Category Archives for Drills & Exercises

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

Side By Side Game

By Matthew Carroll

The purpose this game is to create full field awareness. While players must focus on the task of breaking the defensive line and scoring, they also must be aware of the game occurring simultaneously on the other side of the pitch. The game also challenges the goalkeepers to do double duty in addressing their defense, forcing them to either coordinate the defense of two attacks, or the defense of one attack and one counter attack.

Numbers will vary based on team and space provided, but the basic game should consist of two 4v4s plus one goalkeeper. The field should be split in two through the endline, with a goal centered in between each half. The length of each of the pitches should be from endline to 15m out from the 18. Two balls are set up at opposite end of the goals.

The red team on field 1 plays a 4v4 against the yellow defenders on field 1 with the objective of scoring, the same happens on field 2 with the yellows attacking the red goal.

If the defenders are able to win the ball back they can then play to their attacking players on the opposite field. If a goal is scored the goalkeeper then plays to the opposite field.

An attacking team can also gain possession of both balls on an attack, while the team on the opposite field attempts to position themselves to receive/defend on or both of the balls.

Any play that goes out of bounds is a free kick from the line, in addition, corners are allowed. The winner is the team with the most goals after the assigned time. The defending and attacking side of each team then switch and the game is restarted.

The numbers and size of the pitch can be varied dependent on age and ability of players.

Winning stipulations can be adjusted to number of goals scored.

The fields can be adjusted to be back to back instead of side to side.

By Matthew Carroll

2v1 Striker Madness

By Matthew Carroll

The 2 v 1 Striker Madness game is meant to simulate as many situations a striker may see in the box, with pressure, as possible. The idea is that although it is a team game that implements passing, defending, and movement on and off the ball, the focus stays on the striker receiving and shooting a ball.

Have a pile of balls (the number of balls will determine the competitiveness and the length of the game) set up about ten yards out from the 18. Have your players get into, or assign, groups of three. Within those groups have the players designated as defenders (1s) wear yellow, your passers (2s) in red, and your strikers (3s) in black. Depending on age and ability assign 1-2 goalkeepers as well. Have the defenders and strikers arrange themselves inside the 18, with the passers lining up behind the pile of balls.

The goal of the game is that within your team of three everyone has a role. The passer will collect balls from the pile (or from errant shots/passes/tackles) and feed passes to the striker that they are teammates with in the box. The passer only passes to the striker on his team. The passer can pass from anywhere, as long as he is outside the 18 (this includes from behind the net). It is the strikers job then to receive passes from his teammate, the passer, and score goals. Every goal scored by the striker is a point for his team. The defenders job is then to ensure that none of the other strikers are able to score, and defend as many balls played in as possible.


The game ends when either all of the balls have been scored, or a certain time limit has been reached. Once the game ends the 1 becomes the 2, the 2 the 3, and the 3 the 1, and the game begins again.

Additional strikers/passers/defenders can be added to each team.

The number of balls and winning conditions can be changed to all balls are scored, a certain number of goals, or a time limit.

Goalkeeper numbers can vary, or be replaced by targets.

Touch restrictions can be made to the strikers.

Defenders can be assigned specific strikers to mark.

An additional twist can be that defenders can pass to their strikers in the box, working on the transitional phase.

By Matthew Carroll

Breakout to Attack Rondo

By Matthew Carroll

The Breakout Rondo activity is a warm-up drill in which players focus on that moment of transition from a defensive posture to an offensive one. The speed of transition forces players to remain focused at all times and find/defend passing lanes in tight space.

Players form a rondo circle (5-8 players) with 1 player in the center. For every player on the inside another player stands 5 feet behind them, creating a larger outer circle.

The Breakout Rondo activity starts as a regular rondo with the rondo circle players passing among themselves, and the single defensive player in the middle attempting to win the ball back. When the single player is able to retrieve the ball their goal is to pass to one of their teammates on the outer circle.

If they complete their pass to the outer circle player, the player in the inner circle that was in front of the outer circle player is now in the middle of the rondo, the passer moves to the outer circle, and the outer circle moves into the inner circle. In doing so the defender in the middle must quickly transition from a defensive player to an offensive player seeking a pass to breakout out of the press.

The inner circle players transition from offensive to a defensive posture blocking passing lanes and opening their bodies up to get in position to check their shoulders to see both the ball and their assigned outer circle player. The outer circle players must transition from a defensive cover position to an offensive posture where they will need to receive a pass that breaks the inner circles lines.

Variations can be made to the number of players in the middle so that the players in the center of the rondo collaborate in breaking the press.

To add complexity to the two player variation additional passing patterns can be added such as the outer circle player who received the pass must then play to another outer circle player, and then both players involved go into the inner circle, both inner circle players go to the center of the rondo, and both defenders go to the outer circle.

