Saturday, 4 May 2013

Soccer Passing Drills for Through Passing

I like to have a target man for passes into feet play off the last defender because you can execute variations of up back and through off that by dropping the ball back to midfielder for a through pass off the first diagonal between the CB and FB or for through ball shorter but right down the line behind a FB. Use the holdup play of your ST to determine where and how you build the through pass by which areas of space you open off it. But those primary areas behind the FB and in between CB+FB are key for me. Start working off those patterns and you can get pull back open from edge of the area back in.

I like to do this type of game with angled goals to create creative passing moves:

Half Field Soccer Passing Drills
2 Goals facing outwards so you have to score from behind
5v5 with GK and 1 attacker acting as target player 

The 5 are in the middle and must look for various through balls diagonals, short, down the line etc in order to penetrate through and wide. The finish a shot at goal. Add challenges where you see fit.

I do other soccer passing drills for playing through a block:

45x40 areas with cones on the corners to mark middle zone lines. 5v5 no keeper or 4v4 keeper. Goals only count if all the team is in the middle area so in order score they have to play through and fast before the opposing block gathers. It’s a good one for challenging how you make through passes in central areas. I use an "around the outside" challenge to progress it. Where I stipulate that once the team has possession the must attack by going around the outside. So they must move again from a central area to a wide area then back in with a cross of through pass wide. Again good for looking for alternate angle.

Also in my soccer passing drills I use "do not enter" areas in spaces behind or around the defence for defenders in 7v7, 8v8. I then have runs made into those areas and look for combinations where you might work it through. It makes it easy to point out positional failing in opponents when you have an area to work with. Making it easier to recognize which pass needs playing where and gives players an understanding of the value of attacking certain areas by going around or through early. You can use some cone soccer passing drills liek the ones below to build technical competence.

From a technical perspective and one of illustrating situations to players I use these two set ups for cones and final third through passing(you can work number 2 left or right side:

1             *             *

     *                                   *

2            *

           *                               *                  

Soccer passing drills like these cone drills gives you a point of reference when your players are  in front of goal for the kind through passing and areas I like to work in. it can be progressed to 3v2+gk or 4v3+gk so you can work you combinations and passing angles all under pressure and on a relatively fast paced set up.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Using 5v5 for Player


Reducing the play to 5v5 allows for all of the aspects present in 11 v11 being coached thus creating better results faster which become more consistent with practice.

5v5 is good for developing players as it allows them to do many things such as allowing frequent touches of the ball, reinforcing possession and regaining of possession as an enjoyable aspect of play, develops fitness, presents chances to score goals often, develops fast decision making, easily adaptable to suit various coaching objectives. Goal keepers can also be coached.

Use a basic area of 50yards length by 30 yards width this be changed depending on what type of game the coach like to developed if the coach likes to developed lots of forward running and passing penetration then the pitch can be made more narrow and longer or if the coach would like to to spread the play the pitch can be made wide with various conditions for crossing and such.

This good because changing the environment means they have to think for themselves what might work just like in a game my player’s decision making and problem solving increased.

The role the coach should play in this format is merely a facilitator who decides the constricts of the game this allows to the players to enjoy their learning more and at the same time learn more as they are thinking more.

This is also a good format to analyse the players by asking questions such as;

If players are comfortable and confident playing against an opponent individually (dribbling). 
If players are capable of maintaining possession of the ball both as individuals and as a group. 
If players can create opportunities to score goals both individually and as a group. 
If players are successful at scoring goals. 
If players are composed while trying to regain possession of the ball (defending). 
If players can adapt to the unexpected and adjust their behaviour and improvise appropriately. 

When the team has possession of the ball it can learn:

Employing different build up plays using a variety of different passing such as using the width or being direct, learn to determine effective team shape such as diamond when in a group of four, create individual or team scoring chances, learn correct dribbling and turning and also develop game intelligence.

When the team is not in possession of the ball it can learn:

Regain the ball fast, man marking tackling and simple principles of defensive play.

Decision making is developed decision by concentrating on when to dribble when to pass, when to take risk, evaluating the change of play, and technique selection such as when to shoot, pass dribble or change the direction or play. Psychology can also be coached during the game such as agression, confidence.

Only basic rules are used such as no offside, restarts after a goal. Throw ins can be allowed but no corners, freekicks and penalties allowed.

