Coaching midfield rotations is potentially one of the biggest challenges for a coach looking to optimize a possession-based system. There is so much complexity involved within the topic including starting positions, distances, timing, communication and extremely high levels of awareness. If it wasn't difficult enough, each movement is interdependent on a teammate so working on this on the training pitch takes a lot of skill with planning and session design. This week's YouTube MSC Breakdown focuses on how a session might look for a midfield rotation in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system. If you enjoy these exercises and want to support the work with these free breakdown videos, please check out MSC 20 Attacking Training Sessions eBook with 20 full practice plans on build-up, midfield progression and final third play.
We start the session off with a passing exercise focused on the timing of the rotations between the three midfielders (6/8/10). Two lines go at the same time with two midfielders working and one recovering in a higher position. Players start with a pass into the closest midfielder, who plays a return, and then a longer pass is played into a higher player, who dribbles back to the start. As soon as the long pass is played, the three midfielders rotate and two more balls go – same pattern, you can add a return give and go but the main emphasis is on the timing of the rotations and the understanding of movement before and after each pass
The second exercise is a 3v3+3, with two teams playing with their overloads in different directions. Below, the blue team are playing vertically, while the red team horizontally in the grid. The three overload players are split up as two center backs and one center forward and are limited to two touches. The simple objective of the game is to transfer the ball from one side to the other, with the help of midfield rotations in the middle. This game contains different decisions on each side with the overloads: do the rotations change with two center backs who can play to one another? What does a bounce pass offer? Does the opponents focus more of player-to-player coverage and open passing lanes from one end zone to the other? Questions like these are important for the players to experience as they build confidence with their rotations and movement in the middle.
If you enjoyed the first two exercises and would like to see the conclusion of the session with two more exercises, please watch the free YouTube video below. If the content was beneficial, please subscribe to our MSC YouTube page and check out more session resources here.