Practice design in football: line-ball games
Planning your training session? In a series of articles, we examine five activities to help engage and develop your players. Here, we look at line-ball games.
What is a line-ball game in football?
In this type of activity, players are simply tasked with getting the ball onto or over a line. Once they achieve this, they're awarded a point or a goal – depending on your scoring system.
To create a line-ball game, you only need a few cones to mark out an area – and a ball. This makes set-up really rapid.
Another benefit of line-ball games, which are commonly used in futsal and small group practices, is that they help players work on various skills. This includes their ability to pass and receive, create space and win the ball.
This type of game can also help develop particular units. For instance, you could task your defenders with stopping the attacking team from getting into the 18-yard box. This replicates the scenario in a game where the opposition is playing centrally near your box, and you want to stop them from finding space and playing through you.
Of course, line-ball games have tradeoffs too. You lose a bit of realism, like not having a specific target to strike into, e.g. a goal. They can also be physically intense, so it's wise to give players time to rest – especially if working in small numbers.
If you mix up your approach and give your players a wide diet of different practices, line-ball games are a great choice. This is especially true if you lack space or want to work on specific movements.
How do I create a line-ball game?
- Define the area of the pitch you will be working on.
- Select which players will be involved (position-specific or based on individual needs).
- Have a clear focus on what you want to get from the practice, e.g. movements or receiving skills.
- Have a clear picture of what success will be for the players and the progressions in the practice.
- Think about timings to manage the physical load on the players. The fewer players you have involved, the more intense the practice will be, so rest periods are needed.
What does a line-ball game look like in real life?
Watch the video below for an example of a line-ball game that Paul McGuinness, FA youth coach developer, uses in his session.