Transition is a moment of the game which requires practice. In this session you’ll see a small sided game which encourages a high level of repetition of quick attack, forward runs, forward passing and recovering runs.

The game is designed to create overloads in different areas of the pitch which creates a high number of attacking opportunities for the team in possession and challenges the defending team to recover and often defend outnumbered. UEFA A licensed coach, Dave Wright will talk you through the set up of the session and what he’s seeing as the practice goes on.

About the Video

In the video below, Dave Wright demonstrates the practice with a group of U12 grassroots players of mixed ability. Look out for Dave’s points around why he sacrifices realism (of the game) to increase repetition (of quick attack) and some of the strategies he uses to help players understand the game before unlocking the game a step at a time.

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Additional Information

The structure of this practice lends itself to a number of outcomes, including:

  • Quick, counter-attack
  • Forward passing & forward running
  • Defending outnumbered
  • Attacking with overloads
  • Recovery runs
  • Emergency defending

Key elements to observe and encourage are:

  • Fast, forward passing
  • Timing of runs
  • Direct play
  • Desire to defend

Practice Overview

Topic: Transition

No. of Players: 10 – 20

Goalkeepers: Yes

Practice Type: Small sided game

Offsides: Optional

Pitch Size: 45 x 25

Timing: 20 – 30 mins

Age Group: 10+

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 Slack Community.

Key For Diagrams
soccer training diagram


Example of the set up. A small sided game, pitch divided into thirds and in this example, an 8v8 in a 1-2-4-1 shape. This could be adapted from 5-a-side through to 11-a-side. Midfield defenders cannot recover and defend in their defensive third. You can also lock the 2 defenders into their zone to encourage them to work on quick forward passing and progress to allow them to drive in with the ball.
Blues on the attack. Blue midfield successfully play through the red midfield into the attacking third. This is a trigger for forward supporting runs from midfielders in order to create and exploit overloads in the final third and challenge red defenders to cope with defending outnumbered.
Blues now attack with a 4v2 and successfully create a scoring opportunity. Red midfield cannot recover and should be preparing for the next attack. Whilst this lacks realism, it creates a ‘wave’ style practice that encourages lots of attacking and defending.
Red goalkeeper makes a save and quickly distributes the ball into the middle third so their team can exploit the 4v2 midfield overload and counter- attack. Blues are tasked with recovering quickly and the two defenders must delay and dictate to slow the attack or win possession.
Reds successfully create an overload in the final third. Continue to encourage quick attack, forward runs and forward passing.


This practices is designed to encourage high repetition of forward runs, forward passing and quick attack. As a result, there is also an opportunity to challenge defenders who will often be outnumbered, have to make recovery runs or be tasked with emergency defending.


Set up a narrow small sided game divided into thirds with two goals. Goalkeepers are critical to this practice functioning and should have a good supply of footballs in their goals to play quickly. The key constraint is that midfield players cannot recover into the final third to defend. This creates attacking overloads in the final third for the team in possession, and if the defenders or GK win the ball they can exploit midfield overloads in the central third by attacking at speed. You can adapt to allow a defender to recover and support as required.

Observations & Interventions

What you might see

  • Slow play or players passing sideways
  • Players fatiguing

Actions you might take

  • Ensure a narrow pitch to reduce opportunities to play sideways or safely
  • Manage the length of the pitch
  • Reward teams for goals in less than a certain length of time (e.g. 8 seconds)

Is the session too hard?

  • Make the space longer (more physically demanding)
  • Allow a defender to recover in support
  • Restrict goal scoring to one touch finish

Adaptations: Is the session too easy?

  • Adjust the space to manage fatigue
  • Adjust rules around which players are locked/unlocked

Would you like to learn more about planning sessions?

You might be interested in our foundations of session design course created by UEFA A Licensed Coaches, Dave Wright and Dan Wright. They will teach you everything you need to know about designing world-class sessions that your players will love.

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