Combination Play To Penetrate In The Final Third

SoccerSpecific

Mario Sanchez is currently in his first year as the Head Men’s Coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). Prior to SIUE, Sanchez was the Associate Head Coach at the University of Louisville and the Head Coach at University of Nevada Las Vegas. Outside of the college ranks, Sanchez is involved with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and has been since 2006. He served as the West Region Olympic Development Program (ODP) head coach from 2006 to 2009. He has been an assistant coach with the U-17 Men’s National team on three different occasions, most recently at the Copa de Mexico tournament in August 2014. He has also served as a national scout for USSF since 2012 and holds a USSF ‘A’ License.

Creating and executing the final pass is one of the most challenging aspects of the game to teach younger players.  This full session works on combination play in the final third and gives your players the opportunity to work on wall passes, combination play and 3rd man runs. Hopefully it improves your efficiency in the final third!

Activity #1:

Setup:

Dynamic movement warm-up.

Diagram A
Diagram A

Instructions:

Physically and mentally prepare the players for training. 8-10 minutes of movement to activate the body and mind.

Coaching Points:

  • Hit all major muscle groups and raise the heart rate.

Activity #2:

Setup:

Wall pass and combination play between the lines. 6-12 players per grid, two identical grids depending on your numbers. Place eight mannequins as shown, mannequins are 10 yards apart. Coaches are on either side of the grid to help facilitate the activity.

Diagram B
Diagram B

Instructions:

Players work on receiving the ball in “space between the lines” on a half turn. Use the coach for different combination play to beat the “defender” in order to penetrate. Change directions half-way through so players work on receiving the ball with both feet. 2-3 minutes each direction. Players rotate by advancing one cone.

Coaching Points:

  • Weight of the pass
  • Circulate the ball quickly
  • Receive the ball on a half turn in order to quickly penetrate on the dribble on your first touch
  • Timing of runs

Activity #3:

Setup:

Wall pass and combination play 3rd man running. 6-12 players per grid, two identical grids depending on your numbers. Place eight mannequins as shown, mannequins are 10 yards apart. Coaches are on either side of the grid to help facilitate the activity.

Diagram C
Diagram C

Instructions:

Same set up as before, only now, balls are played directly into the “target” who plays the third man running in behind the defender. Change directions half-way through so players work on receiving the ball with both feet. 2-3 minutes each direction. Players rotate by advancing one cone.

Coaching Points:

  • Weight of the pass
  • Circulate the ball quickly
  • Timing of runs
  • 3rd man must time his run in order to make sure he is not running in-behind before the layoff occurs

Activity #4:

Setup:

10v10 possession into a zone, position specific, two teams are organized in a 4-2-3-1 formation as shown. Middle zone is 75×40 with two, 7 yard end zones on each side. A coach is placed behind each end zone with plenty of balls in order to dictate the pace of the activity and initiate the point of attack.

Diagram D
Diagram D

Instructions:

Use combination play to penetrate space behind the defending team. Normal possession in the middle zone with the purpose of finding a penetrating through ball into the end zone. To score a point, team must penetrate the opposing team’s zone using different combination play. (wall pass, through ball, third man combination play). Defending team cannot enter the end zone. 3 x 3-4 minutes, determine overall winner based on point accumulation. If a point is scored, the scoring team starts the point of attack again from their coach. If the ball goes out of play, a new ball is started from the coach.

Coaching Points:

  • Individual and group spacing to create space to attack
  • Timing of runs into space
  • Weight of the penetrating passes

Activity #5:

Setup:

11v11 penetrating the final third zone. Two teams are organized in a 4-2-3-1 formation as shown. Middle zone remains 75×40, two big goals are placed on the penalty spot on each side of the playing area.

Diagram E
Diagram E

Instructions:

Use combination play to penetrate space behind the defending team and go to goal. Normal soccer rules apply, three zones, teams continue to play in the middle third of the field. Once a team has successfully played behind into the final third, the player who has played the ball and one additional player may attack the goal. Teams may not defend in the space behind the two offside lines. Offside rules apply. 3 x 3-4 minutes.

Coaching Points:

  • Individual and group spacing to create space to attack
  • Timing of runs into space
  • Weight of the penetrating passes
  • Finishing on goal

Activity #6:

Setup:

11v11 game, normal soccer rules apply.

Diagram F
Diagram F

Instructions:

Use combination play to penetrate space behind the defending team and go to goal. Offside rules apply. 2 x 5-8 minutes.

Coaching Points:

  • Individual and group spacing to create space to attack
  • Timing of runs into space
  • Weight of the penetrating passes
  • Finishing on goal