Learn to scan like a pro


This game gives players the chance to put their scanning skills into a game- realistic scenario. Especially pertinent for central midfielders, the shape of the area means players are guaranteed a number of options at various angles, meaning scanning skills have to be sharp for success.


Set up a hexagonal area, with a gate along each line. Depending on your numbers, place three to six neutral players around the outside, behind each gate, and the remaining players separated into two teams, playing within the area. In this example, we’re playing 3 v 3 + 4.

One ball is in play, but try to keep some available around the outside. The coach serve these in when needed to maintain intensity.


The two teams play a possession game within the area and look to score by passing through a gate to a neutral player. If a team scores, they retain possession.

If you have fewer neutral players than gates, this encourages the neutral players to remain focused, as they may have to move to a free gate to better support play.


Players must constantly be scanning to identify space, opponents,

team-mates and opportunities to score. They should also be encouraged to receive the ball with an open body, enabling them to turn and play forward, or play a safe backwards pass if a defender has closed the space.

Players may also be encouraged to send a message with their pass. Playing to their team-mates’ back foot encourages the turn, a pass to the front foot indicates they should play back or protect the ball.


If players are finding it challenging to find space, scan and turn to play forwards, you could increase the size of the playing area. Or, consider a line to divide the area in half (as pictured), with only two defenders at most allowed in either half. This will also encourage defenders to provide cover and balance.

Alternatively, reduce the size of the area to increase the challenge. The fewer the number of neutral players on the outside of the area, the greater the challenge too.

Progress the session by allowing the neutral player which receives the ball to come into the area and join the team that scores, creating an overload. Alternatively, to add a psychological challenge, the neutral player could join the team which has conceded.


1. Set up a six-sided playing area, roughly like a hexagon

2. Place gates on each side of the hexagon

3. Two teams (here 3v3, yellow v red) compete for possession. Players are encouraged to scan for space to receive the ball away from an opposing player

4. Three to six players (blue) outside the playing area support whichever team is in possession. Teams score by passing to a supporting player between a gate

5. Here, a supporting player spots a gate blocked off and runs round the area to a free gate to receive the ball

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