EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Dominate the middle ground

Many professional coaches believe matches are won and lost in midfield. If your team can dominate possession in the middle of the park, it is much more likely to create lots of goalscoring opportunities.

What this session is about

  1. Playing through midfield.
  2. Dominating possession of the ball.
  3. Building and creating attacks.

What to think about

When playing in midfield, players must:

  • Pass quickly and accurately.
  • Show good movement to create space.
  • Get on the half turn and receive with the back foot.
  • Use a good first touch away from defenders and into space.
  • Play with their head up.
  • Make a new angle to receive the next pass.
  • Display good passing technique – use the inside of the foot, strike through the horizontal midline, etc.

Set-up

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes10 minutes15 minutes15 minutes10 minutes

What you get your players to do

Set up a 25-yard square with a five-yard square within it. Four target players patrol a corner of the large square and can move halfway along either side to the right and left of them.

Two players start in possession of a ball inside the larger playing area but outside the small one, with the other two players acting as receivers similarly positioned.

The players with a ball each start by playing a one-two pass with a target player. They then pass their ball across the central zone to a receiver, and get a return pass once they have entered or moved through the central zone. They next pass to a different target player and repeat the drill.

The receivers do not enter the central zone and should constantly be on the move so they’re ready for a one-two.

Target players outside the large square return passes to players who must pass across the central area then run to collect the ball.

Target players outside the large square return passes to players who must pass across the central area then run to collect the ball.


Development

Increase the size of the central zone to a 20-yard square. Play a 5v3, but play 1v3 in the central zone. Four attackers play in the small area outside the central square.

These four attackers are restricted to this area, but defenders can go anywhere within both areas to tackle the attackers.

Attackers score a point for completing five consecutive passes but it must include the attacker in the 1v3. Defenders score a point each time they win the ball.

In a 5v3, four attackers stay in the outer zone and, with their team mate, keep the ball away from three defenders.

In a 5v3, four attackers stay in the outer zone and, with their team mate, keep the ball away from three defenders.


Game situation

Now play a 4v4 in an area measuring 40×25 yards, with two gate goals at each end towards the corners and a central zone measuring approximately 12×12 yards.

Only one nominated player (A) from each team can touch the ball in the middle zone as well as tackle – although any player can enter the central zone – and teams must play through that zone at least once before entering the attacking third of the pitch when in possession. Change the central zone player regularly.

The team that scores most goals wins.

Two teams try to score in two cone goals but one designated player (A) is the only one that can touch the ball in the central zone.

Two teams try to score in two cone goals but one designated player (A) is the only one that can touch the ball in the central zone.


What to call out

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