All Ages

Sneak, steal, score

    Lee Brown, FA regional coach development officer, provides a practice idea that focuses on intercepting.

    Key objectives

    Players will develop their understanding of:

    • how to scan
    • the importance of intercepting
    • how to use their positioning, deception and timing skills to help them pass and intercept successfully.

    Sneak, steal, 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 in size for the age and ability of your players – but make it narrow. Split it into thirds and put a goal at each end.

    You will need multiple footballs for this activity, three being in play, with spares placed around the edge of the pitch.

    In our example, this is a 6v6 game. So, if you have a large group, set up as many areas as needed.

    How to play

    This is set up as a normal game. Two sides, with goalkeepers, looking to score goals.

    But the difference with this small-sided game is that each side has one player with a ball situated in the middle third of the pitch. They are ‘restart players’ and can move anywhere in that middle area.

    The restart players have their own footballs, while the rest of the players use one. So, there are three footballs on the pitch at any one time.

    When the main football goes off the pitch, the restart players spring into action. They immediately look to set up a teammate from the middle third of the pitch with their own football.

    So, if the blue team kicked the ball out, the red team’s restart player will quickly try to pass to a teammate, as it would’ve been their throw-in.

    Once that player has attempted to set up a goal, they must collect a football from the side of the pitch and prepare for the next time the ball goes out of play.

    If a player scores after being set up by their restart player, that goal counts as three points.

    This has the potential to be a fast-paced game. It will test your player’s scanning, positioning and intercepting skills as they’ll need to be aware of what’s around them, and in the best position, to stop the opposition from taking advantage of a restart.


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

    But, after a while, if you feel your players have cracked it – or that they’re struggling – you could progress the game to alter the difficulty of the challenge.

    Whenever you decide to progress the activity, think about using the STEP framework. And however you adapt the session, make sure you keep it fun, highly engaging and appropriate for your players.

    If you’re looking for ideas, you could:

    • award six points for a goal that’s scored after intercepting a pass from a restart player (three for the interception and three for the goal)
    • swap the restart player after every restart
    • allow the restart players to help their team defend, but they must dribble their own football while doing so
    • consider restricting the restart player to passes along the ground or allowing them to be unopposed if an increase in intercepting is required.


    After you have looked at the session above, 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 with your team, let us know how you get on by posting in The FA Community forums.

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