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EFL mobile session header graphic, showing an U14 player moving with the ball while being pressed by her opponent.
SESSION

Dribbling session: dare to dribble

Ian Parkes, FA coach developer, drills us on how to help players find space as they move with the ball.

This session will help players:

  • travel with the ball
  • look for space as they move
  • be brave while in possession.
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Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan and give it a go.

 

Set up two areas that suit your players’ age and developmental stage. For example, if you work with U13s, try using a pitch roughly 30x20 yards.


Name one of your areas the ‘top pitch’ and the other area your ‘challenger pitch’. Add a halfway line to each area, then take the following action.

  • Top pitch: place a normal goal at one end, and an end zone and target goal at the other.
  • Challenger pitch: place end zones and target goals at either end.

Split your team into two 3v3s and allocate one group to each pitch. Then, assign your keeper to defend the normal goal on the top pitch.


N.B. if you don’t have target goals, just use end zones. If you have more than one keeper, replace the end zone on the top pitch with an additional normal goal.

The aim of the game is to score as many goals as possible against the keeper. To do this, teams must reach – or remain – on the top pitch.


To reach the top pitch, players must win on the challenger pitch (i.e., get the most points). To score a point, players get the ball into the opposing end zone and pass it into a target goal (if you have them).


To remain on the top pitch, players must win their game. On this pitch, each team earns points in a slightly different way.

  • The team attacking the keeper must score in the normal goal.
  • The team defending the keeper must get the ball into the opposing end zone and then pass it into a target goal (if you have them).

If the scores are tied at the end of a match, use ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to decide a winner.


On both pitches, when players want to move the ball into their opposition’s half, they must always dribble it over the halfway line.

 

Area 

Result  

Outcome 

Challenger pitch

Win

Move to the top pitch. Start the next game defending the keeper’s goal.

Challenger pitch

Loss

Stay on the challenger pitch.

Top pitch

Win

Stay on the top pitch. Start the next game attacking the keeper’s goal.

Top pitch

Loss

Move to the challenger pitch.



Play a series of games, each lasting for around three minutes. After every match, teams move between the two areas. Where they end up depends on their result.

As they play, challenge your team to consider the following.

  • Before they get the ball: can they get into space and plan their next move?
  • When they have the ball: can they use feints and fake movements to dribble into space?
  • If they manoeuvre past the opposition: can they work out what to do next?


Progression

If your players master this activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. For example, if you don’t see enough dribbling, add a rule that players can’t pass the ball when they’re in their own half. This encourages more moving with the ball while in possession.


But remember, learning takes time. So don’t alter things too quickly or too much. Using the STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002) can help keep things fun, engaging and appropriate.


Once you’ve put this session into practice, share your experience on the England Football Community.