Combine to penetrate

This small-sided game looks to develop combination play to penetrate from the middle third to the attacking third to score goals.

Set up

Set up a 30×40 grid, with one 5-yard horizontal channel on either side of the playing area being split into 5×15 yards and a 12-yard channel on the outer area of the playing area with a full-size goal. This is a 7v7 directional possession game with a 5v3 rondo in the middle of the grid with two-full size goals, including goalkeepers. There are two target players and four screening defenders on the outside of the grid.

How to play it

The red team is looking to find the feet of one of their two targets players, who are on either end of the playing area, with a penetrating pass into feet. Once the red target receives the ball they are looking to score against the goalkeeper.
The white team has four screening defenders who must stay in their zone and three defenders in the area. If the white team win the ball, the must try and maintain possession for five seconds to earn a point and every additional five seconds is another point. As a progression, add one or two defenders in the channels with the forward and goalkeeper.


First look forward. Find target early if possible, but do not force, be patient in possession until mismatch is recognized. Understand cues to penetrate and find the target. Team shape. Create diagonal passing lanes. Combination play to manipulate defenders and screening players – set, give and go, third man run, return pass. Receive, pass, offer.

    1. The red attacking players combine to penetrate the defensive line and pass to the target player who must try to score 1v1 against the keeper
    2. The white defending players must try to screen the passing lanes and disrupt the possession in the 5v3 in the central area
    3. If the white team wins the ball they must keep it for 5 seconds to gain a point
    4. Play goes alternate so once the attacking team have attacked one goal they then receive another ball off the coach and attack the other goal
    5. Switch team roles after every 4 attacks

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