The Xavi game

This game is named after Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez who is, perhaps, one of the most skilful players in the game today. It is designed to encourage a Barca style, quick passing style of play plus the freedom to dribble and run at defenders when in the final third.

Age group: U8s to U14s.

Set-up: Create a 30×20 yards playing area divided into horizontal thirds.

Divide your players into two teams of five or six.

How to play: Players in their defensive or middle third of the pitch are restricted to three touches of the ball before they must pass.

  • In the final third (the third of the pitch nearest their opponent’s goal), they can take unlimited touches.
  • When the ball goes out of play, the game is restarted with a kick-in that must be taken in four seconds or less.
  • Goalkeepers must roll the ball out, again within four seconds.
  • Play first to X number of goals or play for a set time.

Coaching note: younger children can practise their ball control skills in a less structured 4v4 where the coach awards extra ‘goals’ for good examples of getting into line with a pass or a nice, soft first touch.

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