Disguised Through Balls

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 35 x 45 yards 2 x (35 x 10) yard end zones 1x (35 x 25) yard middle zone

Teams: 15 - 20 mins

Players: 5 v 5 + 2


  • To have multiple runners behind the defense
  • To be inventive and creative in passing into the space for the runners


2 GK’s, 2 teams 4v4+2 in the middle zone. 2 end zones that only players receiving the ball are allowed in. Both teams are in a diamond formation with 1 CB, 2 FB/wingers and 1 striker.


The reason there are 2 neutrals within the 4v4 is to massively overload the team in possession. The reason for this is with young players through balls is a notoriously hard topic for them to understand let alone perform well. So although this seems like it would be easy this session you will need intelligent and technically gifted players to perform it.

Both teams are in the middle zone, the aim is to pass the ball into the end zone for a runner. The off side line is the cone line and passes must be played before players cross over this line. When in the end zone players are 1v1 with the GK’s but have a time limit of 5 seconds to score to keep similar game pressure on them.

The purpose of this session is to disguise what you are planning to do by using your body shape and different surfaces of your feet than what you may usually use. Players need to have awareness of runners off the ball and not just focus on the ball itself.

Below we have a neutral with the ball that plays a ball into the striker. At the same time both wingers make runs around the opposition FBs. The striker uses his peripheral vision to see both runs and can either 1) Use the pace of the pass from the neutral and use the outside of his right foot so the ball spins around the corner into the path of the winger. Or 2) receive the ball and face to the right. The opposite winger pulls away dragging the FB with him, the other neutral makes a run between the two defenders. The striker, seeing this run, but still has his body facing right, back heels the ball into the space for the run of the neutral. Whichever option the striker chooses that player attempts to score 1v1 with the GK.

Another option would be for the winger to receive the ball and drive inwards at this moment the striker makes an opposite run and curl into the end zone. The winger, whilst driving and pulling the FB with them,

1) body shape facing forwards, slides a pass into the end zone with the outside of his left foot. Or

2) play across to a neutral who faces the direction of the pass to draw the FB across the field. They then play a pass with the outside of the foot to curve around the FB into the space for the winger.

Here a neutral is higher and occupies a FB. The winger passes the ball in to the feet of the neutral and runs around the FB. The neutral’s body shape is that of still facing the direction of where the pass came from. The neutral then roles the ball back with their left foot and passes behind the FB with the inside of his left foot. So passes with the skill known as the ‘L’ turn.

Eventually, when you are getting success from your players, you can tell one defender to enter the end zone to pressure the attacker.


  • Increase the difficulty by decreasing the number of neutrals
  • Move the off side line to the last defender
  • Encourage creativity and other disguises to pass the ball behind the defense

By Sean Pearson. Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

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