Fitness can also be trained by changing number of touches and placing conditions on how much a player runs on different pitch sizes.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

AJAX FC Football Fitness Test

The players are warmed up as normal and the drill is carried out with a ball as much as possible

1.the ball is thrown to player who side foots the ball back alternating between left and right while the player runs on the spot.

2.running on the spot and jumping to head the ball 20 times.

3.same as 1 this time with instep of foot

4.performed the same as 2 but sideways jumps either side of a cone are introduced player jumps left to right and vice versa while returning the ball

5.same as 1 except the player uses chest control before return.

6 player stand with his back to the coach and the coach shouts left or right in the direction of the shoulder the ball will thrown to the player makes a quick turn to head to the ball back to the coach.

These test the muscles and basic movements which the player will repeatedly face during a match situation

9. 6 ball are placed on in the penalty area at 1 end of a pitch the players must pass each ball to the opposite penalty area and back first using the inside and then the instep of the foot

Following this is a Swedish bench session which is designed to test the players endurance

10.30 step ups are performed

11.30 straddle jumps are performed

12.30 side to side jumps over the bench are performed

13.the bench is turned on its side and 20 reps of one touch passing are performed first with the inside and then the instep of the foot

The final set of or drills allow the player to shoot at goal

14.the player stand at the edge of the penalty area and the ball is rolled to both the left and the right foot 10 times each at different angles the player then shoots at the goal keeper

15.speed shooting 10 balls are lined across the penalty area the player shoots at the goal keeper

16. the same as 14 but the balls are delivered in the air for the player to volley first time or following a bounce.

17.the same as the above except the coach can cross the ball 10 times each from either side for header or volley

18.the player passes the ball to coach then coach makes a shout left or tight then lays off for a one touch finish the coach can attempt to hide the direction of the lay off to test concentration and anticipation. this is done ten times.

To increase the difficulty of the test the reps on each part can be increased by 10.

These are designed to test the players in situations which occur during a match at a high intensity and also to test physical and mental endurance over a prolonged period as it would be tested during a match.The main use was to test player fitness after injury, I am working on adapting these to be more inclusive of a whole team.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Periodization for Football

The fitness work for this contains four areas:

1.      Maintaining the ability to recover quickly between moments of action on the pitch

2.      Maintaining explosiveness of action for longer during play

3.      Maximising recovery ability

4.      Maximising explosiveness

Training to maintain quick recovery

Extensive Endurance Training= 3-9 games of 10 minutes 11v11 2 minutes rest between games

Intensive Endurance Training= 5-9 games of 8 minutes 7v7 2 minutes rest between games

 Training method to maintain explosiveness of action

 This is done to raise the pace of the game for longer periods.

Repeated Short Sprinting= 2-4 series of 6-10 sprints of 15 m with opponent + finishing on goal 10 seconds rest between sprints with 4 minutes rest between series.

 Training method for maximising recovery procces

 Extensive Interval Training=2 series of 6-10 games of 3 minutes 3 v 3 with 3-1 minutes rest between games and 4 minutes rest between series

 Training  method to maximise explosiveness

 Sprinting Speed= 2-4 series of 8-10 sprints of 5 m with opponent + finishing on goal with 30 seconds rest between sprints and 4 minutes rest between series

Periodization for Football Training

 After building the base of fitness above the focus is then periodization of training. This again uses global problem solving drills designed with Hiddinks two pronged approach in mind.

 All Periodization for Football  methods contain elements like:

 – duration of work
– number of repetitions
– number of series
– rest between repetitions
– rest between series

 These elements within a training method can be used to develop overload during training. Forexample, a longer duration of work or a higher number of repetitions. The remaining questionis: which element do you change in what sequence and in what moment of time?

