Coaching Effective Attacking and Defending Transition Phases in Soccer

Coaching Effective Attacking and Defending Transition Phases in Soccer

In soccer, the matches are won and lost during the attacking and defending (or positive and negative) transition phases of the game. All teams start to defend, closing down the player in possession and their team mates supporting near the ball, closing passing lines and restricting space, but how this part is done is a crucial component in starting a good defending phase.

Before we can look at the wider picture, we must start at the point that possession was lost.

Typically this will involve one player from either team and the ball. To coach an effective transition phase in soccer we must begin with a 1 v 1 situation and increase the numbers slowly with a 2v2 game. I believe that coaching the basic skills for effective attacking and defending transition phases in soccer is best taught in even numbers.

Put simply, this allows the game to be broken down into isolated 1v1s, 2v2s and even numbers up situations just like it would be on the field. This gives a more realistic game-like learning scenario.

The same idea can be used to coach the positive transition of play. Before any change in possession there will be a key individual moment or 1 v 1 scenario which leads to this change.

I believe, the roles of the players, whatever the age, do not need to be the focal point. In short; everyone loses possession and everyone can win the ball back.

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Session ideas for coaching effective attacking and defending transition phases in soccer:

Below is a two session progression with multiple 1 v 1 battles. The second diagram shows a 2 vs 2 duel. In the second session, possession switches from time to time.

soccer attacking transition phase defending transition phases 2

The first exercise is played in a 32 x 32 yard field divided into four areas and four mini goals at each corner.

Two teams of four are set up in the area. Each player has an individual opponent and they play 1 v 1 against their respective opponent.

The goal is to score in the mini-goals within a set time limit (5 or 6 seconds is ideal).

This is a fast paced game, and the coach must signal every 5 or 6 seconds, on this signal the player with the ball must move to a new area and play a new opponent.

On this occasion they will be the defender and must prevent the player in possession from scoring.

In the diagram the red number 3 and 4 pass the ball to their blue counterparts and move to the new area to defend.

In this activity the players must be ready to change roles very quickly, firstly trying to score against an opponent and then being alert and ready to lose possession and quickly recover a position in order to defend effectively.

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soccer attacking transition phase defending transition phases

The second soccer transition exercise is carried out in the same 32 x 32 yard space, however this time the game is played in a two versus two scenario.

Players still attack one half of the field for 5 or 6 seconds, once the coach gives the signal to switch possession, the player with the ball passes the ball to their opposite number, at this point the team now in possession of the ball must attack the goal on the opposite side, the defending team on the opposite side must be ready to face new opponents entering their half quickly.

The defenders must be ready to close down space and meet the attackers as far away from the goal that they are defending as possible to give them the opportunity to defend effectively and win the ball back. teammate to attack the other half of the field.

We hope you enjoyed this post on coaching effective attacking and defending transition phases in soccer.

What struggles are you having with your team? Share in the comments below…

Article By:

Luca Bertolini, “UEFA B” Licensed Coach.

Luca Bertolini Soccer CoachLuca  lives near Parma, Italy. He has attended the CONI-FIGC “coach of youth players” and in 2012 received his “UEFA B” license. He is passionate about coaching his teams’ and enjoys providing professional training sessions that are very thorough, visually appealing and easy to follow for coaches all over the world. He has been coaching for over 16 years and says he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

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Soccer Core Passing Pack