Playing Forward Through Central Areas

SoccerSpecific

Central areas of the pitch are often congested with limited space / time to make decisions and execute passes / dribbling etc. Playing successfully through central areas requires the ability to maintain possession but not at the expense of missing opportunities to play quickly in front; long passing sequences many times result in the opponent getting organized and denying penetration!

The following activities emphasize playing forward at the earliest opportunity – one and two-touch play is utilized at all times, body positions to receive in half-turned stance is coached, positive forward runs are encouraged. Goalkeepers take part as support players in each progression – the Goalkeepers must also be developed as integral parts of the team during buildup phases.

1.

Setup:

10 Players split into two teams of 5 players + 2 Goalkeepers positioned as shown. 2 mini goals at each end placed as shown.

Diagram A

Instructions:

Play begins with a pass from either Goalkeeper (A or B); Goalkeeper (B) + Black team are working on building up centrally in the opponents half of the pitch / Goalkeeper (A) + Red team are working on building up centrally in their own half of the pitch.

Goalkeepers remain involved as a support player – this creates a 5v4 advantage for the team in possession. Teams are encouraged to make forward penetrating passes (avoid side-to-side possession) Team in possession can score in either of their opponents mini-goals. If a goal is scored possession remains with the same team with another pass from their Goalkeeper; on any missed attempt on goal, play starts with the opposite (A).

Play is continuous. 2-3 x 3-4min.

Coaching Points:

  • Playing area is long/narrow to encourage vertical forward passes
  • Body position to receive and immediately look to play forward
  • Various passing techniques to play forward; one-touch, receive half-turned and play forward, layoff short for next ball forward
  • Speed, Direction and Timing of movements to receive passes
  • *Regression: a ‘Free’ player may be added centrally to support the team in possession (creates 6v4)

2.

Setup:

10 Players + 2 Goalkeepers organised as shown. a Mini-goals are placed at one end / Sticks are used to create goals/offside line at opposite end.

Diagram B

Instructions:

Goalkeepers (A) + (B) are positioned centrally around the halfway line – play starts with a pass from the Goalkeeper.

Goalkeeper remains involved as a support player – this creates a 5v4 advantage for the team in possession. Teams are encouraged to make forward penetrating passes (avoid side-to-side
possession)

Black team scores by either – (1) Passing through any of the 3 gates (sticks) or (2) by passing to a player breaking forward into space – if the player times his run he can receive and score in the mini-goals – scoring in mini-goals = 3 points.

If Red team gains possession they can counter and score in the opposite mini-goals.

Alternate Goalkeepers each repetition. 2-3 x 3-4min.

Coaching Points:

  • Body position to receive and immediately look to play forward
  • Various passing techniques to play forward; one-touch, receive half-turned and play forward, layoff short for next ball forward
  • Speed, Direction and Timing of movements to receive passes while staying on-side
  • Counter-Press immediately on any loss of possession

3.

Setup:

10 Players + 2 Goalkeepers organised as shown. Mini-goals are placed at one end / Sticks are used to create goals/offside line at opposite end.

Diagram C

Instructions:

Progression:

Now Goalkeeper is positioned in the full-sized goal as shown.  Emphasis is placed on the Black team building centrally.

  • 1 goal for scoring with a pass through the sticks
  • 3 goals for an on-side run and scoring against the Goalkeeper (B)

In the Diagram – Striker #9 has dropped to receive a pass; the Central defender has not closed him down allowing him to turn – this now gives options to score through the sticks or pass to a runner breaking forward; in the Diagram he has decided to pass to #8 breaking into space.

Coaching Points:

  • Body position to receive and immediately look to play forward.
  • Various passing techniques to play forward; one-touch, receive half-turned and play forward, layoff short for next ball forward
  • Speed, Direction and Timing of movements to receive passes while staying on-side.
  • Counter-Press immediately on any loss of possession