop forward progression and not become individual and start to run all over the field. If players can win the ball when pressing then absolutely go for it, but the aim is to frustrate the other team going forward and giving the ball away by trying passes that are not on.

When the other team wins possession the defending team aims to frustrate and stop forward progression just like they experienced.

Variations

  • Add neutrals to challenge the defending team and increase the difficulty
  • Allow only 1 or 2 players to communicate to teammates to help build leaders in defense

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

Disguised Through Balls

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 35 x 45 yards 2 x (35 x 10) yard end zones 1x (35 x 25) yard middle zone

Teams: 15 – 20 mins

Players: 5 v 5 + 2

Objectives

  • To have multiple runners behind the defense
  • To be inventive and creative in passing into the space for the runners

Set-Up

2 GK’s, 2 teams 4v4+2 in the middle zone. 2 end zones that only players receiving the ball are allowed in. Both teams are in a diamond formation with 1 CB, 2 FB/wingers and 1 striker.

Execution

The reason there are 2 neutrals within the 4v4 is to massively overload the team in possession. The reason for this is with young players through balls is a notoriously hard topic for them to understand let alone perform well. So although this seems like it would be easy this session you will need intelligent and technically gifted players to perform it.

Both teams are in the middle zone, the aim is to pass the ball into the end zone for a runner. The off side line is the cone line and passes must be played before players cross over this line. When in the end zone players are 1v1 with the GK’s but have a time limit of 5 seconds to score to keep similar game pressure on them.

The purpose of this session is to disguise what you are planning to do by using your body shape and different surfaces of your feet than what you may usually use. Players need to have awareness of runners off the ball and not just focus on the ball itself.

Below we have a neutral with the ball that plays a ball into the striker. At the same time both wingers make runs around the opposition FBs. The striker uses his peripheral vision to see both runs and can either 1) Use the pace of the pass from the neutral and use the outside of his right foot so the ball spins around the corner into the path of the winger. Or 2) receive the ball and face to the right. The opposite winger pulls away dragging the FB with him, the other neutral makes a run between the two defenders. The striker, seeing this run, but still has his body facing right, back heels the ball into the space for the run of the neutral. Whichever option the striker chooses that player attempts to score 1v1 with the GK.

Another option would be for the winger to receive the ball and drive inwards at this moment the striker makes an opposite run and curl into the end zone. The winger, whilst driving and pulling the FB with them,

1) body shape facing forwards, slides a pass into the end zone with the outside of his left foot. Or

2) play across to a neutral who faces the direction of the pass to draw the FB across the field. They then play a pass with the outside of the foot to curve around the FB into the space for the winger.

Here a neutral is higher and occupies a FB. The winger passes the ball in to the feet of the neutral and runs around the FB. The neutral’s body shape is that of still facing the direction of where the pass came from. The neutral then roles the ball back with their left foot and passes behind the FB with the inside of his left foot. So passes with the skill known as the ‘L’ turn.

Eventually, when you are getting success from your players, you can tell one defender to enter the end zone to pressure the attacker.

Variations

  • Increase the difficulty by decreasing the number of neutrals
  • Move the off side line to the last defender
  • Encourage creativity and other disguises to pass the ball behind the defense

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

Anticipating the Interception

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 35 x 45 yards

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 5 v 5 + 4

Objectives

  • For players to understand the triggers and moments of when to intercept
  • To quickly identify how to move the ball forwards quickly

Set-Up

2 wide zones for the 4 neutrals and 2 teams in diamond formations to create more lines in each formation. Initially no central player is allowed in the wide zones but neutrals are allowed into the central area.

Execution

Both teams attack the opposition’s goal, the defending team sits deep and keeps the area around the goal compact. The defending team looks for specific triggers to anticipate intercepting a pass. The first trigger is when the body shape of the player on the ball opens up and looks to pass. Their head goes down and their hips open up. The defending players look for this body shape to anticipate intercepting the result of the pass.

The body shape is not the only trigger to look for nor should the interception be attempted every time a pass is played. 2 other triggers are if a pass is played square (or across the field) the other is the pace of the pass, if it is slow or mishit. When you see two or more of these triggers in a pass, mainly the body shape and angle of a square pass, this is the moment when players close to the receiving player can anticipate the interception.

