Switching Play – Session Plan and Key Coaching Points

The popularity of switching play as a tactical concept has long been a dominating strategy in the world of football. Its popularity is exemplified by the many different forms and names it has taken on over the years such as changing the point of attack or playing across the direct game channels. Even at the younger ages, switching play can be an essential tactic to deploy with any team. Concepts like maintaining width, crossing, and shifting the ball from left to right are universal to the sport, regardless of age. Here is a session plan all about one of the most essential session topics in youth soccer/football – Switching Play.

WARM-UP

Switch Play & Transition

Execution:
– 4v4, but team in possession will always have a 4v3 advantage.
– White keeps possession in their area, maintaining width and a diamond shape. Black presses fast and intense to win the ball back and play it over to their teammate on the other side. As soon as they do, all Black team players transition over to keep possession in their zone as three White team players transition to defend. One White team player stays so that if White wins the ball, they can play it back over.

Coaching Points:
– Quick transitions from attack to defense
– Maintain width and diamond shape to combine
– Look to exploit the weak side in the opposition, either organically or by creating a strong side.

SWITCHING PLAY WITH FULLBACKS

Switching Play with Fullbacks

Execution: Focus on the White team. White team attacks two small goals at the outer edge of the field. They practice Playing out from the Back in their shape with a slight numerical advantage over Black team. Black team plays a very narrow shape, attempting to press and win the ball back & scoring on the large goal. All restarts begin with the White Centre-Back.

In this example White has a 3-2-1 (RB, CB, LB, CM x2, ST). Black has a 2-2-1 (CB, CB, CM, CM, ST). The central midfielders will likely get drawn to the White fullbacks, allowing White CM’s and CB to be free to switch play from one side to the other more seamlessly.

Coaching Points:
– Fullbacks maintain width to switch play
– Avoid two players in the same passing lane so that we can switch play more quickly
– Creation of a strong side to draw players over, before switching play and exploiting the weak side.
– Activate speed after a switch of play.
– Use of the CB as a playmaker to switch play.
– When the ball is with one fullback, the other one can go higher to try and exploit space high and wide.

SWITCHING PLAY WITH NEUTRALS

Switching Play with Neutrals

Setup: 5v5 in a central grid, playing with a narrow shape. Fullbacks act as neutrals on the outside of the field, up and down a line. Neutrals cannot have the ball stolen from them in their zone, but can and should be pressured by the defending team.

Conditions: Normal goal = 1 point. Goal or assist from a fullback = 2 point. Connecting with both fullbacks in the same move = 3 points.

Coaching Points:
– When the ball is with one fullback, the other one can go higher to try and exploit space high and wide
– Avoid two players in the same passing lane so that we can switch play more quickly
– Creation of a strong side to draw players over, before switching play and exploiting the weak side.
– Activate speed after a switch of play so that the other team cannot recover
– Use of the CBs as playmakers to switch play and build out from the back.

SWITCHING PLAY IN THE FINAL THIRD

Switching Play in the Final Third

Setup/Execution: Set-up a ‘no-go’ zone at the top of the eighteen yard box. The White team is not allowed to penetrate through this zone, instead needing to penetrate in wide areas and look to switch play.
– Anyone can be in the ‘no-go’ zone at any time and all players can go anywhere on the field, but the ball cannot progress forward inside this zone.
– White team scores on the large goal, Black team scores by dribbling into the orange square or on one of the two small goals on the outer edge of the field.
– Ball always restarts with lowest White team player.

Coaching Points: (focus on White team)
– One fullback has the ball lower, the opposite side fullback can go higher. Can we look to switch play from one fullback to the other in one/two passes?
– Maintain width and penetrate in wide areas.
– Wingers become inverted as fullbacks go wide.
– Wingers go wide as fullbacks become inverted.

REGULAR GAME

Switching Play Regular Game

Execution: Set-up in a shape with wide players or wing-backs such as a 1-3-1 for 6v6.
– Emphasize importance of wide players
maintaining their width and central players as a mechanism for switching play.
– Reinforce key factors, but minimal stoppages of play and minimal interventions. Now is the time to test the players’ learning.
– Optional condition: Goal assisted or scored by a wide player counts for two.

Shapes
5v5: 1-2-1
6v6: 1-3-1, 3-1-1
7v7: 2-3-1, 3-1-2


So there it is! A session plan all about the ever-popular concept of Switching Play. Be sure to check out more of our session plans and share your thoughts on the best activities for switching play. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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