Short Sided Target and Wing Play

By Steven Smith

This session will focus on target play but while looking to change the point of attack when hitting the target. Players must be given feedback on finding passes that move the ball away from pressure and finds open spaces on the field. Movement to full sided play in the final activity must still be focused on target and wing play. More credit (goal value) can be given for goals scored directly from target play or wing penetration.

Activity 1: Partner Warm-up

Each player works with a partner starting on the side line facing each other with a ball.

Each routine is followed by a stretch. Some are done with movement and some are done stationary.

One player serves to the other by tossing from the hand. The other uses the body part for technical skill development to return the ball to the server's hand.
1. Instep
2. inside of foot
3. thigh to foot
4. thigh to opposite foot
5. chest to thigh to foot
6. round house volley return
7. Headers
8. Other Options
9. Add cones for receiver to move around prior to returning

Activity 2: Soccer Tag


Create a 20 X 20-yard square with cones and have all the players come into the grid.

• First, try this exercise without the ball, just have the group play a normal game of tag
• If whoever is "it" tags you you're "it
• After a while introduce a ball for each player
• Continue the game of tag but now the players have to dribble the ball as they move around the grid
• Eventually have whoever is "it" kick their ball out of the square and continue play while the other players keep their movement with dribbling but instead of tagging the player "it" must now kick a player’s ball out of the square to make someone become "it"

Activity 3: 5v5+2 positional switching play through midfield

Main phase

45x30 yard area with 6 mini goals placed along each end line. Two neutral players will take up positions on each touchline with the freedom to move up and down. The players inside the area play according to positions so that adjustments can be made to train any formation. Here we have 3 central midfielders and 2 wingbacks but can also be 2 full backs, wingers, or outside midfielders depending on formation.

Each team looks to score in one of the 3 goals while playing with the neutrals along the outside. The wide goals will count for 1 and the middle goal will be worth 2. This is done so hat players understand that penetration though the middle is always the preferred option. As play develops, players will see that attacking through the middle becomes easier as the defense shifts from side to side. Play restarts with the defending team as to give the attacking side enough time to reorganize defensively.

Activity 4: 5 vs. 5 Winger Play after Target

Main phase

30 by 35 yard grids set up with two keepers and full-size goals.

Emphasis is on playing balls into the target forward (number 9) before any shot can take place. Also emphasis on winger play by dictating that the ball must make it out to the winger (7 and 11 or OB) prior to any shot taking place. Teams should be preset to emphasize functional tactical play in the proper third of the field with positional play. Flat back four and a holding midfield can be held for the duration as well.

Start play with ball to winger
Start play with ball to OB only
Start play with first ball to be held by number 9

Activity 5: Shooting Patterns

Shot on goal

All activities take place in the functional front third of the field. The various patterns are run by the training coach to emphasize the patterns of inside to outside back to inside attack.

The field is set up as shown with the same pattern being run on both sides in an alternative service. Follow the diagram for each pattern with three to four players participating in each pattern.

See each pattern.
Run various patterns as determined by coach
Activity 6: Full sided play
Groups of 11 vs. 11 or as large as numbers allow.

Full field. Coaches randomly end play with whistle and start a new ball where the coach desires to work on functional play.

By Steven Smith Head Coach at Hope College, Holland, MI

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