Attacking Middle-Third to Final-Third: Find the Gaps

SoccerSpecific

Finding gaps, creating space, delivering penetrating passes from the middle to the final-thirds of the pitch can prove difficult for many teams; space + time are restricted in these areas therefore players must make decisions and execute as fast as possible.

The following session develops the individual qualities as well as team movements that will enhance your ability to penetrate the opponent.

The first activity aims to develop an understanding of the various techniques utilized to create space, find gaps, in order to turn quickly in front. The following activities place players in competitive scenarios to reinforce the demand on finding the gaps to play.


Attacking Middle-Third to Final-Third: Find the Gaps

1. PASSING: FINDING SPACE BETWEEN LINES

Setup:

10 Players / Supply of balls at positions (A) + (B).  Mannequins positioned in central area to replicate lines of opponents.

Attacking Middle-Third to Final-Third: Find the Gaps | SoccerSpecific.com
Diagram A

Instructions:

Emphasis on Central Players receiving in gaps in front, between + behind lines of opponent….and receiving in half-turned stance in order to play forward.

Balls start each time from position (A) or (B).

EG: First movement from Player (1) to receive a pass from (A) in front of the opponent (mannequin), one-touch pass to (B); Player movement (2) moves between lines of the opponent to receive a vertical pass from (B). Player (2) now passes to either (C) or (D) who dribble back to starting positions. Player (A) enters / Player (2) exits. Next ball starts from Player (B).

Sequence is continuous.

Coaching Points:

  • Timing of movements to receive passes
  • Angles to receive – body position / orientation
  • Receive on half-turn
  • Turn in front as quickly as possible – get facing forward!

2. FINDING SPACE BETWEEN LINES / PENETRATION

Setup:

5v5 – 3 zone game.  Mini goals utilised at each end as shown

Players in positions –

RED TEAM consists of: C.Defender / Left Fullback / Central Mid / Left Mid / Forward
BLACK TEAM: C.Defender / Right Fullback / Central Mid / Right Mid / Forward

Attacking Middle-Third to Final-Third: Find the Gaps | SoccerSpecific.com
Diagram B

Instructions:

A 5v5 takes place in central zone.  Normal possession game – emphasis is on receiving in gaps / turning quickly in front to penetrate.  Goals are scored by penetrating the end zones and scoring in either mini-goal.

Play is continuous.

3min games

**Use of a NEUTRAL player may be considered in order to maintain possession

Coaching Points:

  • Quick ball circulation and movement
  • Timing of movements to receive passes
  • Angles to receive – body position / orientation
  • Receive on half-turn
  • Turn in front as quickly as possible – get facing forward!

3. PENETRATION:  MID to FINAL-THIRD

Setup:

8 Attackers vs 8 + GK.  Mini goals utilised as counter-goals for Defending team

Players in positions –
RED TEAM consists of: C.Defender / Left Fullback / Central Mid / Left Mid / Forward
BLACK TEAM: C.Defender / Right Fullback / Central Mid / Right Mid / Forward

Attacking Middle-Third to Final-Third: Find the Gaps | SoccerSpecific.com
Diagram C

Instructions:

Play starts with a pass from Server (S) each time to any of the RED team. RED buildup team must circulate the ball quickly in order to move the defensive opponent – move the opponent to create passing options vertically between their lines.

Rotations of midfield players with Wide Forwards takes place to affect the positioning of the opponent midfield players and Fullbacks.

#8 + #10 must constantly look to get in gaps between and behind opponent midfield players.
Fullbacks are encouraged to push high to create inter-play with wide forwards

Coaching Points:

  • Quick ball circulation and movement
  • Find the gaps
  • Look for vertical passing options
  • Interchange of Midfield / Forward Players
  • Rotation of Fullbacks / Midfield / Forwards to create space
  • Timing of movements to receive passes
  • Angles to receive – body position / orientation
  • Receive on half-turn
  • Turn in front as quickly as possible – get facing forward!

4. PENETRATION: MID to FINAL-THIRD

Setup:

9v9. Mini goals utilised as counter-goals for Defending team.

Players in positions –

RED TEAM consists of: C.Defender / Left Fullback / Central Mid / Left Mid / Forward
BLACK TEAM: C.Defender / Right Fullback / Central Mid / Right Mid / Forward

Attacking Middle-Third to Final-Third: Find the Gaps | SoccerSpecific.com
Diagram D

Instructions:

Play starts with a pass from Goalkeeper (A) each time to any of the RED team. RED buildup team must circulate the ball quickly in order to move the defensive opponent – move the opponent to create passing options vertically between their lines.

Rotations of midfield players with Wide Forwards takes place to affect the positioning of the opponent midfield players and Fullbacks.

#8 + #10 must constantly look to get in gaps between and behind opponent midfield players. Fullbacks are encouraged to push high to create inter-play with wide forwards.

In Diagram: #8 / #2 / #7 have rotated to create forward passing options: #8 has received and has options of #7 moving inside between the opponents lines and Fullback #2 advancing in a wide area. Left-Fullback (3) BLACK must make a decision to track #7 or the advancing Fullback = opportunities to find space.

Coaching Points:

  • Quick ball circulation and movement
  • Find the gaps
  • Look for vertical passing options
  • Interchange of Midfield / Forward Players
  • Rotation of Fullbacks / Midfield / Forwards to create space
  • Timing of movements to receive passes
  • Angles to receive – body position / orientation
  • Receive on half-turn
  • Turn in front as quickly as possible – get facing forward!