Dribble or Pass?

Youth Session Plan – Dribble or Pass?

Objective: To develop the decision-making of the player in possession, when to dribble and when to pass?

The Set Up: Magic Rectangle – The overall pitch size is 40×30 with the central third being 16 yards long

Xavi, Iniesta, Messi Passing  – Having watched this Coerver Coaching video on the FourFourTwo Performance website, this is a variation I came up with to make it easier for younger or less able players to play using one ball.


The outside players are restricted to simple short passes, like in a Rondo, but the player in the middle could be creative with their pass (using back heels, Ronaldo chops etc).

The player on the outside passes the ball to the player in the middle and the outside player moves to the space between the two cones that is empty. Each player was given about a minute in the middle before they changed with another player, ensuring everyone gets a turn in the middle. Repeat the exercise but removed the restriction on always passing to the player in the middle, so the player makes a pass outside they feel an outside player is better placed to receive the ball than the player in the middle.

2v1 Line Soccer – Using the rectangles in the centre of the pitch pair up players to create 2×1 games, if you have odd numbers have some of the better players play 2v2. Can the players use some the creativity from the previous exercise to create opportunities to get passed the defender? No restrictions are put on the players insisting they pass, let them decide what works and what doesn’t.


Swap the players around so that each pair plays the role of the defender.

Lane Soccer – In this small sided game the channels running the length of the pitch are used. Each team must have at least one player in each of the three zones. They can receive, pass and dribble but can’t go out of their zone. Goalkeepers can be used if required. The diagram shows the game with different cones, if you use the magic rectangle set up, there is no need to change cones as the channels have already been created. As well as creating lots of 1v1’s and opportunities to switch play, it also has the added benefit of preventing younger players from bunching up. Each team must have at least one player in each of the three zones.


For older players, if they leave the a zone empty they concede a free kick wherever the infringement took place. After a few goals, swap the players to a new zone.

Normal Game: Play a normal game with a focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to taking players on or passing to create opportunities for their team.


Vision and Awareness

Youth Session Plan – Vision and Awareness

Objective: To give players lots of opportunities to make decisions based on what they see (adapted from a session on thecoachingmanual.com)

The Set Up: Magic Rectangle – The overall pitch size is 45×35 yards with each corner square 15×15 yards. Adjust according to age, ability and number of players.


Possession with Interference – This game is played ideally with two teams of four. One of the teams has a ball each, the other team stand around the outside of the square.


The players on the outside have to pass their ball around the area. The players on the inside have to dribble their ball to towards the outside players and block them from making a pass. This should encourage the outside players to play with their head up and exploit any space that is created. As a progression the players on the outside can be allowed to move into the square to receive the ball, then either check back out of the square with the ball or pass it to a team mate.

You can make the game competitive by giving the dribblers a point for each time they block a pass and give the players on the outside a point for a certain number of completed passes.

Making Runs: Two small target areas are added just outside the squares used in the previous game. Place a player in each target area who are playing for both teams. To start two teams of 3 play with a ball each in the square play bi-directional passing the ball to their team mates and eventually to a target player who returns the ball for them to attack the opposite end. players should be encouraged to create space to receive a pass.


To progress the game and make it competitive take one of the balls away. The game still remains bi-directional but each team receives a point for transferring the ball from one target player to the other without losing possession. Don’t forget to rotate the target players.

One – Nil Game: This game can played small sided (i.e 4v4) or with larger numbers like a normal game. The basic rule of the game is that you can only win by one goal.


The game is played according to the usual rules, with the exception that when a goal is scored, the team that scored must just try and keep possession and can’t score into the goal. If they do, the goal is disallowed and a goal kick ensues. If the other team then equalise the score is reset to 0-0 and both teams can try and score.

This is an excellent possession game and also allows a team to play out time by keeping possession.