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EFL session header mobile design - a group of girls celebrate scoring a goal during an U14 tournament.

Teamwork session: tap-ins

Pete Sturgess, FA national 5-11 lead, shares a football coaching session that encourages players to communicate and build relationships.

This practice is a small-sided game played in a 4v4 or 5v5 format, including goalkeepers.

Create a pitch suitable for your players' age and developmental stage. Then, use flat spots to mark a zone at either end, starting just outside each penalty area.

A tap-in is when a player lays a sideways or backwards pass to someone in the clear, allowing for an easy, empty-net finish.

In the game, these goals can only be scored in the areas marked at either end of the pitch.

Once a tap-in is scored, the play resets with a kick-off.

Play for five to ten minutes. Then, count the scores before adding in any progressions.

If you have a large squad, play this activity as a ‘golden goal’ tournament. Have multiple games kick-off simultaneously, but once a tap-in is scored on any pitch, all matches stop, and that team wins the round.  



If your players master your activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. One idea could be to turn the zones at either end of the pitch into ‘offside lines’. 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.