Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan and give it a go.
This practice is a small-sided game played in a 3v3 format.
In our example, we've set up a pitch narrower than the 18-yard-box, running from the goal line to the edge of the centre circle. You can adjust this to suit your players' age and developmental stage.
Place a goal on the goal line, then use flat markers to set out an end zone and a middle zone.
How to play
The aim of the game is simple. One team tries to score goals, while the other tries to win the ball back and dribble into the end zone.
The team defending the goal can't enter the 18-yard-box and have one player who stays in the middle zone.
The attacking team start with the ball next to their end zone. They need to pass it through the middle zone and score a goal.
If the defending team press and win the ball back, they must try and dribble it into the end zone to score a point. If the player in the middle zone intercepts the ball, they become free to work with their teammates.
Once a point is scored, the play resets with a new defender in the middle zone.
Play for three or four minutes, or for six rounds. Then, count the scores. Repeat and swap the teams around so every player has a chance to play in the middle zone.
If your players master your activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. One idea could be to add a goalkeeper. This will focus more on finishing in the penalty area.
Or, you could allow defenders to follow the ball into the 18-yard-box once a pass is made. This will put more focus on refining the timing of runs and passes.
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 forums.