The 6 Second Transition Game

The following drill comes from the Soccer Awareness Training Center. Soccer Awareness Training Center provides unlimited access to Wayne Harrison's Soccer Awareness systems, training sessions, drills and more. Wayne's system helps develop world class youth soccer players and teams in a systematic and imaginative manner that guarantees performance at the highest level of competition. Whether you’re a beginning coach who needs help getting started or someone who wants to add some variety to their training sessions, the Soccer Awareness Training Center offers a wide variety of drills to choose from. Join Today


  • Age Group U12s to adults
  • Pitch sizes 30/40 x 20 – or at the discretion of the coach
  • Number of teams – 2
  • Team sizes – 4-6
  • Bibs optional
  • Goals – 5 a side or mini soccer goals
6 second transition game

Teams are at their most vulnerable in terms of losing the ball, in the first few seconds after gaining possession. It is this transition period that we are looking at, both in terms of winning the ball back quickly and then keeping it. The key is the first six seconds after losing the ball. This period is when the opposition has not yet switched from defensive to possession mode. The other key period is those six seconds after you have won the ball back and the need to maintain possession during that critical period when your team is changing shape and finding space (going wide and deep).

Progression: In this game when a team loses possession they have 6 seconds to win the ball back (the coach counts this out).

If they win it back in that time they are awarded a point (a goal). The idea is to double team and work frantically to get the ball back in the allotted time frame. If they fail to achieve this they must then go to the center and make sure they close all the gaps and limit the space for the opposition. If they do win the ball back within 6 seconds, if they are high up the pitch they must look for an immediate goal scoring opportunity. If they are in a more crowded midfield area they must look for an ‘outman’ who can get hold of the ball and maintain possession through the crucial 6 second period. This may well be a sideways pass or a backwards pass to a player in plenty of space. In the excellent book by Patrick Barclay, ‘Mourinho, Anatomy of a Winner’, Jose talks about doing a lot of work on ‘keep ball’. This was based on Mourinho’s theory of possession for possession’s sake. All teams need rest periods, and it is much better to do this when your team has possession. Other than the 6 second condition the rest of the game is a standard small sided game. Goals can also be scored in the normal way.

Download a printable pdf of this session and more defensive small-sided games in the Soccer Awareness Training Center.