Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Score goals from midfield


If you want your players to create goal scoring chances like the midfield players at Barcelona, try this exciting and fast-moving game and you’ll soon see the benefits.

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Why use it

A session aimed at getting players to create and utilise space in midfield. With quick passing and movement, it should help open up the opposition and make goal scoring chances.

Set up

Create a playing area 40x20yards, with two goals back to back across the middle, but just one goalkeeper. We’re using eight players and a keeper for this session, plus a server who can be the coach. You need bibs, cones, balls and two small goals.

How to play

Start by serving a ball into the game. Players can score in either of the two back-to-back goals. If the keeper gains possession or the ball leaves the area, serve a new ball in. The keeper puts any balls he gathers into the net behind him. When a goal is scored, immediately serve another ball into the game.


Creating space in a match situation with fast and accurate passing will open up the room for midfielders to exploit. In this game a quick switch of play allows players to take advantage of one of the goals being unguarded – they must be aware of the position of the keeper at all times.

Strikers go 1v1 for a special finish


davidscwnewThis fast and game-realistic training session sets up 1v1 attacking situations that will encourage your strikers to come up with a special finish.

Why use it

This is all about using skills around the penalty area to take defenders by surprise and create goalscoring opportunities. It uses quick combinations but relies on individual excellence and it’s great for development of ball mastery.

Set up

Use half of your usual pitch. We’ve used seven players. You need balls, bibs, cones and a normal sized goal.

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How to play

The attacker takes the ball through a chicane of cones and drives towards the first defender before passing to the server. The defenders cannot move until the server has touched the ball. The server plays a quick return pass and the first defender tries to catch the attacker, while the second defender closes down the attacker.

Once the shot has been taken the attacker swaps with the first defender; the first defender swaps with the second defender; and the second defender swaps with the server, who goes to the attacking line up.


This is all about creating 1v1s at pace so that everything is game realistic. There are different skills to use and when the attacker gets to the final phase, he can try something clever to create space for a shot.

EUROS WALES Near Post Winners


davidscwnew1By getting across the defender and reaching the ball first, the attacker will have a good opportunity to score at the near post in a 1v1, taking the keeper by surprise using speed of movement.

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Use the penalty area of your pitch. You will need balls, bibs and a goal with a goalkeeper.


Start with a simple warm-up by splitting players into two groups. One group serves for the opposite group to shoot at the near post. Advance the session using three groups of players: one group are wingers crossing the ball in, one group are near post attackers and a third group must try and get across to defend the near post shot. Rotate the players after each run through, with player A joining group C, C joining B, and B joining A.


In this session attackers must time their runs well and accelerate quickly so the defender cannot get across. This puts pressure on attackers to win the 1v1 with the keeper, exactly as they would in a match. All three groups must play quickly and time their movements.

Score like Aguero in the 6 yard box


If you want your strikers to be as lethal as Kun Aguero around the penalty area, try this session to help them develop that magic touch.This is a fantastic attacking game for getting strikers to make runs behind the defence and to get outfield players to look for space to play the ball into.

Why use it

Timing runs to meet the ball and beat a player is one of Aguero’s main attributes. He is lethal when the ball is played through into space and he can work his magic.

Giving players the chance in training to practise this art will help them to do it in matches.


Set up a 40×20-yard pitch split into a central zone of 20 yards and two end zones of 10 yards. We’ve used 13 players. You need bibs, balls, cones and two normal goals.

How to play

Use two teams of six, with four attackers, one defender and one goalkeeper on each.

Play 4v4 in the central zone plus one neutral player who plays for the team in possession. A defender and goalkeeper start in the end zones.

Players stay in their starting zones until a pass is played into one of the end zones for a player to run onto.

If the pass into the end zone is played first time (one touch) any resulting goal counts as double.

FEEL THE WIDTH Three different types of cross

davidscwnewThis is a complex drill to help players develop three different kinds of cross.


The session aims to coach players to score more goals from crosses and to show that changing the pace of play and the angle of attack are key instruments in unlocking the opposition. Using wide areas is an important part of attacking play.


