Speed and Combination Play

By Chris Kouns
USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Coach Georgia Gwinnett College Women's Soccer

These Speed of Play & Combination activities are designed to allow players to feel pressure (both with and without defenders) while focusing on technical repetition necessary to increase Speed of Play

Activity 1

Set up involves a set of six (6) gates or pairs of mannequins spread around an area which is wider than it is deeper. Players will be passing around the area but must complete the following to get their group of four through a gate/mannequin. Activity may be timed (pressure to complete a certain number in an allotted time or timed in terms of each group counts how many they can complete in a given time period)

Group of four players will make three passes and then their fourth pass must go through a gate to a team member running onto the ball. You may not go through the same gate twice in a row.

Group of four players will make three passes and the third pass will act as a “trigger” for one of the members to overlap the person receiving the pass and the overlapping player will receive the fourth pass on the overlap going through the gate

Group of four players will play the ball amongst themselves until they are in a position to undertake the following combination (which everyone must take part in to successfully get through the gate) Wall Pass – Overlap – Hit fourth Person running

Coaching Points

  • WCC 12 #1In wall pass make sure you time the approach so that you do not have to wait for the ball to get to you
  • Ball on wall pass should be played to the front foot so that the receiver can easily play ball into the path for the return pass
  • In Overlap time run so that you will not be around player prior to them getting the ball.
  • Player laying ball off to the over-lapping player must give it with proper weight & speed so they do not have to break stride
  • Player overlapping should take an aggressive running touch to accelerate away from the player giving them the ball
  • Hitting fourth player running will focus on not arriving early to the gate as defenders would be there in a real game

Activity 2

Basically the same field size and dimensions as before, however, remove the mannequins or gates. On each sideline you will place three cone goals – without goal keepers. Each team will go a designated direction and will play for a set amount of time. Teams will be 4 v 4 with 2 Neutrals (Total of 10 players)


1 point – DRIBBLE through any gate on your side
2 points – wall pass/overlap or other combination that ELIMINATES a defender in the flow of play
3 points – Combination that ELIMINATES defender and then subsequent DRIBBLE through gate

WCC 12 #2

Coaching Points

  • See out Number Up situations where you can use your numbers to make the defender make a choice on whether to take the ball or the player, then, eliminate them based on their choice
  • Look to go to go AS AOON AS POSSIBLE and do not be afraid of confrontation with a defender – be willing to take chances to go to goal
  • Do not turn your back to the defender, instead, try to find an option to keep the ball facing the goal you are attacking. This means players off the ball must constantly be working to get in the field of vision of the player on the ball
  • Once a player is eliminated on defense pick up pace so that they will not be able to recover
  • Use Central Midfielders as your Neutral players whenever possible and encourage them to not just be linking players but also to continue their runs because those runs from the midfield will be dangerous in a real game
  • Keep the ball moving with few touches until you can find the right time to attack – don’t let the ball be still!

Activity 3

Basically the same field width, but, increase the length by an additional 18 yards. You will set three sets of gates across the width roughly 18 yards in front of each goal. You will place goal keepers in each net and then play 6 v 6 or 7 v 7 on the field.

Scoring: Regular scoring = 1 point for goal
Restriction: Team must combine or dribble through one of the gates in order to attack the net

  • When the GK has the ball via a save or goal kick there is no defending in the area between the gates and that goal. This will allow more space to combine out or to find lanes to get through to the other goal


  • Do not force the ball through a gate – keep it until you have numbers up in an area of the field so you can then go through into the final third
  • Look to that the ball on the dribble at angles to the far post so that you can force the defenders to alter shape and make decisions on which space to defend
  • Once through the gate there must be a concerted effort to get numbers into the box and ready to finish
  • Everyone must stay involved and expect the ball at all times (constantly moving to be able to receive the ball within 1 pass.

WCC 12 #3

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)

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