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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.