Movement to Support the Player with the Ball

Youth Session Plan – Movement to Support the Player with the Ball

The Set Up: Magic Rectangle – The overall pitch size is 50×30 with the central third being 20 yards long.

Warm Up: Warming up with a ball is important for young players, one way we can achieve this is using passing routines.Here are two ideas for you:

In the diagram on the left three players stand between two cones on the edge of the rectangle, a player passes the ball to a team mate and then moves the to the gap between two cones that no one is standing between, thus recreating movement into space.and passing triangles. The diagram on the right is a simple pass and move exercise for four players. Each player stands on the outer edge of the rectangle, when passing the ball they follow their pass to their team mates line.

Passing Under Pressure – The session would then be progressed by running the same exercises as the warm up but by adding a player to the centre of each rectangle who applies wither limited pressure or full pressure – dependant upon the age and ability of each group. Otherwise known as the Rondo. Play either 3v1 or 4v1 etc and dont forget to roate the player in the middle.

Before moving onto the next part of the session move the four central cones to a make a 20×20 playing area.

Mourinho Drill 21 – Players pay either 3v3 or 4v4 in the 20×20 playing are with 2 unopposed neutral fullbacks in the outside channels. Teams can only score by playing the ball into someone who gets the ball under control in the end zone. Players cannot dribble into the end zone themselves, or arrive before the ball is passed to them.


Progress the drill above by  giving each team a different objective, the White team are looking to get the ball forward to the Striker for a shot at goal. The centre back, right back, left back and striker for the White team play unopposed outside the central area. The Blue team play 4v2 or 5v2 (depending on the number of players you have) their objective is the same as the previous game, to get the ball into the zone the White teams Centre back occupies, by playing the ball into someone who gets the ball under control


Take the opportunity to switch the objectives around so each team gets to play both roles and switch player roles around too.

Normal Game: Play a normal game with a focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players moving to support the player in possession.


Receiving On The Back Foot

Youth Session Plan – Receiving  On The Back Foot

Objective: To encourage players to receive the ball on the foot furthest away from pressure

Back Foot  In a grid wider than it is long to suit the ability of the players set up as per the diagram below. The players at the North and South point of the diamond pass the ball at the same time to the players on their right. The players at East and West receive the ball on the back foot and having checked that the player on their right is ready they pass the ball to them. Players should follow their passes and move to the next cone.


Playing to a target  – Split the players into groups with a ball each and ask each team to move the ball from one target area to the opposite target area (playing unopposed) but they should try to receive every pass on the “back foot”. Players should be moving into the target area to receive passes rather than having someone permanently in the target area.


Five v Three – Using the same set up as the previous game the game no becomes directional. Split the group up into two teams one with an overload.


The target players are restricted to their areas. Each team attempts to get the ball to their target player. The ball must be controlled inside the target area for it to count as a goal. When a team gets the ball to their target player the target player plays the ball out to the opposing team with a free pass. Rotate the players so that they all get to experience the overload. Make sure the grid is wide enough to encourage players to create space. If players spread out and take the ball on their back foot they should be able to play forward quickly and get plenty success. If you have extra players use them as support players on the sidelines.

Normal Game: Play a normal game with a focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players receiving the ball on the back foot.

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.

Using One Twos or Wall Passes

Youth Session Plan – Using One Twos or Wall Passes

Objective: To improve players ability to execute combination passes

The Set Up: A square pitch appropriate for the number of players. The triangle in the centre is 10 yards long, its advisable to use different coloured cones in the triangle to aid your description of what the players have to do.

Triangle Passing – The player on the orange cone starts with the ball and passes it to the player on the blue cone and runs to join the queue behind the blue cone.  As the ball is passed the player at the blue cone they should check his shoulders and TRY to pass the ball to the player on the yellow in cone with no more than two touches, after passing they then go to the queue at the yellow cone. The player on the yellow cone, checks his shoulders as the ball is passed to him, then controls the pass and dribbles it over to the player at the front of the orange cone and the sequence continues. Once players are used to the sequence you can then introduce the use of one twos, to move the ball around the triangle.

Depending on the space and number of players you have, you could use more triangles with less players at each cone.


3+2 v 3+2 – The yellow team play North to South and the Red play East to West, it can also be played with larger or smaller numbers in the middle or even an overload. The objective for the players in the middle is to do a wall pass or one to two, with one of the two members of the team on the outside of the playing area. For each successful wall pass or one two, they get one point. You will quickly see players looking for space and for the players in possession to be looking for team mates in space. Allow players to dribble to find spaces also. Defensively players quickly learn that they need to quickly close down any player that makes a pass to a team mate on the outside to prevent them getting a point.

