Making Space for the "Go To" Player

The following training session is from Ritchie Semple. Ritche is the Director of Football for LGC Events and has been coaching soccer for 18 years with 13 years experience at delivering soccer education programs.

LGC Events organizes 'Total Football Experience' tours to the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar in Murcia, Spain. LGC Football and the Pinatar Arena welcome teams of all ages and abilities to experience professional standard facilities, the warm weather and a superb choice of accommodations to suit all. Find out more at www.totalfootballexperience.com.

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Every center midfield partnership should have a ball winner and a “Go To” man. The ball winner is self explanatory, his job is simple, close down the opposition, win the ball and give it to the “Go To” player, the creator, the distributor, the potential match winner. Some teams may have more than one, some teams don’t have any.

It happens in all games at all levels, the ball is passed around the midfield then back to a defender who is put under pressure so all he can do is ‘lump’ it through middle, in most cases losing possession. In top level football there seems to be to much ‘pretty’ football and playing. Every player on the pitch has a job to do but some players are ‘percentage’ players, I call them “STAT” players. These players hardly ever play forward or try and hit a big diagonal or split the defense, they pass side wards, backwards and to players in open space, just so the stats will show another complete pass.

My theory is simple; get the ball to the ‘Go To’ man as quickly as possible. Where ever on the pitch possession is won back players should be aware of the ‘Go To’ Man’s position and alter their position accordingly to create space for the ‘Go To’ man to gain possession.

I have designed the following session to coach the team to utilize the ‘Go To’ man to create goal scoring opportunities.

Activity #1 : Warm Up

Set Up:

As shown on the diagram below, players set up 3 v 1 in a 15 x 15 box. Short, crisp passing, players on their toes calling for the ball, 2 touch maximum x 1 minute each player.

making space 1

Coaching Points:

  • Short, crisp passes
  • Players on their toes
  • No long passes
  • Loud Communication
  • Low tempo (50% work rate)
  • When a player passes the ball he is encouraged to back pedal then come towards the next pass
  • Pass & move

Light Static Stretches

  • Standing Hamstring stretch
  • Groin
  • Calf Stretch
  • Standing Quad Stretch

Activity #2 : Warm Up

Set Up:

As shown on the diagram below, an area is created approx 30 X 30. To start, place two players in the center, one to receive and one to pass.

making space 2

Explanation:

Red 1 calls for the ball from Yellow player, as the ball is played the player needs to be aware of the position of his midfield partner, the other Red midfielder alters his position to receive the ball. (Midfielders on 1 or 2 touch) The ball is played quickly through the middle and passed to a calling Yellow player. As soon as the receiving midfielder passes the ball he alters his position to command the ball from another Yellow player (as shown in Diagram as Position 2). Run practice for 1 minute then change the red players over so the passer now receives. Then rotate middle players. Yellow players can move 2 to 3 meters to each side or backwards as shown in diagram as player 3.

Coaching Points:

  • Awareness of Midfield partner
  • Communication
  • High tempo
  • Keep touch to a minimum

Progressions:

  • One touch
  • High Tempo

Ballistic stretches / Drink

  • Groins Turn – In’s & Out’s
  • Hip Circles
  • Trunk Rotations
  • Lunges
  • Hip-Flexor Stretch
  • Single-leg Hamstring Stretch
  • Side Lunges
  • 1/4 Squat into Jump

Activity #3

Set Up:

Pitch and players set up as shown in diagram below.

making space 3

Explanation:

Possession game, end to end, play can only pass the half way line through the Go To man (White) in the centre circle. Players can’t enter the centre circle and the Go To man can’t come out. The Go To man plays for the team in possession. The player who passes to a team mate in the end zone replaces him and the end zone player brings the ball in to play.

Coaching Points:

  • Awareness of other players positions
  • Communication
  • Communication
  • Quality of final pass
  • Angle of pass
  • Creating Space
  • Vision Awareness

Progressions:

  • Touches
  • Tempo
  • Players can go in to Center Circle
  • Go To man can go anywhere

Activity #4

Set Up:

¾ pitch practice – Yellow players split in to 2 groups.

Practice 1

making space practice 1

Practice 2

making space practice 2

Practice 3

making space practice 3

Explanation:

Goalkeeper and defense are one group and Midfield and Forward as another group (Practice 1). After 5 minutes change the groups around as shown in Practice 2 and after another 5 minutes change to Practice 3. Players to pass the ball around, altering positions at all times specific to a competitive match.

Coaching Points:

  • Awareness of other players positions
  • Communication

Progressions:

  • Touches
  • Tempo
  • More than one ball per group

Activity #5

Set Up:

Full pitch practice, 11 Yellow players (the Go To man is in White bib). To start with just play with opposition keeper, two passive defenders and a passive midfielder.

making space 5

Explanation:

The Goalkeeper is the starting point for the practice, 5 balls per progression. As soon as the Yellow team lose possession or the ball goes out of play or a goal is scored or shot saved the Yellow Goalkeeper throws the next ball in play. The game must be played at high tempo, the objective of all Yellow players is to get the ball to the Go To man by creating time and space for him to receive the ball and get his pass off.

Coaching Points:

  • Awareness of other players positions
  • Communication
  • Players to use full width of pitch
  • Quality of final pass
  • Angle of Runs
  • Timing of the final pass
  • Creating Space
  • Vision Awareness

Progressions:

  • Red players to pressure the ball
  • Red players can tackle
  • Add additional Red Players up to full team, eventually to an 11 v 11

All possession must go through the Go To man to create the goal scoring opportunity. If the Go To man does not touch the ball during the build up to a goal then the goal is disallowed.

Cool down

Feedback & Evaluation


LGC Events organizes 'Total Football Experience' tours to the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar in Murcia, Spain. LGC Football and the Pinatar Arena welcome teams of all ages and abilities to experience professional standard facilities, the warm weather and a superb choice of accommodations to suit all. Find out more at www.totalfootballexperience.com.