Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Get your players to look up and look around

davidscwnewI run this session to get my players looking around when they have the ball. It means they’re aware of where their team mates are and where there’s space on the pitch that can be exploited.

For the session to really work, players that are not in possession need to look to see where opposition players are so they can see where they are able to receive a pass.

I usually run a handball session first so players get a feel for the positional elements without worrying about ball control with their feet.


  • Set up a 25×15 yards area as shown in the top picture, with flags (or bibs) of the same colour on the corner poles.
  • The game is 6v6, with players in a 2-3-1 formation.
  • When a player passes the ball, he must shout out the flag colour. The team gains a point after making five consecutive passes. Passes must be from the chest and cannot go above head height.
  • If a player is tagged with the ball in his hands, or a pass is misplaced, the other team takes possession.
  • Make sure players stay on the move and are at match pace, and change the flag colour throughout the game.
  • Play for five minutes.


  • For the second part, use a 40×30 yards area, as shown in the middle picture, with small goals.
  • In a 2-3-1 formation, players must defend the goal while trying to score in the opponent’s goal, but before they pass the ball, they must call out the two flag colours.
  • Each team must make four passes and call out colours correctly before it can score.
  • Change colours at regular intervals, as shown in the bottom picture, to keep players on their toes.
  • Play for five minutes.

Technique and tactics

  • Players adopting a side-on body position for receiving and moving forward will be able to see both ends of the pitch, and more flags. It’s easier to tell young players they need to see both flags rather than expecting them to understand the technique behind opening their body to play.
  • Players also need to concentrate on good passing and control, in all areas of the pitch.

Great way to switch play

davidscwnewSwitching play (moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other) will allow teams to create significantly more space on a football pitch. And that, in turn, can lead to better goalscoring situations.

Changing this angle of an attack requires intelligence and reasonable passing ability, but get it right and it’s a potent weapon for your team.

Here’s how to do it.

How to set it up:

  • Set up a 45×20 yards playing area.
  • On both long sides, position three goals using poles or cones, each five yards wide. Each team protects three goals.
  • In the area, a 4v3 takes place. The overload is designed to help one team achieve the coaching focus.

Getting started:

  • Teams must maintain possession, use quick switching of play to find space – with both short and long passes – and score in any of the goals.

Progressing the session:

  • After 10 minutes, add two players in sweeper roles behind the goals their team is defending. The opposition cannot score in a goal the sweeper is protecting.
  • Rotate players regularly.

Game situation:

  • Set up a 50×40 yards area with a full-size goal at one end and three small goals at the other. Play 5v4 (including the keeper), use normal rules. The team with the overload attacks the three goals. Here, look for switches from deep and quick breaks forward.

Why this works:

The session encourages forward angled passing, one-twos and through balls, and rehearses offensive as well as defensive principles. Teams that can hold onto the ball and make use of the space will create lots of scoring chances.

* Editor’s choice *

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