Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan and give it a go.
This session uses a whole-part-whole format, meaning you start with a game (whole), followed by a practice (part) and end with another game (whole). This links the session together, maximises game time and helps players apply their learning in realistic situations.
To set up, mark a pitch appropriate for your players’ age and developmental stage. Then, split it horizontally into thirds using flat markers.
When you move into the ‘part activity’, you’ll need up to ten footballs. Position these around the pitch from the start to allow for a smooth transition.
For this practice, we used fourteen players in two teams of seven. These numbers can be adjusted to suit how many players you have at your session.
How to play
Throughout this session, the aim is simple, score as many goals as possible.
Whole activity one
Start with a 7v7 game.
Introduce a scoring system to encourage combinations and reward creative finishing. For example:
- for a goal to count, all the scoring teams’ outfield players must be in the top two-thirds of the pitch
- a one-touch finishes count as two goals
- a one-two combination around a defender that leads to a goal counts as three.
Each team splits into a 4v3 game within their attacking third. This is made up of four attackers, two defenders and a goalkeeper.
The attacking team starts the game with any ball positioned around their third. Their aim is to score past the defending team.
If the defending team win the ball, they can score by working together to dribble into the middle third.
When one ball goes out of play, the attacking team can restart from another ball. This restart can be a throw-in or a kick-in.
Again, encourage creative shooting techniques within this activity by allocating a scoring system.
Play for three or four minutes, or until five footballs have been used. Then, count the scores of both teams. Repeat and swap the teams around so every player can be an attacker and a defender.
Whole activity two
Return to a 7v7 game and encourage your players to apply what they have learned. You can do this by:
- re-emphasising different scoring values
- playing offsides in the final third
- providing players with individual challenges around scanning, movement and finishing techniques.
If your players master your activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. One idea could be to mark out channels in the wide areas where one of the attackers has five seconds before they can be tackled. This will encourage players to scan the pitch and combine via crosses into the box.
Whatever you do, remember that 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.
Plan to use this with your team? Let us know how you get on by posting in the England Football Community.