Be clever with combination play

The best teams can keep the ball even when cornered and blocked in by the opposition – just try stopping Manchester City when they attack from their own half.

Making the most of forays into the opposition final third with good combination play is key to playing soccer, yet often many teams find it difficult to make their visits into the opposition’s half count.

Here are my favourite four ways to use combination play to make attacks count.

For the younger age groups build up play will be far less developed and will involve less passing and the main event will be the shot on goal from any kind of pass or dribble. Shrinking goal puts the emphasis on accuracy when shooting – not necessarily shooting with power. Players should quickly realise this is the key technique to employ.

Small-sided games are key to developing build-up play in the final third. 4v4 build up to score is a simple game that gets players to recognise where the space is, where to move to give support and as play develops it gets harder as more players are added.

Five seconds to score adds time pressures to the build-up passing and makes players work quickly in front of goal. This is great fun for all your players and I find my players want to keep playing it even when the training session is over. A great one for getting all your players wanting to come back to your training sessions week after week.

Finally, Foraging forwards is a brilliant way to get your team to test their build up play in a game of two different tactics – it’s build up from the back versus the constant threat of the counterattack from balls played behind the defence. Ideal to get your team ready for a match – watch the goal count add up!

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