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Description / Aims

The intention is to play the ball from the keeper and through the thirds (defence, midfield, attack). By having two defenders (with goalkeepers) in the defensive third, we’re encouraging the defence to use the available space and look for a midfielder to pass to. Midfielders need to identify and then find the space before receiving the ball. Midfielders need to find the attacker, looking for the through-ball at every opportunity. Attackers are up against two defenders (and goalkeeper), therefore they need to recognise the space in the attacking third and decide when is best to shoot on target.

Time / No. of Players

25 Mins / 10 to 12 players (adjust as necessary)


  • Pitch setup in thirds, 6v6 (adapt if less players)
  • Players locked in each third
  • Warm Up: Each team has a ball each and simply passes from the goalkeeper, to both defenders, both midfielders then attacker (every player needs to touch the ball). Once completed pass back through the process to the goalkeeper
  • Use one ball, match scenario
  • 2v1 defensive third, 2v2 central third, 1v2 attacking third
  • Players still locked in each third

Through the Thirds

Coaching Points

  • Can the players create space (identifying where the space is)
  • Support for each player/position must be first recognised then acted upon
  • Opportunity for through balls and creative play
  • The transition from in and out of possession – counter-attack, overloads
  • Weight of pass
  • Timing of runs


  • Attacking team can move a player to the next third (if the team is in possession), creating an overload. If possession is lost, the player must make a recovery run
  • Corners of the pitch are angled to force attacking, direct play
  • Restrictions of movement are removed (though the layout of the pitch remains as thirds)
  • All players to touch the ball before a goal is scored
  • Offsides can be included

Through the Thirds progression

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