Functional attacking plan


Up to half pitch


Balls, cones, goals

No. of players

Full squad

Session time

Phases 30mins, 6v4 15mins

This session is about functional attacking play within a system, involving all players in the squad.

It’s a practice that, at its heart, looks at the key exchanges in 2v1 and other overload situations – the roles of attackers, defenders, wide players, full-backs and wingers.

The principles featured really worked for us last season during some key relegation battles, particularly illustrating for us how our front five or six – depending on the formation – got at opponents’ defensive lines.s

What do I get the players to do?

We run a practice that involves three attacks on goal per phase – a central attack, a wide attack and a ‘second ball’ shot. We’ll then re-run the phase, rotating players.

Central attack

We set up as shown on a half pitch with defenders behind the goal and pairs of attackers positioned in a channel outside the box. A defender lays the ball to one of the strikers (1a), who receives and moves forward with his team mate to form a 2v1 scenario (1b).


• For the Central attack, the ball is fed out and a 2v1 situation begins


• Strikers combine with quick and positive passing movement and a goal is scored

We can vary the overload situation in favour of attackers or defenders (2/3)– this might be decided by how many strikers we intend to play in the next match, or by what defensive structure the team expects to come up against.


• The attacking overload can be altered – here, it’s a 3v2 situation in favour of the defenders


• Strikers are encouraged to make maximum use of the space they have – here, the ball is dribbled to the touchline before being cut back for a goal

Wide attack

Next, an unopposed attack sees midfielders combine and play the ball out wide. Wide players develop a crossing situation using the mannequin as a guide to staying near the flank. Strikers look to score in the goal against two or three defenders. (4a).


• For the Wide attack, midfielders combine in the middle and feed the ball wide, and the resulting opposed cross is attacked

‘Second ball’ shot

Immediately, the coach – positioned to the side of the goal – lays a simple ball back to the edge of the box for one of the inrushing midfielders to shoot (4b). This is designed to replicate the idea of a ‘second ball’ in a match. Defenders must rush out to press and close down.


• To complete the phase of three attacks, the coach lays a ball back to one of the inrushing midfielders, who shoots at goal

What are the key things to look out for?

Strikers must work together to find a route to goal, communicating well, varying their approach play, and finding space and shooting angles. Positivity in attacking crosses is also essential.

Midfielders need to create balance in their set-up play and movement, while wingers must be inventive, quick and positive.

How do I progress the session?

We progress the session by creating a full 6v4 situation where attacks can come from any angle. Players must remain in position, practising the previously coached movements and principles.

How do I put this into a game situation?

As an opposed game, we move this into a 15-minute 11v11 match on a full pitch.


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