Extensive Endurance Training

 3-9 games of 10 minutes 11 v 11 2 minutes rest between games
 step 1. 10 min / rest 3 -2 min
step 2. 10 min / rest 4- 2 min
step 3. 10 min / rest 5- 2 min
step 4. 10 min/  rest 6 -2 min
step 5. 10 min/ rest 7- 2 min
step 6. 10 min /rest 8- 2 min
step 7. 10 min /rest 9- 2 min

Intensive Endurance Training

 5-9 games of 8 minutes 7 v 7 with 2 minutes rest between games
step 1. 8 min/rest  5- 2 min
step 2. 8 min / rest 6 -2 min
step 3. 8 min /rest 7- 2 min
step 4. 8 min /rest 8- 2 min
step 5.8 min /rest 9 -2 min

 Extensive Interval Training

 2 series of 6-10 games of 3 minutes 3v3 with 3-1 minutes rest between games and 4 minutes rest between series

 step 1. 3 min/ 6 games 3 min rest /2- 4 min
step 2. 3 min/ 6 games 2.5 min rest/2 -4 min
step 3. 3 min/ 6  games 2 min rest /2- 4 min
step 4. 3 min/ 6 games 1.5 min rest / 2- 4 min
step 5. 3 min/ 6  games 1 min rest /2- 4 min
step 6. 3 min/ 7 games 1 min rest /2 -4 min
step 7. 3 min/ 8 games 1 min rest / 2- 4 min
step 8. 3 min/ 9 games 1 min rest /2 -4 min
step 9. 3 min /10 games 1 min rest / 2- 4 min

Repeated Short Sprinting

2-4 series of 6-10 sprints of 15 metres with opponent + finishing on goal with 10 seconds rest between sprints and 4 minutes rest between series.

 step 1. 15 m /6- 2 reps/10 sec /4 min
step 2. 15 m /7 -2 reps/10 sec/ 4 min
step 3. 15 m /8 -2 reps/10 sec /4 min
step 4. 15 m/ 9 -2 reps/10 sec /4 min
step 5. 15 m /10- 2reps/ 10 sec/ 4 min
step 6. 15 m /10 -3reps/ 10 sec /4 min
step 7. 15 m /10- 4 reps/10 sec /4 min

Sprinting Speed

 2-4 series of 8-10 sprints of 5 metres with opponent + finishing on goal with 30 seconds rest between sprints and 4 minutes rest between series

 step 1. 5 m /8 2 reps/ 30 sec /4 min
step 2. 5 m/ 9 2 reps/30 sec /4 min
step 3. 5 m /10 2 reps/30 sec /4 min
step 4. 5 m /8 3 reps/30 sec /4 min
step 5. 5 m /9 3 reps/ 30 sec /4 min
step 6. 5 m /10 3reps/ 30 sec/ 4 min
step 7. 5 m/ 8 4 reps/ 30 sec /4 min
step 8. 5 m /9 4 reps/30 sec /4 min
step 9. 5 m/ 10 4 reps/30 sec /4 min

Guide lines for effective training sessions

As well as following the above concepts there are certain guidelines for effective training sessions:

1.      Only football activities should be used as the main ways to increase fitness.

2.      Intensity should not be allowed to drop during training there should always be some form of over load present.

3.      The coach has the final say on all training sessions based on what his targets are i.e he decides which areas should be worked on more intensely depending on what need improving the most.

4.      Every player must do exactly what they are instructed to do in order for the system to run properly. This provides the organisational base on which problem solving and initiative can be allowed. Tactical rules are kept very simple.

5.      As the session progresses tactical rules are taken more strictly to improve the ability to function effectively tacticly when fatigued, the coaches role is to point out where players make mistakes when they fatigue and then direct how to improve this area.

6.      If there is a solution to a problem decided upon the every aspect of performance relating to that solution must be performed with full discipline and work rate, as allowing players to become slack in skipping good habits is damaging to the team discipline and organisation.

7.      Rest sessions should be used for problem solving questions which relate to the tactical situations the team are facing.

8.      Interventions are made only up to the point where the tactical aims are performed effectively for a given situation after this the exercises will be repeated for habit building and fitness.

9.      The aim of tactical games is to focus on reading the situation, solving problems and decision making as these areas when trained properly create a dramatic improvement in performance.

