The Three Zone Directional Game

This game is based on possessing the ball and the movement off it.

We have several progressions we can use to challenge the players these include:

  1. A simple Warm up to get the idea going
  2. Playing through the thirds with targets
  3. Playing through the thirds without targets
  4. Players must stay in their own thirds so we have 3 combination games going at once (e.g. 3 v 3, 2 v 2 and 3 v 3 per zone or whatever numbers of players you have).
  5. We can add free playerstherefore creating overload situations to make it easier for success competitively and to build confidence initially.
  6. No free players to increase the pressure and the challenge.
  7. Players can rotate between zones now. This is more game related in what we want to teach with players have freedom to interchange as long as they are covered by a team mate.
  8. Add a condition to help improve / focus on body position and footwork: If a player faces backwards when receiving the ball they MUST pass that ball backwards and with only one touch allowed.
  9. Man for man marking; 1 v 1s all over the field and in all three zones. Players in possession can rotate and move around their immediate marker has to follow them.
  10. Touch restriction: Unlimited, then 3 then 2 then 1 touch if on to do so.
  11. All through remind players that they MUST scan the field, must check their shoulders for options; to the side or behind them and not just see in front of them.
  12. Use the yes and no check system to highlight for each player if they looked AWAY from the ball before receiving it.
  13. Can play a longer pass from one end zone to another and missing out the middle third if that’s the best option.
  14. Remember Xavi: In 90 Minutes looked AWAY from the ball 841 times. Amazing.
  15. Joke about only needing half a touch to emphasize the importance of this mental skill.
  16. Add goals at each end include keepers (who should have been in the game anyway for their footwork skills) and make it a game situation whatever the numbers are.

3 Zone Game: Playing Through the Thirds with Targets

4 ball warm up. Three zones, 3 v 3, 2 v 2 and 3 v 3.Players are passing and maintaining possession. Condition it to 1 or 2 touches on the ball to challenge the players. Players stay in their own zones initially. Play to the targets.

3 Zone Game: Playing Through the Thirds Without Targets

4 ball warm up. Three zones, 3 v 3, 2 v 2 and 3 v 3.Players are passing and maintaining possession. Condition it to 1 or 2 touches on the ball to challenge the players. Players stay in their own zones initially.

3 Zone Game: Playing Through the Thirds

Each end zone can be a defensive third or attacking third zone depending on where the ball is. Here for example (G) passes out of the defensive third to the middle third to (C) to the attacking third to (B). Now going the other way the end zones are reversed.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive

Now we have three zones each with their own combination play battles. 3 v 3, 2 v 2 and 3 v 3 but add two or three free players to help the game flow initially.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive with Targets

Now we have three zones each with their own combination play battles. 3 v 3, 2 v 2 and 3 v 3 but add two or three free players to help the game flow initially. Blues play to the blue target and reds to the red target, each team can use the other target as support. You can keep possession and work the ball back through the middle to the defending third after you reach your own target as the game is about maintaining possession and movement off the ball. You can rotate the targets the passer becoming the new target.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive: Stay in Own Zones

Only the free players can move between zones so they create overload situations in each zone, could be a 4 v 3 or a 5 v 3 for example.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive: Create Overloads

Only the free players can move between zones so they create overload situations in each zone, could be a 4 v 3 or a 5 v 3 for example. Here we have a 4v3, 3v2 and a 4v3.

Only the free players can move between zones here two move to the middle to create a 4 v 2 overload. Looking to move the ball from one end to the other so its a directional game similar to the actual game itself. Whoever is in possession must work to find the best open spaces in advance of the ball.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive: Rotation Between Zones

Now all players can move between the 3 zones but we want to maintain the balance in each. So one player moves from the defending third to the middle third a middle third player must move to the defending third. So within our set framework players can interchange positions and also cover for each other and again emulating the actual game situation we want to teach with players having the freedom to change positions and move around the field. Defenders can track them or not.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive: Rotation Between Zones and Man for Man Marking

Now we match up players to play 1 v 1 against each other within the game situation. Now all players can move between the 3 zones. The team in possession dictates the movements off the ball, the team without possession have to track their immediate opponents. If they are heavily marked the free players become a greater source of support.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive: Conditioning to Encourage Correct Footwork and Body Position

Now if a player receives the ball facing fully backwards they can only play 1 touch and it has to be a pass backwards also. (1) is marked by (C) and has their back to the way we want to go so must pass back, here to (3).



3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive: Conditioning to Encourage Correct Footwork and Body Position

Due to the condition players should begin to think about preparing their bodies to receive and be able to play and SEE forward. And therefore increase their immediate options. (1) here opens up their body position, is light on their feet; and is facing either sideways or forwards but is now in a position to pass forward and not use their body position and feet preparationto narrow down their options.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive with Equal Numbers for a more Pressurized Game

Now no free players so the game is much more competitive. Only move to this when you know you can have success. Here we show the players in possession, the blue team moving OFF the ball into new spaces to get free to receive. Players in the other grids are already on the move but must time it right and not do it too early or too late.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive Playing from the Defensive Third Directly to the Attacking Third

There is nothing wrong with a good quality long ball if that's the best option at that particular moment. (8) can play it into open space with the right weight and accuracy to move (1) to meet it.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive with Equal Numbers for a More Pressurized Game: What not to do

This will happen so check it if it does and address the problem. Players stand still and wait at the edge of their zone for the ball to come. They have no space to work in and are easily marked by the defenders. This isn’t game realistic at all but it will occur due to the set up and them waiting for the ball to transfer from the defending to middle thirds.

3 Zone Game: Making it Competitive with Equal Numbers for a More Pressurized Game: Restrict the Number of Touches on the Ball

Can be with man marking or without. Now we arrive at the moment we want to happen on the field where awareness training kicks in, players scan the field for options IN ADVANCE of the ball. Everything we have practiced up to this point should include a constant reminder of LOOKING AWAY from the ball. So go free and unlimited touches first, and build to 3 to 2 to 1 touch if its on to do so. At 1 touch add free players to help it work if needed.

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