Now a decision needs to be made for who to move the ball forward. 1) if there is a player further ahead and a pass is able to be played, so the team can counter attack quickly, play the pass. 2) if there is open space because the team, who lost possession, is out of position take the space by running with the ball. 3) if opposition players close down the intercepting player, can other players create options by moving away at angles to keep an attack going.

To help stop forward passes from neutrals, if teams are set up correctly in a compact formation they can now enter the wide zone to intercept passes to neutrals, either neutral to neutral or central player to neutral player.

First, in order to intercept a pass, the defending team must be in a defensive position. The widest central player must be slightly behind the neutral player. When you see the trigger of body shape of a pass to the neutral, the central player can now step forwards and across to intercept the pass. Then 1) can another player see the space in front and move into it to start the attack. 2) sometimes the first pass might have to come backwards initially. If an option, because of how high the opposition is, can you play over to the opposite wide neutral, who is allowed to come in field to receive. Also for game realism as this is happening encourage the full back to overlap to have more numbers in the counter attack.

You can even add conditions on the game by saying the team that starts with the ball is building the play and allowed as many passes as possible to create a scoring opportunity. If they score the keep the ball, if they miss then the teams switch. If the defending team wins possession only allow a select number of passes before a shot (4 or 5). If the players concentrate on the number of passes rather than the speed of the attack, remind them that you want them to think of getting the ball forward quickly.

 

Variations

  • Make it more difficult to attack by using off sides

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

Creating and Using 2 v 1 Overloads

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: Half Field

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 5 v 5 + 2

Objectives

  • For players understand where to use the 2v1 overloads
  • To use the movements of defenders against them and have multiple options to attack

Set-Up

Use half a 9v9 field with 5 defenders set up as GK-3-1 and 5 attackers in a 4-1 or a 1-3-1. Have 3 gates of which the 2 wide gates are occupied by a neutral. If you have an extra player use as a neutral in the middle gate.

Execution

Use the middle of the field with the natural 2v1 overload. Draw the lone defensive midfielder towards the ball by moving forward. When then defensive midfielder comes across, use an angled pass forwards to the other midfielder. Encourage this midfielder to take the space and drive forwards.

When the midfielder gets close to the penalty area the central defender has to make a decision. The striker moves away from the ball and (1) if the defender comes across to stop the forward momentum of the midfielder, this opens up the pass for the striker.

(2) if the defender is drawn to the striker or does not close down the midfielder well enough then the midfielder can either continue to drive forwards or dribble past the defender.

When the central midfielders pass out wide the neutral then becomes involved in the play. To set up the scenario, the wide midfielder must be as wide as possible with space in front of them. If the full back steps up to mark the wide midfielder, then a pass behind them is the option. As the ball is travelling towards the wide midfielder the neutral begins their overlapping run. The wide midfielder then drives inward whilst the striker runs behind the central defender and the opposite wide midfielder runs behind the opposite fullback.

Use the movement of the full back and central defender to determine what pass is best. As the wide midfielder is driving inside, this should bring the full back in with them, which allows more space for the overlapping full back for the 2v1 overload. 1) slide the full back in and they can cross early to the players attacking the goal. 2) If the full back aims to stop that pass by not coming in field with the driving wide midfielder, slide the striker in behind the defense with a split pass between the central defender and full back. Now you are manipulating the movement of the full back with the 2v1.

If the defense wins possession they look to dribble through an empty gate or pass to a neutral behind a gate to score.

Variations

  • Use other formations to create 2v1 overloads at different areas of the field.
  • Add another defender is possible to make it more challenging for the offense.
  • If you end up with 6v5, if the defense scores have them switch with the offense

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

Movement to Manipulate Man Marking in the Midfield

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: Half Field

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 8 v 8

Objectives

  • To make the center of the field big to spread the player out.
  • To manipulate the man marking players away from the ball.

Set-Up

Two teams, the team you are working with is to be set up in a 2-1-2-2 (to replicate a 3 in midfield) against a 3-2-1-1.

