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.

Variations:
• 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.

3v3 With Three Mini Goals

By Steven Smith

Area Size: Three cone or mini goals are set up on each end line of a 25 X 35-yard field. Players line up with half on each end line ready to come on as a 3 vs. 3 group to attack or defend.

Teams: Two teams of 9 players each

Time: For full progression approximately 12 minutes

Objective: The objective of this activity is for defenders to shape very quickly to protect the goal as the offense moves the ball from place to place on the field. Coaching feedback should be exclusively given on defensive shape. Verbal cues of TRIANGLE when ball is in the center of the field and ARC when the ball is on the flanks is key to this training activity.

Set up and Execution:
One team serves from the end line and immediately moves out to defend. The other group of three move the ball and attempt to score on any of the three goals at the opposite end line. If a turnover occurs, the serving team attempts to score on their three goals. When the ball goes out of play, reset and start over with a new group. If the ball is served to the central attacker, then the defending group must make a triangle with pressure and cover. If served to the flank attackers, the defenders should defend in an L or arc shape as shown in the diagram.

Variations:
Ball always served from one end and then switch after ten balls.
Can become a transition game when the ball goes over the end line, the attacking team begins to defend the new group coming onto the field from the end line.

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.

5v3+2

By Steven Smith

Area Size: Two 12 by 12 yard grids are set up just outside the 18-box as shown. Groups are divided into five per group. Need at least 10 players plus keepers.

Teams: Four teams of five in two different bib colors

Time: 12 minutes

Objective: To be able to technically retain possession in tight spaces and release to get shots off on goal. Also, to be able to use targets to overload and penetrate defenses.

Set up and Execution:
The teams with five in the grid (Black) attempt to connect five passes and then they can go to goal. Once five passes have been made the final pass goes out of the grid and a single player releases from the grid and takes a shot on goal. If the shot is on target or scores, then the black team retains possession for the next start. If it is not on target, the yellow team now gets possession and they have five in the grid. Black players must drop two players outside of the grid and play continues in this fashion. Additionally, if the team with three intercept the ball and can get it to their target player outside of the grid, that team may now go to goal. If they put the ball on target or score they too retain possession for the next ball start-up.

Variations:
Add trailing pressure to the shooter coming out of the box.
The target yellow player can become the defender after playing the ball to the shooter

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.

7v7 plus 7 wingers

By Steven Smith

Area Size: Set up a 30 x 35 yard grid as shown. Place 7 black vs. 7 yellow inside grid. Seven red players each possess a ball on the outside of the grid ready to cross.

Teams: Three groups of seven

Time: For full progression approximately 15 minutes

Set up and Execution: The black and yellow teams compete to see who can score the most out of 7 services from the red team on the outside. The services should alternate so that the black team tries to score on their end without opposition and the yellow team scores on their end without opposition. Each red server must serve one ball to each team and then play rotates.

Upon completion of one full cycle where every group gets a chance to score, now the teams will compete with opposition. The yellow team tries to stop the black team from scoring during their seven services from red and vice versa.

The thirds step in the progression is to play 7 vs. 7 in the same space with all play starting from the goal keeper. Regular game rules apply (make it take it) and both teams attempt to score on each other. Two players from each team that are not currently playing are selected to be in the flank zones without opposition. Before the two team in the grid can score and upon loss of any possession, the ball must go out to the flank and only balls sent in from the flank in the air count as goals.

Variations:

In the final step the variation can be:
1. Balls from flank only count as goals
2. Balls from the flank count as two goals and regular inside the grid goals count as one
3. Players can leave the grid to defend the cross coming in from the flank players

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.

Penetration Targets with Dummies

By Steven Smith

Area Size: A grid that is 20 X 20 is set up with three dummies (or poles) in the middle as shown. Three groups of three are divided into color groups.

Teams: At least two teams but prefer three or more.

Time: 20 minutes for full progression to completion.

Objective: The objective is to penetrate either midfield flat defenses or flat back four defenses (with modifications).

Narrative: Players execute predetermined runs between or in front of dummies to receive from the passing players. Emphasis and feedback is placed on tactical decision making to penetrate the midfield or back line. Gradually adding pressure will increase the demands of speed of decision making while making great technical touch. Holding runs and staying on side is a key part of the decisions when emphasizing penetrating the back line.

Set up and Execution:
In the first activity, the emphasis is on penetrating the midfield by adjusting runs for the receiver to receive in between the defending dummies. Feedback is given by the passer to receiver to either turn, turn and go, or hold. Then the ball is delivered to the flank and the pattern continues to the next person in line.

In the second variation, the receiver posts in front of one of the dummies to receive and double pass back to the initial passer. Then the player must hold and spin off to receive again in between the dummy defenders. Timing is crucial when using this activity to beat a flat four defensive group and stay on side.

In the third variation, the activity becomes a SSG by playing 3 v 3 in the given space with the dummies still on the field. Points are gained by either passing or dribbling between the dummies while competing to keep the ball.

A final progression (not diagrammed) could be to add full sized goals to the ends of the field and complete the activity by scoring in a 3 v 3 setting. Teams can rotate when they get scored upon or after two minutes of play.

