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Coach and players sit in a circle discussing tactics

Break out and score

FA tutor, Emma Dennis, delivers a game that helps players stay on the ball and combine with teammates.

Break out and score

Set up an area suitable to the age and ability of your players, and then split the pitch into thirds. Place a goal at each end, plus a keeper.  

Separate your players into two teams. In this instance, the red team have five players and the blue team have three. 


This game is played in the middle third of your pitch. The aim for both sides is to 'break out' of the middle towards either goal – and score.  

When a player breaks into their final third, the opposition can't follow. This creates a one-on-one situation with the keeper. You may need to remind your team about this rule.  

This activity presents a few problems to solve. Players must:  

  • try to keep possession by using the available space 
  • recognise when to stay on the ball (due to reduced passing options)  
  • work out how to score.  

If you have uneven sides, try increasing the challenge for the team with more players. For example, getting them to make a set number of passes before breaking out and scoring. This doesn't reflect a 'real' game, but it helps players consider how to use space and work together to keep possession.  

You could also challenge the team with fewer players. Encourage them to work together to press and win the ball back as soon as possible. Their reward for success? An immediate counter-attack towards either goal.  

With everyone playing in the middle of the pitch, things can get crowded. To boost the quality of your practice and help players establish better passing options, you may need to encourage them to find space. 


If your players master your activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. You could even set individual challenges for players who are forging ahead.  


But remember, learning takes time. So don’t alter your activity too quickly – or too much. Try using the STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002). This helps keep things fun, engaging and appropriate. 

If you use this session with your team, let us know how you get on by posting in the England Football Community.