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A minute to win it

    Robbie Pringle, FA women’s national coach developer, shares a fast-tempo session that encourages teamwork and offers players ownership over how they play.

    Key objectives

    Players will develop their understanding of:

    • how to organise their team effectively using their individual strengths
    • how to come up with effective strategies and tactics to gain an advantage over the opposition
    • how to communicate effectively as a team.

    A minute to win it

    A session graphic showing two pitches next to each other, each one with goals at both ends and on both sides. Plenty of footballs are placed all the way around both pitches. There are two teams of eight. Each side is made up of five defenders and three attackers. Team one's defenders stay on the first pitch (three defenders in one half and two in the other), while team two's defenders do the same on the second pitch. Team one's attackers go on the second pitch to play against team two's defenders, with team two's attackers playing against team one's defenders on the first pitch. The aim is to score past the defenders in one half, then grab a football from the side, before trying to score against the defenders in the other half. If defenders win possession, they can score into the goals at the side of their pitch.

    Session plan

    Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan and give it a go.

    Organisation

    Set up two pitches parallel with each other with space in between. In our example, they’re 36 yards long and 25 yards wide – but you can change the dimensions to make them appropriate for your players’ age and developmental stage. The two pitches don’t have to be the same size. Different pitch sizes will challenge your players in different ways based on the available space.

    On each pitch, put a goal at one end and a mini-goal at the other. Then place two more mini-goals down, one on each side of both pitches. Finally, add a halfway line and put plenty of footballs around the areas you’ve created.

    For this practice, we have 16 players split into two teams of eight. Both sides are divided into one goalkeeper, four defenders and three attackers. As the graphics show, on each pitch, the keepers go in the full-sized goals and are joined by two defenders, while the other defenders protect the mini-goals in the other half. The three attackers from each team then go on the opposite pitch to play against their opponents.

    You can adjust these numbers to suit your group.

    How to play

    The aim of the game is simple. Work together as a team to score as many goals as possible and stop the opposition from doing so.

    To start this activity, give players ownership over creating fair teams and deciding their keeper, defenders and attackers.

    Players then take up the positions shown in the graphic. So, team one’s attackers play against team two’s defenders and vice versa.

    The attackers on both pitches attack one goal against one set of defenders and play to a finish. This can be either scoring a goal, the ball going off the pitch or the defending team winning possession and scoring into one of the side goals.

    After attacking one goal, they get a ball from the side of the pitch and attack the goal in the other half. Again, they play to a finish.

    For every goal, award a point. The same applies to the defenders if they score into one of the side goals.

    After one minute (or longer if you collectively agree on a different time limit), add together the attackers’ and defenders’ scores from each team to see who wins. The winners get a ‘game point’. Continue to play this activity for a set number of rounds. The overall winner will be the team with the most game points at the end.

    Progression

    If your players master your activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. To encourage more ownership, you could:

    • give both teams a chance to select one of the opposition players to join their team
    • allow both teams to add an adaptation of their choosing to the game.

    But remember, learning takes time. So don’t alter the activity too quickly – or too much. Try using the STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002). This helps keep things fun, engaging and appropriate.

    Plan to use this with your team? Let us know how you get on by posting in the England Football Community forums.


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