When to Switch Over or Through Players

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 25 x 40 yards. Divide area into 3 equal areas

Teams: 4 v 4 + 4

Time: 15 Minutes


  • To know when and where to play over players or through them
  • Use correct technique for both power and accuracy
  • Improve a close first touch

The 3 teams are each in their own area. One team starts with the ball, one player from the middle area is allowed to pressure the ball. The team in possession looks for the first opportunity for a player to have enough space and time to look across to the furthest team and strike the underside of the ball in the air with the laces, over the middle area of players. The receiving player aims to control with the most suitable body part, depending on the height of the ball. Both teams on the outside should play in a diamond.Switching - Over players1

As the ball travels across in the air the players in the middle switch roles. One presses the other team while the player originally pressing returns to the middle section and aims to stop a ball on the ground.

Switching - Over players2

The receiving team’s players combine to again look to switch. Here is where the decision making comes in of whether to play over or through. If the player at the top of the area sets the ball, to allow a teammate to play a onetime ball across, it is up to the player switching the ball to look up before hand to see if there is a gap between players in the middle to play the ball. Also only encourage this if the ball is near the line between the two areas as this gives less time for players to intercept the ball.

Switching - Over players3

Eventually, to further challenge the teams aiming to switch, allow two players to pressure the ball and you can again increase the difficulty and allow three players to press, depending on the level of success occurring.

Switching - Over players4

If the middle team wins the ball, the ball is passed across to the opposite team and the team giving away possession and the team wining possession switch places. The game continues in this manner.

Switching - Over players5

Coaching Points

  • Do you have space to play the long pass over or through the team in the middle?
  • Use proper technique, head down, arms out for balance, laces on the bottom/middle of the ball, ankle locked, follow through.
  • Receive the ball with different parts of the body and maintain close control.


  • Have to play across first time.
  • Can only play across with your weaker foot.
  • Players from the middle area can move into the receiving team’s area when the ball is played.

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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