Split the defenders

This game will improve your players’ passing/receiving skills and their decision making. It is easy to set up and explain but demands a high work rate and good concentration from your players if they are to succeed.

Experience: intermediate upwards.

Set up: create an area 18 yards by 18 yards for every six players in your squad.

Divide your players into teams of two. You need three teams for each playing area.

How to play: two teams (four players) are spread round the outside of the square and attempt to pass a ball to each other across it. The third team works in the square and tries to intercept the passes.

If they can pass the ball between the defenders (splitting them) the successful team gets a point.

The first team to score three points wins.

If the defenders intercept a pass, they exchange places with the relevant team.

Coaching points:

  • Make sure all the outside players stay on their toes and move around the square looking for an opportunity to split the defenders.
  • Applaud quick decision making and a good pace of pass.
  • Encourage verbal and non-verbal communication.


Limit the number of touches per possession.

Play the same game, but expand the square by three to five yards on each side and have the players play inside the grid instead of outside the grid.