This session focuses on the techniques of attacking and defending in and around the penalty area, giving players the opportunity to rehearse not only counter-attacking situations, but to attack and defend crosses from deep and from the by-line. It is a high intensity session that involves plenty of running and lots of accelerations and decelerations. MORE
Penetration in behind
For any attacking team, exploiting space behind defenders is vital. This session is focused on developing players and teams to arrive in behind the opponents’ defence, either with or without the ball using the different ways you can do that, either by combination play or individual skill or running to receive a pass. The idea is to improve the patterns in order to go beyond the oppositions’ defence.
It’s an engaging session for the players because it’s about creating and scoring goals and that’s what players love to do. It’s an attacking theme, based on expression and creativity with combination play, so players really enjoy it.
Up to full pitch
Balls, bibs, cones, 2 small goals,
Number of Players
Up to 20 players + 2 goalkeepers
Eliminating opponents: 5mins
Small space penetration: 15mins
Big space penetration: 15mins
11v11 game: 20mins
What do I get the players to do?
Penetration: eliminating opponents
We set up a playing area of approximately 35×35 yards, positioning six cones as shown  and three mannequins representing opposition defenders. We’re using eight players, with three starting on the first cone and one each on the remaining cones. Players pass the ball in the sequence shown and then follow their pass with a run to the next cone. The passing should be directed to allow one-touch lay offs and to eliminate the presence of the mannequins.
Small space penetration
We set up on half a pitch with a goal and a goalkeeper at one end. We mark out a 20×20-yard square near to the halfway line. We’re using 12 players split evenly into three teams of four. Two teams battle for possession in the square, while the third team has two players inside the square and two players outside it, all of whom play for the team in possession.
We start play with a pass into the square by the coach, as shown . Players in the square are two-touch while the pair outside the square are restricted to one-touch. The team in possession has to make eight passes before one of its players can break out to attack the goal. The breakout player has only five seconds to score after receiving the final penetrating pass out of the square. The attacking player is all in during the final phase.
We play three games of four minutes.
What are the key things to look out for?
We can replicate an attack around the penalty area by making sure the pressing team includes two centre backs and the possession team is made up of forwards and central midfielders.
We want players making simple passes to retain possession. When off the ball, we expect to see blind side movements to penetrate behind the defenders.
If the possession team loses the ball we want to see fast and aggressive pressure from the attackers in transition to defence.
What do I get the players to do next?
Big space penetration
We set up on just over half a pitch coned off to the width of the penalty area. A goalkeeper is at one end in a 10-yard end zone, but he has no goal. Two small goals are positioned at the other end with one goalkeeper to guard both.
We play a game of 10v10 plus goalkeepers. One team attacks the end zone and defends the two small goals. They score two points for receiving a pass in the end zone, as shown [3a], and one point for dribbling into the zone, as shown [3b]. Players can only enter the end zone to receive a pass or if dribbling the ball in. If the other team wins possession, they must try to score in the small goals for one point, as shown [3c].
Teams are three-touch in their own half and have unlimited touches in the opposition half. We play two games of six minutes.
What are the key things to look out for?
We want to see players running in behind the defensive line and using high quality passes to penetrate the opposition. If players are failing to do this, we reinforce the importance during coaching breaks.
How would you put this into a game situation?
We set up between the penalty boxes of a full size pitch with a goal and goalkeeper at each end. We’re using 20 outfield players split into two team of 10 plus keepers.
We play a normal game [not shown] to put the session into focus and look to see if the coaching points have been learned. We play two games of eight minutes.