To improve player's ability to receive the ball under intense pressure and to turn hips and the ball to goal, ready to take on the opponent. This includes receiving the ball from a pass, from a goal-kick, a punt, or from a throw-in.


At the 1996 USYSA Nationals, we noticed that one of the most important demands of the game was for the player to be able to receive the ball, back to goal, while checking to the ball at full pace under intense pressure, and to control the ball first time very closely. In addition it was crucial that the player be able to turn the ball against this pressure and to be able to take on the pressuring opponent immediately after turning.

Coaching Points for the Attacker

  • Coming to ball at full pace is crucial. Training at a slower pace is a waste of time.
  • Look over the shoulder to find opponent before receiving ball.
  • Call for the ball and show, with hands and eyes, where it is wanted.
  • Checking back at an angle helps open an angle that allows the passer to join in with a wall pass off a drop from the attacker.

Coaching Points for the Passer

  • Passer should interpret attacker's glance over the shoulder as a visual cue to pass.
  • Pass early so attacker gets ball before negative space is killed.
  • Passer should pass absolutely as hard as possible.
  • Passes should be direct to the center of the attacker if the pursuing defender is directly behind. Passes should go to the attacker's foot on the side away from the pursuing defender if the defender is on the attacker's side.

Notes for the Coach

  • Adjust the space for each exercised to the age and skill level you are teaching.
  • In a longer session, attacking moves can be added after turning moves, including body swerve, swivel, scissors, cap, step over, and change of pace. In a 90 minute session, there is not enough time to include these.

Technical Warm-Up

Receiving the Ball Partners with Ball at 30 Yards Distance

Using kills, traps, and settles, for 60 seconds (then change roles), check away from ball, check back hard to ball, receive ball from

  • punt
  • goal-kick
  • throw-in to chest
  • throw-in to feet
  • driven pass on ground
  • lofted pass


  • Full pace to ball every time, OK to loaf on the recovery run to create space.
  • Accurate, hard service required to allow attacker to receive at full pace.
  • Attacker must call for ball.
  • Attacker must play slightly beyond limit of ability to make progress.

(Here below is another warm-up progression that you can try which was contributed by Gary Rue who is a high school soccer coach in Kentucky.)

Turning the Ball

Partners with ball, alternating rolse as server/chaser and receiver on each possession. Spend 60 seconds on each technique (see list below). To start, server/chaser plays ball into space 5 yards beyond receiver. Server/chaser then chases to apply light pressure. Receiver reaches ball first, and then turns ball against pressure. Players change roles, so receiver becomes server/chaser by making new pass into space 5 yards away.

See Receiving Back to Goal Part 2 for more information on these techniques.

Back to Goal Turning Techniques

  • Step over with inside cut
  • Body swerve with outside cut
  • Zero space turn (step over and across ball, pull and turn with inside of other foot.)


  • Play continuously, push the pace.
  • OK to cut to 30 seconds at high pace.
  • Ensure that player turning ball collects balance and is fully prepared to play forward and attack before making next pass.

Technical Progression

1v1 with server.

1 v 1 + Server in 10 x 20 Space

Attacker receives from server, turns, and beats defender to goal-line.


  • Defender applies full pressure, varies pressure, back , left side, right side.
  • Change server after 60 seconds.


  • Attacker should come to ball at full pace.
  • If defender is on attacker's back, attacker can nick ball with outside of foot to turn and get past in one motion. Attacker has to look to find defender.

2 v 1 to Target in 10 x 20 Space

2v1 with target player.

Attacker receives from server, turns, combines with server to pass ball to target player.


  • Server outside near end, attacker and defender inside far end of space, target player outside far end.
  • Defender pursues attacker, tries to stop attacker and server from playing ball to target player.
  • Attacker and defender alternate roles each ball.
  • After 60 seconds, server and target player change roles with attacker and defender.
  • Attacker not permitted to drop ball back to server, must turn instead.


  • Encourage attacker to check back at angle to open up wall pass.
  • Enforce checking back at full pace.
  • Ensure that server passes hard.
  • Ensure that server moves to support directly from server's pass.

4 v 4 to Goal Lines in 30 x 40 Space with 3 Zones4v4 to goal.

Play 2v2 in final zones. No one starts in middle zone.


  • Team maintains possession in first zone until player from their team checks back into middle third to receive ball.
  • One defender can pursue attacker checking to ball into middle zone.
  • Attacker has to beat defender or get pass to partner in final third in order to get ball across goal-line.
  • If opponents win possession of ball before attackers with ball can play to player checking back, then they try to score in the same way, by passing to one of their players checking back into space.
  • Possession changes on any score.


  • Attacking players should work continuously to be available to ball.

7 v 7 to Full-Size Goals with Goalkeepers on a 40 x 50 Field


  • Play for real, including throw-ins, goal-kicks, and punts. Call fouls that occur and award free-kicks.


  • Encourage checking back to the ball at full pace to receive the ball.


Playing at the best levels requires great speed of play and the ability to receive the ball under intense pressure, regardless of the quality of the service. When comfortable checking back to the ball and receiving at pace, the players must be encouraged to use this ability as a tool to get free from pressure and to create space to turn hips to goal in order to attack.

Another Related Warm-Up Progression

This section was contributed by high school coach Gary Rue, Western Hills H.S., Frankfort, KY.

I appropriated a game warm up by one of my opponents that would fit well into this training. I will provide what I think the appropriate training progression should be.  Session warm ups should include turns with the ball and flicks with a spin and go.

  • Player A is at the near post and drops the ball to a player (B) about 30 yards out. Player A then checks to the ball and receives a return pass from B. Player A then turns and shoots. (Key coaching points are the reception touch, footwork into the shot and a quick look behind before reception to see the location of the defender and GK .)
  • In the next step, player B overlaps to the far post after the pass to A. Player A, flicks the return pass back to B and spins towards goal. B one-times the shot. (Key coaching points are the quality of the flick, the quality of B's run, the readiness of B to shoot, the quality of the spin away from ball--note, if the shot is delayed, player A may move into an offside position.)
  • In the final step, a defender (C) is added at the far post. The defender closes down A on the initial drop to B. A must decide whether to turn and shoot or to flick on to B. (Key coaching points are the decision making of A and the quality of B's run based somewhat on the defense's reaction.)

At a later time, a defensive focus can be applied to this activity. Also, vary the GK's position, especially in the early stage, so player A can practice near post, as well as far post shooting.