top of page

Training Cognitive Skills

Training of cognitive skills Collective passing exercise

Working on Spatial Awareness and Communication

Organization: This could be a warm up activity. Three teams of 4 players each (with each team

wearing different colors). − Marked out playing area. The exercise is performed with 1 ball, then 2, and finally 3 balls.


  • Passing game with limited touches (3-2-1).

  • The player with the ball always plays it to a player wearing a different color.

The coach can give technical instructions (e.g. control the ball with one foot and pass with the other).


  • The exercise can be started with the players using their hands to play the ball and then using their feet.

  • The size of the field can be varied depending on the technical or tactical objective.

  • Teams can have 3, 5 or 6 players.


Training of cognitive skills 4 + 4 v 4 practice game to retain possession

Work on Speed of Play and Appropriate techniques when passing and receiving.

Organization: This is a progression from the previous activity. Three teams of 4 players each (wearing different colors); Marked out playing area.

Play can be started with one of the players throwing the ball in.

Procedure: Emphasis is on retaining possession with 1 - 2 or 3 touches per player. The game is played between 2 teams. The BLUE team plays with the RED team and the YELLOW team defends. When the YELLOW team gains possession it takes the place of the team that has lost possession. − (e.g. if BLUE loses the ball then YELLOW plays with RED).


  • The number of passes can be counted.

  • The field size can be increased to encourage long passes and switches in play.

  • The teams can have 5, 6 or 7 players.

Players are always ASSESSING the play around them and learn to ANTICIPATE how the next play may develop. They learn to ADAPT to the constantly changing game environment and are constantly ADJUSTING their body shape and position. While all of this is happening, they PLAN to EXECUTE the most effective action.


Finishing In and Around the Box


  • Two teams of 4 players + 2 goalkeepers; 4 extras players per team

  • Playing area as marked out.

  • Make the playing area smaller to train speed of play and / or demands for quicker finishing.

Objective: Score goals in and around the penalty area.


  • Free play and quick finishing.

  • BLUE players in the middle attack the GK in white and are supported by the BLUE players located around the penalty area.

  • RED players in the middle attack the GK in yellow and are supported by the RED players located around the goal.

  • The supporting players play 1 or 2 touches

  • Switch units after 10 minutes or so.

  • Supporting players can pass the ball to each other but cannot score. Supporting players cannot stop the ball.

Scoring methods:

  • A player can score from anywhere on the field by dribbling past an opponent or by working together with teammates to create scoring opportunities.

  • Direct shot on goal.

  • Shot on goal after supporting players has laid off ball for incoming attacker.

  • Heading the ball from across.

This is a very fast and demanding activity for the four players in the middle. It is one of the players’ favorite games to play. It provides lots of opportunities to shoot on net and to score goals. It encourages players to look for quick combinations around the box.

As soon as a player in the middle is in possession of the ball he needs to assess the situation quickly and answer the following questions:

  • Can I take a shot on net.

  • Can I score

  • If Not— Can I play it forward

As soon as the ball is played forward to one of the supporting players on the outside, there needs to be immediate support and well executed runs in the box in order to finish with a shot on goal. It promotes shooting and finishing techniques, quick thinking, speed of play, communication, and patience around the box.

bottom of page