All posts by Michael Saif

8v8v8 Transition

By Steven Smith

Area Size: Approximately 55 yards of width including space between the grids

Team Size: Groups of 8

Time: 15 minutes for full rotation of all teams

Setup: Two grids are set up 20X20 yards with a 15-yard gap in between them. Teams are divided into three groups of 8 (or other combinations of numbers).

Execution: Black team in one grid and Yellow team in the other grid. The red team remains outside of each grid with 4 players from the red team Execution at each grid. Coach serves the ball into one grid and the four red players enter to defend and stop the black team from connecting 8 passes.

If the red team knocks the ball out of the grid they exit the grid to the waiting point again and the coach immediately serves a ball into the yellow grid. The reds waiting there must do the same thing and keep the yellow group from connecting 8 passes.

If the teams are successful in connecting 8 passes and sending the ball to the opposite grid, then the yellow defenders must switch to defending the opposite grid. See diagrams. Two minute games and then rotate defensive group colors.

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.

Reverse Goal Transition

By Steven Smith

Area Size: This activity can be done on a full-sized field or in smaller spaces depending on the needs of the coach and team sizes available for training. The two diagrams represent the two approaches.

Teams: Two teams of various sizes depending on the space used

Time: 15 minutes

Setup and Execution:
Full size field (or smaller depending on numbers) is set up with two full size portable goals twenty-two yards from the end line facing the end line (opposite of normal goals). Two teams are evenly divided and attack the opposite goal just like a normal full sided game.

Players set up to play a full sided game, however, the goal is facing the opposite direction and a set number of players must transition beyond the goal before a shot can be taken on goal. The whole team must be on the same half of the field but perhaps 7 of them must be beyond the goal. Coach can vary the number for transition beyond the goal before a goal can be scored.

• Coach can determine how many must transition to beyond the opposite facing goal.
• All players must cross midline on attacking team in order for a goal to be scored.
• The coach can adapt this full-sided game to a small-sided game with mini goals and no keepers as shown in the second diagram.

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.

High Pressure to Force Long Passes

By Luca Bertolini

Liverpool have scored lots of goals this season as a direct result of their high pressure defending tactics.  There are a number of benefits that can result from high pressure defending.  This article takes a look at just one of the aims of those tactics…forcing the opposition into long passes from their own half of the field.

Looking at Klopp’s history as manager “no playmaker in the world can be as good as a good counter-pressing situation”; this means that a side by side passes move often requires slow build up play, and that, on the other side, the counter-pressing can create chances within seconds.

The organization behind it is the key, as Klopp’s pressing isn’t simply a closing down but a group of players all functioning as one to smother the opposition, as they look to launch a counter-attack.

The first interesting factor is that the team recognizes when they have enough players close to the ball, who are able to press the opponent with the ball and the area around it.

The players who are not involved in the pressing around the ball must ensure that a potential long kick from one of the opponents can be controlled and they must be able to press again a second receiver, if the first pressure doesn’t work. They also have to be in a position to potentially win or intercept a wrong pass from the counter pressure, to recover the possession with the chance of organizing a counterattack of their own.

All the other players placed on the other side of the ball, recover immediately and quickly, either to join the pressing swarm or to recover goal side of the ball and to be placed in a position to be one of the covering or interceptor players; if these players are in possession, usually the moves are built up with pass combinations rather than with direct counterattack.

As we already found out in the first part, an important objective of the high pressure is to close the short pass lines and to force long ones toward the midfield area; the same happens when Liverpool’s forwards are placed inside or near the opponent’s penalty area.

After the forced long pass toward the middle third, win the second times and the wandering balls.

So forcing the opposition into long passes, gives you the opportunity to win back possession of the ball and start a quick counter attack.  There are many other benefits of high pressure defending too.  Klopp, Guardiola, Conte and more of the world’s top coaches have figured this out.

This is article is just a short excerpt from the book Scoring More Goals Through High Pressure Defending by Luca Bertolini.

Do Spain Play With a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or Both?

By Stevie Grieve, author of Modern Soccer Tactics

Spain’s formation is a source of great debate and intrigue. Is it a 4-3-3? Is it a 4-3-3-0? Is it a 4-6-0? Is it a 4-2-3-1? Is it a 4-2-4-0? Is it a 4-2-2-2?

I think it’s a combination of the above. Some matches they will ensure they have a central striker, generally Cesc Fabregas, who will rotate this role with David Silva, with Xavi and Iniesta floating around the space between midfield and defense. They play with a narrow attacking 4-2-3-1 or a narrow 4-3-3 as Alba and Arbeloa do a great job or providing width very high up the field and allowing Spain to regularly outnumber teams between defense and midfield, allowing them to play between the lines frequently.

In the final where Spain played undoubtedly their best football of the tournament, they played a combination of 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1, and Xavi’s position dictated the shape. In some attacking phases with the ball in the opposition half, he would drop deep and 2 of the 3 of Silva, Iniesta and Cesc would play in between the defense and midfield with Alba and Arbeloa the full backs on the outside, with the other of the front 3 staying as a central striker. In some defensive transition phases, Spain would revert to a 4-2-3-1 with Alonso and Busquets screening the defense, with Xavi, Iniesta and Silva pressing in front, with Cesc as the main striker. When they win the ball back, they would stay in this formation and confuse the opposition as players positions and the marking responsibilities have changed again.

Xavi and Iniesta switch positions – 4-3-3 inside opposition half

Xavi drops into a 4-3-3 as Silva and Iniesta drop off from the front to offer passes from midfield. Xavi passes wide to Alba andContinue reading

What Tactical Formation Did Spain Use to Win Euro 2012?

By Wayne Harrison


The starting position phase formation is approximately a 4-2-3-1; the attacking phase is 4-2-1-3 or 3-3-1-3; and the defending phase is a 4-4-1-1, so we haveContinue reading