Attacking philosophy

This session is designed to replicate our shape in a game, and to give players an idea of our passing and player movement in different areas of the pitch.

Rehearsing this sort of movement is vital if players are to gain an understanding of team mechanics, since this mode of attacking play will be replicated many times in the course of a game.

The practice reinforces the notion that we attack and defend as one – so full-backs are as pivotal to attacking moves as any other player on the pitch.



Up to two thirds of a pitch
Balls, cones, discs, mini-goals
Number of Players
Up to 8v6 plus keepers
Session time
20mins per practice

What do I get the players to do?

Passing drill

Set up as shown (1).  Players must pass and follow the ball to the next cone. As soon as the ball has been worked half way round, a second is introduced. When a ball gets to the top striker he can finish into any goal.

All passes are of at least 10 yards, with longer distances encouraged if your players can continue to pass accurately and with good tempo.


1. Players pass the ball around the cones, following their passes as they go
2. When the pass arrives with the striker, he has a choice of which goal to aim at

Extended pitch attack

We now set up on a half-pitch plus 20 yards (2). The initial pass comes from the corner of the penalty area down to the central defender, who brings the ball down and switches to his fellow defender.

The full-back and wide midfielder combine, as shown, with a pass being slid down the line for the latter to then spin out and receive. A subsequent cross is attacked by players running at pace into the box – three attackers go early with a midfielder arriving later to the edge of the box. The central defender drops in from just outside the box to defend.


1. After receiving from the server, the ball is worked across the back
2. The left-back and midfielder link up with short one-touch passing
3. Attackers and the opposing centre-back head into the box
4. The midfielder holds his run on the edge of the box, ready to react to any knock-downs

Attacking from deep

In the final practice, we set up as shown (3 main), with attacking players starting besides mannequins. There are six red opposition players – two centre-backs to defend the box from attacks and four midfielders (as a diamond) who try to stop the ball getting past them. As soon as it goes past, they are out of the practice.

To start, the keeper collects a cross, then throws the ball to the right full-back, who receives, staying aware of opposition players moving in around him to press. So the wide man will receive, either out wide or by driving inside. He takes two touches and plays on.
The move continues to build – other players must note the development of play and adjust their positions accordingly… for instance, if the winger is driving inside, the left-back should realise the ball is being switched and might move across to overlap.

And just as in the Extended Pitch Attack, we should have attackers, both wingers and a midfielder trying to get into the box for the cross. Opposition centre-backs defend the cross.

After the attack has finished, we’ll play two balls to the retreating strikers to have a shot (3 inset). We then reset positions and go again.


1. The server sends over a ball for the keeper to catch
2. The keeper feeds the ball out to the right full-back
3. On this occasion, the wide midfielder drives inside
4. The left midfield player moves inside to receive the pass and switches play to the left wide man
5. The left full-back overlaps and sends over a cross
6. The cross is attacked
7. At the end of the first attack, two balls are served into attackers for shots on goal

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

Timing and the type of movement are crucial – for instance, central midfielders playing to the opposite wide man rather than just the nearest player.

We also want to see players ‘locking in’ behind the ball, ensuring they are covering any threat left by the opposition leaving players up.

Share this

Follow us