Category Archives for Coaching

Losing Your Marking

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

5 v 5 + 5 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

3 v 2 & 4 v 3 + Goalkeeper

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

Building your Back Four

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 1/3 of a field

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 4 v 4 + GK

Objectives

  • To work together as a unit to deny penetration by the attacking team
  • To move up the field together when the ball is passed forwards

Set-Up

1/3 of the field is needed. There are 3 teams that alternate being the defending team. The players at the back are neutrals. Set up 4 areas for each defender to force them to stay in position. Off side is in effect.

defending-as-a-unit-1

Execution

The aim is for the 4 defenders to work as a unit. By that they should be organized and know who should press and who should cover depending on where the ball is and who has the control of it. Whether it be in front, to the side or behind.

Whichever section the ball is in, the defender in that section pressures and the players either side cover them, this is to deny any space to penetrate through the unit. Communication is needed for the group to slide left or right, press & cover. Body shape is taken from the pressuring defender.

defending-as-a-unit-7

Defenders look to anticipate passes across the area and intercept them. Then pass the ball up to the neutral players to continue game realism.

defending-as-a-unit-2

When a player passes up to the neutrals all the players must act like the ball is going forward to the midfielders when playing a game. Thus sprint up to first line and reach it together so players can’t be onside if the ball gets played over or through from the midfielders losing possession.

defending-as-a-unit-3

Then have the 4 defenders face the 4 attackers using width. Place two players wide of the 18-yard line. Whenever the ball begins to travel that’s when players should start to sprint to pressure them to stop any potential cross.

defending-as-a-unit-4

Eventually, when each team reacts quickly to passing forwards and moving up together the next progression is to have a neutral, immediately as the defenders get to the first line, pass a ball behind them. The pass can be in many directions and in the air or on the ground. The defending team now has to run back to recover their defensive position.

defending-as-a-unit-5

Finally, add a neutral to be a striker so the defenders have another player to think about. This now requires the defenders to communicate more and puts them under more duress with being in an underload situation.

defending-as-a-unit-6

 

Variations

  • Allow attacking players to move areas
  • Players can shoot if there is no pressure

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

4 v 4 + 2

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 35 x 26 yard

Teams: 15 mins

Players: 7 v 7

Objectives

  • To Shoot directly off of a pass
  • To understand when and when not to shoot depending on the scenario

Set-Up

Two teams score on different goals, both teams play in a diamond formation and 2 players are in corner zones on the offensive side of the ball.

shooting-off-the-pass-1

Execution

The aim is to be able to shoot directly off a pass. Either when the ball is coming back towards you or travelling in the same direction as you. Aim to get the ball to the player in the offensive zones early so there is space for players to arrive and shoot with a 1 time shot.

shooting-off-the-pass-2

The players in the offensive zones should look to find options from movements from the field players. Depending on the corresponding movements of the defenders is where the ball is played, looking for a team mate to finish with a 1 time shot.

shooting-off-the-pass-3

If there is not an option to directly score off of a pass from the offensive zone then players in the field of play can also create opportunities for other players. Depending on where the defenders are players can either run in front, or like in the diagram, run behind into the space to receive a pass.

shooting-off-the-pass-4

Variations

  • Once you play to an offensive zone you switch
  • Set distances from the goal, so more points are awarded the further out players score from
  • Allow players from the offensive zones to drive inside to draw players towards them

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

Decision Making on the Ball

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 18 yard area x 2

Teams: 15 mins

Players: 6 v 7 (Underload)

Objectives

  • To realize 1v1 dribbling opportunities
  • To be positive in decision making

Set-Up

The area is separated into 3 zones. 2 wide zones from the 18 to the 6. The central zone which is the width of the 6. Players are only allowed in the zones they occupy.

when-and-where-to-dribble-1

Execution

The aim is to look for 1v1 scenarios when players can be positive and dribble past their opponent. Sometimes players will receive the ball in a 1v1 situation but will not be able to be positive and attempt to dribble. This game is meant to highlight the opportunities for when and where to dribble.