 

Execution

Occasionally you will come up a team in youth soccer that their defensive organization is to man mark your central midfielders. This is because it is the easiest form of defending that necessarily doesn’t involve any coaching. The coach just tells the player to follow their counterpart. Is it effective? Yes. Is there a time and place to go man to man? Yes. Should you do it all the time? In my opinion, no.

The good thing about man to man when defending is your players are close, however if the opposition players spread out and move in a way to combat the man marking it becomes a problem for the defending team. This is what I will talk about in this article, how to manipulate the players who man mark.

It is important that when playing out from the back that your 3 midfielders start in high positions. This will allow the CB’s more time and allow more space to move into. With a 3 v 1 at the back, which is usually what happens with today’s preference of the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formations, your defenders can move the ball away from the single striker.

When the CB looks up, the defensive midfielder (#6) drops into the space, the attacking midfielder on the CB side with the ball rotates with the wide player, who stars high and comes down and in. Because the defending midfielders are man marking they follow these players and space is created.

As the wide player receives the ball they can either (1) turn and drive with the ball if there is no pressure behind them or (2) the can set the ball back to the #6, who has run behind the player marking them as they look at the ball.

If/when the midfielder doesn’t go with the defensive midfielder as they drop the CB now plays the ball to them. The attacking midfielder on the ball’s side drops down and the attacking midfielder on the opposite side moves up the field. This creates space for the wide player to drop in to and the CB to move up in to. The #6 can then choose which option is best to play depending on the movements of the defending team.

 

Variations

  • Use different formations
  • Have the team’s flip when the ball goes out for a goal kick

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

Speed of Play – Possession

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 45 x 25 (2 x (20 x 25)) + 5 x 25

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 5 v 5 + 5

Objectives

  • To move the ball quickly with fast paced passes
  • Decide whether to play through or over due to pressure

Set-Up

Three areas, 2 x 20 x 25 possession areas for a 4 v 3 and a 5 x 25 Area for 2 defenders. Four neutrals on the ends and 1 neutral who is allowed in both possession areas.

Execution

The aim is to move the ball from one end of the field to the other using the neutral players. The team in possession, as well as the neutral players, decide what is the best way to keep possession and move the ball by looking at the defensive positioning.

The neutral that is allowed in the possession areas helps the team in possession to be in a 4 v 3 overload. The team look to play across to the other side, where 2 of their teammates are waiting to receive the ball. When deciding when and how to play across, players look at the positioning of the two players in the middle zone and pass either between or around them.

When the ball moves across to the opposite possession area, 3 defensive players (including the 2 players in the middle zone) move across. 3 players who play for the team in possession also move across as well as the neutral.

If there is pressure on the end neutral, they have the option to play long and over the top to either the opposite neutrals or the players in the opposite area.

If the defending team manages to win possession the players in the middle zone and opposite possession area switch and the new team in possession aims to play across to keep possession.

Variations

  • Allow the neutrals on the ends to step forward if there is space to do so.
  • Limit touches
  • Only allow 1 time long passes

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

Counter Attacking Overloads

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 40 x 30 Yards

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 3 v 2 & 4 v 3 + GK

Objectives

  • To use width against inferior opposition
  • Attack with speed and be positive in decision making

Set-Up

Two teams with players in wide positions off the field and next to the goal. There are 2 GK’s and 2 sets of balls next to each goal.

Execution

One team attacks 3 v 2 and looks to use width and decisions to beat the 2 defenders to get a shot. If they score all players come off and the other team comes onto the field and attacks 3 v 2.

If the 2 defenders manage to either tackle, intercept or make the attacking team make a mistake and lose possession, they can then counter attack with 2 players coming in (1 from each side) to attack the previous team 4 v 3.

Once the team either has scored or had a shot at goal then both teams exit the field to the side to allow the next attack from a team to start straight away. Players return to where they started. You can alternate where players start from throughout the practice.

When the next players start the attack the 3 v 2 is reversed. Encourage quick decisions and a fast temp to the attacks.

 

 

Variations

  • Only allow forward passes
  • Teams must shoot within 8 seconds

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