Create a playing area that is wider than long by using the width of the pitch you normally play on (mini, 9v9 or full size) and half that size for the length (so mini would be 30 wide x 15 deep and full size would be 60×30). Split it into six equal squares.

You need a goal, balls, bibs and cones. We’re using 17 players in a 9v8 overload.


Players are locked into areas, except for the full backs, who look to join the attack and create situations to cross the ball.


We’re looking for three different types of crosses here: the David Beckham cross, just entering the final third; the Ashley Young cross, cutting inside and swinging it across; and the Leighton Baines cross, running to the byline and whipping it in.

This session came from Soccer Coach Weekly.

Interested in more exercises? Try these links:

1. Pressing in key areas – Steve Kean

2. Defending when outnumbered

3. Tomb raiders

Coach yourself a Carles Puyol – Barcelona legend


By David Clarke

Barcelona’s captain Carles Puyol is known for his intense commitment and strength as a defender. According to Barcelona’s head doctor, Puyol is “the strongest, who has the quickest reactions, and who has the most explosive strength”.

Love him or loathe him, he is the sort of player who gives everything for the cause, who prides himself on being alert to wave after wave of attacking threats in and around the box. He is also the sort of player who is not afraid to put his body in harm’s way. And he’ll grab you the odd goal or two.

Ensuring that your players are back on their feet after a good tackle or clearance and ready to combat a second wave of danger is essential.

To keep them alive and reactive, here’s a defensive move that asks for quick reactions and tireless commitment to the cause.

How to set it up:

  • Create a playing area measuring 10×10 yards.

  • The drill requires four servers and one designated defender.

  • Each server starts on a different side, with a ball.

  • Place your defender in the middle – his job is to react to a different serve from each player around the area. After each serve, his task is to keep the ball within the box.

Getting started:

  • Starting on the left-hand side, server 3 throws the ball up for server 1 to head into the middle. The defender tries to stop the ball from going out of bounds.

  • Immediately, server 2 passes a ball towards the opposite line. The defender must now react, running to slide and stop the ball from crossing the line.

  • Now server 3 dribbles onto the pitch and attempts to get to the line opposite. The defender tries to stop him.

  • Finally, server 4 throws the ball over the defender’s head and attempts to run around him to win it back. The defender’s task is to shield the ball, letting it run over the line. If the ball stops dead before the line, he can then kick it clear to the left or the right.

  • Now rotate so that a different player acts as the defender.

Why this works:

Adopting the mindset that a defender’s job is rarely complete is absolutely vital if players are to counter all of the threats on a match day. After each phase of this drill, the defender needs to be alert to a new test, reacting quickly to each ball and clearing the danger.

Each test offers a new skill, and provides you with a quick-fire snapshot of where the defender’s game can be improved.

3v3 to coach support play


In this 3v3 game, you can get players to learn about providing support and being in the right position to cover when the ball is lost.

Support play

In a 3v3 situation, one of the most important jobs is to support the player on the ball. There should be forward support to provide an attacking outlet and rear support to give a defensive outlet.

A pass back to the player covering the defensive area of the team can be an attacking move because it can open up space on the other side of the pitch.

Support players need to think about:

  • The angle of support
  • The distance of support

Getting this right means the supporting player:

  • Has a full range of forward vision.
  • Can receive the ball comfortably.
  • Has space to pass the ball to a team mate.
  • Can move forward into space in front of them.

How to set it up

In this game, rear support comes from the goalkeeper who must move out of his goal when the team is attacking. When the team is in possession of the ball none of the three players are allowed in their defensive end zone.

Goalkeepers have to support from the rear and be ready to get back if the team lose the ball. So the attacking team always has an empty end zone so the defending team can quickly attack if it wins the ball.

The attacking team therefore has a 3v2 advantage in the middle of the pitch. The defending team can have players in any zone, but when it wins the ball and attacks, all players including the goalkeeper must move out of the defensive end zone.