The final third


Half pitch


Balls, goals

No. of players

9 (6 attackers, 2 defenders, keeper)

Session time

Practice 30mins, development 25mins

This session is about the movement of strikers in and around the box. We begin with different phases of play, looking at attacking runs across the face of a defender, pulling off the shoulder, plus complex combination moves.

All of these phases replicate movements required on match day, and all enhance our ability to create chances and score goals.

What do I get the players to do?

Working on a half pitch, a defender is placed centrally on the edge of the 18-yard box. He is passive at first but can become active after the first three run-throughs. Ten yards further out are three strikers, with two wingers either to the left or the right.

Runs across the face

Attacker 1 passes to attacker 2, who receives the ball on the back foot, then passes to attacker 3. This player collects the ball in his stride, makes a run across the face of the passive defender and takes a shot at goal (1a).


• Having received the pass, the attacker runs across the face of the defender and shoots at goal

As this shot is being despatched, the two wingers combine to send a deep cross into the six-yard box. The attacker advances to finish the move with a header or shot (1b).


• The wingers then combine to send a long pass in to the attacker

Pulling off the shoulder

The move begins as before, though this time attacker 3 receives the pass with his back to the defender. He pulls off the shoulder, turning and despatching a shot (2a). The wingers again combine, though this time a pass is laid down the wing, with a ball across the six-yard box to be finished by the attacker (2b).


• Next, the attacker pulls off the shoulder, spins, and shoots


• Wingers this time overlap on the right to send a square ball into the six-yard box

Combination play

In the third phase, we add an extra defender and attacker. This time attackers combine on the edge of the box, but instead of shooting, a pass is fed to the wing (3a). The deepest winger overlaps while an attacker negotiates a route through tracking defenders into the penalty box. The winger’s cross is aimed at the onrushing attacker who attempts to score (3b).

• With an additional defender and attacker, play is fed to the left
• In Combination play, the ball is aimed at the attacker, with a defender looking to clear

If involving more players, we run these moves on both flanks within the same phase.

What are the key things to look for technically/tactically?

We are looking for quick passing play in and around the box. We require quality movement from supporting forwards and a direct and purposeful run from the  attacker. Timing of runs and good decision making is important, and this can only be developed over time and with practice.

Finally, the  striker must show composure in front of goal as he is finishing with a first-time shot or header.