Understanding the Practice

This practice is a small sided game that can be really useful if you only have one goalkeeper at training and want to work on creating and scoring in the middle to attacking third. The game is inspired by half court basketball. The neutral player is the start point for the attack and two midfield units oppose each other with the incentive being, if they win possession they get to be the attacking team. This practice also has value for position specific work, particularly central midfielders, central defenders and a lone striker. Be mindful of the striker being 1v2, so sending a second striker in to support could be an option depending on your teams playing style.

Instructional Video

In the video below, UEFA A licensed coach, Dave Wright will talk you through the practice and some of the key considerations, adaptations and areas to consider.

Additional Information

Allow the players time to adjust to the practice framework. The structure allows players a chance to quickly work on transition from defence to attack and deciding whether the best option is to build slowly from the neutral player (green 4) or whether there are opportunities to win it, recycle and play forward quickly. Encourage midfielders to be brave with forward passes. The striker(s) will have a lot of opportunities to work on clever movement to receive and finish under pressure. Adapt the space according to the age and stage of your players and ensure the end zone (striker(s) vs. defenders) is deep enough to allow room to run into. Central defenders are aiming to win the ball and play into the green 4 as quickly as possible.

Practice Overview

Topic: Creating & Scoring

No. of Players: 8-14

Goalkeepers: Yes

Practice Type: Small Sided Game

Offsides: Yes

Pitch Size: 30 x 45

Timing: 20-30 minutes

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 Coaching Community.

Key For Diagrams


Practice set up assuming 11 players. The pitch in this image is not to scale. Start smaller and adjust the space accordingly. The green players are neutral attackers (playing with the midfield team) and the orange players constantly defend with the aim of recycling the ball to the green 4 if they win possession.
Green and red combine to break through the blue defenders and release the striker to shoot. Should orange defenders win the ball, they play back into green 4 on halfway. You can allow the attacking midfield team to support in the end zone.
Example of a turnover or transition moment. Blue successfully intercept the ball and secure it by passing into green 4.
After securing the ball, blue now get in position to attack against the red team who have to regroup into a defensive shape. Blue are now aiming to create and score with the green 9
Practice adapted if you have more players. This set up represents a 1-3-5-2 formation in attack. Wingers could be on limited touches (e.g. two touch if unopposed) or you could restrict them to only cross from inside the crossing zone. They can also be used to play out and recycle the ball if defenders win possession. Two strikers could add a new challenge for the defenders and present more opportunities in attack. You could also incentivise goals through central areas with 2 points, versus wide areas with 1 point (or visa versa depending on what you’d like to emphasise with the players.


To allow players an opportunity to work on creating and scoring in central areas. The primary focus is to play through or over given the narrow pitch. Each unit have their own position specific focus and the green neutral player on halfway who acts as the start point for the attack will have a lot of opportunity to work on forward passing, so it’s worth considering which individual needs this. Allow the green neutral player to operate in the semi circle (or an appropriately sized area) around halfway and you can restrict them to 2/3 touches if they are unopposed.


Set up a rectangular area through the central area of the pitch. Adjust the area size based on the age and stage of your players. A bigger pitch will make it easier to get success in attack, but may be too physically demanding. Players are set up in two zones, attack and midfield. Midfielders can be allowed to join the striker in the attacking zone when the pass is played in. It’s worth exploring how restricting players in zones or releasing them will effect the attack. Ensure a good supply of footballs is with the neutral player on halfway.

Observations & Interventions

What you might see

  • High level of turnovers
  • Slow reactions to transition from attack to defence
  • Strikers struggling to score 1v2 or 2v2

Actions you might take

  • Encourage players to secure the ball
  • Reward teams who can regain/recycle the ball and score in under 10 seconds with double goals
  • Allow midfielders to join the attack or add a second striker

Adaptations: Is the session too easy?

  • Make the space smaller
  • Put a time limit (shot clock) on the attacking team

Is the session too hard?

  • Increase the space
  • Add a second striker
  • Allow the neutral player to drive in and create 4v3 overloads in midfield
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