A “Comfort Zone” Developing Width in Play in a 9 v 9

The following is part of Soccer Awareness eBook: Tactical Thoughts on the Development of the New 4 v 4, 7 v 7 and 9 v 9 Game Sizes

This eBook shows how these different size games can be taught and also shows different systems of play that might be useful to you.

The idea I am trying to cultivate is to find a pattern of development that goes from 4 v 4 to 7 v 7 all the way through 9 v 9 to 11 v 11 that educates the players VERY EARLY on how to ultimately play the 11 v 11, a common thread running right through the book. Click Here to Buy the Book


Theme: Developing Width in attack

A perfect Introduction to this idea so players are free to receive in wide areas. If a player breaks wide into the outside channel on either side of the field and is in possession of the ball this player cannot be tackled. Defenders are not allowed into the channel.

The players on the team in possession of the ball can run the ball into the channel or have it passed to them into the channel. Allow only 4 seconds in the free wide area.                                                                                                                                                     
This condition plants the seed in the mind of the players to immediately play with width when in possession. Numbers for this game can be 4 v 4 and upwards. Our offensive team shape to begin. Four players give us width in attack.

Develop: The wide areas can be used to practice certain moves the players have been taught, especially at the younger ages where they need to be able to practice them without pressure. This allows for them playing in a game but also doing the move without pressure. 

Coaching Points:

  1. Create space wide when in possession of the ball

  2. Building play from the back

  3. Using width to attack

  4. Developing Overlap runs

Development of the Theme

Build the theme up very simply to ensure immediate understanding and success.

  1. No opposition at first so 9 v 0.

  2. Small numbers (e.g. 9 v 3): Passive opposition (jockey the player only)

  3. Small numbers (e.g. 9 v 5): Passive opposition (Can only Intercept the passes not tackle

  4. 9 v 9 but again passive opposition

  5. 9 v 9 full game with wide FREE ZONES for the team you are training.

  6. When you feel the players are ready have a full blown 9 v 9 game and have it for both teams at the same time going both ways.

  7. Ensure all players on your roster are involved in the attacking team theme development initially so everyone benefits and understands what you are teaching and why you are teaching it.

To Encourage players to use width and play without pressure

developing width in play in a 9 v 9

This is the basic set up of the attacking shape of a 9 v 9 in the 3-3-1-1 formation. Emphasis is on the theme of exploiting the wide areas of the field by setting the free zone “Condition.”

A Small number of defenders added

9 v 9 small sided game

Bring a small number of defenders in as passive opposition who can only Intercept not tackle. So we have here a 9 v 5 set up.

Get the rest of this session and more in the Soccer Awareness eBook: Tactical Thoughts on the Development of the New 4 v 4, 7 v 7 and 9 v 9 Game