Playing with split strikers


Up to 54x44 yards


Balls, mannequins (or poles), goals

No. of players

Up to 6v6

Session time

Positional and half pitch practices 10mins each, Game 40mins

This session looks at playing with split strikers – one short, one long.

In the session, we look for the different movements of the strikers in linking up to create space and opportunities for both themselves and others.

Naturally, this scenario happens regularly in matches, and utilising specific link-up play between strikers is worth many goals to us throughout the course of the campaign.

What do I get the players to do?

Positional practice

Working as a pair, serves come in from different areas, with the ‘long’ striker and ‘short’ striker linking up. Either can receive and manipulate the ball to each other. Good control and smart positional awareness is key (1/2).


• In the Positional practice, balls are served in from the sidelines. One striker brings the ball under control, then feeds his partner


• Now a second ball is fed in from another server

Half pitch practice

Setting up as shown, using two strikers and two mannequins, the attacking duo link up having been served the ball in, with each move ending with a shot at goal (3). The long striker will always look to stretch play, while the short striker comes in close to receive.


• In the Half pitch practice, servers pass in, with one striker (who comes to meet the ball) designated ‘short’ and the other (who looks to create attacking space by stretching the distance between them) ‘long’

How do I progress the session?

We progress by replacing the mannequins with defenders (4). The short striker looks to draw the defender out to create space behind. If he cannot do this, the short striker faces up the defender to run at him, while the long striker’s movement keeps the line long and creates space.


• In the progression, mannequins have been replaced with live defenders

Small-sided game

This is a 6v6 small-sided game, set up as shown (5). The idea is to again use the premise of the short and long strikers, albeit in a game situation. There are three 18-yard zones, although if using greater player numbers we would extend the width of the pitch from 30 to 44 yards.


• In the Small-sided game, the short striker drops back into the middle third to create a 3v2 overload. The long striker gets goal side of his man, in space, and goes on to shoot

The zones are used in order to encourage the short striker to drop into the middle section, thus manufacturing a 3v2 overload for his team. Decoy runs can also be used should the team want to go long (6).


• In this instance, the short striker has made a decoy run. His marker has dropped expecting to track a short ball, but a longer pass over the top creates a different threat, with the right-sided midfielder providing extra attacking numbers

When possession is turned over, the other team attacks.

What are the key things to look out for?

We’re looking for good movement and receiving skills, with attackers building up an intuitive relationship so that each knows what the other intends to do. Timing and communication are obviously essential elements.

There is pressure on the long striker, in particular, who needs to stretch play at every opportunity whilst remaining onside, but the short striker’s ability to drop is also key.

Finally, we cannot understate the importance of a clinical finish, otherwise the time and energy invested in the approach play is for nothing.


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