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A player receives a pass during a training match on an indoor 3G pitch.

Receiving session: receiving to play forward in central areas

Siobhan Hodgetts, FA women’s high performance coach development officer, shares a session that helps players think about receiving to play forward.

Session plan

Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan and give it a go.


To start, set up an area of approximately 20x15 yards with a goal at one end.

Four players start the practice within the area, standing on cones (poles or mannequins can be used if you have them):

  • Player one starts in the centre of the side opposite the goal.
  • Player two starts on a cone five yards in front of player one.
  • Players three and four start on cones high and wide further up the pitch.

It's likely you will have more than four players at training. So, set up more than one pitch and run parallel practices if that’s the case.

How to play

The aim of the game is to play forward and score.

Unopposed practice

Treat the cones as defenders.

To start, player one passes the ball into the space to the side of player two's cone.

Player two makes an in and out movement away from the cone as if they are trying to deceive a defender. They then move into the space to receive the ball on their back foot.

Once under control, they play the ball to one of the wide players.

The wide player makes a similar in and out movement off their cone before receiving and trying to score in the goal.

Players then rotate around the starting positions and the activity starts again. Play for four minutes before progressing the practice.

Once your players have mastered it, change the combinations to encourage different types of receiving. Here are some examples:

  • Player two controls the ball with their back to the goal before playing a one-two with player one and rotating around their cone.
  • Player two plays the ball back to player one, who then plays a longer diagonal ball to one of the wide players. While this happens, player two moves to receive a pass from the wide player to take a shot on goal.

Opposed practice

Remove all the cones from the pitch and instead split it down the middle into two equal zones. Add two mini-goals at the end of the pitch without a goal.

For this stage, you will need six players split into two teams. One team of three will be 'attackers', and the other will be 'defenders', of which one is a goalkeeper.

All three attackers start in the half with the mini goals. The defenders and goalkeeper start in the half with the single goal.

The attackers start with the ball on their goal line. The aim is to play through the two defenders and score goals.

If the defenders win the ball back, they can play in the opposite direction to score in the two mini-goals.


If your players master this activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. Here are some examples.

  • In the opposed practice, add a target player as well as the mini goals. This will give the defending side more options when they win the ball back.
  • Replace the mini goals with a larger goal and a goalkeeper in the opposed practice. This will make it more realistic and keep the game flowing.

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.