Clever combination play can deliver fast attacks

I work my players every training session on keeping the ball. Small sided passing games that are opposed in overload situations are a key way to getting players used to keeping the ball by passing and moving under pressure.

Movement, support and running off the ball is key to build up play in all areas of the pitch, and fine-tuning these abilities in players can really enhance attacking options throughout the team.

When my teams play in matches they build up play from the back and move through the thirds in different ways – there may be dribbles or quick passing moves or longer passes. Players need to have the tools to make combination play work.

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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