Supporting the player on the ball

Exercise description:

Area: 24x24 Four 12 x 12-yard boxes with a 2x2 zone in the middle as shown. 12 players in 4 teams of three. The coach has all the balls. The 3 oranges are positioned in one 12x12 area while the blues are defenders in the 2x2. The rest of the players are spread out in the other three zones.
1. The coach passes the ball to the orange team. One blue player enters that playing area.
2. The orange team keeps possession for 3 or more passes and then passes the ball to any player in another area. The pass is made to a yellow player. All yellows move in to support their teammate.
3. The other nonyellow players in that area (red) and the rest of the red and orange, move and occupy other zones.
4. The next blue defender cannot move in to defend until the ball is touched by the receiving player. If a blue wins the ball, can they dribble outside the playing area?

Coaching points: Body shape. 1-2 touch mentality. Quality of pass. Understand where to place the pass. Quick movement into space to support. Triangulate. Communication. Decision-making, think ahead.

Intended outcome:

  • To use an engaging fun activity that makes the player support the person with the ball.

  • Quick reactions will be needed by the supporting players.

  • Players need to anticipate where the ball is being played and start moving to support the receiving player before the ball is passed.

  • Instill work ethic and communication, angles of support, and a 1-2 touch playing mentality.


Can play with 16 or 20 players. You would then allow two defenders to win the ball back.

Technical / Tactical:

  • Angles of support - Triangulate

  • Scan the playing area, not just your playing area.

  • 1-2 touch mentality

  • Anticipate - See the future

  • Communication


  • Be ready to interact with teammates.

  • Communicate.

  • Applaud good play and work ethic from teammates.

  • Offer help if you understand the exercise

  • Have fun!


  • Be willing to compete

  • Always work at game speed

  • Be ready to explode into the playing area

  • Defenders, make the tackle and dribble out of the area

  • Move to find space


  • Be ready to focus

  • Embrace failure.

  • Remember the instructions of the exercise. 

  • Decision-making can only happen if we are open to finding answers.

  • See the future - Anticipate

Possible Performance Problems:

Players do not anticipate where the ball is being played or their reactions are slow. This does not give them time to support the player on the ball because the defender has already got to the defender.

The pass into the next area is made to the player closest to the defenders. Can the pass be made to the player furthest away?