Coaching players during COVID-19: working in threes

Guide All Ages

Coaches returning to football activity during COVID-19 must follow Government and FA guidance.

Here are two practices from our ‘safe sessions’ series to help you work safely and effectively with players in groups of three or small groups.

Before setting up any of the sessions below, make sure you read our wider guidance, so you're prepared for your return to coaching:

Also keep in mind that it would be ideal if footballs are only recovered or moved round the pitch by using feet, rather than picking them up.

A text graphic outlining guidance around coaching and taking part in grassroots football during COVID-19.

Session 1: interceptor

A graphic showing a training session focusing on passing and intercepting - two players try to get the ball to each other, past the defender in the middle of the pitch.


  • Set up a 15x10 yard area and divide in to thirds.
  • Three players.
  • One player in each area.
  • Two strikers and one intercepting player.

Session information

  • Establish social distancing conditions to ensure no misunderstanding.
  • Strikers try to make five passes. 
  • On the fifth pass: receive, turn and shoot to score.
  • Intercepting player tries to screen the pass to the furthest player.
  • If interception is successful score in the mini-goal.
  • First player to three goals wins.
  • Rotate players between positions.

Coaching points

  • Use the area to manoeuvre the ball.
  • Pass over distance to space or to feet.
  • Use receiving touch to help pass or move the ball.
  • Intercepting player: try and see both players, keep checking to see the target player’s movement, time your movement to intercept the ball.
  • Intercept and shoot to score.


  • Use cones to mark out goals.
  • Players to stay inside playing areas.
  • Rotate players in clockwise direction.

Session 2: defending the goal

A graphic showing a football session titled 'defending the goal'. Two players on the outside of the marked circle area try to combine to beat the defenders and score past the keeper in the middle of the circle.


  • Triangle of goals six yards apart.
  • Two circles ten yards from the goals and ten yards from the inner circle.
  • Two attackers, two defenders and one goalkeeper guarding three goals.
  • Points are scored if the attackers score.
  • Points increased if attackers score and another attacker receives after scoring.

Session information

  • Establish social distancing conditions to ensure no misunderstanding.
  • Practice starts with attackers passing the ball outside the circle - passes can go through.
  • Attackers combine to get a shot away (below head height).
  • Defenders and goalkeeper work together to stop shots.
  • If defenders or goalkeeper win the ball, change with the shooting player.

Coaching points

  • Goalkeeper and defenders combine to deny shots.
  • Angle of approach by the first defender.
  • Position of the second defender to block the goal or loosely mark the other attacker.
  • Goalkeeper movement around the goals and communication to defenders.
  • Goalkeeper handling/shot stopping.


  • Players rotate positions.
  • Size of areas can be adjusted to suit age group.
  • Attackers are locked or fixed into areas on the outside.
  • Attackers are limited by time or touches before shots or they forfeit their score.

If you’re back out on the grass and want to find more safe sessions, head to our playlist by clicking here.

The FA’s Diversity & Inclusion team are aware of additional concerns and anxiety that members of the BAME community may have regarding returning to football. We fully support these concerns and care about the welfare of coaches and volunteers when carrying out football related activities. We also recognise that early research and insight in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on the BAME community is complex and still not fully understood.

If you have any health concerns regarding returning to coaching for yourself, your players or parents/carers etc you can contact The FA at D& for advice. We must follow the latest government advice and ensure that we do not feel pressured to return to coaching. You can find some additional support below:

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