When a wide player receives the ball and there is space to run and attack their opponent in the wide area, encourage the to do so on every occasion. If they receive the ball in a tight area with pressure high up the field, you can also encourage them to use skill to beat their opponent. Only when they are close to their goal should they not attempt to dribble due to possible loss of possession.

when-and-where-to-dribble-2

If a player in the central zone receives the ball with space to run into and take a player on you should encourage them to do so, only if it is a 1v1 scenario. If a second player begins to pressure the attacker, the attacker must make a decision. If it becomes another 1v1 then they can attempt to dribble, but if it is a 2v1 they should look to find a pass.

when-and-where-to-dribble-3

Variations

  • Allow players with the ball to dribble into other zones to encourage 1v1 situations
  • Open up the area so players can make decisions on when and where to attempt a 1v1 dribble

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

Wingers Attacking Off the Line

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 18 yard area + 5 yards

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 6 v 7 (Underload)

Objectives

  • To drive inside, off the line, at every opportunity
  • For other players to make supporting runs off the ball to move opposition players for the winger to make decisions on what to do with the ball.

Set-Up

The attacking team sets up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but with just the midfield and striker. The defending team does the same. Three goals are at the top of the area for the defense to score in if they win possession. Each time the ball goes out at the ends either #8 or #6 retrieve a new ball.

wingers-attacking-off-the-line-1

Execution

First of all, it is important that you switch your wingers so their strong foot is on the opposite side. As the attacking team you must get the ball to the #7 or #11 as often as possible. When they receive the ball their first touch should be inside, they should aim to drive at and commit the closest CB. At the same time the #9 should move to the opposite side the ball went, they should run along the line of the CB’s and look to run in behind the CB as the winger players the ball into space. The #10 and #11 also make runs behind the defense.

wingers-attacking-off-the-line-2

Once the defending team can stop this pass, have the winger continue their run across the field, The #10 should make a curved run and opposite winger a run behind the full back. Depending on how far in the full back has come this decides their pass.

wingers-attacking-off-the-line-3

Finally, If the #7 or #11 receives the ball deeper, have them run more of a flat line across the 18yard area, (see most Arjen Robben goals on YouTube). Have the #9 run across the 1st CB, to almost screen the #7. Have the #10 do the same with 2nd CB. Right now is the time for the #7 or #11 to shoot.

wingers-attacking-off-the-line-4

Variations

  • With more players you can use FB’s on the attacking team
  • Try different options with players such as a ball to the opposite winger 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

Finding the Forward

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 18 yard area + 15 yards

Teams: 15-20mins

Players: 4 v 3

Time: 15-20 Minutes

Objectives

  • To combine with the striker through different combinations
  • To use the position of the defenders to make decisions on which combination should be used

Set-Up

This is for teams that play in a 4-2-3-1 formation or something similar for the 7v7 or 9v9 models. It can easily be adapted for a 4-3-3 system. Set your players up in a diamond against the 2 CBs and GK below.

playing-through-the-striker-1

Execution

The starting trigger is when the striker (#9) checks away and moved down, diagonally towards the #10. The #9 sets with the left foot if they go left and right if they go right. This is so the angle of the pass back to the #10 can’t be intercepted by a CB. The #10 then plays a pass into space to the #7 or #11, depending on which side the #9 runs.

playing-through-the-striker-2

Next, work on having the striker run in between the CB’s after the set. Have the #10 play either (1) an opposite (reverse) field pass to the opposite winger or (2) play through the CB’s to the striker. This depends on where the CB’s position themselves. Play (1) if they are narrow (2) if they are separated by a large space.

playing-through-the-striker-3

If the defenders are able to get out to a wide player before they can get forward explain the pass to the #10 should be on. The #10 can either (1) shoot or (2) pass across if the 2nd CB blocks the shooting opportunity.

playing-through-the-striker-4

 

Variations

  • Add a 3rd defender to act as a defensive midfielder
  • Play 2 touch

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