Extra man and overload play


80x18 yards, the length divided into the three areas (25, 30 and 25 yards)


Cones, goals, balls

No. of players


This is a progressive practice session that trains players in the usefulness of forward passing and the benefits of overloading areas. The session embraces all key elements of the game, including freeing up space, keeping possession, making passing angles and, notably, finishing.

The practice starts with a basic set-up and designated players in each third of the pitch, but a coach can add difficulty by increasing playing numbers and adjusting the size of the zones, up to a point where the entire squad is involved.

What do I get the players to do?

The coach serves a ball into the defensive third where one of the two defenders receives possession. The lone opposition player works to delay play and, if possible, intercept and clear.

In this 2v1 situation a pass is played into the middle third where there is a 2v2 arrangement. Once the ball has been received, either of the defenders can move forward to make a 3v2 overload (1a).


• A 2v1 overload in the first third works the ball into the next zone

The three in the middle zone now work to keep the ball against the two defenders before the opportunity to pass forward to the final zone, where there is a 1v1 situation. Once the ball is moved forward, one of the middle three advances to make a 2v1 (1b), the two working for an early shot at goal (1c).


• A supporting player joins the middle third and play advances again


• The final overload results in a shot at goal

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

An appreciation of when and where to pass is crucial, as is the use of soft, angled and shorter passes, plus positive and early shots at goal. Players need to work for space whilst retaining possession, so the timing and communication of forward runs is essential. Players should never get caught square of each other, and movement towards and away from the ball (‘going’ and ‘checking’) is important in creating space.

How do I progress the session?

There are several progressions including:

a. The playing area is enlarged and more players added (2a)

b. The player who played the ball into the next zone cannot be the player who advances – one of his team-mates must react instead.

c. Players must keep the ball for a specified time before being joined by a new player or progressing themselves (2b).


• Natural Progression – Bigger teams and a larger playing area offers room for more intricate passing moves in this progression


• The coach can determine a minimum time for the ball to be retained within a zone

d. When the ball enters the attacking zone, a strike on goal must be achieved within a certain amount of time.

e. At the end of an attack, the move can be reversed so that the opposite end is attacked – another goal and keeper is required.

f. After an attack is completed, a server crosses the ball into the attacking zone for a goalkeeping practice (2c).


• In this progression, a second ball is crossed into the middle for an additional attacking phase

The set-up for this practice is perfect for any imaginative coach because the variations and aims are endless.


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