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How can i fix this?

My senior lads, have the best ability and understand the basics of team play in training, but on the pitch they panic and try to get the ball to strikers as quick as they can. This stops our midfield attacking. we only play a 4-5-1 so we should be strong in the midfield but they just seem to be defending all the time. How can i fix this?

We had the same problem. We found that making them comfortable on the ball (hours and hours of passing drills) and not permitting the to turn with the ball, if received when facing own goal, help to calm them.    

Hi Luke,

What sort of practices do you do at training with your team?

To me it sounds like your players are comfortable at training, playing amongst friends, but when it comes to playing against opposition they are intimidated and forget their passing game, opting instead for route 1 football (which as you said is strange, especially when playing 4-5-1).

I would suggest playing some pressure passing drills in tight space with defenders (4v2 for example), teaching your playes to hold up the ball and use the options closest to them rather than hoofing the ball up field in panic. Then finish your session with a normal game but play on a smaller pitch than usual - this will force your players to look up and practice playing under pressure from the other team (encourage players to have lots of short, quick passes - Barcelona style).

Hope this helps - keep us updated on your team,

Creating an overload in midfield, as a 4-5-1 does suggest, doesn't always mean you get plenty of possession. It may just mean you're limiting your options to pass the ball because the playing field is congested. The more congested midfield is, the more pressure you're placing on players to find creative answers.

Personally, I do not mind the Route 1 so much, so long as it is used to create opportunities, rather than get someone else out of trouble (i.e. the passer of the ball who doesn't know what to do with it). Try and find some sessions in which you get a midfield player to play relatively close to the striker. This creates an option for the striker and creates the possibility for your midfielders or defenders to get some depth in their play.

This should create more space so that your midfield can get closer to the goal. I agree with what has been mentioned in the other answers but trying to get players to feel more comfortable on the ball when they're seniors can be a long project.

Try and put some onus on the players around the ball carrier instead. What are their responsibilities, how do they move, etc?

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