Teaching Build Up Play Progressively Part 2

This session builds on the one I described in last week's post. The focus of this session on taking the shapes and patterns that were taught in the last session and making them more function.

This is a session I did with my U9 team. In our area we play 6 v 6 at this age so that's how we set up the game related patterns.

2 v 2 + 3


This is really a 5 v 2 game at it's heart. The idea is to teach the players to move the ball to open space and open up when they gain possession. When the players open up wide enough it will force the defenders to choose between marking the wide players or protecting the middle of the field. This is the same decision that you can see occur in the game when there is enough support around the ball.

In the beginning the outside neutral players are outside of the area and can not be tackled. As the players find it easy to keep possession and move the ball you can bring them inside the area and allow them to be tackled.

4 v 4 + 3


I repeat this possession game again starting with no zones to see if the players can relate the movements and patterns of the 2 v 2 + 3 game to this more complex game. If they struggle then I will create a halfway line and limit the defenders to one half until they are moving the ball well again.

6 v 6 Shapes


We play in a 1 - 3 - 2 formation so our movements start from these positions. I walk the players through these patterns first before adding a ball and defenders.

Open Up and Push Up


Pulling the outside backs wide and pushing the central player up is an effective way spread the field and force the opponents to chose whether to mark tightly and allow us to play through to attacking players or drop back and allow us to play short and build out of the back.

Open Wide


In this option, the center back opens up to one side of the field so that the outside back can push up. The forward on that side provides a 'split' pass while the other forward tucks in to provide support on the left. The left back moves central to provide cover in case the ball is lost.


I add two defends to provide some pressure while keeping the decisions simple. If the players struggle with this at all I remove one defend until they achieve a level of comfort.

Once the ball is in play I want the attacker to finish with a goal. If they defenders win the ball they also try to score. We play until a goal is scored or the ball is out of play before the next group of six come on the field.

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There will be some coaches that think this is too much tactical information for young players. I present this as a basic framework not a rigid structure. The players are encouraged to be creative individually or combine with the supporting players depending on what the defenders do. I want the players to read the pressure and support and make their own choices. Giving the players starting a point frees them to be creative.

Have a great day!


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