Category Archives for Coaching

Check Your Shoulder Conveyor Belt

By Matthew Carroll –

The purpose of the CYS Conveyor Belt is to create a passing pattern that maximises touches on the ball, asks players to check their shoulders, and creates an atmosphere of awareness between players.

9 players are set up 3 by 3 with a ball at top top of each grid.Players should be spaced about 15-20 feet from each other both ways

The player at the top of the grid passes to the middle player. That middle player checks their should before the pass comes, and then again while the ball is in motion.

They then receive on the back foot, opening up to pass to player at the bottom of the grid who checks their shoulder twice, receives on the back foot, pulls a move to turn around, and passes to the player at the top of the next grid. The end player that receives resets by passing a lofted ball to the player at the top of the grid in the first line.

Number of players, direction of play, amount of balls, and shape of grid can all vary.

By Matthew Carroll

The Dortmund SSG

By Matthew Carroll –

Description: The Dortmund is designed to improve the attacking players vision and response to passes and recreate patterns created in tight spaces to create shots. It should be an activation phase drill to prepare the striker to receive killer passes in the final third.

Players (6) are placed in a rondo formation with one player in the middle. 20 feet away from the rondo at either end are two goals with/without goalies. Each player, other than the one in the middle and the goalies, has a ball.

Execution: Initially, the coach yells out the name of the player passing, who then gives a difficult pass to the middle player, and a number, either one or two, which determines which goal the player in the middle should shoot on. The pass from the called player should vary from a hard pass to the feet, a lofted pass the striker needs to knock down with their head, to a driven pass at waist level.

After a predetermined time the player in the middle switches with another player and the process repeats. Once every player has gone the coach can begin to call two names, the first name called passes to the player in the middle, the player in the middle passes to the second name, who then lays the ball off to the middle player for a shot on the designated goal.

The number of names called can vary

The player whose name is called can play a 1-2 with the middle player to set up the shot

The number and size of the goal can vary

By Matthew Carroll

Transition to Attack Drill

By Matthew Carroll

The purpose of the Transition to Attack drill is to recreate the pressure of defending in a team’s own final third and creating lighting quick counter attacks from this position using support play from the 9 and 10.

The 10×54 yd field is split into three phases. 5 black players are placed as defenders representing the back line, the 6, and the 8. 4 yellow players are placed as attackers representing the 9s, 10, and 7/11. A red 10 is placed in the 2nd phase, and another red 9 is placed in phase 3. Balls are played in by the coach to attacking team at the edge of phase 1 and 2.

Ball is initially played into the yellow team, who attempts to score goals against the black team. The black team then attempts to win the ball and play to the red player in phase 2.

Once they have played a pass to the red player they can then move onto phase 3 where they must play a pass to the green 9. Regular out of bounds rules are applied, every restart after a goal comes from the coaches

Defenders can be added to oppose the red team

The middle line can be bypassed.

By Matthew Carroll

Killer Pass Game

By Matthew Carroll

The Killer Pass Game is used to enhance a player’s ability to utilize pockets of space between lines to create scoring opportunities. In addition to this the passing players must be creative and find a rapport with the receiving players. Defenders must work as a unit, and the tight space of the drill bring in a conditioning element.

Create a grid as wide as the 18 and 5 yards out from it. Place all balls beyond the grid. Split the 18 with a single cone. Place two “Sweepers” in the two 18 grids. Place one “10” with the balls. Take every other player and split them evenly into attackers and defenders within the grid.

The passer must play a ball either to one of the attackers or into the 18 for the attackers to run onto.

The defenders must try to stop the attacker from receiving a ball but cannot enter the 18. Once the ball is into the grid the sweepers (who must stay in their grid) must defend the attacker.

If the attacker scores he then becomes an additional passer, if he does not score he must go back into the grid outside the 18. Only one ball can be in each 18 grid at a time (so two attackers can technically be in the 18 at the same time).

The numbers of the attackers and defenders can vary, as well as sweepers and passers.

Players that score can be removed, or rotate in for the passer

By Matthew Carroll

Triangle Shooting Game

By Matthew Carroll

The Triangle Shooting Game is designed to create a competitive shooting environment where elements of short rhythmic passing, pass and move, as well as finishing are integrating into a short effective drill. Can be used in practice or as a pre-game warm-up

Place three cones in a triangle about 5-10 feet apart just outside of the 18. Players line up behind furthest cone

The first player in line passes to the player at the cone to the right. That player passes the ball to the player standing at the cone diagonal himself. The ball is then laid off for the original passer who runs through the middle of the triangle and shoots the ball on net.

After the shot the shooter then returns to the left cone, the passer from the left cone moves to the right cone, and the passer from the right cone goes to the back of the line. The process repeats for 2 minutes.

Players can be split into two teams and the drill can become a competition
Stipulations can be added such as left foot only

By Matthew Carroll

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.

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


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


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


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.


  • 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

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