Periodization for Football- additional notes:

Week 1 and week 2 you play 11v11/10v10/9v9/8v8 with always 2 min rest, it's a Extensive Endurance training because the HR is between 130 and 160. If you go then to week 3 and 4 you play 7v7/6v6/5v5 with always 2 min rest, now it's a Intensive Endurance Training because there are not so much players on the field and there is more action the HR is between 150 and 185. In week 5 and 6 you go to games with 4v4 and 3v3 this is the most intensive part and this is the Extensive Interval Training. This games are played to get the phosphate system faster recover.For example this is the the list for Extensive Interval Training:.

step 1.   2 times   6x1min   / 3min rest
step 2    2 times   6x1min   / 2.5min rest
step 3    2 times   6x1min   / 2min rest
step 4    2 times   6x1min   / 1.5min rest
step 5    2 times   6x1min   / 1min rest
step 6    2 times   6x1.5min /1min rest
step 7    2 times   6x2min    /1 min rest
step 8    2 times   6x2.5min /1min rest
step 9    2 times   6x3min    /1min rest
step10   2 times   7x3min    /1min rest
step11   2 times   8x3min    /1min rest
step12   2 times   9x3min    /1min rest
step13   2 times  10x3min  / 1min rest
there is always a 4min break between the series.

First of all you have to get smaller rest times, then you can start to get bigger work time. I work that way and the HR went in the rest time down, after 6 months of work, from 120 in the  rest to 100 in the rest, that means that my players recover faster.
If have also the times for the other games if someone needs them.

For example it's week 5. Every step is one practice. If you have step one in your schedule you play 1min 3v3, than make a 3 min break, repeat this 6 times.... -> this is 1 series
now you have a 4min break
and then you repeat the same like in series one, this is all in one practice.
You can make this drill only once a week (wends day) because you need 72h of super compensation. In week 6 you play again 3v3 or 4v4 but now you play step 2!
Then you start again with week 1. Remember it's now extensive endurance training. So the next time you play 3v3 or 4v4 will be again in 5th week or circle 2.

Periodization for Football Weekly Structure

Saturday : MATCH
Sunday: Recovery like soccer-tennis
Monday: Free day
Thursday: Tactic practice to get ready for wends day
Wendsday: Condition ---> that's the day you put in the different steps
Thursday: Tactical + Underload (half of the conditional training in the next week, so the body can a Little bit adjust to the next hard training on wends day)
Friday: Tactical training plus 6x5m sprint, 30sec rest for the muscle to get ready
Saturday: MATCH

Also there are two sprint programs that alternate every 2 weeks.

Week 1 :
8x40m progression to 80% of max speed
Week 2:
9x30m progression to 90% of may speed

Week 3 and 4:
There you have this steps again...
step1 is (6x15m sprint with 10 sec rest) 2 series of this with 4 min rest between

There are 3 types of sprinting.

1. Player 1 sprints from point A to point B. ---> the player has a explosion
2. Player 1 sprints with player 2 from point A to point B in a competition. ---> bigger explosion
3. Player 1 sprints with player 2 in a competition after the ball, who will touch the ball first---> the biggest explosion, this means against OPPONENT when it was posted in the post before by another user.

 In week 5 and 6 there are power and speed activities that are always one on one for the ball.
step one is for example:
6x 5m with 30sec rest
4min rest
4x15m with 45sec rest
4min rest
2x25m witch 60 sec rest

Why so much rest?

You need to maintain an explosion every time, and for this you need a full phosphate system. 5m is a Small bite of ATP, 15m is a bigger bite of ATP and 25 is an even bigger bite of ATP. So you get more dynamic starts from your players.

One thing more:
The conditioning practice on Wends day is built up like this:
Lets say it's our 1 Cycles 5 Week

1. Warming up : It must be intensive because it's a hard training 15'
2. Soccer sprints step1
6x 5m with 30sec rest        ca. 3.30'
4min rest                                  4'
4x15m with 45sec rest            4.30'                           >19'
4min rest                                 4'
2x25m witch 60 sec rest         3'
3. Main condition part  3v3/4v4 step1
step 1.   2 times   6x1min   / 3min rest      
                                                                 6x1' work x2 = 12'
                                                                 5x3' break x2= 30'
                                                                 1x break of 4' between the series=4' 
                                                                  >46' for step1
total practice: 80minutes plus time for taking on fluid

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Block Defence in Football

For the purpose of this post on the Block Defence in football the example in the following session will be presented for a 4-4-2. The Block Defence in football can be adapted to any system of play.

The following session was used to pass a high level European football coaching licence and was planned by Peter North. The session topic for examination was to plan and conduct a session aimed at full team defence in football.

 Defensive organization of the 4-4-2

The objective of the session is to organize the 4-4-2 as a defensive block. The Block Defence in football is used to coordinate quickly the full 11 behind the ball and concentrated in a well organized way.

