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Transitions: react to change in possession

It is vital that as soon as the ball is won or lost teams react instantly. An attacking team that has lost the ball must work hard to immediately win it back – often in youth players they lose vital seconds when the ball is lost and give the team that has won the ball time and space so they can secure the ball and quickly attack.

Securing the ball

Securing the ball is an important part of this process, just running blindly or kicking the ball to no one in particular will not help the speed of transition and, while quick, will end up in giving the ball straight back to the opposition.

As players get older and they move into age groups upwards of Under-12s transitions become crucial. When the opponent is organised defensively, it is very difficult to score.

Mourinho on transitions

It is worth quoting Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho here : “The moment the opponent loses the ball can be the time to exploit the opportunity of someone being out of position. Similarly when we lose the ball we must react immediately.

“In training I sometimes practice keeping a minimum of five players behind the ball, so that when we lose it we can still keep a good defensive shape. The players must learn to read the game – when to press and when to return to their defensive positions.”

Mourinho adds: ”Everybody says that set plays win most games, but I think it is more about transitions.”
This is one of the reasons that Willian was so important to Jose Mourinho when he was manager of Chelsea.

“He is the type of player who, without even scoring goals, he gives so much to the team,” Mourinho says.
“He creates and always has a good dynamic. When the team loses the ball, he is probably the first defender as he reacts in a very effective way and presses immediately.”

Phases of play

Every match can be divided into four phases of play which are affected by who has possession of the ball and who wins possession of the ball. Teams are either with the ball or without it and how teams react to the situation is linked to how successful they are. Your team may have less possession than the opposition and still win the game because your players react to transitions better than the opposition

PHASE 1 – POSSESSION:

Keeping the ball is vital if teams want to score goals. The organisation of the opposition is key to making this section work. The strength of the opposition to disrupt play is key to this phase.

PHASE 2 – LOSING THE BALL (TRANSITION):

Now the players must quickly recover to get behind the ball, try win it back quickly and prevent the opposition from scoring. Players must look and communicate to prevent opponents from scoring on the counter attack.

PHASE 3 – OPPOSITION IN POSSESSION:

The team must fall back into a defensive shape pressing all over the pitch to make it difficult for the opposition to move the ball into dangerous positions.

PHASE 4 – WINNING THE BALL

(TRANSITION): Your team must try to take advantage of players out of position the minute they lose possession of the ball. You take advantage of your opponent’s weakness with an attack at goal.

TRANSITION TACTICS

ATTACKING TACTICS – PHASE 1
When your team has the ball follow the following tactics:
> Spread out to create width and space across the pitch and high up the pitch
> Players must now move into positions where they can receive the ball to make it easier for teammates to pass
> Be patient to look for an opening in their opponents’s defence
> Try to play forward whenever possible looking to pass between the lines and penetrate the defence
> Make quick decisions to support the player with the ball timing runs into space.
> Be creative and be prepared to take risks in the final third of the pitch

TRANSITION TACTICS – PHASE 2
> Recover and shrink quickly into a defensive shape pressing high if possible
> Cover routes to goal block passes and shots

DEFENDING TACTICS – PHASE 3
Once teams have taken on the defensive shape they must now try to control the game without the ball.
> Individuals must delay movement of opponents and maintain a shape that contains the opposition
> Maintain your defensive position behind the ball as long as possible
> Teams must cover the areas in front of goal making the areas where space becomes > dangerous much smaller
> Pressure the ball carrier as a unit when the opportunity presents itself
> Close down passing lanes quickly spotting any possible passing routes
> Balance in defence is important – if a defender moves out of position to close an opponent down another defender must cover that position
> Don’t jump in and allow attackers to skip past control the players movement

TRANSITION TACTICS – PHASE 4
When your team wins the ball they must now attack at pace making the most of any overloads or players caught upfield.

USE THE 8 SESSIONS BELOW TO GIVE YOUR PLAYERS A GROUNDING IN RESPONDING QUICKLY TO TRANSITIONS

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