Tag Archives for " passing "

Attacking Transition

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 45 length, 5 yards wider than the penalty area on each side.

Time: 15 mins

Players7 v 6


  • To understand if the team can counter attack or maintain possession
  • To decides how the ball should move forward


Depending on the age and physical capability of the players you coach the area should go just under the halfway line, however you can adjust the distance how you see fit. The defending team is in a 4-2 formation with a GK and the attacking team is in a 2-3-1.


Firstly, in order to perform attacking transition your team must first defend. With 2 midfielders in the center of the field the attacking team’s easiest open pass is out wide. The job of the defense is now to make the area around the ball as compact as possible to deny penetration and force mistakes. The FB engages the winger and the rest of the defense slides across. The midfielders also slide and drop down to stop penetration. The attacking team attempts to score in the goal the team that transitions scores by moving the ball past the end line, by pass or dribble.

When the defense wins possession the first thought should be can we go forward? The second question, if the answer to the first is yes, is how? Should the player in possession drive forward with the ball (Red1) or pass the ball (Red2)? Then if the they pass should the receiving player then (Blue1) Drive or (Blue2) pass? This is your preference as a coach, my preference is generally, if there is space, to drive at speed. But the ball moves faster than players so if there is a teammate in a better position then pass.

If the attacking team plays into the #10, again the team compacts the space around the ball to stop penetration and force a turnover.

When the defending team wins the ball, if there is no space to go forward quickly then players have to make a decision of where to go. Do they pass forwards or backwards? But now the mentality changes to build up play (still attacking as you have the ball) over quick counter attacking.

If your players do go backwards and the attacking team press, there is the option of your GK playing over the top of them into the space behind them. For this your FB’s will need to be aware of the space and make forward runs into the area.

The important thing your players must understand and recognize is if they can go forward, then when and how they can. If they can’t they must understand that there are other options. Attacking transition is as much about recognizing when you can counter attack as it is about the actual attack.


  • Play with different formations
  • Set a time limit of crossing the end line if your players decide there is space to counter attack.
  • Add a line the last players must reach as the ball crosses the end line to force the whole team forward at the same time.

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

Possession Out of Tight Spaces

By Steven Smith


Teams: 7 v 7

Time: 10-12 minutes

Objectives: Increase possession skills in teams of all developmental levels

Possession oriented play is essential to the modern game of soccer. Many of the activities to develop possession allow for maximum success by giving space for possession or by giving extra attackers to the possessing side. The ability to control the ball in possession in tight spaces is often ignored in training session by prioritizing success and space.

This activity emphasizes possession while having to concentrate and think more than just one step ahead. The athletes will need to move to position themselves for maintaining possession in very tight spaces (much like the full sided game when compressed to a certain portion of the field). This movement and communication necessary under strict pressure of time and space can have a great effect on maintaining possession once the game whistle blows.


Two teams of seven players occupy a rectangular grid in any portion of the field.  Coach serves the ball to either color team for initial play.  Each successful pass is counted in sequence until the score of 21 is achieved.  Every ball that goes out of play is left out and the coach starts a new ball without hesitation to the team who did not knock the ball out of bounds.  Quick transition to the new ball is essential.  Once a total (not sequential) 21 passes is achieved the game ends and the losing side must respond with a consequence such as a series of sideline to sideline sprints and the game resumes.  A third team waiting in the wings can substitute for the losing side and begin possession by being served the first ball.


Add goalkeepers to the end who can play the ball with either their feet or to the hands (coach’s preference) but the pass to the goalkeeper does not count as part of the total completed passes toward the accumulation of 21 passes (see drawing 2).

Other sideline players can be added on the sidelines but their passes are limited to one touch wall passes and do not count toward the accumulation of 21 passes (see drawing 3).

Add a neutral player to inside of grid wearing red.  Each time a team successfully finds the targeted red player two passes are counted for that success.  This allows players to meet the challenge of playing with a plan and finding a target player in the midst of pressure (see drawing 4).


By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.