The ability to quickly transition from offense to defense is critical for soccer teams to succeed. Watch Barcelona play. The moment one of their forward players loses the ball, the whole teams gets back into shape and attacks the offense. The forwards and midfielders exercise a very high work rate to quickly try to get the ball back.
Even players as young as U9 can begin to learn the importance of transition. For kids this age, simple instructions like “try to win the ball back right away when you lose it” begin to get the idea in their heads.
As the players progress in age and skill, you can implement more complex transition activities to continue developing this skill. Today I’m going to share with you one of the transition activities that we have had good success with at our club.
Begin by setting up three 40×20 grids on top of each other. The total playing area will be 40×60.
The two outside grids have 4 players in them. The middle grid has 4 as well.
The players on the outside grids are keeping possession between them (8 players).
The four in the middle grid are trying to win the ball. They send 2 players into the grid where the ball is being played. The other two stay in the middle grid to pick off passes.
If a pass is picked off, the defending team in the middle is now playing 4v4 in two of the three grids. Their objective is the cross the line of the team on the outside grid. They defending team in transition can only attack the line of the team that gave the ball away.
For example, if blue gives the ball away, the red team plays 4v4 in the middle grid and the blue team’s grid. Red is trying to dribble across the blue team’s back line to score.
Switch the players in the middle grid every 5 minutes.
You want to encourage the possession team to win the ball back as soon as they lose it. You also want to encourage the defending group to capitalize on the mistakes of the possessing team as quickly as possible. The speed of play must be very fast. You can experiment with limiting the outside grid players to two touches if your team’s skill level permits.
You can move from this game into the same game with full-size goals and keepers on each end. You can also transition to multiple small goals if keepers are not available.