Quick play and finishing

This session is about quick combination play in and around the box with the emphasis on a positive end product, be that a cross, a shot or a goal.

The session does its best to recreate a game situation, with sharp, neat touches of the ball at all times. Pressure is applied by defensive players with attackers invited to score in either goal, allowing quick play away from pressure and a constant search for goalscoring opportunities.



34×20 yards into 44×36 yards


Balls, bibs, cones, discs, goals

Number of Players


Session time


What do I get the players to do?

Breaking out of the box

We set up as shown (1), marking out a central 20×10-yard box (the width of the six-yard box) within the main playing area. The server plays a ball in to the attackers, with four defenders – one from each corner – going in to press the ball. If they win the ball back they recover back to their corners as quickly as possible to clear the area. The next four defenders get ready to press.


• The ball is played into the reds, with four blue defenders coming in to press immediately

The attackers must complete three passes, one- or two-touch. Remember, too many passes would be unrealistic in a game situation in this area of the pitch.

Once the passes are complete any attacker can shoot into either goal, but he must take two touches (in other words, control and shoot) and the shot must be from inside the central box. The attacking team then becomes the defending team – use bibs to distinguish sides if necessary.

There are a few progressions we can put into practice – see captions on diagrams 2-6.


• PROGRESSION 1: The The attacker takes the first touch out of the central area and finishes with his next touch – the defender can try to stop him


• PROGRESSION 2: A one-two must be performed before a finish from the central area


• PROGRESSION 3: A third-man run is made (touch and set) with a one-touch finish to follow


• PROGRESSION 4: Players can break wide (one on each side) from the central area, with a maximum of two touches to play a cross into the middle for attackers to finish one-touch (as an unopposed cross)


• PROGRESSION 5: The same as above, but this time defenders left on the outside can work between their cone and the goal line to stop a cross between points A and B

A player can score from a rebound with a one-touch finish; defenders are allowed to oppose.

What are the key things to look out for?

We are looking for quick movement of the ball, good combination play, spatial awareness (playing away from pressure), support and timing, a good end product (a shot or a cross) and for realism, players cannot take too many touches nor play too many passes.

We can progress further into an 8v8 game (2x8min periods), in an area the size of two penalty boxes. Players are expected to recognise and re-enact passing sequences and movements, so I would expect lots of goal attempts. We can condition this game – for instance, scoring after completing a one-two, scoring after a completing a third man run, or scoring one-touch from a wide cross. 

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