Warm up

-Jogging,sprints, basic ball work etc
-1v1 on one goal
defenders pass to attacker who must then pass the defender to score, refresh basic 1v1 principles.

The reasoning of having a 1v1 warm up drill is to refresh and focus the basic principles of defending in a 1v1 situation. 1v1 will be worked on during the session as it relates to the position of the ball, the position of the opponents and the areas of space which are attacked by the opponent.
Why has the session focused on defending as a block?
Block defending is a variation on zone defending, by organising players into blocks rather than individual zones players can learn the roles they must play while defending in a given formation. All that is required is to simplify the principles of defending for that system into roles and responsibilities.
The block system is based on organising defending units based on maximising the principles of defensive play:
1.    Delay
2.    Depth
3.    Balance
4.    Concentration
5.    Control/Restraint
This done by using a series of progressive drills, small sided games, phase of play and coaching in the game which focuses on coaching aspects of play based on how they relate to the unit. The methods focus their coaching points within the activities in the following way:
1.    The role of the first defender pressuring the player on the ball(1v1)
2.    The role of the second defender to provide cover for the first defender and prevent runs of the supporting player for the opponent on the ball such as a player overlapping a player on the ball(2v2)
3.    The role of the second, third and fourth defender in covering the space against the nearest supporting players of the opponent in this case three players in a supporting block(3v3).
4.    The movement and communication of a block of four against the opponents block of four (4v4).
The starts by working the defending back four in one block then working the midfield block and then integrating the two into a block of 8 and focusing on how to cover each block.
All of the above aspects 1v1,2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 are worked on focusing on how they relate to working in a block of 8 at the same time as integrating the goalkeeper in  phase of play.
This the followed by coaching in the game which is based on integrating the attacking players with the block of 8 creating a whole 4-4-2 block in order to defend.
Patterns and specific shifts specific for the 4-4-2 which are based on constricted space and keeping numerical superiority around the ball in your own half.

Session Phase 1-Block Defending in a 4-4-2 with a focus on the Back Four and Midfield Blocks

Activity 1-The Back Four

SSG-The Back Four

Area-Defensive Third
Organization- set up four different cones-red,white,blue and yellow(or what ever you have), put these out in the positions the back four would be in. Try to make distance between realistic.
Performance of activity- Shout out a cone for example Red, the player will then move to PRESSURE the cone while the other three move to cover.
Coaching Points
1.Body position when pressuring in relation to supporting players.
2.Organisation of the 3 support players along the 1 up 3 back method.
3. Comminication.

Progression- SSG

Area-Defending Third
Organization-Add a player onto each of the cones, add a one small goal behing each defender.
Performance of Activity- Players on the cones must attempt to pass the the ball through one of the small goals.
Coaching Points
Coach the above but add:
1-Pressuring the ball, Where to SHOW the Player inside or outside.
2-Deny penetration, Bend runs,etc
3-Support and balance.
4-Moving when the ball does.

Activity 2-Midefield Block

SSG-The Midfield Four

Area-Midfield Four
Organization- set up four different cones-red,white,blue and yellow(or what ever you have), put these out in the positions the back four would be in. Try to make distance between realistic.
Performance of activity- Shout out a cone for example Red, the player will then move to PRESSURE the cone while the other three move to cover.
Coaching Points
1.Body position when pressuring in relaion to supporting players.
2.Organisation of the 3 support players along the 1 up 3 back method.

Progression- SSG

Area-Midfield Third
Organization-Add a player onto each of the cones, add a one small goal behind each defender.
Performance of Activity- Players on the cones must attempt to pass the the ball through one of the small goals.
Coaching Points
Coach the above but add:
1-Pressuring the ball, Where to SHOW the Player inside or outside.
2-Deny penetration, Bend runs,etc
3-Support and balance.
4-Moving when the ball does.

The use of 4v4 small sided games and drills in this phase is designed to be “global” in nature. Working on all four performance aspects as they relate to the system and aim, this is done as follows:
·         Fitness is worked on by repeating the movement to create stress on the aerobic system.
·         Technical aspects are worked on by focusing on 1v1defending principles as above.
·         Tactical aspects are also worked as outlined above with the focus on the block.
·         Psychological aspects are worked on by focusing on the mentality to press ,communication, concentration and decision making.

