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 team ability to quickly work to win the ball back after possession is lost.
Exercise #4: In an area roughly 20 x 14 you will play 7 (four on the outside of the grid and three inside the grid) against 4 (all inside the grid). The players outside the grid are limited to two touches (if technical ability will allow) while their partners inside the grid are limited to 1 touch (if technical ability will allow). This touch limitation should encourage the necessary movement for support which will put them in position to counter press if the ball is lost. The defending team of four will have unlimited touches.
- Team of 7 completes 8 passes (or more) they get 1 point
- If the team of 7 can keep the ball for 30 seconds they get 2 points
- Team of 4 wins the ball and can complete 4 passes they get 1 point
- If team of 4 can keep the ball for 10 seconds they get 2 points
- Attacking shape of the 7 should be open and wide in possession, yet, when it appears that they may lose possession the shape must transition quickly to a more close and limiting shape.
- Mental transition from possession to losing the ball to regaining possession must be very quick.
- The team of 7 can also have the players on the outside moving to shut down “passing lanes” that the player on the ball would have in a real game. Although the outside players cannot come in they should still take part in closing the space available and not watch passively.
- On the outside of the grid use central players (forwards and backs) at the top and bottom of the 20 yards and use wide players (backs and forwards) on the width of the 14. Focus on their movements!
Exercise #5: In an area roughly the same size as Exercise #4 (unless your players need more space) you will now have 2 teams of four players (black on outside and white on inside). In addition there will be three neutral players on the inside (red team) who will always play with the team in possession.
IF: The team on the outside (working with the neutral players) loses possession they will quickly transition to the inside of the grid and become the defending team while the team that won the ball transitions to the outside to begin possession.
Technical Options: All players have two touches
Both teams of four have two touches while the neutrals have only one touch
All players have just one touch
- The players off the ball who have been in possession must quickly identify whether they need to sprint onto the field and defend space or press the player. This decision should be designed to eliminate one of those two options on every transition.
- The angles of support and the distances from one another should be a focus to help pressing players make correct decisions.
- The players who gain possession must immediately transition to the width to keep possession and work to escape as soon as possible so they will not fall to the oncoming counter press. Focus on speed of movement while still being an option in possession.
- Pay special attention to the weight and accuracy of the pass to anticipate the potential transition from attacking to pressing or from pressing to attacking.
Exercise #6: In an area roughly ¾ a full field (depending on the technical ability of your players and the defensive acuity of your focus defending group) you will play 10 v 10 (1 GK – 3 backs – 3 midfielders – 3 forwards) for each team. The team in possession can score 1 point in the traditional sense by putting the ball in the net! However, additional points can be scored through the following:
- a) If the team that lost possession can win the ball back within 6 seconds and score a goal with three passes or less they will earn 5 points.
- b) If the team that lost possession can win the ball back within 6 seconds and get a shot on goal within three passes or less they will earn 3 points.
- c) If the team that lost possession recognizes they cannot win the ball back immediately and reorganizes themselves into a defending block of 9 behind the cone midfield (before the new attacking team can get across the cone line) then they will earn 2 points.
- The closer to goal the team is in possession the better chance they have to counter press successfully so everyone must be tuned in and prepared for that opportunity.
- If possession is won back on the counter press look to find the highest and most dangerous option available that can get the ball behind the team that was transitioning out.
- Work with players not in the immediate counter press to position themselves where they can be immediate threats to get in behind the other team and exploit the space they left when transitioning to attack.
- When recovering into a defensive block because there is no chance to counter press ensure the closest player to the ball slows it so the rest of the team can reorganize.
- As they are reorganizing dedicate “trigger” words or points which will be communicated quickly and easily to get everyone heading in the right direction.
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)