Penetration Through the Lines

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: Central Area: 15 x 30 yards, End Zones 10 x 30 yards

Teams: 6 v 6 + 1

Time: 15 Minutes


  • To move the ball through all 3 zones via passing or dribbling
  • Make the field as big as possible
  • Understand the best option to move the ball forwards depending on the scenario

There are two teams that include, 2 defenders, 2 midfielders and 1 striker each. There is also a neutral midfielder to overload the midfield to make a 3v2. Players stay in their assigned zones unless they are attacking the final zone and have the ball.

This is good for younger ages for them to stay in position and to get the concepts of what penetration is. I did this particular SSG with my U9 boys and it works extremely well. The GK starts with the ball and both players in the same zone spread out as wide as possible. This allows the receiving player a little more time to make a decision. As the ball is travelling the players in the midfield zone get as wide as possible and the neutral aims to add depth by standing behind the defending players.


The defender then chooses which pass to play forwards. Both receiving players are sideways to enable their first touch, with their back foot, to move towards the goal they are attacking. It is important that players look to get beyond their midfield counterparts. If the player in the defending zone can’t find a player forward, then they are to be encouraged to use their GK or other team mate in the same zone.


After the initial pass into the midfield zone there are now two options. The midfielders can either pass into the striker, who looks to move away from the ball.


Or the midfield players can run with the ball forwards, therefore penetrating the final zone themselves. This is important as in games you want to encourage players on the ball, how have space to take the ball forward, to do so as a way of penetration.


Players look to score on goal. If players lose possession the midfielder drops back into their original zone. The other team now get a chance to attack the same way.

Coaching Points

  • Spread out and move away from the ball, do not come towards it.
  • Receive side on and with the back foot.
  • Make positive decisions


  • Allow players from the defensive zone to enter the midfield zone with the ball.
  • Allow midfielders not in possession of the ball to enter the attacking zone.
  • Allow runs from the midfielders to receive the ball in space in the attacking zone.

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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