You can make it easier by giving the player on the outside all the time they need, in terms of number of touches to make a return pass. You can make it harder by limiting the outside players touches.


The Arsenal Game: Arsenals play is made up of lots of quick short passing with plenty of movement off the ball. They use wall passes a lot. The game is a standard game, except that the neutral players on each side can be used. The neutral players play with the team that have possession. They take any kick-ins from their side. Having the neutral players encourages plenty of give and goes. The players should also be encouraged to play at a fast tempo. Change the neutral players every few minutes.


Normal Game: Play a normal game with a focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players using wall passes to create scoring opportunities

The Retreat Line Playing Out From The Back

Youth Session Plan – The Retreat Line Playing Out From The Back

Objective: To encourage players to use the retreat line law to play out from the back

The Set Up: Either use half a mini soccer pitch or mark out an equivalent area. The size will depend upon the age group, number of players and their ability.

4+GK v 2 –  The objective for the goal keeper and the 4 defenders is to get that ball across the retreat line (halfway line) under control on 8 out of 10 attempts. Each attempt starts with the goal keeper taking a goal kick on the floor from the edge of his penalty area. When the keeper passes the ball to one of the defenders the two attackers can run towards the ball from the retreat line, one pressuring the ball the other providing cover.

The four defenders need to react to the movement of the two attackers by exploiting the space, usually by passing the ball back and or across the pitch to exploit the width. The four defenders have to get the ball across the line by either dribbling it or passing to a team mate who has made a run.

Based on the numbers the objective looks quite easy for the defenders to achieve  but the two attackers can prevent the four defenders achieving the objective by either scoring a goal or getting the ball out of play. Making the objective much harder than it initially appears.

If you have extra players rotate them with the two attackers as it can be a tiring game for them.


Progression to the next exercise will depend on how successful the defenders are, If they achieve the objective you may want to increase the number of opponents in the following possession game, making the overload less favourable for the defenders.

5v2 Possession: This is a simple possession game that encourages the players to use the width of the pitch. The game is played in half a mini soccer pitch as before. The five defenders start with ball and try to keep possession by passing and dribbling. If one of the attackers intercepts the ball, they swap places with their opponent.


After playing this game for about 5-10 minutes go back to the 4+GK v 2 exercise, if the defenders achieved the objective first time around increase the number of attackers to make it more challenging for the defenders.

Normal Game: Focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players taking opportunities to play out from the back

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

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.

Possession with Purpose

Youth Team Session Plan – Possession with Purpose

Objective: Possession with Purpose (This session is one I adapted from a session posted on twitter by Gavin McLeod (@GavMac21) Cincinnati Saints NPSL Head Coach)

The Set Up: One or two pitches (dependant on numbers) I used 50×25, but use whats appropriate to your team and the space available.

Ball Work – As the players arrive partner them up and get them passing between two. After each successful set of 8 to 10 passes get them to take a step further away from each other. How far apart can they complete 8 to 10 passes?

Pass and Move Unopposed: Split the players in two and play in separate halves of the pitch. The play is unopposed with players passing the ball in their group and moving into space. Those not in possession should also be constantly moving into what they feel is the best space. So the picture is constantly changing for the player in possession.


You can start the exercise off by getting players to roll the ball to each other along the ground. Once players understand what is expected they can then pass the ball, if they can using one or two touches. Other progressions included using a passing sequence (short, short, long). Then make it competitive by seeing which team can make the most passes in 1 minute.

Keepaway: Using the same area as the previous exercise play this keepaway game (5×3, 5v2, 4v2 etc)


The objective for the team with the ball to retain possession in their own half of the pitch, whilst 2 or 3 players from the other group try to recover possession. The attackers get a point for every time they complete a set number of passes without the defenders getting the ball, or the ball going out of the grid. If they defenders gain possession they should look to switch the ball to their free team mates in the other area and move back to provide passing options for their team mates. 2 or 3 players from the team that lost possession now go and defend in the other half.

Four Goal Game:  A regular game but each team has a goal in each corner they can shoot for.


The use of four goals means that players will learn to use the space on the flanks by switching play. As a result the game should increase awareness and encourage players to play with their heads up, rather than looking down at the ball all the time. The team without possession need to play smart because the extra goal will make it seem like they are playing a player down.

Normal Game: Focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players taking players making decisions that enable their team to maintain possession.