Teach youngsters how and when to break forward

Most teams will go through spells in matches when they need to defend well. So ensuring there is always an outlet farther up the pitch is essential in transforming defensive situations into attacking ones. The secret to this is in employing a player who can dictate this situation.

He will stay alert on the halfway line and won’t follow the possession back down the pitch towards the goal his team is defending. His role is crucial, but ensuring your other players are aware of the need to feed this outlet then break at pace, is important.

So here’s a session that teaches youngsters how, and when, to break forward.

How to set it up:

  • Set up a playing area measuring 40×30 yards, split in half.
  • For this session, you will need bibs, cones, balls and two goals to play five-a-side.
  • Each team must have one player fixed in the attacking half of the pitch and another fixed in the defending half.
  • All other players can roam anywhere on the pitch.

Getting started:

  • One team starts the game at the halfway line and attacks the opponent’s goal.
  • When defenders win the ball, their aim is to release it to their lone attacker in the other half of the pitch.
  • Upon receiving this pass, he must either try to either hold up play until support arrives or he can attempt to beat the defender and score in the goal using a feint or turn.
  • Play restarts at the centre line if the ball goes out of play.
  • Play for 10 minutes.


Why this works:

Counter attacks are a vital part of your team’s tactics, but this session is much more concentrated on defenders recognising the need to break upfield and the specific choices of the hold-up player.

Quick play will catch the opposition on the back foot, which makes it easier for the counter-attacking team to create space and score.

Exploiting space left by an attacking team is important, even if keeping this player up the pitch means at least one defender has to stay back to cover him.

For younger players:

Make the game easier for youngsters by adding neutral players on the outside of the pitch, who only play for the counter-attacking team. This gives the hold-up player immediate passing options that he can exploit.

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