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.

Individual Ball Control Session

By Steven Smith

One vs. one skill development is essential to winning games. The teams that can efficiently dismantle other teams in one vs. one challenges all over the field will have better chances at scoring and winning games. This session is designed to develop those skills. The session can be done as a progression or in a camp setting with multiple coaches this can be done in stations and the players can rotate to each station. The order of the activities if done in a progression does not matter and is up to the preference of the coach.

Activity 1: One vs. One Target

Setup:
A grid is set up 25 X 20 with teams set up at each end. One player on each end is the target player for the two players in the center. The play is continuous in nature and players can switch lines randomly.

Execution:
After the first ball is served to opposite end, the attacker with the ball tries to beat the defender and serve the ball with a pass to the opposite end next player (target player). After playing the ball to the target player the passer must then become the defender.

Variations:
Note: This drill designed by Zach Jonker at Petoskey Michigan HS.

Activity 2: One vs. One Four Goals

Setup:
A grid is set up as shown in the diagram approximately 25 long by 20 wide with pugg goals or cone goals. Two lines are formed for attacking and defending.

Execution:
The defending line serves the ball to the attackers who attempt to score on either of the opposing goals on one end. If the defender gains possession they counter attack on the opposite end. Play continues till the ball is out of play or scored and then a new set of players start again. Rotation occurs at coach’s choice with the defending line always coming from the same spot.

Variations:
– Can move to a single goal.
– Coach can label goals by color and identify which color can be scored upon.
– Coach can focus feedback on defending skills or attacking skills and choices.
– Increase space and use full size goals in two locations (one on each end) with goal keepers.

Activity 3: 5 vs. 3 Limited Touch

Setup:
A field is set up 25 wide by 30 long. Two teams are set with 5 on one team and 3 on the other.

Execution:
Teams play against each other inside the grid. The team with 5 players can score on opposite goal but have a two touch limitation. The team with 3 players have unlimited touch. Rotate players within the grid so that all have a turn at limited touches.

Variations:
Goal keepers can restart after a goal but always use make it take it rules to reward scoring.

Activity 4: Four vs. Four Multi-touch

Setup:
A field is set up 25 wide by 30 long. Two teams of 4 vs. 4 play in the middle of the field while a target player is at each end (have two target players at each end with one alternating to make another group of four for rotation later).

Execution:
Four vs. four compete in the grid and try to find the target player at the opposite end to gain a point. Each time a team scores they start again with a ball from the coach. The multi-touch part of this game will increase 1 vs. 1 opportunities. Each player MUST touch the ball three times or more before giving up the ball to another player or before finding the target player.

Variations:
Ball could be played to targets at end that are keepers who must receive the ball with their hands (could restrict it to balls caught in air only).

Activity 5: Two Goal One vs. One

Setup:
Two goals are set up as shown in the diagram at 90 degree angle to each other. Goals should be inside a box approximately 18 X 24.

Execution:
The initial attacker receives the ball from line B formed at the goal being attacked. The defender comes out from the goal after service and defends the attacker. After the attacker scores (or attempts) they defend the new attacker coming at the second goal. If the defender at any point gains possession of the ball the defender can now attempt to score on either goal.

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.

How to Warm Up For a Training Session

By Mike Saif

QuestionHow do you warm up for a training session? Does it change depending on what the training session topic is?

One of the most important things for me with training sessions is to get them active right away. Although I would set up different warm-ups sometimes depending on the topic of the session, most of my warm-ups were small-sided possession games. I did these for a number of reasons.

• They were designed so that all players were moving and active
• No matter the topic of the session, playing soccer always includes passing and possession
• It was a great way to make the warm up competitive and fun

My favorite warm-up was to simply divide the players into two teams with 1 or more neutral players. So it could be 7v7+2, 6v6+3, 8v8+2, etc. This made it really easy regardless of how many players were at practice that night.

I would make the space nice and big which would make it easier to be successful stringing passes and so that the players had more space to cover and run in. Depending on the number of players, it could be a half of a field or from the half line to the penalty area, etc. I would also stipulate that once you had made a pass, you had to run into a different area of the field to make sure players didn’t stay in the same spot all the time.

Making the warm-up competitive ensured a good effort and also made it fun. I would set targets like, 10 consecutive passes or 6 consecutive one-touch passes to get a point. I would sometimes limit players to two-touch or even one-touch with three neutral players. The losing team would have to give the winning team a piggy back ride or have to pick up the cones and balls at the end of practice, etc.

Another active possession warm-up is to play 5v5v5 in the same area with the same rules as above. This time the players would be split into three teams, each with a different color bib. Two teams would combine to keep the ball away from the other team. When the defending team won possession of the ball, the team that was responsible for losing possession, would now become the defending team. In the diagram below, the dark team and white team are combining to keep the ball away from the red team.

Give these a try and experiment with others, but making sure your players are active and having fun, is always a good start to a training session.

By Mike Saif
Founder and President of WORLD CLASS COACHING, Mike has coached 12 State Championship teams and coached the 87G Dynamos to a USYS National Championship.

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