A big emphasis many teams need is to think more in terms of off the ball movement. Too often all of the work is being done by the player with the ball while the rest of the players stand and watch. Then, when one of the other players gets the ball, that player does all of the work and the player who passed the ball rests.
Instead, players off the ball should be the ones doing the hard work and putting themselves in a position so they are both able to provide support while planing one, two and even three passes ahead.
Here is an activity that works on players off the ball having to position themselves for support and to think at least one pass ahead. Similar type activities can be found in the book Full Season Training Program - Sheffield United FC Academy Team.
Start with a 30 yard diameter circle (a square works as well) with 3 teams of 6. One team is on the outside of the circle and the other two teams are inside the circle
To start this is a simple possession game. If the red team has the ball they get a point for 5 consecutive passes to each other (or to the neutral players). They can use the outside players to relieve pressure but a pass to or from an outside player does not count for one of the 5 passes. If the yellow team wins the ball they must play the ball to the outside and then receive the ball back before they can begin their 5 passes for a point. The outside players are limited to one touch passing.
The game goes on for 4 minutes and then one of the inside teams switch with the outside team. Each team plays each other team once time. The team with the most points at the end of the three games wins.
Next add some random gates spread out inside the circle. The gates are 2 yards wide
By adding these gates it will encourage the players to position themselves to be able to receive a ball from a teammate through a gate and by doing this, it forces the players to keep thinking 1, 2 and even 3 passes ahead at all times.
This is a great activity to work on positioning and thinking ahead and if you do it enough with your teams you will start to see a difference in the way they perform in games.
Similar type activities can be found in the book Full Season Training Program - Sheffield United FC Academy Team.
Give this a try and let me know how it works for you.
Have a great day!