Switching Play – Full Session Plan & 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 an updated session plan all about one of the most essential session topics in youth soccer/football – Switching Play.

warm-up: switching play with targets

Execution: 3v3/4v4 in one central grid. 2 players on the outside of the grid for each respective team who can move up and down the line but not inside the grid. In order to get a point, teams must combine with both of their outside (target) players from one side to the other without having the ball stolen.

Coaching Points:
– Receiving on the half-turn to play both forwards and backwards.
– Movement up and down the line of the outside players.
– Switching play from one side to the other as soon as it’s available, but not forcing it from one side to the other. Can go backwards too.
– When attacking, don’t block the passing lane for the switch of play.

activity: switching play with corner goals

Setup: 5v5 game with four corner goals in an area with more width than depth to allow for switching play. Can work well with any numbers, size of the area just needs to match. Ball always starts with goalkeeper/neutral who passes to their team. Goalkeepers can move across the line to cover both pugg nets. If no goalkeeper or you don’t want outside neutrals, you can have the coaches play the balls into the field instead. Focus for all players is on switching play from one side to the other. If players are just chasing the ball around too much, create a halfway line and lock players in 2v2. Teams score on opposite end, not all four goals.

Progress to Rewards: Normal goal = 1 point. Goal after a switch of play before the halfway dot = 2 points.

Coaching Points:
– Don’t chase the ball around. Have players on both sides to switch play.
– Avoid two players in the same passing lane so that we can switch play more quickly
– If majority of their players are on one side, switch to the other. 
– Activate speed after a switch of play.

activity: switching play with neutrals

Setup: Game with your numbers, playing with a narrow shape and two outside neutrals. Fullbacks/wide players 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. Progress to rewards.

Optional Rewards: Neutral assists a goal = 2 points. Connecting with both neutrals in same move and then scoring = 3 points.

Coaching Points:
– Neutrals are already wide so avoid having another player in that same passing lane, blocking them.
– If majority of their players are on one side, switch to the other. 
– Use of central players like goalkeepers/central midfielders to switch.


Execution: Set-up in a shape with wide players or wing-backs such as a 1-3-1 for 6v6.
– Optional reward: Goal assisted or scored by a wide player counts for two. 
– 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.
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 Switching Play for young players. Be sure to check out more of our session plans and share your thoughts on the best activities for switching play @mastermindsite on Twitter. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

More on Switching Play…
-> Switching Play – Session Plan and Key Coaching Points
-> Switching Play – The Basics
-> Switching Play (9v9)
-> Jose Mourinho – Tottenham Hotspur – Tactical Analysis

More Session Plans…
-> Playing Out From The Back – Session Plan & Coaching Points (2020 Edition)
-> Pressing From The Front – Session Plan & Key Coaching Points
-> Quick Transitions – Full Session Plan & Key Coaching Points


6 thoughts on “Switching Play – Full Session Plan & Coaching Points

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