Switching play side-to-side

This session will give players the confidence to use their craft and vision to be able to switch play from one side of the pitch to the other. It is crucial for young players to know how to switch play so they can exploit space by moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. They can do this either by using a long pass or a series of quick, short passes.

Set up

Create a 30×15-yard area split into three 10-yard zones. Mark out three gates along the two lines that create the centre zone – the gates should be one yard wide and evenly spaced along the line. We’re using three teams of four, one in each zone. You will need balls, bibs and cones.

How to play it

In their groups of four, get your players to work out how many ways they can get the ball from one side to the other: one long pass; three short; one short one long etc. After five minutes split the middle team in two – one pair defends the three gates on one side and one pair defends the gates on the other side. The two outside teams must try and pass quickly in order to find a chance to get the ball through one of the gates. Rotate teams every five minutes.


Having three goals and only two defenders means attackers will be keen to hunt out space to score.

1. Teams start by seeing how many different ways they can pass across their zone from one side to the other
2. An accurate long pass is a great way of getting from one side to the other but fast short passing is also very effective

3. In the active game part of the session, players must move the ball quickly to find a free gate they can slot the ball home through
4. Here good vision sees the open gate and quick passing allows the player to score

5. The defending players have to work hard so switch teams every couple of minutes

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