Door 16: Changing the rhythm

Warm-up: Double rondo „Away from pressure“

By Lukas Brandl


Two square fields in a distance of two metres ish between each other, four players per field. Two players on each side of the space between the fields, each pair of players dedicated to one of the squares.


In both fields, the ball should be circulated as fluently as possible. Triggered by a (visual) signal of the coach which is only obvious for one pair between the squares, this pair starts attacking the dedicated field. The four ball-circulating players in the field now have to try to pass the ball into the other field.

If they manage to do it, the two attacking players go out again and the other pair attacks the other field (which just received the second ball). The four players in there should already react when the 4vs2-situation in the other field is happening and pass their ball out of the field, in order to be able to continue playing with the ball which they are about to receive. As soon as the ball arrives, the task is to play it back into the other field again and so on.


The main goal of this two-times-4vs2 takes place in the moments of passing between the fields. This is being introduced by the unannounced attack of one of the pairs without ball. Hereby, the four ball-circulating players have to be very attentively, especially in a visual way, in order to notice the attack as soon as possible. When they notice the attack in time, they have to behave appropiately and pass the ball either directly (which saves time → minimizes the pressure) or via a third player to the other field, where the same happens.

Following this, the goal is: Maximizing the range of attention and perception in the first step and maximizing the reaction speed in the second step. In the third, superior step: Optimizing the player’s decisions and forcing a faster search for solutions because of the opponent-pressure. Furthermore, there is something like a switch-moment even within a period of possesion, quasi the change from a fluent circulation via a drastic toughening of the speed to a riskful combination play.


All eight players with ball are hopelessly overchallenged whilst the first rounds. The smaller the squares, the harder the task, I chose a size of roughly 8×8 metres. At the latest when the fourth try happened (and the players managed to do at most two passes between the fields in one round up to this point), the players are getting frustrated. This is when – in my opinion – the very first coaching measure should happen, because the players realize the necessity of support and begin to doubt the meaningfulness of the task.

But even before, they took coaching measures by themself (at least after my personal experience): Some of them instructed the others to be always attentive in order to see, when the two attacking players start and they also already entrenched commands in order to inform every player, when one of them notices an attack. This leads to a decreasing number of ball losses when the first attack happens, moreover, the players are more concentrated. Nevertheless, the ball almost always gets lost, when the player try to pass it to the other field: Either it doesn’t even arrive there, or it can’t be processed.

Therefore, the first extern coaching measure should concern the cooperation between both fields. Herefore, it came out to be very effective to reposition the two players who are standing in the bordering ends of each square: From a back-to-back position to a face-to-face position, but not with the back, but with the sides to each field. This leads to more harmonious transitions. More extern coaching measures are e.g. (depending on upcoming situations) an exemplary illustration of a transition via a third player. Of course, player’s positions and roles have to be changed after an appropriate amount of time.


Even after the entrenchment of the coaching measures, the players won’t manage to do at most five passes from one field to the other, and this is happening within a few seconds. The game switches between slow, but tense periods, and fast, chaotic-looking periods. To minimize intermissions, many balls have to be near the fields and the players have to be told to start circulating again as fast as possible, after a round ended. A very positive memory of this exercise is the mind development of the players: From a listless, frustrated attitude to a challenged and ambitioned one.

Main part 1: 6 versus 6 plus 1 „Keeping the ball versus finishing“

Von Orest Shala, coach of Union Berlin U16

Set-up and rules

  • Field size based on numbers used/available; for 6v6+1: twice the size of the penalty box
  • With halfway line, here: line oft he penalty box
  • Team in possession trires to achieve 12 passes (adjust number to level of players) together with the neutral player and the goalkeepers. After achieving this, they can finish on the big goal or on one oft he two mini goals on the other half oft he field (reference point: receiving final pass to complete required number of passes)
  • Defending team can attack the goals on the other half of the field immediately after winning the ball. Once a certrain amount of time has passed afterwards, e.g. 10 seconds, they need to keep the ball and achieve the required number of passes by themselves
  • For both teams: Scoring on big goal = 3 points, scoring on small goal = 1 point

Training objectives

  • Playing into depth from controlled ball circulation
  • Immediate counterpressing and/or covering the goals (“second wave”) after losing the ball
  • Defenders need to shift according to the ball and cannot man-mark effectively due to being outnumbered. It’s beneficial to guide the opponent towards the wing areas and isolate him there. At least one immediate passing option for playing away from pressure after winning the ball should always be provided
  • After winning the ball, there’s always a choice to be made between countering quickly or keeping the ball and becoming the team in possession


Main part 2: Three-colour game deluxe

By Janik Aschenbrenner


For this exercise, we need two big goals with goalkeepers positioned in both of them. Field dimensions can be varied based on your own needs, but the playing are needs to be split into two equal halves. Afterwards, the players are split into three teams (in the example: 3 times 5 players) and are set up like shown in the graphic.


The basic rules are the same like in the simple version of the three-colour game. Two teams play together against a third team that tries to win the ball. After a change in possession the team that lost the ball defends and the team that won the ball is in possession of the ball together with the third team.

To further emphasize the topic “Changing the rhythm”, we add some rules. For that, the game is split into three phases:

  • Phase 1: One of the teams (here: blue) starts in possession of the ball and tries to complete 10 passes in a 5 versus 2. After the 10th pass, they are allowed to switch the play to their team mates on the other half of the field. 3 additional defending players can intercept this pass.
  • Phase 2: The red team now again needs to complete 10 passes in a 5 versus 3 to unlock the goal on the other half of the field
  • Phase 3: The two teams in possession of the ball attack the unlocked goal together, while the defending team tries to prevent them from scoring. The offside rule is applied here. After finishing, the goalkeeper on the opposite half immediately re-starts the game. This time, the red team starts.

This training game can be used within a competition format. Each goal conceded counts as a “minus point” for the defending team.


  • Like mentioned above, the field dimensions and the number of passes required can be adjusted according to your own needs.
  • The defending team can immediately score on the closest goal after winning the ball, leading to “minus points” for both attacking teams.
  • Just after two mistakes (ball out, switch before completing enough passes) the team committing those needs to defend.

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