By Matthew Carroll

Killer Pass Transitions

By Matthew Carroll

The purpose of the “Killer Pass Transitions” activity is to create a high tempo simulation of play just beyond, or just in the box, in which players use short passing to break the defensive line and create an opportunity on net.

One grid is established in the middle of the field. Grid size is determined by the number of players available. 3v3 grid should be around a 15×30. Depending on the age of the players the goals are placed 10-20 feet away from the long side of each grid. Players are divided into even teams (at least four), and placed on both ends of the short side of the grid (2 per side if there is four teams).

Two teams start inside of the grid, a coach then either rolls, passes, or throws a ball into the grid. The players must settle the ball and complete a set number of passes (normally 3) in order to leave the grid and take a shot on either goal. The final pass in the series can be a pass out of the grid, simulating a killer final pass towards goal.

If the shot is saved, both teams re-enter the grid and the goalie plays the ball into the grid to be played. If the shot is a miss that goes behind the net that player’s team is “off” and goes to the sideline to be replaced by a new team, and the coach restarts the activity by playing a ball in. If the goal is scored the scorer’s team stays on and the team that was scored on is replaced.

Game ends after a team scores a predetermined number of goals or the time limit is reached.

A number of factors can be changed based on skill level, age, number of players, etc. including:
Grid Size
Goal Distance/Size
Number of Players in Grid
Time Limit/# of Goals

The side in which players can score can be altered as well.

By Matthew Carroll

Transitional Possession Into the Attack

By Sean Pearson

Area: 36 x 40 yards
Time: 20mins
Players: 5v5+2

• To be compact while defending and then quickly spread out when possession is won
• To connect passes in a composed manner in a tight area in front of goal.

Set Up:
The playing area one large area with 4 goals, 1 in each corner. The team in possession I spreads out on the outside of the area with 2 CB’s, 2 Wingers and a striker, the 2 neutrals are always the CMs. The defending team stays compact and presses when appropriate as well as aiming to cut off passing lanes.

The team on the outside combines with the two neutrals to maintain possession they should move in accordance with their position. They are also allowed in the main area to receive a ball, however you they should mainly be on the outside so the team is spread out. The 2 CMs in the middle should always be at angles to one another and never be on the same horizontal or vertical line.

If the defending team wins possession they can go to any of the goals to score, the team on the outside must stop this by coming into the main area to compact the space around the ball. If they manage to win possession back they should transition back to being on the outside of the area.

If the defending team wins possession and scores, then the teams switch and they become the team on the outside looking to maintain possession.

• Team in possession can score with a number of passes
• Team in possession scores in a goal after a certain number of passes
• If you have an extra player on each team leave one player in the middle to be an extra CM

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

6v3 Possession and Transition

By Sean Reed –

This is a session that focus’s on possession with an overload and the transition in gaining and losing possession.

Set Up – Possession
The session is set up within an area approx 15-20yds x 15-20yds. The game is set up as a 6v3. The ball will always start with the team with the greater number. The objective for the team in possession is to maintain possession without the opposition getting contact on the ball or forcing a mistake. The objective for the team out of possession is to force as many mistakes or getting a touch on the ball as possible with the allocated time.
The length of time can be dependent on the physical outcome and the decision of the coach. See Diagram 1

• Restrictions on the number of touches
• Number of consecutive passes will provide an extra goal

Set Up – Possession with Transition
The session is set up as within the previous session. Within this session the objective for the team defending is to win possession either by gaining possession or forcing the team in possession to put the ball out of the area, which would then see the ball played to the team with 3 players. Total number of passes made within the allocated time. See Diagram 2.

• Restrictions on the number of touches
• Set number of passes made to score a goal
• Highest number of consecutive passes made

Set Up – Possession with Transition & Goals
The session is set up as within the previous session. For this session four goals are introduced, one being placed on each side of the pitch. The team that are defending (less players), when they win possession of the ball they are now looking to score in one of the four goals. See Diagram 3.

• Restriction on the number of touches
• Mix up the number of goals available to score in

Some Coaching Points
• Movement to receive the ball
• Quality of passing
• Creating space for self and others
• Angles of support
• Awareness of next touch / pass / movement
• Setting traps to win possession / force the mistake
• Timing and movement to get up to the ball
• First pass on the turnover
• First response to win the ball back when possession is lost

By Sean Reed
Former First Team Coach of Championship team Fulham FC. Sean is a UEFA A Coach with a Masters in Sport Coaching. He has over 15 years of experience working in professional football from Academy through to First team in the Premiership and Championship.

Web –
Twitter – @SeanJReed

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