EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Switching play in midfield

Space can be exposed by switching the play. This means moving the ball quickly from one side of the pitch to the other to change the point of attack. And open space can lead to more chances of scoring goals.

What this session is about

  1. Recognising that attacking down one side of the pitch is not possible.
  2. Changing the point of attack quickly.
  3. Exploiting space created away from the ball.
  4. Understanding how to make the pitch big when in possession by keeping the team shape.

What to think about

Players should:

  • Spread out, but offer back-up support.
  • Pass quickly – two-touch max – and accurately.
  • Keep possession on one side of the pitch before penetrating on the other.
  • Demonstrate good receiving technique, such as controlling the ball with the back foot etc.
  • Play with their head up.
  • Consider the timing of a pass/run.
  • Make sure to deliver an end product (cross/shot etc).

Set-up

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes10-15 minutes15-20 minutes15-20 minutes10 minutes

What you get your players to do

Mark out an area containing 12 squares, each 10 yards long, and put a player in each one, as in the top picture.

Although in separate areas, each player is part of a line of four. To begin, players pass the ball in the following sequence: Player 1 passes to 2, who passes to 3, then on to 4. Then the ball is passed back along the line.

To progress, use the following passing sequence: 1-2-4: 4-3-1. The third sequence is as follows: 1-3-2-4: 4-2-3-1.

Tip: Each group of four players should imagine they are attacking one one side of the area which is blocked by defenders so they are switching play from wing to wing.

Players practise sequence passing in boxes as if switching play across the midfield.

Players practise sequence passing in boxes as if switching play across the midfield.


Development

Use one end of a full-size pitch. Mark out target zones, outside the right and left edges of the penalty box, as shown in the middle picture.

Play 4v2 plus one goalkeeper. The four attackers have a ball between them, as do the two defenders.

The object of the activity is for the midfielders to keep switching the play from one wing to the other, outside of the penalty box, with each one touching the ball and using any of the sequences as practised in the session.

When space is found on the wing, a wide player can dribble into the target zone and cross for the other wide attacker – who makes a run into the penalty area – to score.

Each defender can enter a target zone to tackle an attacker only after stopping a cross-field pass from their defensive team mate within the penalty box.

This means defenders cannot simply wait for a winger to attack.

Four attackers pass a ball across midfield to find space, while two defenders also pass a ball before making to challenge in a target zone.

Four attackers pass a ball across midfield to find space, while two defenders also pass a ball before making to challenge in a target zone.


Game situation

Play 7v7 (using 2-3-1 formations) in an area with two wing channels, as in the bottom picture.

As well as two “standard” goals with goalkeepers at either end, place smaller “gate” goals at both ends of the two wing channels.

This will encourage both teams to attack down the wings but you should award bonus points for goals scored following a switch of play and for scoring in the standard goal so players don’t always opt for gate goals.

Play a small-sided game, using additional “gate” goals, to encourage players to switch the ball across the pitch and attack.

Play a small-sided game, using additional “gate” goals, to encourage players to switch the ball across the pitch and attack.


What to call out

Share this

Follow us