Session Phase 2-Defending as a Block of 8 adding Back Four to Midfeiled Four.

Activity-Phase of Play 11v8+1GK

Area-Full Pitch
Organization- set up the block of 8 and integrate the above two activities.
Performance of Activity- 11 attackers after starting in their own half must attempt to break down the block of 8, upon losing possession the play is re-set and repeated. If you have done the previous phase of the session correctly the block will be very difficult to attack.
Coaching Points
1-Integrate the role of the GK
2-1 up 3 back in midfield with support, when a midfield player pressure the ball the correspondig defender covers the SPACE behind.
3-Pressure,Cover and Balance.
4-Remaining compact.
5-Devolop timing and rythem in defensive SHIFTS.

Session Phase 3- 11v11 Integrate the strikers and focus on Defensive SHIFTS to create numerical superiority around the ball

Activity-Coaching in a Full Game working on team Patterns and Organization

Area-Full Pitch
Organization-11 attackers must attempt to attack the 4-4-2 with EVERY defending player working together as a Block.
Performance of Activity-Defenders must defend with there Block Mentality.When possession of the bal is lost attack re-sets in own half.
Coaching Points
1-Integrate the strikers with the block of 8, work on dropping into midfield and preventing back passing and inviting the Opponent in oen direction to make play predictable.
2-Defensive SHIFTS to create numerical superiority around the ball in own half.

The aims of this aspects of the session are to integrate all of the above and work on patterns of play which are specific to defending as a 4-4-2 with a focus on :
1.    Shifts for numerical superiority around the ball in own half.
2.    The role of strikers in dropping to press in the midfield.
3.    Working on coaching moments in real games situations which aim to further improve understanding of 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 in different areas of the pitch as they relate to in game defensive tactics for the 4-4-2.
The aim of this session is to create a format which can coach the basic tactical elements of 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4. At the same time the format enables the defence, midfield and attack to be integrated thus allowing for the principles of play in defending to maximise and the refined specifically for the 4-4-2.


Remove the re-set condition and integrate basic organization for set plays.

Refine points of previous activity to further enhance the quality of your defence in football situations.

Finish with free play and cool down of choice.

Develop Football Skill the Manchester United Way

Developing Football Skill 

By Rene Maulensteen

What should be the coaches aims for the session to develop football skill?
  • Create football skill drills/games which revolve around technical challenges
  • Cover all learning methods during the session
  • The final aim of the session should be shaped and achieved by the technical challenges
  • Structure the drills as much as possible but remove the structured coaching
  • Avoid complexity
  • Each challenges should be built on as templete for the full game scenario
  • Perform the same skill on both feet
  • The aim is mastery of technique in a problem solving setting- the more techniques a player is able to do and the more intelligently they can be applied the more effective they will be during performance
  • Give the players time with the ball when ever possible
Deliberate practice within the context of the game 1
  • Deliberate practice should not be focused on just one movement but should make use of variable pracitce to maximise results
  • Football skill Drills/games should flow easily to keep high interest
  • Use game realistic circuits which involve all of the following 1-Moving off the ball revolving around switching positions 2-Movement of the ball with patterns based on non switching positions 3- Continous movement 4-Contact on the ball using a variety of parts of the foot/other body parts. Preferably ending with a shot at goal each should have a few basic progressions.
Deliberate practice within the context of the game 2
Build on the pattern play above to create problems within the specific context of the game during a small sided games using 2v2 and then 4v4 games.

2v2 Football Skill
  • Start from 2v2 toach the first player to the ball and the supporting player combined with the player on te ball and support player
  • Use vairations of end zones, goals and nuetral players or wing/target players
4v4 Football Skill
  • These should be built on the technique challenges of the previous 2v2
  • Use 4 main formats:
  • 4v4+GK 25x25 yard grid
  • 4v4 two goals game 30x25 yard grid
  • 4v4 four goals game 25x25 yard grid
  • 4v4 end line/zone games 25x20 yard grid
Main coaching points during this part of the session:
  1. Ball Control
  2. 1v1 skills
  3. Creative play
  4. Passing and movement at high speed
What advantages will this give?
The main advantage is to give the players the dual benifit of deliberate practice and guided discovery. By repeating variations of techniques within problem solving settings players begin to think more effectively during performance. Using the above two formats the players can do this in the context of the principles of play while still getting high touches.

