EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Cut it out

Teach your players the art of intercepting or “stealing” the ball – like Real Madrid centre back Ricardo Carvalho or Manchester United’s midfielder Michael Carrick – with this session.

What this session is about

  1. Challenging for the ball and winning possession.
  2. Learning how to “read” the play, i.e., predict when and where the other team will pass the ball.

What to think about

All players need to:

  • Anticipate the pass. Does the passer’s eyes or head movement give away his intentions?

Defenders must:

  • Ensure they are goal-side (nearer to their own goal) when marking an opponent.
  • Stay within touching distance of the opponent.
  • Keep the ball and receiver in their sight.
  • Adopt a slightly “side-on” body position to give them the best chance of covering all potential attacking movements.
  • Not get “turned” by the opponent.
  • Jockey the opponent if the ball can’t be won.

Set-up

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes15 minutes15 minutes15 minutes5 minutes

What you get your players to do

Mark out a square area and use five players, as shown in the top picture.

Play 4v1 keepaway. Award a point to the attackers for completing five passes. The defender earns a point for knocking the ball out of play or forcing the attackers to kick it out, and two points for stealing the ball.

Play two-touch and switch defenders after each minute of play.

One player tries to intercept the ball from a team of four.

One player tries to intercept the ball from a team of four.


Development

Mark out a bigger area and play 2v2 plus one neutral player. The neutral player always plays for the team that is not in possession of the ball, so it is 2v3.

Any of the defensive players can win possession, but if the neutral player happens to be the one who wins the ball, he must pass to the team he’s won possession for before immediately switching teams.

He then begins trying to intercept the ball again with his new team mates.

Play two-touch to begin with, then three-touch. This helps encourages lots of passing followed by more realistic play.

Two players try to keep possession against two others plus a neutral player.

Two players try to keep possession against two others plus a neutral player.


Game situation

Set up the area, as shown in the bottom picture, and play a five-a-side game.

Condition the number of touches a player can have, including the goalkeepers, to two to encourage lots of passing and, therefore, opportunities to intercept the ball.

Progress to three-touch, and then play a game with no limit on the number of touches allowed. The team that scores most goals wins.

In a five-a-side game, play two-touch so there are lots of chances for interceptions to take place.

In a five-a-side game, play two-touch so there are lots of chances for interceptions to take place.


What to call out

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