Arrange a small-sided game with a goal at either end. Make the pitch thin, narrow, and appropriate to your players' age and stage. This helps to encourage receiving and forward play. Apply the offside rule to maximise realism.
How to play
- This is a simple match: one team vs the other.
- Where possible, encourage your players to receive to play forward.
- During the game, maximise the use of different starts and restarts. Examples include a dribble, a pass, a throw-in or receiving the ball from the keeper.
- Create blocks of five or six minutes of play, interspersed with 60-second 'reflection breaks'. This allows players to discuss and problem solve.
If your players master this activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. 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.
Before you adjust your practice, here are some questions to think about. Encourage your team to consider them too.
- Can players think forward, play forward and receive forward?
- Can players identify when to hold the ball and link teammates in?
- Do players create enough space?
- Are passes well-weighted and accurate? Do they allow forward play?
If you use this warm-up with your team, let us know how you get on by posting in the England Football Community.