Internalising the coaching points
It is not enough for coaching points to be practiced they need to be internalised mentaly.
Use the Speak, Show and Do method.

Tell the player as simply as posibble what you will do, show via drawing a diagram then perform the finished move, skill, pattern ect.Covering all learning styles and using three layers of reinforcement of the coaching points to focus plyer mentaly. Deliberate practice with out understanding and motivation can cause deteriation of skill level both on a physical and mental level.

The main coaching areas for development
  • Good positioning both attack and defending
  • 1v1
  • Fighting for second balls
  • Movement off the ball both attacking/ defending
  • The use of techniques and football skill to solve tactical problems
  • Understanding of tactics
  • Passing and possession
  • High speed of play
  • organisation of set plays
When creating problems for players to solve players should be asked how they would use techniques combined with right tactics to help them solve situations where the teams against them are capable of aspects of any of the above of their sub groups.

Six variables contributing to winning games
  1. Winning 1v1 situations
  2. High work rate
  3. Team cohesion
  4. Playing to set system of play or game plan
  5. Winning mentality
  6. Goals and saves
Six factors of effective performance
  1. Athletic skills
  2. High range of techniques mastered
  3. Game intelligence
  4. High speed of play under pressure
After considering the development of players for the game in order to get peak results the aim should be to take a players natural potential in as many of the above  10 areas as possible and enhance it as much as possible .....then keep them there for aslong as possible. Development should be judged by how much a player contributes with individual factors to the above team factors.

Insights from Carlo Ancelotti

The Carlo Ancelotti 4-3-2-1


The wings are never covered permanently during the attack, attacking is about unpredictability and movement off the ball so there will be alternating attacks from centre to wide positions. Width will be provided by different players at different times. Nothing is static here.

Most of the time the width will come from fullbacks who should be skilled in attack as well as his defensive tasks. If the fullbacks can't control the width then a midfield player will control it, if not then the forward will move. The trigger for switching is each players position at the moment of transition.

The main method of attack is fast break attacks from the point the ball regained, anything which slows down attacks is to be avoided. The main advantage present in this system is the 2 players between the lines of defence and attack.

Defending Movements

The key to the defence is a "collapsing" movement which is aimed at creating depth behind the ball.

Carlo Ancelotti asks for three phases of transition once the ball is lost:

1-Pressure the ball carrier while while re-organising behind the ball.
2-Pressure the area around the ball while failing back.
3-If the ball has not been regained fail back to own half before pressuring the ball again.

If the ball is lost high up the pitch in a wide the attacking midfield player will press the players with the ball. The second attacking midfield player will drop into midfield while the nearest midfield players will mark the opposing midfield players clost to the ball to prevent passing combination play.

If the ball is lost in midfield on the flank the midfield player will pressure while the attacking midfield player and fullback will cover passing options. Support players will adjust and balance the midfield closing the central areas of the pitch.

If the ball is in the area of the full back he will pressure 1v1 with other midfield and defending players providing support with either man marking or doubling up as needed.

For the phases of transition to work it vital that the ball carrier be pressured effectively. Ancelotti selected a collapsing defence in order to avoid counter attacks.

The midfield is balanced by the free attacking midfield midfield player dropping into any free space, while the striker supports to pressuring attacking midfield player.

Carlo Ancelotti asks his forward players to defend from the front based on how many defenders are in the opposing team back line, if 4 defenders are used the 1 striker will cover both centre backs making movements between the 2. If the opponent defends with 3 players the 2 attacking midfielders push up to make a 3v3 with 1 on each defender.

One weakness which must be worked on is defending against long switching of play which can leave a fullback isolated on one side with weak support.

The focus is placed on closing down the center of the pitch with closest midfield players to the ball man marked by midfield players where possible.


In training Carlo Ancelotti Focused on:
Positional tasks for defenders both individual and group.
Attacking from the point the ball is regained with general principles which the players should follow, no set patterns are used players are encouraged to experiment with attacking tactics but within the confines of the basic principles provided.
Effective movement off the ball is the main attacking focus.
Use of many small sided games based on creating numerical superiority in key areas, games for pressing and precise attacking combinations are also used.
Hope that helps in some way.

