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.
In an area roughly 20 x 20 (depending on the technical ability of your players and the defensive acuity of your focus defending group) you will play 4 v 4 for possession. However, there is a midline in the grid that only two players from the opposing team may cross to try to defend the four. The team in possession with four will get a point for every ten consecutive passes they can connect in their end. They will also get a point if they lose possession but can win it back prior to the ball transitioning to the other end of the grid where they would need to send two players to defend. The team of four that sent two defenders across will get a point if they can win the ball and escape with a pass to their teammates on the other end of the grid.
- Be conscious of the attacking shape so that there will never be too many players “away” from the side of the ball where the opponents helping players are located. This awareness of potential threats is vital as players cannot get too focused on the possession aspect.
- Focus on the moment that the ball “appears” to be lost and immediately transition with all players close enough to get to the ball to win it back.
- Try to create a pressured environment on the player who won the ball (with speed of movement to them) so they have to put their head down and cannot see their help or an escape route.
- If the two players win the ball focus on the players away from them getting in positions where they can be quickly picked out to accept a ball and release the pressure.
- Counter press cues to read: a) player on ball has bad touch b) player on ball is outnumbered c) player on the ball has their back to the field and support
In an area roughly 30 x 30 (depending on the technical ability of your players and the defensive acuity of your focus defending group) you will play 6 (3 players on each side of the grid) v 4 (two player who will enter the grid) for possession. The team of six is attempting to connect four passes (1 point) and then send the ball to their other team members across the grid. The team of four will send two players into the grid to defend and try to win the ball from the three on that side.
IF: The three lose possession they should immediately try to win the ball back through their numeric advantage and pressure.
IF: The two win the ball they should try to play it to one of their other team members who will be coming onto the opposite side of the grid. (1 point) If those two players entering the grid can possess the ball for five seconds they will get an extra point for their team. However, the three players in that side of the grid should go full out to deny them keeping the ball for three passes. If the three win possession the game just continues as usual.
- Since they have superior numbers the three should work to maintain a shape that includes at least one player on the same side of the grid as their opponents would look to play the ball if they won it.
- When possession is lost the three players should immediately look to compact the area around the ball to cut off the player options or the space where the ball might escape.
- In addition the three players on the other side of the grid must begin to locate the two players who might receive the ball if it is cleared from that zone.
- If the three win the ball back immediately or if the three on the other side dispossess the two coming on then they should open up as wide as possible immediately so that they can take advantage of the space the players left vacant.
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 7 (1 back – 3 midfielders – 3 forwards) vs. 7 (5 players on the field and two of their teammates in the counter goals). Your focus will be on the team of 7 players who is going to the big goal and goalkeeper. The team of 7 players will try to work the ball to goal and score (1 point) per goal. However, if they lose the ball and can win it back within 6 seconds through counter pressing they will also get an additional (1 point). The team of five is trying to win the ball and then as soon as they win it they are trying to get the ball to their teammates who are in the target goals. If they are successful then the teams will swap directions.
- The seven field players will look to build the ball making sure that their numbers ahead of the ball do not exceed their numbers behind or even with the ball. This will allow them to be in good supporting shape for the attack and have adequate numbers for immediate pressure on defense.
- All players on the team of 7 field players should constantly have an eye out for the cues that there may be a potential change of possession.
a) Their player on the ball has a bad touch
b) Their player on the ball receives it but is outnumbered
c) Their player receives the ball facing out of bounds or without options
d) Their player on the ball is taking a defender on the dribble but does not appear to be getting by
- If possession is lost the closest players must work immediately to keep the ball and player in possession in one confined space so that the rest of the team can quickly assist in the recovery.
- If the team with five on the field is able to play into their target teammates then the current seven players must send two players to the target windows and the other five must immediately organize themselves into a defending block with a suitable line of confrontation
- For both groups the key to success on the counter press will be their compactness from attacking line to defending line as that offers maximum defensive support.
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)