Combination Play Training Session

By Chris Kouns
USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Women’s Soccer Coach – Georgia Gwinnett College

In these activities we are working on our ability to combine and eliminate defenders with movement.

Exercise #1

In an area approximately 30 long x 20 wide we will have 2 attackers against 1 defender. There will be an addition defender off to the side so that the defender does not get too exhausted. There will be additional attackers waiting to come on at each flag goal. The object is for the 2 attackers to combine and get through the flag gate on the dribble. Attackers have a minimum of 2 passes and a maximum of 6 passes. * Can limit them to 2 touches as well


  • When the attackers dribble through the gate two new attackers will come from that gate to attack the defender going in the opposite direction.
  • If the defender wins the ball or knocks it out of bounds the attackers will replace the two defenders in the activity.
  • Individually keep track of how many times you were able to get across and through the gate.

Coaching Points

  1. Player with the ball should engage the defender at an angle that allows their partner space to move and receive the ball.
  2. Player without the ball should find the greatest space available and position themselves on the shoulder of the defender.
  3. Attacking players should look for the pass to be diagonal so that the next touch can eliminate the defender on the way to the flag goals.
  4. Try to avoid East-West passes as they mean you will still have to bypass the defender and will allow more opportunities for mistakes
  5. When you have the chance to eliminate the defender do so at pace and across their body.

WCC 21 #1

Exercise #2

Utilizing half of a field and the width of the 18 yard box we will have three attackers going to goal against two defenders and a goalkeeper. Attacking players will score a point by scoring a goal while defenders will score a point by winning the ball and getting it across the top line. If defenders knock a ball out of bounds, but, do not win it, then you can either have the attackers throw it in or switch the attackers with the next three players waiting to come on. *Attacking team must have a minimum of 3 passes and a maximum of 6 passes but can have unlimited touches.


Once the attacking players have found success in this environment add in an additional defender who will come off the end line. This will allow the attackers a little time to organize their runs based on what space will be available. You will also now add in two target players for the defenders to score point by playing a ball to them. The purpose is to help the defenders think about also eliminating players with their passing and movement. If they hit a target player then the target will play it across the grid to the other target who will then put it back in play for the attacking team.

Coaching Points

  1. Attacking team should pick out a defender and begin by going at that player. Pick defender based on area where attackers can quickly establish numbers up situation for combinations.
  2. When playing a ball forward to an attacker try to re-establish position higher up the field in an area where you can get the ball based on the direction the receiving player is facing.
  3. Player not immediately receiving the ball should work to position their body and movement to get the ball from the first player receiving the ball. Their run will open space for the initial passer to find and exploit.
  4. Focus on making sure that is a ball is played backwards we try to move it across the field rather than going back in the same direction as that is now most likely closed off.


WCC 21 #2

Exercise #3

Two teams are playing 4 v 4 plus GK’s with full width and covering a distance of roughly 70 yards. In the middle there is a small box where one extra attacker is waiting for each team. When the ball goes to their attacking team they can join and make it a 5 v 4 going to goal. The added attacker cannot defend or steal the ball.


  1. Add more numbers to each side so that they are attacking from more realistic positions.
  2. Restrict shots on goal to 1 touch which will maximize the quality and timing of runs and passes in the final third.

Coaching Points

  1. The player attacking from the middle box should look to get involved on the backside of the defenders as they will not be accounted for by the defenders.
  2. Spacing of the attacking players should be big at first and then when closing down and checking make sure it is at an angle that will not allow the defender easy access to block the pass.
  3. Once ball enters the final third go at full pace so that the defenders will be forced to make decisions based on limited information. When going slowly or passing East-West defenders have time to re-evaluate where the greatest threat will be.

WCC 21 #3

By Chris Kouns: USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Coach Georgia Gwinnet College Women’s Soccer (GA)

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