With two teams of five players, mark out a five-a-side pitch, with goals at either end. Number the players on both sides one to five. Position the teams at either end of the pitch, beside their respective goals. Now place a ball in the centre of the pitch.
The coach randomly calls out a number between one to five. When the players hear their number they run towards the ball, aiming to reach it first, beat their man and score a goal. If the ball goes out of play, the drill ends, the two players return to their positions and play resumes with the coach calling out a different number.
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“This 10-player exercise is a really fun one that we use at Manchester United. To get the edge over your opposite number, you’ve got to try and get a head start and guess what number the coach is going to call out.
Once you hear your number called, it’s about reacting quickly, accelerating and showing the will and desire to get to the ball first.
If you get to the ball first, this is when you’ve got to use your football brain and start thinking how you’re going to beat your opponent. Ultimately, the aim of this game is to score a goal so you’re always going to have that in the back of your mind, but you’ve got to have the composure to get on the ball, outsmart your marker and keep your cool to apply the finish.
If you get a chance to beat them with your first touch and get a shot off early, take it. Working on this sort of exercise in training is very important. If you put the work in during training, you will see the rewards in a game."