• Preparing Youth Players For The Offside Rule

    Regardless of the new 9v9 format for youth players, at some point they will have to play within the offside rule.  This mythical rule is the most talked about and controversial part of the modern game.
    Each manager/coach/referee/parent and supporter has there own opinion on the rule and whether someone was or wasn’t offside.  The complexity of the rule has brought confusion to all ages that use it, but nevertheless it is an integral part of 11-a-side football.
    As a coach we must prepare our players for the introduction of this rule and do it within a variety of means over a reasonable period of time.  Relying on your players learning as they go along will work out eventually, but with your help they can understand the game at a quicker rate and adapt their playing style because of it.  This should be done by introducing some sessions into training that will help with their understanding, whilst not being detrimental to their development.

    Learning How and Why

    This is more important than giving players direction, help them to understand the how and why and they will develop further.  Offside affects every player on the pitch, so include them all in your sessions.  Allowing them to play in different positions will give each player a better overall understanding of the rule.  Create sessions that can help players with the rule and also develop other parts of their game.
    This session can be used to improve movement between forward players, it can also help defenders understand what problems forwards are trying to create.  There are many possibilities and combinations to use, here is one simple example.  CFs pull of at an angle to try to affect the DFs, CF sets the ball back for MF to play through ball.  Coaching points include – PASS TYPE/WEIGHT – ANGLE/TIMING OF PASS – ANGLE/TIMING OF RUN.

    Progressions can include other players and combinations, working on different runs and areas.  This can be switched to a wide area to involve wide players and CFs, to increase combination possibilities.  Remember, this can only help your players with ideas and passing technique and with the timing of their runs.  To be creative they must be allowed to express themselves in a real situation.


    This session gives the players the opportunity to be creative.  It has an offside zone, where the player can only receive the ball in the zone or dribble into it.  This again works on the selection and timing of the runs, mixed with the pass quality and selection.  This session can be used to give the DFs and GK a chance to work on communication and positioning, encouraging the DFs to keep a defensive line in relation to the ball.  Coaching points – PASS SELECTION/QUALITY – ANGLE/TIMING OF RUNS TO CREATE/INVADE SPACE – QUICK AND CLEVER PLAY – ONE TOUCH PLAY – FINISH.

    The next sessions move onto more game like situations, giving players the chance to take what they have learned into pressure situations with multiple pictures, changing all the time.

    These sessions are nothing new to most coaches and there are many variations on the set-ups.  Adjust the number of players and the size of the area to create different problems or to help make the session compatible to your team.  The principles and delivery are the important components.  Make sure that your set-up can create realistic situations to help the players learn and repeat the techniques involved .  Before 11-a-side, many players will not have played so much with their back to goal.

    These sessions provide a realistic game situation and encourage the players to express themselves and be creative.  Coach some points but you can set them the challenges and see what they come up with, players can often be more creative than you can!!!!

Share This Post

Discussion 2 Responses

  1. July 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

    We are moving to 11 a-side at U12 level. We have played a few friendlies, and one of the areas that is showing up as need for attention, is the back 4 playing together, holding their line etc. Are their any drills or practices to encourage/help this.

  2. July 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks for your question mate. One of the best ways to improve your defenders playing together, is to break things down. Start with defending as a group of 2, involve all your defenders and rotate. Use a part of the pitch which is relevant and include your GK. So for example, cone of a central area in front of the 18 yard box, play with a server, 2 attackers and 2 defenders. The server starts the game with a pass and can join in as a support player. Use this time for your defenders to get practice in a central area, with players running in behind and coming short. You should be able to see many offside pictures developing and help your players through them. This can then be moved into wide areas, giving all defenders an idea of what to do in all defensive areas, this will give them a better understanding of the defensive line as a whole. Once they have improved working in pairs, then increase the pitch size to include central and one wing, with 2 defs and a full back. This will slowly increase the number of players that have to work together. This can then move on to the whole back four etc.

    During this time your players will get multiple repetitons of real situations where you can help them understand the need to work as a unit and the importance of offside in this. Only practice, practice practice will help them improve, As a coach you can provide them with the opportunity to do that in a realistic way on a relevant part of the pitch.

Leave a Reply