Luca Bertolini has been an academy coach for 14 years. He is the current Head Coach of AC Colorno U-14 team in Italy and also works as an opponent analyst for the first team. He holds a UEFA ‘B’ License from the Italian FA as well as a Coerver Coaching Diploma. He has a coaching website (lucamistercalcio.com) and also posts regular sessions and coaching content on his Twitter and Facebook pages. His new book, ‘One-Setup Training Sessions’ is available to buy here.
The topic for his session is ‘Coach the 1 vs 1 duels; with the ball, without the ball, to finish and to recover the possession’. The session is designed for Youth Academy players (U14-U16). There are 14 players involved in the session, along with two goalkeepers. The main technical objectives include: Escape one’s marker / tight defending, Feints, Interception/Anticipation, Shooting on goal. There are also tactical concepts that can be introduced including: Numerical superiority, Create a strong sided, Pressure, and Delay. Players are also challenged to deal with both positive and negative transitions throughout the session.
Two teams (reds and whites) are organized inside each half of a pitch, which is then divided into two parts again. Players are then organized into pairs and numbered, as in the picture. The players can pass the ball or dribble it playing a 1 v 1 against a passive opponent. After an established number of passes or time of dribble, they must pass the ball to the goalkeeper, who kicks it toward a different area of the pitch; the player must play 1 v 1 without the ball to recover it and come back to play in the opposite way from they began the warm up; if they were passing, they must play passive 1 v 1 and vice-versa.
With the same organization as the previous exercise, players now pass the ball with their partner on the left and right side. When the coach calls the number of the group (#1 in the picture above), the player in possession must dribble inside the forward part of the pitch and shoot on goal. The player without possession becomes the defender and he/she must try to recover the ball and can shoot on goal if he/she does win the ball.
Again, the players of both teams (reds and whites) are paired up and numbered. For every “number”, the first couple in possession of the ball works on passing and receiving, while the second one without the ball works on man-marking and escaping the marker. When the coach calls the number of the couples (#2 above), a 2 vs 2 duels starts with the players in possession which has to shoot on goal in the easiest and fastest way. If the defending couple wins the ball, they must finish in the opposite goal.
The players of two teams (reds and whites) are again paired up, numbered, now and placed inside the farthest part from the goals of a two halves pitch (see above). On the right side they pass the ball first and on the left they play 1 v 1 dribbling the ball against a passive opponent first. When the coach calls the number to the couples (#2 above) and the field’s side in which the player in possession must keep the ball, while waiting for his teammate (left side in the picture). The player in possession on the right side should try to finish as fast as possible and then he must run to the help the teammate inside the opposite half of the field in the nearest part the goal (red arrows). The players without the possession become defenders and they must try to recover the possession and shoot on goal as well.
Two teams of 6 players, with a goalkeeper each, are placed inside a pitch divided in three parts and with a 1-2-3-1 formations. The scores are valid only if at least a 1 v 1 is won inside each part of the pitch to dribble the ball inside the next one. If the defending team wins the ball, the goals must be scored in the same way.