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Break out and score

    FA tutor, Emma Dennis, delivers an overloaded breakout game to help players develop their ability to stay on the ball and combine with their teammates.

    Key objectives

    Players will develop their understanding of:

    • finding and using space
    • shielding when staying on the ball
    • combining with teammates to keep possession
    • pressing to win the ball back to start a counter-attack.

    Break out and score


    Session plan

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


    Set up an area that’s appropriate for the age and ability of your players, and then split the pitch into thirds. Place a goal at each end.

    Separate the players into two teams. In this instance, the red team have five players while the blue team have three.

    Place a goalkeeper at each end to provide an extra challenge for the player, from either side, that breaks into the final third.

    How to play

    Both sides play in the middle third of the pitch before breaking out towards either goal to score.

    This game presents a few problems for the players to solve. These include working out how to keep possession by using the available space and recognising when staying on the ball for longer might be needed because passing options are reduced.

    As the side with the most players have an advantage, you can challenge them to make a set number of passes before they break out and score. Even though this doesn’t reflect the ‘real’ game, it’s a good way to get players to consider using the space available and to keep possession by working together.

    Set the team with fewer players a different problem to figure out by challenging them to work together to press and win the ball back as soon as possible. Their reward for doing this is that they can immediately counter-attack and head towards either goal.

    You may have to remind the players of the rule that when someone breaks into the final third, the opposition can’t follow them into the area. This will give players a one-on-one with the keeper, bringing them into the game. It also provides another problem to solve – how am I going to score?

    It could also get crowded quickly with everyone in one area of the pitch, so you may need to encourage them to find space. This will improve the quality of the practice and help players to recognise how they can provide a better passing option for their teammates.


    It’s important to think carefully about progressions. Learning doesn’t happen straight away, as players will be figuring everything out at first. Changing the game constantly can mean players miss the opportunity to learn. So, give them a chance to have a go and solve the problems they’re facing in this activity.

    If you notice that one or two players understand the game and are forging ahead, you could set them individual challenges. If everyone understands it, that might be the best time to add a progression.

    Whenever you decide to do that, think about using the STEP framework. However you adapt the session, make sure you keep it fun, highly engaging and appropriate for your players.


    Now you’ve watched this session, ask yourself the following questions:

    • How would you adapt or tweak the practice to make it appropriate to your own players?
    • What additional challenges could you set to make the practice easier or harder for individuals or your group?

    If you use this session with your team, let us know how you get on by posting in The FA Community forums.

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