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Coaching Build-Up at Youth Level

Building from the back at youth level is still very much a challenge from a coaching perspective. From the player pathway standpoint, the game starts for many youth players as fun with individual ball mastery exercises creating an element of joy alongside the ball and the environment. That dynamic changes when formal games start and the playing experience starts to shift for young players. More decisions arrive, more variables are introduced, and with parents watching on the sidelines, more pressure is placed on each individual to suddenly understand complex football concepts. As coaches, the better we can teach these team concepts without overloading the players with information and coaching jargon, the better their chance of success will be. In this week's MSC Breakdown, we take a look at three build-up exercises that can incorporate simple but effective principles at the youth level.

Below is a YouTube breakdown detailing three exercises. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe to our MSC YouTube page.

Please find the information and breakdown for all the pressing shapes below:

5v5+1 Find the Free Player

  • Teams organized into two teams of five players in a 15x30 yard area (plus a neutral player in the middle)

  • Game starts with a two v two plus the goalkeeper in each half, plus a neutral inside the 5x5 yard zone at the halfway line

  • The players are limited to one side of the pitch and cannot pass directly to a teammate on the other side

  • The ball starts with the possession team having to connect with the neutral to beat the press. After connecting with neutral, the team can start to attack towards the opponent's goal.

  • If defenders win possession, they can counter immediately to the opponent's goal

5v5 (Four Zone Game)

  • Two teams of four players organized in a 30 x 20 yard area, divided in four zones

  • One player from each team must occupy each zone, with the goalkeepers on each side

  • Players are initially limited to their zones with the objective of building from the goalkeeper and progressing forward to next zones with a pass or a dribble

  •  If the attacker progresses with a pass, it becomes a one on one in the next zone

  • If the attacker progresses with a dribble, it becomes a two v one in the next zone

5v5 Screening Game

  • Two teams of five players organized inside a 20x40 yard pitch with two 5-yard zones in the middle

  • Teams are organized with two defenders and a goalkeeper one one end and two attacking players in the far central zone

  • Ball starts with goalkeeper and teams are building with a 3v0 against two screeners (limited to the central zone)

  • The objective is to find their attacking teammates in the central zone

  • Once a pass is completed to the attackers, they can break out and play 2v2 in the end zone to score

  • If the screeners intercept the ball, they can immediately transition to goal

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