This practice is a positional game which focusses on getting wingers into position to take their opponent on 1v1. There are some great opportunities within the structure of the practice to work on position specific themes, particularly midfielders combining to exploit width. The practice is easily adapted based on smaller or larger player numbers but in this case is based on 12 players at training.

About the Video

In the video below, Dave will talk you through the structure of the practice, various outcomes and how you can adapt it for your players.

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Practice Overview

Topic: Combination Play

No. of Players: 8 – 15

Goalkeepers: Optional

Practice Type: Positional Game

Offsides: No

Pitch Size: 36 x 20

Timing: 20 mins

Age Group: U10+

Interpreting the Diagrams

The key below outlines what the images mean on the diagrams.

If you have questions about the practices, contact the PDP Team or share your views on the Player Development Project Coaching Community.

Key For Diagrams
soccer training diagram


Set up a short wide pitch. 3v3 in the middle and two 1v1s in wide channels. Players are initially locked in zones. Neutral bounce players support the team in possession in build up, or with assists to promote fast finishing. Rotate players through roles, or use the session for position specific work.
An example of wide and central players combining for a one-two to eliminate a defender and score. Encouraging wingers to be unpredictable in the way they attack (1v1 or combination play) is valuable.
Blues quickly combine and utilise the bounce player to score through a third man run. As 10 plays into the target player, 8 runs beyond to score. This one touch finish could be rewarded with double points if you were trying to work on fast finishing with your team.
A good example of a winger linking up with central players to successfully switch play and create a goal scoring opportunity in wide areas.
The game set up with larger (odd) numbers. This set up reflects a 1-3-5-2 shape with a midfield 3 and front 2 with wing backs in the wide channels. Alternatively, you could add fullbacks/wingers into the channels and extend the width to create overlaps/underlaps in wide areas.


To encourage players to create and exploit width through 1v1 play in order to score.


Set up a wide, short pitch and adapt size based on player numbers. Using flat rubber discs, create two wide channels. These areas are for 1v1s (winger vs. winger). Wingers are locked in their zone, central players locked in their zone. In the middle, play 3v3. Yellow neutral players act as servers for the team playing out, or a bounce player (1 or 2 touch) for the attacking team.  Start the practice with the rule that the attacking team must get the ball into a wide area before scoring. Wingers can either pass or shoot if they win their 1v1. Progress to allow goals from wide or central areas, 3 points for a goal that involves a winger, 1 point for a goal centrally.

Observations & Interventions

What you might see

  • Players rushing to score. If the 1v1 is not on, can we switch play?
  • Slow play. Encourage quick ball movement and combination play

Actions you might take

  • Reward teams for switching play (e.g., if the ball connects with both wingers, this is worth double goals)
  • Reward quick play (if teams can score in under X number of passes)


Is the session too easy?

  • Make the space smaller
  • Restrict goals to 1 touch finish

Is the session too hard?

  • Make the space bigger
  • Add a neutral player for team in possession

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