Counter-attacking

Area

Up to full pitch

Equipment

Balls, bibs, cones, 2 full size goals

No. of players

20 players + 2 goalkeepers

Session time

Practice 1: 22 mins

Practice 2: 32 mins

This session is all about counter-attacking at pace. It teaches players to quickly turn defence into attack while opponents are out of shape and it also shows them how to create overloads and goal-scoring chances.

Players like this session because it is very game-realistic and it is performed at match tempo. It involves all players and all positions so the whole team benefit from taking part in this session. It rehearses players in scoring goals, defending the penalty area and making both attacking runs in support and recovery runs to defend.

This practice is most beneficial when players perform it at speed and at a high tempo. As it relates to game-like distances it can be a demanding session, so we would tend to run this on a Tuesday after the players have recovered from the weekend’s game and aren’t fatigued going into the coming fixture.

We would run this session as match preparation if our forthcoming opponents tend to commit a number of players to attacking play.

 

“Players enjoy this training session because it is very game-realistic and it is performed at match tempo”

 

COUNTER-ATTACKING PRACTICE 1

We set up a playing area between the penalty boxes of a pitch, with a goal and a goalkeeper at each end. The playing area is coned off to the width of the penalty area.

We’re using 18 outfield players, split into six blue defenders and 12 red attackers. Four attackers start at each end, while the remaining four attackers start on either side of the halfway line marked by three blue defenders in each half, as shown.

The attackers work in pairs and start from either side of the goal. One of the attackers starts play by combining with his team mate, who receives the ball and plays a longer pass forwards into one of the two strikers in the attacking half of the pitch, as shown [1a]. Both starting players make supporting forward runs to join in and create a 4v3 attacking overload situation with the aim of scoring a goal.

[1a]

1. The attackers work in pairs and start from either side of the goal. The player with the ball plays a starting pass across to a team mate
2. The team mate receives and then plays a longer pass forwards into one of the two strikers in the attacking half
3. Both starting players make supporting forward runs to join in with the attack and create a 4v3 attacking overload situation with the strikers
4. The three blue defenders must try to stop the reds scoring

[1b]

1. The four attackers should try to exploit the overload they have created
2. The four attacking players must be direct in their approach and produce clever movements and combination play to create goal scoring opportunities

[1c]

1. Once the attack has been completed, the two red attackers join the back of the queue at the end they have just attacked
2. The next red pair attack in the opposite direction, making forward passes and forward runs to create a new 4v3 situation at the opposite end of the pitch

 

“The attacking players must be direct in their approach and produce clever movements and combination play to create scoring opportunities”

 

The four attacking players must be direct in their approach and produce clever movements and combination play to create goal scoring opportunities, as shown [1b].

Once the attack has been completed, the attacking pair join the back of the queue. The next pair immediately launch an attack in the opposite direction, making forward passes and forward runs to create a new 4v3 situation with the strikers in the other half, as shown [1c].

Once players are used to the mechanics of the drill, we can progress it by allowing one of the players in the attacking pair to dribble with the ball before combining with the two strikers. The first pass played into the strikers can now be contested by an opposition defender, as shown [1d].

We can progress the activity further by introducing a second ball from the coach, which would be played into one of the four attackers in the attacking half as soon as the first attack is complete or the ball has gone out of play. This means both the attacking and defending players must be alert to the fresh challenge and react accordingly, as shown [1e]. To keep the pressure intense, we would play three non-stop games of six minutes with two minutes of rest in between.

[1d]

1. Progress the activity so one of the players in the attacking pair can now run with the ball before combining with the two strikers
2. The first pass played into one of the strikers can now be contested by a defender

[1e]

1. Progress the activity further by introducing a second ball from a coach on the outside of the pitch once the first attack is complete or the ball is dead
2. The second ball is played into the attacking team of four, meaning both attacking and defending players must react accordingly

COUNTER-ATTACKING PRACTICE 2

We set up on a full pitch with a goal and a goalkeeper at each end and with a target line marked 10 yards over the halfway line, as shown.

We’re using 20 outfield players split into two teams: a red attacking team of 10 and a blue defending team of 10. In one half of the pitch the attackers have a 10v7 overload but the defending team also has a front three positioned on the halfway line ready to counter-attack if their team wins possession.

The red attacking team starts in possession with the aim of playing their way through, around or over the blue defending team of seven to create a goal scoring opportunity, as shown [2a].

[2a]

1. The red attacking team starts with the ball. They have a 10v7 overload in the defending half of the pitch and must build an attack on the goal
2. The blue defending team has a front three waiting on the halfway line ready to attack if the blues win possession

[2b]

1. If the blue defending team wins possession, as they do here with an interception, then they counter-attack immediately by playing a pass into the three blue forwards on the halfway line
2. The aim is to get beyond the target line as quickly as possible and continue the forward momentum towards the goal at the opposite end
3. One extra player from the blue defending team can join the forwards by crossing into the opposition’s half to support the counter-attack

[2c]

1. The four counter-attacking players produce various movements and good combination play to create and score
2. As the counter-attack is being executed, the rest of the blue team push up the field behind the ball

 

“To maximise attacking opportunities we want to see that players recognise the quality and detail of the shot needed when finishing a counter-attack”

 

[2d]

1. Once the counter-attack is dead, the four blues immediately make recovery runs back to their original starting positions on the pitch
2. A new ball is played in to the reds by the coach and a new 10v7 phase of play is initiated, with the reds launching another attack

 

If the defending team of seven wins the ball, then they must try to quickly launch a counter-attack by playing a forward pass into one of their three forward players stationed on the halfway line. The aim is to get beyond the target line as quickly as possible and then continue the forward momentum towards the goal at the opposite end, as shown [2b]. The front three can be joined in their counter-attack by one additional player from the blue defending team.

The four counter-attacking players aim to produce various movements and combination play to create a chance and score, as shown [2c]. As the counter-attack is being executed, the rest of the team push up the pitch behind the ball.

Once the counter-attack has been completed, the four blues who have just taken part in the counter- attack are now expected to immediately make recovery runs back to their original starting positions on the pitch. Another ball is played in by the coach to one of the 10 red attackers and a new 10v7 phase of play is initiated in the defending half, as shown [2d].

If the 10 red attackers score a goal or if the ball goes out of the play at any stage during an attack, then a second ball is played in by the coach to the blue defending team, who look to immediately initiate a counter-attack, as shown [2e].

We play three non-stop games of 10 minutes with two minutes of rest between games.

 

[2e]

1. If the 10 red attackers score or if the ball goes out of the play during an attack, then a second ball is played in by the coach to the blue defending team
2. Once they receive the second ball from the coach, the blues must look to immediately initiate a counter- attack with a pass into their front three

COACHING POINTS

What are the key things to look for?

We are looking at three main coaching points. Firstly, we want to see players using the correct speed of pass. Secondly, to maximise attacking opportunities we want to see that players recognise the quality and detail of the shot needed when finishing a counter-attack. And thirdly, we want to see that our players are aware of the tactical requirements needed on transition, both in and out of possession, because we really don’t want to get countered from a counter-attack. We want to accomplish these three points of focus during the training session and stay consistent with our message to the players.

What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?

The quality of the final pass or shot can sometimes be misunderstood by the players – they will think the support runs are the hardest part of the activity, but there is no point in making the runs if a lack of concentration means that the move doesn’t result in a goal or a shot on target.

Key

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