The players must carry out simple technical exercises (dribbling and changes of direction + oriented ball control) at the beginning of each sequence, without a real cognitive load. They must be ready immediately to win 1 v 1 duels, which of course, require greater awareness (ball mastery + recovery of the space to cover the goal space).

The second part of the exercise increases the difficulty since the players who were involved in the attacking phase must suddenly face a negative transition phase, reducing the available space to the attacking opponents’ couple. The players in possession must overcome the defenders’ line, through wide or deep combinations, to finish in the regular goal (goalkeeper Num. 1).

Transitions and roles are inverted again when defenders win the ball (finishing phase in the opposite goal – goalkeeper Num.12) and when in case of loss of possession (counter-pressing and marking/space coverage + counterattack, if they win the ball back again).

Variation and progression leading to the 3 v 3 duel are, in my opinion, useful for the last of the age group of those I indicated for this exercise, due to the high cognitive load required; above all for the players who started the sequence, carrying out the technical part and the first 1 v 1 duel.

The players with the ball at the bottom (No.2 and No.3) dribbles through the cones and turn to pass through the gates, and they pass it to the opponents (No.5 and No.6); No.5 plays 1 v 1 against No.2 and No.6 against No.3 to score in the mini goals and to save them, recovering the space.

At the end of the first sequence, the Gk No.1 passes a second ball to the last 2 players at the bottom (blue No.4 and No.5) to play a 2 v 2 duel against the yellow players, who were attacking before and who must save the goal space now, transition to defend phase.

If the blues score, the exercise ends, and the sequence starts again from the beginning; if the yellow players win the possession, they must counter-attack toward No.12’s regular goal, as a transition to attack. Blue players become defenders, they must recover the space and delay the counter-attack, as transition to defend.

Progression: the players can be asked to counter-attack or to win the ball back during transitions to defend phases within a limit of time. For instance:

  • finish the counter-attack phase within 8″
  • recover the possession within 6″ (counter-pressing)

U12 – U16

8 (2 goalkeepers)


Dribbling and passing

PLAYER TACTIC: First touch to finish (attacking) / Recover the space (defending)

TEAM TACTICS: 2 v 2 and 3 v 3 transitions to attack and to defend

SECONDARY OBJECTIVES: Finish quickly and manage the duels with equality of players

EQUIPMENT: cones, balls, 2 regular goals, 2 mini goals

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