Win the ball, score a goal

In matches there are all sorts of situations that face a player – 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and so on. You need your attacking players to take advantage of these situations to win the ball and fire a shot at goal.

Why use it

I use this session because it gets my attackers going head to head in a shoot out.

Set up

You need balls, bibs, cones and goals. Use half the pitch for this exercise. Set up a goal at each end. For the first part you only need one goal but for the development phases you need two. We used 16 players.

How to play it

Four players either side of the goal from opposite teams, numbered 1 to 4 on each side.
Stand at the side in the middle of the pitch with some balls.
You call a number and the players called must run out to challenge for a ball you have served into the middle of the pitch.
You can call just one number for 1v1 or a combination of numbers to make 2v2 or 3v3.
You can make other combinations like 2v1 or 3v1 by calling numbers and colours.
Depending on where you serve the ball, you can favour one player or one part of the pitch.
The player who reaches the ball first must try to score, the other player must try to win possession then attack the goal themselves.
When the ball has gone out of play or into the goal the players go back to their positions and you call another number or combination of numbers and colours.

You can then add another goalkeeper and tell players the first player to the ball can choose to attack either goal, both goals are in play until the ball goes dead. They can lose their opponents with quick turns and feints, or if there is more than one player they can use skills like one-twos.
Turn this into a small-sided game by calling out ALL numbers. The aim of this game is for teams to score in either of the goals so they defend and attack at both ends of the pitch.


Lots to watch for, shooting skills, ball control and decision making.

    1. Get the players to line up beside the goals and number them 1 to 4 on each side
    2. On the coach’s call the numbered players must react and try to be first to the ball – then hold off the other players and shoot at the goal
    3. The coach decides on the battle – 1v1 up to 3v3 to battle for the ball and which players he wants in the battle

Transition and turn

    4. Where the ball is played can favour a player or an area of the pitch
    5. Adding a goal enables direction of play to change and also to make a 4v4 game
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