Attacking zones in the box


Half pitch


Balls, goals

No. of players

Up to full squad

Session time

5mins, game 20mins

This session is principally about the importance of Zone A (post) and Zone B (post) runs. For simplicity, the balls are delivered from wide areas after a ball exchange. Coaching of movement and accuracy of crossing applies.

This kind of play generates goals galore and regularly features in open play.

The key is the player’s timing and sacrificing himself but making runs as, ultimately, it will create space for not only him to score but team mates also.

The movement in the box becomes a discipline and repetition hones the technique.

What do I get the players to do?

Introducing zone A

We set up on a half-pitch, as shown (1), initially working with zone A, on the right side of the six-yard box as we look at the goal.

Using just three attacking players to begin with, we can construct a move that involves a one-two on the wing before a cross into the box for a finish.


1. The winger passes infield then goes to receive the next pass
2. The attacking player makes a diagonal run towards the mannequin then changes direction
3. The cross is to the right-hand corner of the six-yard box
4. The shot goes past the keeper and into the net

Introducing zone B

A variation on that first set-up introduces zone B, on the left side of the six-yard pitch as we look at the goal (2).

With no live opponents, technique of crossing, passing and finishing can and must be coached.


1. Now the set-up play on the wing comes from a deeper position
2. Again, players interlink
3. A deep cross is made to the far post (zone B)
4. The attacker has again changed direction during his run
5. He finishes from close range

How do I progress the session?

Once repetition of the cross and finish has seen players (notably the strikers) become comfortable with the zones, we replace the mannequin with a working defender, as shown (3).


1. Now a defender is in place and aims to halt the progress of the attacker
2. Link-up play begins on the right and a cross comes into the box
3. The striker has made an arched run to ensure he gets to the ball first, and finishes

In the next progression we bring in an additional midfielder (4), who will make a run from deep in supporting the striker. If attackers both designate themselves a zone each, we double the likelihood of a ball ending up in a key area.


1. A deep-lying midfielder acts as a second attacking option
2. The cross into the box finds the attacker in zone A
3. Instead of shooting he slides a sideways pass into the path of the midfielder, who scores

With every progression we want to ensure attacking players confront a new challenge, and will continue to build numbers to get the practice as close to match-realistic as possible. So we may add another defender, or bring in opposition players on the flanks; we may alter the start position of the move, or even enforce restrictions in terms of the number of touches allowed within the zones.

What are the key things to look out for?

We want to see imaginative link-up play on the wings, but this must always result in an accurate cross.

Attacking players working in and around the six-yard box must make intelligent runs (never in a straight line) on their way to the key scoring zones. Upon receiving in the key areas mentioned, the finish will preferably be one-touch. Supporting attacking must be alert to rebounds should the keeper or a defender block the initial shot.

We will wrap up by putting this into an 8v8 game on a half pitch with free players in zones (to stimulate crosses).


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement