Playing Forwards vs. Backwards – Session Plan & Coaching Points

Many young and inexperienced players have the bad habit of kicking the ball away without looking. Sometimes it comes off, but most of the time these players are only playing into the hands of their opposition, as the opposition recovers the ball without having to do any defending. Players of any age need to learn how to keep possession of the ball, particularly under pressure, and how to turn that possession into goal scoring opportunities. Simultaneously, players need to learn when to play the ball forwards and when to play the ball backwards. Here is a session plan all about playing forwards vs. backwards.

warm-up: switching play with targets

Set-Up/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: 4+4 v 4

Setup/Execution: Green and White have three players in their defending zone + one in middle zone. These players are locked into their zones. Defending team (black) is not locked into their zone but must start there until the first pass is made from the goalkeeper. Black team presses from the front to win the ball back and try to score on either goalkeeper. White and green work together, playing out from the back, to pass the ball from one goalkeeper to the other. Rotate which team is the defending team. All restarts with GK.

Coaching Points:   
– After receiving from the goalkeeper, defenders should look to go forwards but not force it if the right pass isn’t on. Instead go backwards using the goalkeeper to switch play. Do not make a pass across the middle in your own half, as it can be easily intercepted close to goal.
– Movement of the central midfielders (middle zone players) to create space.
– Receiving on the half-turn to play both directions.
– When to play forwards vs. backwards based on first touch. Communication between players to tell each other where to take the first touch (square on, half-turn, back-foot, front-foot).
– Play forwards when: you have space, no pressure, available options.
– Play backwards when: No space, pressure applied, receiving square-on, no options.

activity: combinations in the final third

Setup/Execution: Players set up in their positions, with green having
advantage over white (e.g. 7v5, 7v6). Players are locked into their zone on one side of the orange cones. Ball always restarts with the centre-back retrieving a ball and playing out to a teammate. Green tries to score on the big net, white tries to score on two smaller goals. Focus is on playing into the final third at the right moment, rather than forcing it there on the wrong moments.

Coaching Points:   
– Scan field to understand option of forwards vs. backwards. Scan for space, teammates, opposition, body language/body shape.
– Play forwards when: you have space, no pressure, available options.
– Play backwards when: No space, pressure applied, receiving square-on, no options. – Receive on the half-turn when possible to play in both directions.
– Players dropping in, dropping deep, movement in behind (i.e. movement does not always have to be forwards). Particularly the striker and wings on the other side of the orange cone, constantly moving and dropping deep to create space and receive the ball.
– Communicate how to receive (e.g. “space/time”, “on your back!”, etc.).
– After going forwards into the final third, look to attack quickly and take advantage of the overload if you can.

game

Setup/Execution: Game with equal numbers based on your attendance. Alternatively, add two neutrals in the middle so that team in possession always has two extra players to combine with and more options to play forwards vs. backwards.

Coaching Points:
Let the players play. Minimal coaching and stoppages.
Quick key phrases to encourage when to play forwards vs. backwards (e.g. “where’s the space? Scan the field.”).


So there it is! A session plan all about playing forwards at the right moments and when to play forwards vs. backwards. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter @mastermindsite and check out more of our Session Plans on The Mastermind Site.

You might also enjoy…
-> Playing Forwards vs. Backwards (2019 Session Plan)
-> Playing Out From The Back – Session Plan & Coaching Points
-> Switching Play – Session Plan & Coaching Points
-> Progressive Possession – Full Session Plan & Key Coaching Points

You might also enjoy…
-> Progressive Possession (9v9)
-> Coaching 9v9 Soccer – Ebook


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