By Mike Smith
This session focuses on midfield movement to get players open, even when the numbers are equal.
3 v 3 with Targets and Neutrals
Set up a 20 x 20 yd grid as shown. Two teams of 3 work against each other inside the box. Each team has a target player outside the box as well as two neutrals, one on each side of the box. The goal is for the players inside the box to keep possession and combine to play a pass into their target player, who cannot be challenged, but must make good control of the pass for it to count as a point. Sloppy first touches do not count as goals.
To support play, the target players may shift along the top of the box and the neutrals may shift along the sides. Neutrals cannot be challenged and attempt to combine with the team who got them the ball. There is a 3 second time limit for neutrals or the ball is turned over.
While many aspects of the game are coachable here, the focus is on the team in possession keeping the ball until they create a good chance to play to their target. IF they move and combine with the neutrals it is a 5 v 3, and the coach should make sure the players use this advantage instead of trying to force 1 v 1 play.
4 Section Game
The box has now been expanded to four, 10 x 20 yd sections. The target players remain, but there are no neutrals. It is 4 v 4 in the box. Each team may designate one player who can move freely, the remaining players must stay within their vertical 10 x 20 yd sections. The idea here is to use movement to create a numbers up situation, but also hit the player in the free space to easily combine with the target player.
Again, keeping possession until a sure chance is created is the goal here. IF both free players move into a section to make it 2 v 2, there is a free section and player somewhere. Supporting players and target players should communicate this information constantly. As the diagram shows there will be either open space or an open player, the players have to recognize this and make the right decisions and touches required to utilize it.
4 v 4 with Target Areas
Make the grid 20 x 30 with two additional 10 x 30 sections on each end ( as shown ). The target players can still not be challenged, but must control the ball with in the grid for a point to count. Inside the main box, players go 4 v 4 in an attempt to keep possession until a good chance to hit the target player presents itself.
This is a great chance to see which players have grasped the concept of keeping possession and combining for chances instead of always forcing play. The coach should encourage the players to put into action everything they learned in the previous activities. Games can be played with things like “ first to 3 points” requiring push ups for the losers or other groups can be rotated in where the “ winner stays on” after each point is scored.
By Mike Smith
Currently the Head Coach for University Heights Academy Boys Soccer in Hopkinsville, KY , Mike is in his 14th year as a high school head coach with 23 years coaching experience overall and 34 year as a student and fan of the game. He holds a USSF D License.