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How can I get my midfielders' mentality right so they defend and attack in a game?

So I'm having trouble getting my young and inexperienced group of midfielders to flip the switch from defense to offense, and back, as we move up and down the field. They will often hang back and leave my forwards stranded rather than rush in to attack. Naturally, we are not scoring. Advice and drill ideas would be most welcome! J.G. Coach, Maryland USA

Hi, there are a load of positional drills on Sportplan which could be helpful: player responsibility drills

These will help your players think about their role in the team, which might be why your midfielders are not getting forward and backing up their teammates.

Hi J

In terms of attack:

How about an attacking exercise which involves a wall-pass or perhaps a pass to a forward / high player who then looks to drop the ball straight back i.e. force a supporting run? Perhaps the midfielder is the one who is actually allowed into the Circle to take a shot (hence why they receive the ball back)?

Also, I saw a nice conditioned game on one of the weekly sessions, where the rule is that you pass and then HAVE to make a supporting or overlapping run, in order to receive the ball back.

Another angle is to just do some 2v1 work, so that players start to learn the power of attacking in numbers / creating overloads - just call it ganging up on the opposition :)

In terms of switching from one to the other (e.g. attack to defence), just build into an exercise the opportunity for a counterattack.

I did this successfully as a progression on a sportplan defending / channeling exercise "1v1 channeling". You simply put in a goal for the defender to attack too, in the event of a turnover. Since the playing area is relatively small, the attacker (who is now trying to recover) has to work very hard to get back. It also promotes 1v1 'combat', which I reckon would be great for your midfielders.

Regards,


Gary

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