Apologies for the shortness of the post I vastly underestimated the amount of material I have on Carlo Ancelotti to post there is to much , but as promised I will post a session that provides an example of some of the key ideas of Carlo Ancelotti and how he refines the attacking movements of his forwards in either a 4-3-2-1 or 4-3-1-2.

Carlo Ancelotti Sample Session

Warm up-25 mins, half field coned off, warm up is dynamic alternating between sequence passing moves using cone play,dynamic stretching, varied speed runs and movement drills with a ball. The long warm up is aimed at preparing the players in mental areas not just physical. Injury prevention is also a key area in mind.

Training then takes place in a 30x30 yard grid in front of the penalty area, with one large goal plus GK. The training progresses from attacking 1v1 to shoot into midfield support and shooting. These are some of the basic moves which Ancelotti refines with his players in order to create shooting chances in key central areas. Movements, techniques and decision making are refined in constantly in drills of this nature. Pressure is a constant factor in Ancelotti methodology. The next part is to refine the movements of 2 forwards who Ancelotti says must be capable of winning a 2v2 with 2 centre backs. The session progresses onto 3v2 and finally ending with a small sided game in 40x30 yard grid. To warm down players engage in free play with no coaching in relaxed conditions.

Progression 1 (attacking 1v1 to shoot central areas)- 5 mins,the defender who is positioned in the top right corner of the square passes to the defender who is positioned in the middle of the bottom end line. The attacker must beat the defender to create a shot from inside the grid.The drill is high paced with attacker aiming to create accurate shots from the area just in front of goal.

Progression 2 (Recieve ,Turn and Shoot)-5 mins, the ball is thrown out to a player near the centre circle who passes into the attacker who must receive under pressure with his back to goal, turn  and aim to force a quick shot as in progression 1.

Progression 3 -5 mins,(Unmarking 1v1 to shoot) the ball is passed to a player positioned outside the centre circle, the attacker must move against the defender 1v1 and indicate whether the server should pass into space or into feet and then attempt to beat the defender to create a shot.

Progression 4 -5 mins (Midfield support, receive and shoot), the ball is passed out to a player positioned on the edge of the centre circle who then passes to the attacker who must pass back first time for the midfield player to play a through pass for the striker to receive and then attempt to beat the defender then shoot. The aim is to practice the basic movement of coming towards the ball to draw the defender in, passing first time back the passer and then making a run into the space behind the defender from a pass from the support player. This is a very simple move for creating space and can be very effective in front of goal.

Progression 5 -2v2-5 mins, the drill is in the same area of the previous 1v1 and begins the same way as progression 4 the difference in this progression is that an extra defender and attacker added and must use the movements learnt in the previous progressions to win 2v2. Speed is again essential here Carlo Ancelotti aims for effective shots and combinations from key central square just in front of the penalty area.

Progression 6 -3v2, the area is the same and the progression from 2v2 is that the aim is to involve the attacking midfield player, the major aim is to refine runs made to penetrate, the main move refined is the overlap. Here the 3 forwards combine all the previous moves with the off the ball movement of the attacking midfield player. The focus again is on attacking with a high speed of play and creating shooting chances in the key central area.

Progression 7 -6v6 with 2 Goal Keepers, 15 mins, the area is expanded to 40 yards wide and another large goal is added. The aim is to perfect attacking movements with the correct decision and speed of play, the challenge of the game is to play minimal touches when needed, 1 touch when needed and to know when to take an extra touch.Carlo  Ancelotti believes that anything that slows the game down should be avoided, to do this a player must know when to take no touches, when to take 1 touch and when to take 2 or more. The aim is to produce attacking moves which have a fluid momentum where no player takes more touches than are needed and can do this under pressure. To warm down the players then play free play free of coaching in a relaxed atmosphere.

The Goal Keeper is in the normal goal, the 30x30 yard box is just in front of the penalty area.
The session was to sharpen for a champions league game, nd it was the first of a week cycle, Carlo Ancelotti bases his training on that done by Saachi, the training loads, intensity, coaching methods etc are all similar. The drills would be revisited as it were at different times in the season. The principles in terms of speed of play are central to Carlo Ancelottis thinking.

This is one of many sessions from my own Milan training journals which date back to Saachi. Including tactics, coaching points, fitness training systems etc.