Receiving to play forwards


This small-sided game adds a greater level of pressure and realism for players to work on receiving to play forwards.

Players can play in relevant positions, allowing them to have game-realistic receiving and passing options, as well as pressure from realistic angles.


Set up a three-quarter sized pitch (depending on numbers), divided into thirds, with a goal at each end. Divide players into equal teams.

Groups with odd numbers can identify one player as a ‘magic’ player, who plays for whichever team is in possession.


Normal game rules apply, but encourage players to implement the learning outcomes from the two previous practices, including movement to receive, scanning and awareness, body shape to receive, receiving on the back foot (and passing to the back foot) and taking a positive first touch. You can also use the pitch set-up as a guide to encourage playing through the thirds.


As previously, players should be encouraged to scan before receiving, move to receive at an angle and with an open body, take a positive first touch away from an opponent and support team-mates by giving them a pass which allows them to do the same. Players will also need to make decisions as to the correct time to receive to play forwards, and when to protect the ball or play backwards.


To make the practice easier for players to receive in space and under less pressure, the area can be made bigger or alternatively you could look to ‘lock’ players into thirds, to ensure they don’t have too many players pressuring them at once from different angles. To challenge players more, the area can be made smaller, which will give players less space and time on the ball, as well requiring quicker decision-making.

1. Mark out a pitch split into thirds, relevant to the number/ability of your players in the session

2. Players are free to move anywhere but encourage playing through the thirds where possible

3. Encourage players to adopt key principles of ‘receiving to play forwards’ – movement, scanning, body shape, receive on the back foot, positive first touch

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